'Bagels and Bongos' - 1959 record sleeve - 'Bagels and Bongos' - 1959 record sleeve
11 October 2010
Late to the Lady Grey Party (and my first muslin!)
I'd mentioned, at the culmination of the Summer Essential Sew-Along, that I was joining Gertie's Lady Grey Sew-Along. Hundreds of women around the world have joined in to sew this incredible coat by indie pattern company, Colette. To me, this coat has that perfect combination of classic style and versatility with a high wow-factor. Check out that peplum! It'd also be an essential part of my Hepburn-inspired wardrobe.
But then a whole lot of nothing happened. I was overwhelmed by all the information and by all the precision and care of the fabric choices and muslin sewing. It was totally against my usual willy-nilly approach to sewing. So I put it off, put it off. Next thing I knew folks were finishing the coat and I hadn't even cut out the pattern.
Perhaps it's the introduction of fall, or perhaps pure envy at the amazing half-finished coats I've been seeing in the blogosphere. So this weekend I cut the pattern (a straight 2, even though I should've graded to a six in the hips) and made a muslin out of an old, black sheet. Not ideal, but I felt like if I didn't get started, the darn coat would never be made.
I have never made a muslin before and I'm so glad I did. Before I cut the pattern, I shortened the bodice by an inch, just where the pattern flares at the waist, to address my short waist. But I was mainly concerned (and rightly so!) about gaping lapels.
Here's the front (forgive the folded lapel):
See the gaping?
So I pinned it ...
And then drew a dart to take out that fabric. This is where I was singing hallelujah that all that information I'd previously been overwhelmed by was there. I would never had known how to go about fixing this without the Flickr group and Gertie's commenters!
The back was giving me some trouble, but I wasn't sure if it was because I was using a sheet rather than heavy fabric. Here's the back...
So I took a 5/8 inch tuck from the nape to the waist on the center back seam. I can't quite tell if it made that much of a difference to the back (I haven't trimmed seam allowances!), but it did line up the shoulder seam properly.
But it definitely made a difference to the side. Look at that lovely flare. Oh, I'm in love.
I could stop here and assume that the wool fabric is not going to wrinkle as badly, or I could continue to tinker. And I'm worried about taking in too much since it is a coat that will layer over other clothes and I need ample room. The armhole, as others have noted, seems a tad tight, but not impossible.
The back issue, I believe, is not swayback, because it's not that my lower back dips in but that the entire upper back is roomy. I think I have a narrow back and I'm not quite sure how to do that adjustment. Any tips? Advice welcome!
What I was not expecting from this muslin process was the renewed energy regarding making this coat. Now that I'm seeing the possibility, I'm psyched! It'll certainly be the most stylin' thing in my closet and I've license to wear it every day throughout the cold months. :)
After inching closer to a finished muslin, I was ready for fabric. I didn't want to purchase fabric until after the muslin stage since sewing a coat seems like much more of an investment than buying one. I'm not only referring to the work entailed, but the cost of fabric. Really, why is fabric so expensive? And why is really lovely fabric so hard to find?
Though I waffled on color, two dear friends talked me into red. At Joann's, the only red wool I could find was $25/yard. Yikes! For a coat that requires 4 1/2 yards, that's a pretty penny. I went to two other fabric stores and they were out of plain, red wool. Argh!
So for the first time, I purchased fabric online. I'm a little worried this may lead to fabric hoarding (and homelessness), but where else was I going to find reasonably priced fabric? Cheapskate that I am, I bought some red wool flannel twill at $6/yard and some black and white polka dot lining for $5/yard at Fashion Fabrics Club. Total bill? $47.
Even though I doubt I could've gotten it much cheaper, that's the most I've ever spent on fabric. It dawned on me that perhaps I'm getting serious, especially given my new roommate (who I've yet to play with!)
Oh my, I'm really in over my head, aren't I?
Hope all is well with all of you.