Sewing

Exhilaration and Heartbreak: My Sewholic Minoru Story

I FINISHED MY FIRST COAT!!!

Jacket. Coat. Outwear. What-have-you.

I bought this pattern FIVE mofoing years ago, and it finally has taken form… my very own Sewaholic Minoru.

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But this story is not rainbows and unicorns, it’s also shitty Parisian polyester.  And now, it shall begin…

Gonna start out by mentioning in advance that yes, that is lipstick on my teeth, and Vain Jess considered taking all of these photos again, but Lazy Jess won out.  Also, you’ll notice Emo Jess apparently came out to play.  So, here we are…

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I traced this pattern years ago and it hung in my closet, waiting for love.  Why did I hang it?  Dunno.  Didn’t want to iron it later?

After seeing a few wondering Minorus at last year’s PR Weekend in Chicago, I decided it was time to finally DO THIS THING and in time to wear this Spring.  And I did!  For once.

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Anywho, I’d prepped a size 8 and added a 1″ FBA, which would have worked pretty well for five years ago me.  This is why you follow through, people, you waste less time.  This year me decided a 10 with a 1″ FBA (each side, so 2″ extra) was appropriate for my shoulders/bust/chest, moving down for a 6 at the hip (since I am not a pear).  With a 37.5-38″ bust, seemed perfect.

It is not perfect.

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Mistake #1:  I did not make a muslin, because I was feeling feisty.

But we’ll delve deeply into my missteps in a minute; I’m getting ahead of myself.  Let’s talk about fabric, design changes, and some notes on notions and fit.

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Fabric

The main body is Robert Kaufman Modern Canvas, which I bought during Craftsy’s big clearance sale in December.  It’s just like it’s described:  a light weight canvas feel.  When I got it, I thought it would wrinkle too much to be practical for a jacket, but it’s turned out to be just fine.

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The lining is a super awesome and funky polyester I got from a “coupon” shop in Paris on our honeymoon.  There is a lot of love and hate associated with this fabric in my mind at this moment.

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Regardless of my lining angst, I really do love the pop of color peeking out from the pockets and in the hood.

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Design Changes

The only pocket in this jacket is an inside chest pocket.  For serious?  This is  OUTERWEAR.  I added some zippered welt pockets, really guessing on placement and size, and am so happy with how they came out.  Here’s what the pocket placement looks like from the inside; the top edge of the welt opening is about 2″ down from the elastic casing (if it were to continue) and about 2″ from the (finished) side seam of the jacket:

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I used 7″ zippers for the 6″ welts, and will definitely put the pockets in the same exact place again if I make this coat again.

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The other design change I made was to line the hood.  Why?  I couldn’t imagine not having a sloppy looking underside after topstitching over a curved area, such as the center of the hood.  Plus, pretty fabric.

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Speaking of hoods, here’s a neato gif of the transition from collar to hood.  Probably my favorite part of this jacket!

Sewaholic Minoru:  Collar to Hood

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Notions

I had the worst time with zippers on this damn thing.  I ordered what was directed on the back of the pattern envelope for the collar and front, and neither worked as shown in the line drawing.  UGH.

With the FBA, the front of the jacket lengthened about 1″.  I forgot to lengthen the center front panels (and thus ended up hemming my jacket an inch shorter than intended, which is fine) so that is not the issue when it comes to this too-short zipper.  The pattern calls for 30″ for sizes 10+, but based on the pattern envelope line drawings, it really should be 32″.

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As for the zipper in the back of the collar, I ordered a 22″ zipper (which definitely measured 22″) but after sewing it was about an inch short.  WHYYY?!  That zipper matched my center front zip, both ordered from Wawak.  I did not want to order and pay to ship a single zipper, so I went to JoAnn and found a weakass replacement.

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For topstitching, I used the 3x stitch on my machine (or whatever the hell it’s called).  It therefore took me 3 times as long to do every bit of topstitching, but it was worth it to have the exact matching thread color (and to avoid the hellish Gutermann topstitching thread:  I still have flashbacks)

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Fit Changes

Besides the FBA, the only big changes made were to the sleeves.  Just holding them up to my arm I could see they were waaay too long.  I shortened them 2″ and am happy with the length.  I don’t consider myself especially, uh, short armed, so take heed.

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The cuffs were also way too big for my wrists using the size 10 on the elastic elastic chart.  They’re still pretty roomy, but way better looking, after cutting a couple of inches off. So, ya know, measure your wrists and compare.

Sewing Challenges

Most of the construction of this coat was pretty smooth going; it was just a time consuming process.  That said, notable areas of frustration include:

  1.  Sewing the slippery lining
  2.  Nicely stitching in the ditch at the base of the collar (it looks bad on the inside; don’t look too closely)
  3. Sewing on the cuffs as directed
  4. My poor attempt to “bag a lining” which ended in much seam ripping.  This one’s on me, though.  The pattern doesn’t call for it.

To make lining up the waist elastic casing easier, I sewed a machine basting stitch over the lines I marked while cutting.  I figured the coat would be handled a lot and my markings would fade, and then I’d be frustrated.  Happy with this move.

And then, one day, I was DONE with my coat.  I happily wore it home from the sewing gathering I’d attended.  First thing I noticed when I put it on was the back was a bit tight.  Uh oh.  But, I made a size that should have been plenty big enough!  Well, it’ll probably be OK, right?  RIGHT?

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After wearing it a few times a week for the last few weeks, I also determined that in addition to the need for a broad shoulder adjustment, the armscye was awfully high. So high it was uncomfortable.  Not unlike my experience with the Sewaholic Renfrew.

Mistake #2:  Not learning from previous patterns designed by the same company.  I should have realized that this would be drafted similarly.  Also, see Mistake #1.

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If I make another, I will definitely be lowering the armscye (and underarm of the sleeve) by at least 1″.  I will also probably be making a size 12 and/or adding a broad back adjustment.

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But then it happened last week; my finger poked something while I was putting the coat on…WTF is going on?

I look down and…

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FUCKING HELL!!!

Is there any way to fix (or quell the spread of this scourge) this without taking the whole damn thing, complete with 3x stitching, apart?

Mistake #3:  Used slippery, fray-when-you-look-at-it fabric and did not finish my seams.  Thought it wouldn’t matter because they were on the INSIDE of the garment.  Noooo.  Sad face.

What I learned, or was reminded of, based on these mistakes:

  • #1:  Just make a damn muslin.  You’re gonna be sorry if you don’t.
  • #2:  If an aspect of a garment pattern by the same designer previously used didn’t work for you then, it’s probably not going to magically work correctly for your body now.
  • #3:  If you’re putting a lot of time into something already, put a little more time in to do it right.

So here I am, in my jacket I was so proud of that is just a little fucked up in fit and finish.  But hey, I did it.  I MADE A COAT!

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14 thoughts on “Exhilaration and Heartbreak: My Sewholic Minoru Story”

  1. I love the color, inside and out! I appreciate that you blog what you consider mistakes on your part. I also sometimes skip a step and later regret it. You might have to pull that apart to fix it. :(

    1. Yeah, I know. UGH. All of that triple stitching at the hem…TWO rows of it. And it’s not just that the lining is coming unstitched, it’s shredded at the seam. ARGH!!! :*(

      1. Yeah, that sucks. Okay, here’s what I did once but this was on a bag. I fused a piece of the same fabric over the shredded seam. It was nearly invisible, I didn’t have to unsew anything, and it held up. Is that the only seam doing it?

  2. Here’s what I might try, but bear in mind I’m the worst kind of lazy sewer- Fray-Check the SHIT out of it and just stitch it closed. It probably won’t be beautiful and probably won’t hold forever, but it might be enough until you’ve re-covered from the trauma and can make another one.

    Love the jacket and this post in general, but I especially love that the title straight-up sounds like a Lifetime movie :-D

  3. I love your review. I finished my Minoru earlier this year and while it’s okay, it’s definitely not my favorite piece, but like you, yay, I made a coat! Mine is a lovely purple denim lined with an alphabet print flannel, but the hood is ENORMOUS and the lining is too bulky for comfort. Like you, I said, fuck it, and put it in my closet. Maybe I’l wear it next winter (its 90F here now). :/

    1. Woohoo, yeah for coat making, Laura! *high five*

      Yeah, the hood is pretty massive; I wonder how it’ll hold up in any kind of wind (probably not well!).

      Amen to fuck it. :) It’s the cure for many ails.

  4. Such an awesome coat, you should be mighty proud. You’ve learnt a lot and it looks great 💗 I would either fray check and try and hand stitch shut, fuse like the above comment or make a funky patch/label and sew/fuse it over. Unpicking that amount of stitching could damage the outer fabric (and I’m to lazy) I muslined this coat ages ago, it was so off I never bothered again

    1. Yeah, it definitely has a fit for a very particular body. If I had muslined it I wouldn’t have been in this situation…or maybe I just never would have made it at all, like you! That has definitely happened before. :P

      I’m probably going to go the fuse-y route since I agree unpicking could cause some issues, and I think it’s a bit too threadbare at the seams for the fray check approach to be effective. :\

  5. I’ve been looking forward to seeing your coat. It looks great.

    How very annoying about the lining shredding. I don’t think I have any suggestions beyond what you have already. For next time I would say that fabric probably wasn’t strong enough for a coat lining. I don’t think it’s just not finishing the seams (I’ve done that too – out of sight, out of mind!) that did this. You should also add extra ease to a lining as they tend not to have as much give as the outer fabric (or as much strength) and so need more ease. Typically a coat will have a centre back pleat in the lining for this reason, and there are also recommendations to add more ease around the armhole among other places. An easy way to do this is to sew the lining armhole seam with a smaller seam allowance in the underarm area. A good reference is Easy Guide to Sewing Linings by Connie Long.

    I hope that’s useful information even though it’s too late for this time. It is a good looking coat and I hope you manage to patch it well enough to get a decent amount of wear out of it.

    What is the slope on your pockets? i.e. how far down from the elastic is the lowest point of the pocket? I’m still planning to make this sometime and absolutely agree that I’ll want external pockets so tips about where to put them would be great.

    1. Thank you! Yeah, I think you’re right that the lining fabric choice was probably just bad. It could have definitely used some more body (which hopefully would have made for less raveling, too). I did know about the center back pleat thing, but had hoped extra ease had been already figured into the lining (of course I didn’t measure to find out. Eye roll toward me). Thanks for the book rec!

      I’ll take a look at the coat tonight and let you know the slope!

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