Sunday 13 June 2021

Amber and the Swing Coat

 It's been a long time since my last post. So much so that I've gone from a quintessential summer item to very wintery makes with nothing in between.

The jacket pattern is Simplicity 1319, which appears to now be out of print. It is a 1950s short swing coat with shawl collar. I made the longer length, although it still hits near the top of the hip. The fabric is a beautiful vintage wool I picked up at a Sydney Spoolettes fabric swap a few years back. It's very warm and has good structure and was relatively easy to work with. The lining is basic lightweight voile-weight cotton from my stash in pale baby pink. 

Overall, this pattern was reasonably good with only a few difficult elements. The way the shawl collar is constructed is designed to create pockets, with all the seams hidden inside. Both the lining and self fabric are folded over here, meaning there are four layers of fabric and the instructions for which pieces to fold which way were a bit confusing. I sewed one side what I thought was the right way but when I tried to turn it back the right way around it was twisted, so I had to unpick it, recheck and redo it to get it right. 

The biggest problem was with the length of the sleeves on the lining pieces. The instructions say the sleeve lining should be stitched to the seam allowance where the sleeve joins the cuff with the cuff then folded back in half and stitched down. But the sleeves of the lining piece are at least an inch too short to reach. Fortunately the cuffs are wide enough to fold in and stitch to the lining while still having part of the cuff visible, but it does mean the sleeves are a bit shorter. The pattern envelope shows the sleeves as being this slightly shorter length so I'm not sure if the problem was the illustration or the pattern pieces, but either way it didn't quite work how it was supposed to. 

The dress is the Named Patterns Amber Pinafore. The fabric is a viyella from The Sewing Basket in West Ryde, picked up on another Spoolettes outing. I've used viyella before and it's always been very soft, but this one is slightly stiffer and has a tendency to crease so requires a bit more ironing and effort to keep neat. I actually started making this dress a couple of years ago and never finished it, but pulled it out a few months back.

The waistline sits at just above the natural waist, with the deep v-necked bodice. The bodice pieces are all fully self-lined, but I left the skirt unlined as I didn't have enough of the fabric and didn't want to use a different fabric and possibly change the drape.

The back of the dress is racerback shape and does up with a buckle, but the fabric is prone to fraying so I only installed one eyelet. Only one is needed as it needs to be in the right place for the dress to sit properly and any more eyelets would just be cosmetic. Still, I would have liked to include a few more if the fabric was more stable and I was confident it wouldn't come apart.

The bodice being fully lined meant I was able to play around with how I wanted the check to sit, whether to have the centre front on the straight grain or on the bias. I decided the straight grain looked better, with the horizontal lines matching up more evenly. It also matches well to the skirt, which is approximately a half circle with the lines at the centre of the skirt matching the centre of the bodice and then curving with the bust seams.

I like the shape of the bodice pieces, but they do gape a bit at the sides. I initially thought I might have stitched them in the wrong way around (with the side edges in the centre front and vice versa), but when I tried changing them over the gaped more so I changed them back. I think if I trimmed the side edges to be shorter they would sit flatter, but it's a relatively minor issue and I decided it would take too much unstitching to be worth it to fix.

Overall I'm happy with both of these makes, despite a couple of small setbacks. I've worn the jacket several times already and found it a very good weight for transseasonal Sydney. The dress is something that can probably get wear through much of the year. 

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