Thursday, January 15, 2015

Pattern Hacking Part Two: Reversible Baby Coat

After my unplanned blogging hiatus for the holidays, I'm finally back with part two on my series about pattern hacking, and I'm really excited about this one!  As discussed in part one, I'm using my favorite basic pattern, the Piece of Cake pattern by Anna Maria Horner.  For this part I turned this simple dress pattern into a scrumptious reversible coat!
This is possibly one of my favorite things I've sewn for Bunny since the first Piece of Cake outfit I made her!  And it's a great example of how much your fabric choices effect your result.  And just how easy it is to make anything reversible.  I love reversible options because it means all your seams are inclosed.  No fancy seam finishes needed!  
For my coat I chose and luxurious textured minky for the outer and an interlock knit for the lining.  This knit print is by Valorie Wells, and it's so soft and lovely and reminds me of beaches and warm things!  Even though I've choosen some materials that have some stretch, this would also work perfectly fine in heavier weight wovens.  Corduroy, wool suitings, and twill would give weight to the outer, while you could use soft quilt cottons or silky voiles for the interior.  I'm also using double faced satin ribbon for a tie closure at the front.  You could also do a smaller loop of ribbon and a button.
Now I'm no expert on sewing with minky, but if you do decide to use it there's a few things I learned with this project.  First, there is no way to avoid a mess.  By the end of the day you and your entire sewing space will look like you sprouted some kind of fuzzy fungus.  It's unavoidable.  Using a rotary cutter and mat instead of scissors will help you be more precise with your cutting.  I also found it handy to keep a large plastic trash bag on hand to slide all my scrap pieces into once done cutting, and a small hand vac for whatever I couldn't simply scrape off.
To start I decided to add a collar to my coat.  I used the measurement from the elastic cutting guide on the pattern to determine how long to make my collar.  I chose the twelve month size, so my elastic would be 15 inches.  I subtracted a half inch to account for the seam where you'd sew the elastic together, divided that number in half and drew a rectangle as long as my measurement (which was 7 1/4 inches) and 3 inches wide.  Then I curved the outside edge until it was the shape I wanted.
I also cut the inside edge to be slightly curved so it would lay around the neck better.  In retrospect I should have made this curve much deeper, but it works okay like this.
I cut two back pieces (one outer, one lining), four sleeves (two outer, two main), four front pieces (two outer, two main, and two collar pieces (both outer).  To make the front pieces I simply cut the body piece of the pattern NOT on the fold.  (Don't forget to reverse one side if you're cutting through a single layer!)  You can see here that I cut the main fabric sleeve two inches longer then the lining sleeve, so that I could make a wide cuff at the hem.
Next, I sewed the sleeve and side seams for both the outer and lining fabrics, as per the original instructions.  I used a ball point needle and long zig zag stitch on the knit, but switched to a regular point needle and straight stitch for the minky.  
To attach the collar I sewed two rows of basting stitch along the lining neckline, and gathered until it was the same length as the inside edge of your collar.  
Then I sewed just the collar lining to the lining neckline, right sides together.
Since my outer fabric is very thick I decided it would be better to pleat it instead of gathering.  I started in the center and just continued outward, pinching and folding the fabric until it fit the correct length.  I didn't try to be too precise since my fabrics were very forgiving.
More pinning and sewing!  Minky can be pretty slippery.  My machine handles it pretty well, so I didn't use my walking foot.  I did use a lot of pins.
To add the ribbon ties I cut my ribbon to two 22 inch lengths, and sealed the ends with a lighter.
Then I basted them to lining, just underneath the collar on each side of the front.
Next I turned the outer shell inside out, and the lining right side out, and crammed the two together like this.
I started pinning the edges together by matching up the collar seams first. I found it easiest to pin along both fronts going down from the collar, then around the collar, and then across the bottom, being sure to line up my side seams across the bottom.  I also added some pins along the neckline seam to help keep the layers from getting skewed since my fabrics were pretty heavy.
I sewed all along the edge, completely encasing both layers.  I had to go pretty slowly to make sure everything stayed lined up properly.
Next I opened a hole in the side seam with my seam ripper and turned the whole thing right side out through this hole.  Whenever I make anything reversible I always do it like this, instead of leaving an unstitched area on the hem like most patterns call for.  I think it gives a much nicer finish, and it's a lot easier to stitch the lining seam closed again then it is to stitch the edge closed.
Almost done!  Just the sleeve hems to finish!
I folded the outer sleeve hem up a half an inch and stitched it down.
Then I folded the rest of the outer sleeve up over the lining sleeve, to make a wide cuff. 
I opted to hand stitch the cuffs down for a nice clean finish.
Then I just had to hand stitch the lining closed again, and it was all done and ready for cuteness!  All in all, this project only took me a few hours from start to finish, and the result is pretty fantastic if you ask me! 

As you can see here, Bunny is getting so big!  She's crawling all over the place, and takes any opportunity she can to try and walk.  She's so curious and adventurous.  I can't believe she's going to be a whole year old in just two months time!

Stay tuned for part three!

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