Lekala 4298: My New Little Black Coat

Lekala 4298 Seamed Coat Detail - WithNeedleAndThreadSeveral weeks ago, in the middle of a small heat wave, I had the crazy desire to make a winter coat. Out of wool. Heavy, cozy, black wool. In 80+ degree weather. It was a bit of an odd time for this fabric to start speaking to me, but I decided to run with it and get a jump on my winter sewing.

I picked up this great wool fabric when it went on end-of-season clearance at FabricMart last spring, with the goal of making a classic/traditional black coat, but with no plan or pattern in mind other than knowing that I want to make just another black coat. I used Lekala 4298, a knee-ish length coat with princess seams in the back, and decorative/shaping seams in the front. I was drawn to the interesting and unique seamlines on the front of this coat, which I hoped would give a bit of subtle visual interest to a black coat (and I think it worked out exactly as I hoped).

The pattern seems to have been …inspired… by this Burberry pattern. Which apparently sold for around $3,000 when it was in stores.

The shell Lekala 4298 Seamed Coat Front - WithNeedleAndThreadof this coat is made up of eighteen pieces, six of which make up the front. None of those six pieces resemble traditional coat or jacket pattern pieces, at least none that I’ve encountered in the past. I nicknamed this my “jigsaw puzzle coat” fairly early on in the process, as working with the oddly shaped pieces was a bit like putting together a puzzle. The instructions did help with the construction order for the strangely shaped pieces, but I could have used a few diagrams in with the writing – it took me a few more tries than I care to admit to get the front of the coat correctly sewn together. After I solved the pattern piece puzzle, I colored the seam allowances of the various pieces in different colors so that I have a color coded guide for if/when I decide to sew this pattern again.

The fact that Lekala patterns are custom to your measurements gave me a great starting point on this coat, and I didn’t have to make many alterations. The only alterations I made were to raise and make smaller the armscye and narrow the sleeves.

The pattern calls for all of those fancy seams on the front to be topstitched, but seems to ignore the back of the coat (save for adding the tabbed belt piece). I decided that if I were going to be spending all the time on the seaming and topstitching on the front of the coat that the back deserved some, too, and added topstitching to the side and back seams.

I knew from my muslin that I was going to make several substantive design changes, as well, mostly do to my lack of height. I shortened the coat by several inches to get a car or walking coat length, as the original pattern’s hem fell at a funny spot on me and made me look shorter than I already am (and I aim for my clothing making me look taller, if anything). Since I shortened the pattern, I didn’t feel the need for the back vent, and left that off.Lekala 4298 Seamed Coat Back - WithNeedleAndThread

The pattern called for, if I recall correctly, seven 3/4″ to 1″ buttons on the front, not even carrying the buttons through to the hem of the coat – seven buttons all on a smidge more than half the length of the coat. Which I guess would work on a super tall model, but I thought that felt way too crowded on my coat (again – I’m short), and only used three.

I left off the huge (on me) angled pocket flaps, then went ahead and also left off the pockets themselves as I felt they broke up and distracted from the great seaming details on the front, which, to me, were the main attraction of the pattern. I contemplated adding in-seam pockets to the side seams, but decided that wasn’t the most comfortable place for pockets and then managed to convince myself that I didn’t really need pockets as I almost always have a purse with me and can shove all of my stuff in that rather than in pockets. And use gloves if it gets that cold here. But, really, where I live, the coat should keep me warm enough.

 

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A Closetful of Jeans

Over the past few months, I’d noticed that despite having many pair of jeans, I was drawn to the same 2 or 3 pairs of jeans everyday, and I had been running into problems figuring out what to wear when all three pairs were in the wash. When I stopped to think about it, I realized that all three pairs were jeans that I’d made, and that I had no intention of wearing the closet-full of store bought jeans for anything other than yard work or puttering around the house. Partially inspired by the great timing of Pattern Review’s One Pattern, Many Looks contest, I decided to donate all of the old jeans that I hadn’t been wearing and replace them with better-fitting, me-made jeans.

The One Pattern, Many Looks contest challenges you to use one pattern to make 2 or more different garments without making any substantive changes to the pattern itself. The goal is to use different fabrics, trims, embellishments, etc. to create a variety of different looks without needing to go through the fitting and alterations process for each item. For the contest, in the case of self-drafted patterns such as my jeans, the first pair made counts as the base pattern, which determines what you can and cannot change in subsequent versions. In preparation for me jeans-making spree, I tweaked my base jeans pattern a bit, adjusting the grainlines, rise, and pocket curve. Because my pattern is for stretch denim, and each stretch denim stretches differently, I had been basting each pair together, tweaking for fit, making note of the correct seam allowances and where needed deviating from the norm, and then carefully un-stitching everything before sewing them up for real. With the first pair that I made for the contest, I changed my construction order, making it easier to adjust the fit with less seam-ripping.

I used my tnt jeans pattern, which I made a few years ago using Kenneth King’s Craftsy class, and tweak for fit every few months. I ended up making 5 pairs of jeans during the month that this contest ran.

This pair is a medium-weight stretch denim from FabricMart Fabrics. If I remember correctly, it was Marc Jacobs fabric. The back of the fabric is primarily white, and I thought about doing some sort of color blocking to play up the reversibility of the denim, but decided to stick with the more classic, solid color and subtle tone-on-tone topstitching. Since they were pretty basic once sewn, I decided to add a bit of embroidery to the back pockets, and a second decorative button and loop (non-functioning, purely decorative) to the front to give them a bit more personality without making them too casual.

I’ve never been a huge fan of the classic bright gold on dark denim look on jeans, so for my take on “classic, dark wash jeans”, I went with a goldish-brown for my topstitching and the embroidery on the back pockets. The ‘contrast’ stitching became a bit less contrast and more subtle after the first run through the wash, and I’m hoping it doesn’t lose any more brightness in the future. Other than that, they are pretty much your standard jeans, without the coin pocket (which I’ve never seen the point of and rarely put on any of my jeans). The denim is a medium-weight stretch denim that I got more than a year ago from FabricMart Fabrics.

Since my attempt at a dark wash jean with contrast stitching sort of flopped, I decided to go with a definite contrast for this pair, in an effort to make a more casual pair of jeans. I ‘auditioned’ a variety of colors on a scrap of fabric before settling on two lines of stitching for most topstitched seams: a thick white thread closest to the seam and two strands of blue variegated threads for the second row. I used the bolder of the two variegated threads for the embroidery on the back pockets. With the exception of the back pockets, the fabric/thread combination isn’t quite as ‘in your face’ as I had expected, and I like the finished product a lot more than I expected.

Made with Black Bebe Diagonal Twill-Weave Knit from FabricMart, this is my take on the jeggings/yoga pant craze that seems to be sweeping the nation. After basting most of the pants together to see how much I had to adjust due to using a knit rather than a woven (turns out, not at all with this fabric), I realized that these actually slightly resembled slacks rather than jeans. So, following that thought, I left off the back patch pockets, changed the front pockets to slash pockets rather than the classic jeans pocket curve, and eliminated some of the classic jeans topstitching. The stretch of this fabric also allowed me to eliminate the traditional zippered/button fly for a faux fly and make pull-on, elastic waist pants. For the elastic waistband, I used my regular contour waistband pattern piece, and added a narrow strip of elastic to the top seam. Since it was elastic waist, I also left off the belt loops for a smoother fit.

Inspired by these buttons, I decided to make something a little more fun than a standard black jean with black stitching, and went with a medium-weight charcoal black denim, light grey-blue contrast stitching with a hint of shine (embroidery thread). To further show off the buttons, I added buttoned flaps to the back pockets. Well, really faux flaps, as I like the look of flapped/buttoned pockets, but in reality like my pockets to be easily accessible and get frustrated when I have to unbutton a pocket to slip my phone in. I sewed the flaps first, then serged the top edge of the flap into the facing of the pocket so that I would maintain the look of a separate flap, but would have an open pocket. The button goes through both the flap and the patch pocket but not through the back of the jeans.

Burberry Brit- Inspired Outfit

Since I’ve started making my own clothes, I’ve found that I enjoy browsing catalogs/websites searching for inspiration. Back in the beginning of March, we got a thick Bloomingdales catalog in the mail (they were advertising some upcoming sale, if I recall correctly). Out of the entire catalog (which was close to an inch thick), I tore out about 6 pages of things I liked – either in color, silhouette, or style. Apparently I liked one complete outfit much more than I realized I did because it kept popping back into my head off and on for the next few weeks. Even through I’ve never been a huge fan of stripes or polka dots, these fabrics started catching my eye – in other garments, in store windows, and in fabric shops (the most dangerous place known to woman). When I saw the Barganista Fashionista challenge on Pattern Review, I knew that I had to make this outfit that had so constantly wiggled its way into my subconscious.

At the time I began this project, I couldn’t find photos of any of the three pieces online. About midway through the month, they did appear on Bloomingdales’ website. However, the blazer has the stripes going in the opposite direction (vertical rather than horizontal) and the pockets are a bit different. I like the horizontal stripes much better, so I decided to stick with the original magazine photo rather than the photos from the website.

These pieces are:
Burberry Brit White and Navy Striped Blazer: $465
White and Navy Polka Dot Sweater: $350
Navy Highcross Skinny Trousers: $325
The total cost for this outfit is $1,140

With Needle And Thread - Burberry Inspired Outfit

For my outfit, I started with the blazer, which seemed like the most time-consuming piece. Since I’ve never worked with stripes, it seemed like darts rather than princess seams would be the better choice. So, I started looking for a pattern that would suit these needs. I ended up using Lekala 5018, a classic darted blazer and making a few tweaks to make it look more like the inspiration blazer, The fabric is, I believe a cotton canvas type home decor fabric that my mom picked up at a flea market several years ago. She got a bolt that had about 7 yards for $5 ($.072 per yard). While the inspiration jacket claims to be navy stripes, the first time I saw the photo, I was sure they were teal stripes, and a perfect match for my fabric. I still like the teal stripes.

As far as the pattern goes, it fit well “out of the envelope” and I only had to make a few fitting tweaks: removing some ease from the sleeve head and narrowing the sleeve by about an inch. I also lowered the break of the lapel and curved the front hem rather than using the straight lines of the pattern. I decided not to line this jacket, and instead drafted a back facing to attach to the front facings/lapels. Even after washing, this fabric is rather stiff and bulky, so I decided to simply serge all of the raw edges around the hems/sleeves/facings. I opted against shoulder pads, going for more a dressy jean jacket type feel, and used random white buttons from my stash. This was my first time working with striped fabric, and I am fairly happy with how the stripes lined up throughout the jacket.

I had planned on making patch pockets with flaps, as in the inspiration photo, and even cut them out, but didn’t like the way they fit on my jacket, so I decided to leave off the pockets. Yay for making clothes yourself and being able to do whatever you want with the finished look.

Cost: $1.94
Fabric: $0.72 x 2 yards = $1.44
Notions: 2 3/4″ buttons from my stash, $0.55

It was harder than I thought it would be to find a white with dark dots polka dot fabric. I finally found a white polka dot cotton jersey at lowpricefabric.com. I ordered the fabric (1 yard at $4.00) on a Saturday and had the top finished the following Friday. I did deviate from the original inspiration a bit in this piece. The Burberry top was a long sleeve sweater, and since Summer is quickly coming (and it’s a relatively warm Spring), I went for 3/4 length sleeves. I used my tnt knit top pattern, NL 6735, in which I have made the armscye smaller, changed the angle of the shoulder, removed ease from the sleeve head and sleeve, raised the neckline, and removed some ease from the sideseams through the waist area. I gave my top a banded neckline, and used my coverstitch machine to hem the sleeves and bottom hem.

Cost:$4.00
Fabric: $4.00 x 1 yard = $4.00
Notions: none

In the inspiration photo, it looked like the model was wearing dark skinny jeans, so that is what I decided to make (coincidentally, dark skinny jeans have been on my ‘to make’ list for several months, so that is one thing to cross off). When the pants finally appeared online, I realized that they actually aren’t jeans, but decided to stick with my jeans anyway. The jeans were easily the most expensive undertaking for this outfit, though that’s not saying much. I used a dark denim that I bought last year from Fabric.com. The pattern is my tnt jeans pattern that I made using Kenneth King’s Jeanious class on Craftsy, and have used many times before. My pattern is a cross between straight and bootcut legs, and I wanted tapered legs. Since all stretch denims seem to stretch differently, I baste the legs on every pair before stitching the inseam/sideseam, which provides me with the perfect opportunity to tweak the seam allowances all along the leg for a custom tapered fit. I’ve found that I like a skirt/slacks zipper better than the traditional jeans zipper because the pulls are typically less bulky and are less likely to create ridges along the fly.

Cost: $11.86
Fabric: 6.98 x 1.5 yards = 10.47
notions: basic 7″ zipper and jeans button from my stash, both of which I bought in bulk several months ago, $.039

Total cost for all 3 items: 17.85
Total percent savings: 98.4%