Christmas Sewing

I know, I know…we were all going to take a break from sewing but there were a couple things I could not avoid.

The first one was an emergency repair on a suede jacket that was given to a grown-up son who managed to mangle it somehow. When I asked my client what did her adult son do while he was wearing the brand new jacket…her reply…”Fixing a motorcycle” and the sleeves got tangled up in the chains or something”. So here we are with ripped suede and lots of slashes that need reinforcing and hand stitching.

P1170065P1170067P1170066 On the inside everything got a new patch of help using my favorite Cold Cloth that I have used in the past for torn fur stoles. It is like heavy duty contact paper that seals the skin on the back to prevent more damage.P1170063P1170064P1170075 Skins repaired and linings restitched closed, the jacket is ready for more adventures!

The rest of the sewing time was for me…you’re kidding, Mrs Mole, do you actually do that?

Yes, I have had this coat cut out for 3-4 years and never managed to get it close to being finished but this year after seeing a shitload of badly sewn coats with huge collars and facings not under stitched or interfaced with really stiff interfacing I stopped screaming long enough to make my own version of a coat. You know the ones…they are flooding the blogsphere with front ruffles. Let’s get some perspective on techniques that work to tame fabrics and seams, shall we?

il_570xN.364559663_pylr The pattern Burda 5201 from the late 80’s and looked fast and easy with few seams and pieces. It also was pre-seam allowances…remember those days? My fabric was a strange brew labeled “recycled fibers” and there must have been some wool in it along with dog beds and cat hair and scrapings from a hairdressing salon as it looks like a cat took a nap on it in the back of my car. But it had a nice circular pattern and was thick and my color…well almost. Holding it up to my face is still needed something so I added a collar of black wool flannel to embroider later. The collar was interfaced with fusible weft stuff I have had for over 30 years…thank God the glue was still happy to bond with a steam iron and pressure! The entire body of the coat was underlined with some cheap batiste I had from JoAnn’s, of course not enough of one color. Here is the collar being stitched to the front edge:1-attach-lapel You can see some white hand basting as the two sections were really not the same thickness and pinning alone could allow one to stretch…you never know.2-back-of-embroidery The back of the snowflake embroidery (I left some of the tearaway backing)…yes, I know it is lame but the black was too dark and it needed something to perk it up…really I needed perking up.3-trim-coat-front-seam Here’s the first tip…go find your pinking shears and cut off the extra coat body fabric above the button and cut away the excess facing below the button. Then get ready for some good understitching…yes yes DO THIS to prevent the edges from peeking out and STEAM press your edges flat before ANY topstitching.4-understitch-lapel Again, see my red hand basting, pull the trimmed seam allowance under the presser foot and stitch flat, do the reverse below the button. Allow an inch or so in the front edge to have NO understitching to transition between the two.14 coat-facing5-under-collar Tack the center back of the under collar by hand and run basting stitches along the under collar and allow the black lapel to show.6-inside-facing Inside facing allows the red fabric to show.8-inside-out Turned inside out, you can see how the edges look like they have a binding, but they don’t, you create that with your understitching and trimming.


OK, Let’s think about a lining…the pattern has no lining pieces…what shall we do? How about pinning the front and back piece together and see what it looks like?7-lining-layout You can see the side seams are very straight, and the upper back has been altered…let’s get cutting all in one piece…can we do that? There are no fabric police at my house…let’s be crazy!12-lining-pinned-on Pinned on lining13-back-pleat and once it is pinned on we can pin out a back fold pleat….hooray! I will also pin a tuck at the waist for some shaping.

What else goes inside? The back edge of the black facing is attached to the batiste and then the side seam pockets are attached to the facing edge with 2 pieces of elastic…after all who needs them flopping around inside?15 coat-poocket10-outisde

There we are…my lining is attached, basting stitches on the collar will be removed, top stitching all around to be done and all that is left is the hem which will get a special treatment and be featured next time….oh and some sort of closure button or loop.

The paperwhites opened and stopped growing…just in time for Christmas day…how do they know how to that?Β Β Β 


What are your plans for sewing before Jan 1st?

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36 Responses to Christmas Sewing

  1. Bunny says:

    Finish my winter coat, too!

  2. great that you pulled that out of limbo and finished it, love the snowflakes. And yes to understitching! so important.

    • mrsmole says:

      Hi Beth, I think understitching says, “I care” plus it holds everything where you want it and prevents the edges from slipping and looking nasty! Thank you for dropping by!

  3. ellecsews says:

    3 or 4 years to finish a coat! You must have set a record! Love the snowflakes and i will file away your coat instructions for future use (if I ever make a coat). It looks lovely.

    Thank god someone else besides me doesn’t like the ruffled collared coat. I don’t think I have ever seen a coat pattern that I like less than this one, and yet people are raving about it. Makes one wonder.

  4. accordion3 says:

    Your coat is beautiful and cheerfully understated. Your coat also looks cosy, which is the purpose of a coat, I believe. You add a scarf or not, button up or not, depending on the weather. Brilliant. I’m not fussed about the floppy frill collar thingy either.

  5. mrsmole says:

    Love your gravatar! That mouse is so darling!!!! Thank you for your comments…I agree 100% Ms Accordion!

  6. Andrea says:

    Beautiful coat, Mrs. Mole, and as always, an enjoyable read. Nice to see you sew something for yourself!

  7. June says:

    Yes, good to make something for yourself, for a change! Clever tip on the elastic pocket tamer – I never would have thought of that!

    • mrsmole says:

      I almost forgot about it myself and once the lining is attached I could not go back inside and do it. But as you know taking pictures forces/reminds you of certain valuable steps…ha ha. Happy new year, June!

  8. Trish says:

    I’m very impressed that you have actually finished something for yourself! You’ve almost inspired me to go back to some of my unfinished projects…almost. I’m always amazed at the way we sew for a living, and spend our leisure time sewing! I guess it just shows how passionate we are about what we do, and how lucky that we love our work.
    Your lapels have reminded me that I must work out how my fancy computer machine does embroidery. It looks fantastic on your coat.

  9. Tia Dia says:

    So nice to see you finish something for yourself! And yes to understitching. I’m always surprised that it’s left out of pattern instructions so much because it makes a HECK of a difference. Enjoy your snowflakes and stay cozy!

  10. mrsmole says:

    Lordie, Tia you deserve a medal for working by candlelight when the power went out!!!!

  11. sewruth says:

    Lovely to see you sew something for yourself and (nearly) finish it – perhaps you are human after all? Mind you, 3 or 4 years in the making might just hold the record – competition time? Thanks again for your explicit instructions and details that turn a sewing project into a couture garment.

    • mrsmole says:

      Human? Very much human by taking a coon’s age to finish something with 4 pieces…ha ha. I’m sure you under stitch everything you sew and teach to make it perfect. Love your latest wool dress…oo la la!

  12. CarmencitaB says:

    As usual, you are spot on about the unruly ruffles.
    But you are always right! Always!

    • mrsmole says:

      Oh Dear….I only have one point of view, mainly from the inside of a garment where no one else looks…ha ha The point is, a blanket statement or directions to sew or interface with one product will not work for all and we all have to be very adaptive and think before throwing everything into the sewing “stew”.Nice hearing from you, Carmencita!

  13. Well done Mrs Mole! Your coat is wonderful and shows how important what tends to be left out of patterns is. I hope you enjoy wearing it on many occasions.

  14. mrsmole says:

    Thanks, Kim…the issue is always that I never leave the sewing room so new coats and jackets really are not needed….hmmm…could that be the reason for such a delay on this project? Here in the Northwest I am still wearing my parka I bought from BHS in Southport, England 17 years ago. The style is still in fashion and toasty inside!

  15. Monique says:

    Lovely coat, Mrs Mole! And expert surgery on the suede as far as I can tell. πŸ™‚ I am taking the elastic-and-pocket idea with me. Just in time too, as working on the hem of my daughter’s coat – looks like that will be finished before this winter is over, hurray!

    • mrsmole says:

      Here’s hoping the coats are finished before Winter is done chilling us! I saw that elastic trick in an old raincoat and have used it many times to tame floppy pockets. Stay warm, Monique!

  16. Shams says:

    Yes, Mrs Mole! I agree about the cringe-worthy result from a lack of understitching. I often do it by hand – it is so important. As a busty woman, I would never put ruffles on my front. πŸ˜‰ I am not a fan of in-seam pockets, but your solution of tacking with elastic is inspired. So glad you got to sew for yourself!

  17. mrsmole says:

    Hey Shams, congrats on your new job! In seam pockets need help staying flat so I used this technique to avoid having to make patch pockets. The fabric has enough bulk without adding to mine in the lower regions!

  18. Towanda says:

    Love your coat. Thanks for the pocket technique.

  19. Carolyn says:

    I agree that I too will be taking away the inseam pocket solution. How fabulous is that tip! Your coat is lovely. What will you use for a closure on the front?

  20. mrsmole says:

    I was thinking of something simple like a pony tail holder and a simple button or a huge black snap sewn with the wine colored thread of the coat. Can’t decide but there sure is not going to be a regular button hole through all those thicknesses. Happy New Year, Carolyn and best of luck with your fabrics for 2014!

  21. prttynpnk says:

    Yup, I’m printing this out and putting it with my coat patterns to remind me of good technique to use. I like the embroidery- its a nice little pop. The elastic on the pockets is a head slapper- why didn’t I think of that- so easy but perfect?!

  22. barb bachmann says:

    Hi mrs mole, so is understitching the same as stay stitching that I learned in home ec in the 60’s???

    • mrsmole says:

      No, Barb, as stay stitching reinforces the neck openings to receive a collar or facing, understitching is done once the seam is sewn. The seam allowance itself is trimmed or pinked and/or slashed to make it lay flat while it is stitched in a certain direction, normally under the facing or under collar. You need both. Understitching can be used any where that you need a fabric to be held without slipping. Once you start doing this…you will want to use it a lot of places to make crisp edges look more professional. Then once pressed, that edge can be top stitched by hand or machine for decoration or stability.
      Thanks for asking and Happy New Year!

  23. symondezyn says:

    You are amazing!! I love how you follow your intuition – your expertise is so apparent in times like these πŸ™‚ I’m only just starting to get to a place in my sewing where I question given pattern instructions and I’m just now daring to add a lining to my first garment ever that doesn’t call for it! I’ll be sure to refer back to this when I finally tackle a proper tailored coat. And no, it won’t have a ruffly bust… my bust is prominent enough, thankyouverymuch!! LOL!!

  24. I love this Burda coat! Great job!

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