Yona Coat (unwrapped)

Another one ticked of the seasonal sewing list - here's my winter coat: the Named Clothing Yona Wrap Coat. This one was a challenge, and whilst I like it very much and it grows on my every day, I couldn't quite call it my 'dream coat'. In fact, I have no idea what I would actually define to be a 'dream coat', so considering that, it's not turned out too bad for a first effort. Plus it's made up in lovely fabrics and colours, and in more practical terms... it's warm!

My first winter coat!
I committed to making a winter coat a while back - even recycling my old one to give me 'the fear'. Without really knowing what style I wanted, or scouting out suitable fabrics available to buy, I impulse-bought the most beautiful, textured, dark aubergine, wool mix (70% wool, 30% polyamide) from Barry's whilst at Sew Brum. I bought 2.5m (at £13.95 p/m) with the encouragement from my fellow Sew-Brum-ers that it should be enough to make my mystery coat. The pattern choice came later, and again, I wasn't really sure what I was looking for. I plumped for the Yona in the end, as a bit of a safe bet (I'm fairly confident in the fit of Named patterns/using their instructions).

Named Clothing Yona Wrap Coat
Having sewed up my first piece of outerwear quite recently - the Waver Jacket - I was perhaps a little less daunted than I usually would be with a big project like this. There was quite a bit of prep involved - as there was with the Waver - including applying more interfacing than I've ever used in one garment. By chance, I'd also read The Thrifty Stitcher's Tips for Making Winter Coats post, which I would 100% recommend checking out. The recommendation for using a walking foot to tackle the bulky layers is definitely one to put into action.

Walking foot/pocket sewing action
The pockets were quite difficult to attach neatly, whilst ensuring that none of the pocket lining was exposed. I made this just a little bit more difficult for myself by choosing a super-contrasting gold lining (the boldest they had in Fabworks). If you look very closely at a funny angle, you'll probably see some gold peaking out in places, but I can live with that.

A close up of the shaping on the collar/lapels
Attaching the facing, shell and collar together has to be one of the most challenging bits of sewing I have ever undertaken. The bulk of all those layers really tested me and my machine to the limits, and I definitely had to attempt it more than once. The pattern doesn't suggest it, but I would recommend hand basting the whole thing together before starting. In hindsight, it seems like an amateur move from me for not doing it to start with and just following the instructions blindly, but hey, you live and learn!

Lining flash  - worn with Inari Tee Dress & Rise Turtleneck
Lining flash 2
The rest of the coat came together pretty quickly. I had a bit of difficulty matching and inserting the lining - there seemed to be excess lining fabric at the front/top of the facing that I had to ease stitch in, and not enough notches! I was more nervous about turning the whole coat out due to previous bagging out confusions, but had no problems at all. One thing I will take into consideration in future is choosing a better quality lining fabric. Having seen how easily this one frayed while working with it, I now understand how the lining on some high street coats ends up shredding after a while.

My 'not sure about this belt' face
Now to explain the title of the post, and my one big dislike about the coat: the wrap belt. As a fastening, I just don't think it sits well in balance with the length of the coat, and the soft cocoon shape of the body. The finished garment is shorter than I anticipated, so I would add a good few inches if I was to make it again - maybe then I would be happier about the wrap belt? On the plus side, I love the coat shape when it's worn open.

I would like to add some sort of discreet fastening to hold it closed at the centre front - what do you think would be the best option?

Side view
Back shot, and also capturing the back of my beloved new boots
Despite some mixed feelings about the finished thing, I'm still very proud that I made a proper winter coat. And what's to stop me from making another one? Or another few? A coat for every occasion..! I've probably over-analysed the challenging aspects of the coat in this post, but it really was a learning curve, and I'm glad I chose the Yona pattern - my familiarity with Named patterns helped to bridge the gap with my total unfamiliarity with coat sewing.

Velvet jackt - Zara
I feel like I could get at least one more use out of the Yona Pattern - it would be totally perfect (wrap belt included!) to replicate this velvet jacket in Zara at the minute. And in terms of general future coat sewing, I think new techniques such as welt pockets will be on the to-try list for next time - see Crab and Bee's Yona alteration for inspiration!

Thank you Chris for taking pictures xx
I'll be wearing it with pride, and it's also a relief to know that I won't see someone else wearing the same coat on the walk to work everyday (it's definitely happened before)! I 'accidentally' bought 3m of grey leopard print wool at the Knit and Stitch Show this weekend - it might be a long time in the works, but any suggestions for a pattern I can use it with to make my next coat?

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Inari Tee Dress hack

Late to the party as ever, here's my very first Inari Tee Dress! I love Named, and the Inari is one of those totally beloved patterns of the sewing community, so I can't quite believe it's taken me so long. I guess I had been pretty tentative due to the shape, or lack of, and concerns over whether it would suit me... But you know what, I think I quite like it!

My first Inari!
I finally picked up the pattern in an attempt to replicate this amazing dress I saw on Instagram. Very chic, very COS, no? With the simple addition of a couple of ties, the Inari was the perfect pattern to make my inspiration come to life.
Insta inspiration courtesy of @alanamacleod
I used a black suedette from Samuel Taylor's in Leeds - purchased at Sew Up North (more on that later!). It was only £4.99 per metre, so a great low cost/low risk option for trying out a new silhouette and my first suede-look garment. It was really easy to work with, and the texture, although difficult to see on the pictures, adds an extra bit of interest to an otherwise quite plain dress.

The Inari is one of the easiest and most straightforward garments I've made in a long time. From start to finish, the whole sew time was only about 3 hours. For the waist ties, I cut and made them based on the Kielo Wrap Dress laces (just a bit shorter in length). The side tie is sandwiched and stitched between the side seams, and the centre front tie is attached in the way you might attach a bag strap - I think it sort of works.

Close up of the dress and all my layers because the UK is currently freezing!
I did have a slight problem with sizing, which actually meant I made the dress up twice... I originally made a UK 12, which was perfect for standing still, but pulled in an unsightly way across the bust, arms and back as soon as I moved/tried to wildly gesture. It's my fault for assuming it would be a roomy-enough fit to select the size based only on the finished measurements. The too-small version will hopefully find a loving home with one of my friends very soon though, so every cloud...

Thank you to Sara for taking photos!
I think it's turned out pretty Cos-like, which is great as I'm currently doing all I can to counter the temptation to spend/fulfill all the 'I could make that' statements I throw out there when visiting the new Cos store in Leeds. Plus, it cost £7.50 to make, rather than £75 *smug face*. The narrow fit on the shoulders/top balances out the relaxed waist much more than I expected, and I'm really enjoying wearing it, both on it's own, and layered over the Rise Turtleneck like in these photos. My boyfriend told me it looked 'edgy' and 'cooler than what you normally wear'... so I guess I'll take that as a compliment?!

Sew Up North smiles with Amy, Angela, Hannah, Hayley, Sharon and Becca
And I couldn't resist including just a couple of highlights from last weekend's fab Sew Up North. A huge thanks to Becca and Sally for organising such a brilliant day! I was super reserved fabric-shopping-wise - I am a Leeds local after all, so I thought I'd let everyone else take their pick - but I couldn't help grabbing more suedette in a rusty orange/red. I can't wait to make a second version of the Inari with it (incorporating the waist ties again) and many more after that!

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Papercut Patterns Waver Jacket

I nearly cried when I finished this jacket. Not because I disliked it (not even in the slightest!), or because it caused me great difficulty to make, but because it felt like such a BIG achievement. My first outdoor coat/jacket: the Waver.

My finished Waver jacket :)
Past me has been known to spend obscene amounts of money on high street jackets. And what's worse than that is the quality of many of them just doesn't justify the cost - linings that shred, pockets that tear at the touch of a set of keys (I'm looking at you French Connection...). So this was a biggie for me! The materials were well considered, to be both cost effective - well anything is if you knew what I used to spend on jackets - and able to withstand daily wear.

Waver pattern and materials good to go!
I used the same grey wax cotton and graphic-print lining fabric (both from Fabworks) that I used for my Retro Rucksack, which has seen heavy use since I made it in February and is still going strong! I also chose a yellow cord for the inside as another little nod to the yellow fabric on my bag.

Taking tailor tacking seriously
I made up the long version of the Waver with the gathered waist in a straight size Small. My measurements fell in between sizes, but after seeing the finished garment measurements and reading a few reviews, I decided to size down, which was the right decision - the fit is pretty much spot on. The prep time felt quite lengthy as there were quite a lot of pattern markings to transfer - I did proper hand-sewn tailor tacks - and quite a bit of interfacing to apply to the various pattern pieces, as well as cutting the lining out.

Quickly looking like a coat!
After the prep, the jacket came together really quickly, which was quite an exciting process. I stalled a little on topstitching the pockets in place as I forgot to buy matching thread. I added them a bit later, which helped in making sure they were properly lined up. The hood was probably my favourite bit to sew - the hood gusset pattern piece that runs down the middle gives it a real 'proper hood' shape if you know what I mean!

Seriously concentrating on putting that hood up!
I took the plunge and bought snap fastenings and the proper pliers to insert them with for a real professional finish. It seemed quite a commitment money-wise, but using the pliers was SO much easier than hammering them in place, so it was worth it. One really big disappointment was accidentally spoiling my last snap and having to buy A WHOLE new pack for just the one replacement, and they were £9.20 for 6! (If anyone knows of a cheap place to buy future hardware/snaps from, let me know!)

New tools!

There were only a few moments where I got confused - mainly around the joining the lining, which was also my main point of confusion with the Pulmu Skirt - but overall I really enjoyed making the pattern and love love LOVE the finished jacket. I'm pleased that it's both practical and very wearable, and hope that a few of the quirks make it that little bit more 'me'. In other news, Vogue posted some matching coat/bag combos on the runway at a recent Marni show, so I guess matchy-matchy must be 'on trend'. Here's my effort vs Marni's...

My not-so-Marni matchy Retro Rucksack/Waver combo
Matching at Marni
I've had the pattern queued up for quite some time. There are definitely some similarities between the Waver and the new Closet Case Files Kelly Anorak, so I'm not sure if I would've chosen differently if I was picking between the two now. I love the pockets and zip front on the Kelly, but the Waver is lined, which adds a bit of interest - as I chose such a jazzy lining! - and makes the finished thing fairly warm. Which one would you choose to sew?

It took about 4 evenings to sew, which is pretty good, especially considering how long I've been working myself up to taking on a 'big project' like this. In fact, I feel just a little bit invincible when I wear it, as if now I've sewn a jacket, I could make anything (I can't, but I'm definitely trying)!

Trying to flash that lining!
I'm feeling sufficiently warmed up for sewing a proper wool winter coat now, which is next on the list. And at least I have a lovely Waver Jacket to keep me warm until then.

Thanks Sara and Chris for patiently taking pictures

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Named Clothing Pulmu High-waisted Pencil Skirt

I already made (and love) the Talvikki Sweater, so here's my second make from the new Named Clothing collection: the Pulmu High-waisted Pencil Skirt. I was drawn to the made up version on the Named website in pale blue, but what really hooked me was seeing the line drawing of the skirt. It has really interesting and quite unusual shaping, so I snapped it up, with the intention of making a good 'all-round' skirt for work and play.

My finished Pulmu
I chose a fairly heavy blue crepe/viscose that I picked up in the grab bins at Abakhan. It's especially soft and lovely up close, and blue is also my favourite colour if  I ever choose to steer away from black. To be honest, I was planning to dodge lining it if possible, but the pattern really is made to be properly lined and finished, so I unearthed this 'splatter' effect fabric from my stash (bought ages ago from the Hebden Bridge WI Rag Market). I was a little reluctant to use it as a lining as it's almost too nice, but I couldn't see me making anything else with it, so I decided that my Pulmu would have just a flash of fancy on the inside.

Pulmu fabrics and plans
I had expected it to be a bit more difficult due to it's '3 scissor' rating, but I found the make surprisingly easy for the most part. There's lots of dart sewing (some of them slightly angled), and the fun task of inserting the beautiful curved side panels (I really like sewing curves). The instructions also suggest applying interfacing to the zip, hem and vent openings before you start sewing. I've never done this before, but it makes for a real crisp and sturdy finish, and in some parts, an easier sew - particularly when it came to inserting the zip.

Accidental nail polish matching...
The only bit that had me totally baffled me was the last page of instructions, when it comes to joining the bottom of the skirt to the lining. I always understand things better from the accompanying illustrations - anyone else find that? - and when it gets to stitching linings and turning things out etc, I think it becomes pretty hard to convey in a picture. I probably confused myself more than the instructions, and after a few sessions of unpicking, I finally managed to close the vents and the skirt hem in the way that I was meant to - I think! It was really difficult to sew the vents right up to the side seams, so I ended up finishing the top of each one with a few hand stitches, just to make sure that I got it as neat as possible.

Trying to show a flash of lining from the vents
Overall I'd say that the shape is really flattering, but mine's turned out perhaps a little too 'comfortable' in fit compared to what you'd usually expect for a pencil skirt. I made up a straight size 12 (Eur 40) which is about 1cm too big on the waist and has quite a bit of give in the hips. Although I''m quite pleased with this version, I would probably shave a little off from the seams if I was to make it again - though the curved side panel eliminates the usually-easy-to-adjust side seam option, so I'd have to think about the best approach.

Side view
Capturing the nice shaping at the back
It was a little more labour-intensive than my usual skirt sewing, but I'm glad I put the effort in, particularly with the lining and the vents - a real learning experience! I really like the side panels and the little flash of lining you see when the skirt moves, and I love using hardware in a project, so the D-ring belt is just great. I thought the belt loops were a bit cumbersome at first, but once the skirt came together and the belt was threaded through, they look perfect. The one thing that I'm really disappointed with is that the fabric doesn't show off the shaping in the way it deserves, and it creases quite badly when sitting too. 

Thanks Chris (seen in shadow form) for taking pictures
So I'm not 100% happy with it, but the Pulmu was definitely a lovely pattern to sew and I'd recommend it to anyone who wants a smart skirt with a few quirks and a lovely finish. It also means I've ticked one garment off of my priority sewing list (hooray)! I'd like to try making it again in future and getting it absolutely spot on, but I'm just not sure what fabric would best highlight the darts and side panels - suggestions welcome!

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