A quick sew gone slow

It was late spring this year when I saw Juebejue’s fantastic linen coat – made in a pattern I’d already sewn and loved, no less. I warned her immediately that I was going to copy her, and pulled out my copy of Vogue 8926 and some super thick linen a few weeks later.

I was ready for a quick and satisfying sew, especially since I’d already adjusted the fit. The only changes I made were adding length to the body and sleeves, and skipping the ties.


It was completely finished and I was mostly in love with it when I saw some things I could not un-see:

  1. The beautiful collar had a tendency to stretch where it folded over (my first version has developed the same problem over time, probably because the recommended fabrics have a lot more body than linen), and it rolled in a different spot every time I tried it on
  2. The back collar was collapsing
  3. The increase in length meant the facings had more freedom to flap open

So, I went back in under the collar and made some ad-hoc hand-stitched fixes.

I hand-stitched a roll line in using rayon seam tape:

crabandbee.com | Vogue 8926 linen coat - adding a roll line

I added a weird little collar stand in the back, pad-stitched from the inside before I closed the facings up and reinforced by quilt batting.

crabandbee.com | Vogue 8926 linen coat - adding a collar stand

And finally, I hem-stitched the bound facing edges to the body of the jacket. The linen was loose and thick enough the stitches do not show.

crabandbee.com | Vogue 8926 - bias-bound facing

I love it so much more now that is has a bit of structure, and it’s been surprisingly useful during the summer. It’s proved a perfect travel piece, too, especially on a plane trip where I used it as a blanket.

crabandbee.com | Vogue 8926 linen coat back

I’ve thought about adding some kind of closure to the front, or perhaps a belt. There’s a weird little moment where the roll line ends but the coat still wants to flip open.

crabandbee.com | Vogue 8926, altered into a linen coat

But for all my last-minute tailoring, it is ultimately meant to be a loose, easy coat and I’ll leave it as is for now.

I’ve got a nice little backlog of projects from this summer and spring, finally photographed… so let’s just say I’m continuing my tradition of blogging along with the Australian seasons!


A jacket for my gentleman

While I was sewing my sister’s wedding dress, my husband was keeping us alive by handling all of the cooking and household matters. I was enormously grateful. So grateful was I that I promised him that the first post-wedding project I would sew would be a jacket for him.

Here’s what happened:

  • Eager to demonstrate my commitment to the project, I ordered the fabric immediately, in April.
  • A wedding dress, a Gabriola, a dance costume and two shift dresses later, I ordered the pattern in mid-August.
  • A Watson binge, two tops, and a skirt sloper even later, I started the muslin process in September and got thoroughly tied up in a sleeve fitting fit.
  • After our trip to Japan in October, I told myself I couldn’t touch any of my newly acquired fabrics until I finished the jacket. And I desperately wanted to dig into that fabric, so it was done within a few weeks, with a sleeve fit that was good enough.

crabandbee.com | men's jacket using Vogue 8842

This was the first major project I’d felt up to since the wedding dress. No hand-stitching, of course, nor did it take nearly as many hours, but I did have a laundry list of design and fit changes to make the pattern, Vogue 8842, work for what I had in mind. The pattern looked more like a ski jacket, and I wanted something with a sporty fit in non-sporty materials -organic cotton twill for the shell, with a scrap of cotton-hemp for the hood lining, and rayon for the jacket lining.


The design changes I made form the alarmingly long list below:

  • Changing from a drop shoulder to a regular shoulder
  • Merging the 3-piece sleeve back into 1 piece
  • Moving the yokes lower
  • Removing the bottom hem band and adding a bit of length
  • Adding a hood facing
  • Adding front facings to the lining
  • Adding a zipper guard
  • Making a hybrid welted patch pocket
  • Changing the top zipper extension into two pieces instead of one folded piece for durability
  • Forgoing elastic cuffs
  • Adding a snap tap to the cuffs

(The hood and front facings should have been included in the pattern, in my opinion; I was studying a lot of RTW jackets, and even the cheapest ones had these features.)

Fit-wise, everything I did involved making more chest room and less back room. I also encountered an odd fit issue – Nathan couldn’t zip the front of the jacket over his chin! I ended up scooping the neck by 1″ at center front and widening the collar/hood area by 1.5″ total as the neck circumference had increased as well.


This was my first experience with parka snaps. They weren’t too bad to apply; trying to figure out all the sizes and tools was much worse!


If I make this pattern again (and I might as well – I put a ton of work into altering it!) I would raise the arm scyes. This photo is a little too dark to see, but there are some draglines across the back even though there’s ample room. I think it’s the low arm scye restricting arm motion.

Then there’s this:


Ultimately, I feel like this project was a pattern-making triumph for me – making so many design and fit changes all at once and having all my seams line up in the end was a big, fluffy feather in my cap – but not as much a stitching triumph. I hadn’t done a project requiring precision top-stitching in awhile, and the extensions, hood, and pockets show it.

That said, when I pounded in the last snap, Nathan put on his jacket and looked at himself multiple times in every mirror on the house. He’s stubbornly worn it in unsuitably cold conditions this fall and winter, and it’s now being referred to as his favorite jacket ever. So I think the subpar stitching and the ever-so-slightly late arrival are being overlooked.

See you next spring, jacket

One of my big, big sewing focuses right now is sewing myself some outerwear. It’s a challenge, and a very timely one. My winter arsenal consist of a 5-year old puffy down coat and a woefully drafty, short, thrifted Banana Republic thing. My light-weight jacket situation is a little better and includes Minoru, Mini-ru and a thrifted jeans jacket that’s debilitatingly tight across the back. Even though I need winter coats more, starting with a fall jacket seemed prudent and still-useful.

crabandbee.com | Burda collarless jacket

I downloaded this Burda pattern in May with the best of intentions to start my jacket early, and promptly buried myself in fluffy summer sewing. It didn’t help that the instructions looked like they’d been crammed through an online translator without proofing (how does Burda manage to get all of those weird a’s with carats sprinkled throughout their instructions?). When the weather got chillier in early September, my sense of urgency overcame my mild fear/irritation, and I started my muslin.

What my pattern lacked for in instructions was made up for by (what I then thought was) a perfect fit. The fact that the pattern, chosen for my bust/waist/hip measurements, fit my broad shoulders and upper back should serve as a warning for all you normal- and narrow-shouldered folks!

crabandbee.com | Burda collarless jacket

My only fit adjustment was to correct for my swayback. (Now, of course, I see some wrinkles that may have been worth investigating!)

Other deviations from the pattern were as follows:

  • Different, simpler cuffs – the floppy zippered cuffs looked like a nightmare to me
  • Adding a full lining, with an action pleat
  • Underlining the front and back shell pieces
  • Catch-stitching the shell seam allowances
  • Completely ignoring the instructions

My muslin was a black mystery woven with some drape, and my final fabric was a hemp and recycled cotton canvas. Some issues I hadn’t spotted in my muslin showed up in the garment, namely some weirdness through the bust.

crabandbee.com | Burda collarless jacket

crabandbee.com | Burda collarless jacket

This is me explaining the importance of documenting my side-wrinkles to my photographer/sister. It looks just like a dart, doesn’t it? I love dartless flat-front styles, but they often leave me yearning for easier fitting solutions.

crabandbee.com | Burda collarless jacket

My favorite element by far is the contrasting bias binding I added to cover the zipper and finish the neckline. Sanae, a connoisseur of tasteful linens, gave me a gorgeous striped specimen that I made bias strips from.

crabandbee.com | Burda collarless jacket

The jacket doesn’t call for a  lining, but I wanted to get some practice in, and not have to finish my shell seams in a pretty way. I used the very last scraps of a thrifted rayon, first seen here.

crabandbee.com | Burda collarless jacket

I could have spent more time on the fit, in retrospect, but this jacket will be worn next spring. And I feel more prepared to dig into my coat project. I’ve started the muslin process and have been sharing a few in-process photos/soliciting fit advice on Instagram.

Screen Shot 2014-11-19 at 6.45.11 PM

Screen Shot 2014-11-19 at 6.44.00 PM

So far, the takeaway has been that my upper back is at least two full sizes larger than my bust. Oh, fitting! Outerwear, onwards!


Fall has arrived abruptly and violently in Seattle – I could have sworn we went from high 70s (F) to low 50s in a matter of two days. The torrential rain prevented me from both documenting and wearing the light autumnal jacket I finished last week. Until today!

Perhaps due to the change in weather, Nathan and I both came down with persistent low-grade fevers a couple of days ago. (Coincidentally, that’s when the weather cleared up.) After two days of being bed- and house-bound, we took a field trip to the post office and I kind of tricked Nathan into a 5-minute photo shoot. Then I went straight back to bed.

crabandbee.com | shortened Sewaholic Minoru

Looking a little bit vacant, no?

crabandbee.com | shortened Sewaholic Minoru

As you might have guessed, I used the Sewaholic Minoru pattern. I made a size smaller than my previous version, shortened it by 8″ and took the side seams at the bottom hem in by a half-inch to reduce some of the flare. I think the fit is even better than my other Minoru, and I can still wear a loose-fitting sweater underneath.

crabandbee.com | shortened Sewaholic Minoru

The only other real change was forgoing the elastic wristbands for flat ones and shortening the sleeves a tiny bit. They’re still pretty long!

crabandbee.com | shortened Sewaholic Minoru

It was really fun to re-visit this pattern and see how much more comfortable I am with a lot of the techniques this pattern requires. Top-stitching, lining and outerwear in general were mysterious to me when I attempted my first Minoru. This one felt like a victory lap.

crabandbee.com | shortened Sewaholic Minoru

Fabric-wise, this was a pretty thrifty jacket! I used a tiny portion of the olive linen I got at the stash shop, almost all of the rest of the fabric scraps from Nathan’s birthday shirt, and a little bit of silk twill I had in my stash to line the sleeves. Man, slippery sleeve linings are so luxurious. You can practically hear my sleeves squeaking as I try to put my arms in my other Minoru (fully lined in cotton) – not so with this one!

crabandbee.com | shortened Sewaholic Minoru

My goal with this project was to create a fall/spring jacket that was the right length for the higher waistlines of dresses and skirts. (If you haven’t already, check out Andrea’s short jacket – she created it to extend the wear of her warmer-weather dresses.) I could easily see myself creating a third version in a slightly longer length that would work well with pants.  I think taking 6″ instead of 8″ off the hem would do it.

So! That’s my first piece of fall sewing to hit this blog. It remains to be seen if it will see more wear this year; so much depends on the weather. Maybe I should start my winter coat project now? If you’ve got some good tips on timing seasonal sewing, please share!