Lifetime Achievement – Coat Making

Sewing. It is my hobby, my stress release, my oldest friend. Through the years, I’ve tackled dresses and skirts. Tops and shorts, but never a coat. Outerwear is right up there with Jeans in my book. Untouchable. As I’ve been through many muslins and failed garments, I wasn’t really ready to tackle something so time consuming and costly as a coat. But then….I know, there is always a “but then” to have us eating our words….my longtime favorite indie pattern designer Christine Haynes released her Ellsworth Coat pattern.


My best “Sherlock”; hubby told me I was ridiculous and refused to take any additional photos of me with my collar popped. It looks pretty cute that way, but you’ll have to take my word for it.


He also didn’t understand why I kept opening the coat. Come on – A fully bagged lining!!! This is epic! Check out the button placement. (see below)

I want to say it was released late last Summer or even in the Fall. Whatever the date, I promptly purchased the pattern upon release and then lamented that I couldn’t attend Camp Workroom Social in NY last Fall to be in her coat making class. The pattern sat. I bought some green coat fabric, as I was in a green mood this past Winter. Yet, inspiration and motivation never came together. I peppered my Instagram sewing friends who had sewn the coat with questions about fit and sizing. Even chatted via social media with Christine herself about it. She’s really helpful.

So then, right around my birthday hubby surprised me with a dress form. Does he know me or what?! Those hints didn’t go unheard!! And I decided on a blustery day that I really needed a pink jacket. Needed. I know, my life is need and not need when it comes to sewing and clothing. Right around this time, I stopped in at Joann’s for a quick pop in, not realizing it was the yearly President’s day sale blitz and came away with pink coat fabric, buttons and thread for just under $12. A steal. The stage was set.


Inside, Outside, Upside, Downside – The bottom of the coat back and the lining. A little cheat shown here too. There is a point in the construction, near the end, where you are to hand tack the lining. I didn’t really understand it, nor did I have the patience. So I sewed up next to the seam and in the ditch of the other hem seams. I think the intent is the same – keeping the bottom edge from rolling out. At least that was my take on the directions.

My Ellsworth coat was going to happen. That was February 19th. Here we are just a little over a month later and the coat is finished!! Glory, glory, Hallelujah!!  I did not make a muslin for this garment. Instead based on the pattern description and my above mentioned virtual advice (thank you to everyone who indulged me!), I sized down two sizes. Oh wait, I did make a muslin right after I bought the pattern and it was a disaster. I actually threw it away and promptly decided to make a skirt. Anywho, I should also mention, my version is five inches shorter than the pattern. I bought end of the bolt on the fabric and I had to either make the facings a contrasting color, which in theory I would love,  but knew long term it would drive me crazy, OR figure out how to make this coat from less than the required fabric. Ta-da! Five inches shorter did the trick and makes the coat even more Spring like. In my opinion anyway. 


I’d put my hand in the front pocket, but unfortunately I miscalculated with the fabric and had to also shorten my pockets. They are fine for holding my phone or keys, but not so good for putting my hands into.



I love the boxy 60’s look.

I really took my time with the coat construction; which also may be the reason I’m so pleased with the results. I sewed it over several weekends, mostly when the boys (all three) were at the in-laws, so I could talk myself through the process or cuss in private when needed. Overall the pattern is super easy to follow. Step by step, just like Christine’s other patterns. There were only two spots where I was lost and had to re-read and then just go for my best judgement call on the project. The fully bagged lining turned out to be pretty easy, although a little unnerving turning the whole coat out through a tiny slit in the sleeve lining. Lots of deep breaths. And maybe a shot of Limoncello. Who can really say for sure?


Last step of the construction. I didn’t notice until I put the other four buttons on that these are in the wrong spot. Oh bother.

The buttonholes were my last big hurdle as I avoid making garments with buttons. Ugh. Not my favorite. However, I am pleased to say, they turned out perfectly!!! I was so giddy with excitement, I actually sewed one row of the buttons in the wrong place. See photo above. I do have my airhead moments. Luckily it was an easy fix. The lining fabric is a Nicole Miller print I picked up several months prior because it was on sale and I just had to have it although no idea what I was going to make from it. Now we know. The perfect coat lining.


Are those 7/8″ sleeves? Indeed they are! Bracelet length. I almost had a fit when I first tried it on and ran to the pattern to be sure they were actually intended as bracelet length – I have long limbs and completely forgot about the need to lengthen the sleeve.

What’s next? Jeans?!

Maybe I will Lois, Maybe I will.


Day & Night Dress Challenge

One of my sewing goals for 2017 is utilizing patterns in my stash that have been overlooked for one reason or another. I can’t really reveal how many patterns we may be talking about or Hubby might ban my Seamwork subscription. Eeek! Over the break, I happened upon the Day and Night Dress Challenge, hosted by Elizabeth (blog here), one late night I was up thinking about our end of year work blitz.

The description for the challenge is posted on the blog link above, but essentially, you make two dresses. One for day, sky’s the limit and one for night with only one requirement – it must be black. I had several chuckles at the comments on the Facebook group for this challenge. You wouldn’t believe (maybe you would?!) the audacity of people asking the host to change the rules to be dark colored, etc., because they don’t look good in black. Um. Ya. Then don’t do the challenge. Ha! Elizabeth must be a preschool teacher or something equally as patient in her spare time because she handled the comments with way more tact that I would’ve in her shoes.

On with the dresses….

My Day dress is the Painted Portrait Dress by Anna Maria Horner. I purchased this pattern as we were moving to California two Summers ago, but Hubby mentioned it was too maternity looking and while he might be right, nothing says Day Dress like a Muumuu. I love Muumuus, especially in the Summer, when it’s roughly the temperature of the sun here in Northern California. And a Muumuu with pockets!!  Big time score.

Day Dress

And the big disclaimer for this post is the photos are not great. It was so cold the day I finally got around to taking these (yesterday) that I was having a hard time being enthusiastic about being outside in a tank dress. Perfect for a challenge contest in photos only. Ugh. Oh well.

Dress with ties

Probably could’ve done this shot without the hands in the pockets. Oh well.

This is the original fabric I purchased for this pattern; a lightweight cotton voile. I know, not too flashy or sky’s the limit, but something I would definitely wear.  I used bright green facing for the inside and added a thin green tie for the waist. For those times I want to wear said dress to work and don’t want them thinking I was in an all night binge eating Burrito Bandito. Or worse, expecting. I’m almost 42 now and that ship has sailed. Unless I could be guaranteed a girl… Kidding Hubby, only kidding! *maybe* No. Definitely. Kidding.

Day Dress button

A better photo of the fabric, the green lining and this button loop I did all by myself!! I put it off for a good week or two and as things like that usually are – much easier to do than anticipated.

The Night dress is my own personal White Whale. (queue Sienfeld fans) I have loved this dress for a few years now. It was my first purchase from By Hand London, Indie pattern company, who’s descriptions of patterns make me giggle and I know I’d love them in person in an instant. The Sophia dress. I made a test (muslin) dress the Spring before we left Hawaii. Altered it and sewed it up in some beautiful jade green brocade I’d been carting around for 10 or so years. As I attached the bodice to the skirt, the bodice came up too short on each side. I was perplexed, yet I pressed on. The whole dress had been topstitched and fully lined. I was sure it was going to be just fine.

Green Dress

Closer to the intent of the actual pattern, I believe. If only it was wearable **sigh**

Waahhhh!! It was not. It is in fact so tight, when I had it zipped I was trading breathing for looking chic. I had visions of altering for my sister, who is probably the only candidate for it, but I am no good at going back to tormenting projects. There it still sits in my closet.

This time around, I made a new muslin bodice. Too small. A size larger complete muslin dress. Too big. (I might also note, I was so confident in my skills previously, I actually cut up my original purchased printed pattern, boo!!! So I purchased the pdf version this time. Now I see why people like pdf patterns so much) After a round of alterations, I made the real deal dress in crinkly black taffeta. I know this sounds terribly time consuming, but each test dress ran a night in the making. The worst of it was asking Hubby to pin up the back with his sausage digits. I think he’s getting me a dress form for my birthday. If not, he should seriously reconsider.

What do you think happened when I attached my carefully sewn bodice to the skirt. YES! to my horror, it was once again too short. How did this happen?! I left it sitting for two weeks and when I decided I really was running out of time to finish this for the challenge, put the zipper in against the edge of the opening, not 5/8″ in like I did on my test dress. The result. An elegant dress that is a little roomier than I’d like; I’ll take it.

lightbulb fail

And as some saw on Instagram, my 13 year old sewing machine lightbulb went out as I was putting in the zipper. After two weeks of waiting to do it, I went forward with the zipper by headlamp and how did the zipper itself turn out…

Night Dress Matchup

It’s not perfect, but alas there is room to grow if I decide to wear it to an event where a buffet of fried shrimp and cupcakes is on the menu.  I fully lined the dress due to the lightweight nature of the taffeta used. So glad I did. I could see wearing this dressed down some for a more casual work outfit; maybe with a shirt or sweater over and using it as a skirt.

Night Dress

The lines in the taffeta run horizontal on the bodice and lengthwise on the skirt. A little extra detailing. The more I look at it in the photos, I think the fabric might be too light weight and maybe that added to the roomy finish. Hmm. Maybe just one more Sophia dress needs to happen. Soon. While I’m fresh from experience.

Oh and did I mention, I also added pockets! Every dress should have pockets. I used my trusty Emery dress pocket pattern. There was a minor panic attack when I couldn’t find it, so I promptly made a copy when it surfaced. It’s my go to. The perfect pocket pattern.

Night Dress Pockets

Probably will be cuter when I’m not so cold. I should also mention the necklace and earrings are by the lovely Steinen. I love how they look with this dress. Like an updated pearl necklace.

Night Dress Snooty

One more of the pockets. Not sure how hubby caught me in such a snooty look. Haha.