Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Christmas Woodland Creatures

Making my own Christmas decorations has been a bit of a tradition since we moved into our own first house about ten years ago with only a car boot full of belongings to our name.  We didn't have much cash to squander on non-practicals but I did have my sewing machine and was given some tartan wool fabric to make cushions.  Instead I used it to make star shapes which I strung together on gold string and hung them everywhere.  Making our own decorations is also something of a family tradition, I still have some made by my mum, beautifully bugle-beaded felt shapes that hang from the tree every year. This year sees the addition of some cheeky woodland characters who live together in a festive garland.  

I have made one or two of these just about every evening this week, sketching a template using inspiration from British woodland and garden animals and birds.  I've tried to keep the shapes simple and exaggerate their colours and markings in each case.

The shapes are cut out of felt and hand sewn together.  There is a front and back section for each animal, with a little wadding slotted in between (some leftover bump interlining from a curtain-making project in this case, but you could use a couple of extra layers of felt).  I added the details such as paws, tails or other features on the front half of the animal before sandwiching it all together and sewing around the edges.  Not forgetting to tuck in a loop of ribbon at the top to hang them up with.

Here's the back of the bristly badger.  

Robin and fox appeared first, followed by badger, wren, thrush, owl and the little doe.

All this has been done whilst sitting on the sofa in front of the television with minimal need for concentration or application, just happy faffing around with scissors and felt and a box of trimmings.  What I hadn't noticed immediately, was how mildly annoyed they all appear to be!  Mr Cunningham the Fox looks as though he might be already anticipating with trepidation the boxing day hunt, the curmudgeonly badger is most definitely in a surly mood and even the red squirrel looks cross.  Perhaps because he can't quite reach that tantalisingly sparkly pear. 

The little eyes are all black, metallic glass beads to give twinkle.  I wanted to keep the stitches visible and used a mixture of cotton thread and some thicker embroidery silk for the sewing together, I think it suggests quite well their fur or feathers.  Whip stitch keeps the front and back sections together nicely but you could use blanket stitch to good effect. This little collection of creatures are very cute and very festive, nestling between the pinecones and lights in their forest garland.  Even if some of them are looking a bit Bah Humbug!  

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Wool Tweed ChrisMoose Present

Here's a sneaky look at one of my Christmas makes, which may or may not (ahem!) be a present for somebody.  At the moment I'm wobbling about giving it away, as it's extremely cute and my children will snaffle it if they catch sight of him.  The pattern for "Chris Moose" was inside Sew magazine recently (October edition that featured the Christmas 2015 templates) and although I don't often sew craft items or soft toys, as my house could honestly be filled to the rafters with them, the tweedy combinations of this toy appealed to me, as well as the opportunity to use up some stash fabric.  

Also with Christmas approaching I am definitely much more inclined to indulge my urge to enjoy make crafty things and cute stuff, and then I can give it away.

This festive fellow is actually made out of some fabric from yet another charity shop find that made its way into my stash a few weeks ago, when the winter apparel started to appear on the rails.  It was a pure wool tweed, full length skirt from Laura Ashley.  Sadly a size or two too big for me and as it was supposed to be a fairly slim fitting style, it was very obviously baggy around the waist and hips even when wearing a longer top to cover the top few inches.  I could have adjusted it of course, taking the waist band off, taking the seams in and perhaps adding some darts for shape.  But to be honest that's not why I bought the skirt.  It was purely for the beautiful dark brown herringbone wool.  

The refashion/remake pile is a stash I try not to let get too big because I could end up with just a big pile of unwearable clothes that are going nowhere fast.  I dislike having to alter clothes generally, I do find that unless I really see the potential for altering that will reveal a fantastic result, it tends to be dull, faffy and fiddly sewing and lowest on the priority list for me. I have been known to apply myself to altering things, if it's a piece I love and I absolutely know it will be worth doing, like the grey leather skirt I took up recently, but I normally defer to making something completely from scratch.  However picking up interesting garments that are made of lovely fabric, from charity and thrift shops or table top sales, is irresistible to me.  Something of quality will always come in useful to me.

Working with pure wool is a real treat I think, and just as much with little novelties like this as with a garment to wear.  It is easy to work and shape, has great colour and is soft, warm and durable.  Chris is sporting several different types of wool here with his red check antlers, forest-green herringbone hooves, cream check belly and toffee coloured ears all being made up of contrasting little pieces and offcuts.  He has definitely got the cuddle factor, but also looks nice hanging out on the sofa in a seasonally appropriate kind of way.

His eye is tricky to see here as the enormous moosey antlers are casting a shadow over his smiley face!  The weather has been so awful here lately, the dark days have made taking photographs a bit of a challenge, hence the bright kitchen lights making deep shadows inevitable. Anyway you can just make out that I've used some black silk embroidery thread in satin stitch to make his peepers, although I could just as well have used buttons, which would have been a cute addition.  I've used beige thread for his mouth (slightly wonky sewing evident here, but adds character, no?) and two nostrils.  

His body needs the stuffing packing pretty tight in order to stay upright and so the legs don't buckle (I used washable, polyester stuffing that is specially for soft toys but you could also used material scraps if you wanted).  He holds up very sturdily then on his four legs, albeit with a rather John Wayne stance about the rear end!  You need to interface the antlers so they stay rigid and don't flop around too much, but as you can see here they stay up quite well.  The pattern recommends you sew the tail onto the body after stuffing and sewing up, however I chose to insert his tail into the seams between the body and gusset before sewing, as I think it looks neater.

I've finished him off with a ribbon round his neck and a little spotty bell.  This is a pattern that could, with a little alteration easily become a reindeer, using grey brown colours and the changing the shape of his antlers from rounded to pointy.  There's plenty more wool in the stash for a few more friends to join him!

Friday, 20 November 2015

Winter Berry Satin Dress with Leopard Sleeves

Wow, what a quick make this turned out to be!  This satin dress with transparent sleeves was cut, sewn and finished in no time at all.  I had a short hold-up in the middle when I had to go and purchase a zip in the right colour, but other than that it was the work of but a few hours over a couple of evenings.  Snip, sew and ready to party!

I love this luscious deep winter berry shade fabric.  It's a medium weight, stretch satin with a beautiful drape and was originally destined for either a bomber jacket or a dress.  After completing a number of jackets and coats over the last couple of months I decided on this dress, New Look K6144 which was free with Sew magazine earlier this year.  

The pattern is quite straightforward with only three main pieces and easy-peasy raglan sleeves, but it has a bit of interest around the neckline with a deep fold that also shows off the fabric a little bit.  I had already started making a toile for this dress back in the summer with the idea that it would make a cotton poplin dress for the summer holidays, but I never got round to it.  Partly this was because the weather was so awful at the time (rain, rain, rain) that I was rather put off making pretty sundresses.  So making the same dress style in satin for the winter, using this pattern and using the adjustments I'd already tried on the toile, seemed to make sense.  I was already half way there.

I had bought the contrasting plum and navy leopard print at the same time as the satin and I used it on this garment for the raglan sleeve sections.  As luck would have it I found just enough light-weight navy blue lining in my fabric stash that was perfect for the job too.  The pattern doesn't include instructions for a lining, but it was easy enough to draft one.  I used the same pieces as the body of the dress and used the shape of the finished neckline after pleating it as a template for the front neck.  The neckline of the dress itself is slashed down the middle and then each side folded together to make and crossover two way pleat at the front.  

I took two or three attempts to get this right and had to unpick and re-sew in the end as the fabric is very drapey and naturally wants to drop.  The pleat needed securely sewing in place to make the correct shape.  If I was using a fabric with a bit more structure like cotton or silk then I think the fold would be a more obvious feature  The raglan sleeves then fitted nicely onto each armhole.

I hemmed each sleeve with the slimmest double hem I could manage to make the most of the transparent fabric.

These photographs above, of the fabric and dress in construction, were taken as the light in my studio faded from early evening into night and the colours are appearing to change quite dramatically!  The dress is actually a deep berry shade rather than cerise pink and the leopard is the same colour with navy print.  The sheen on the fabrics do create a nice depth of colour when the light changes.

I photographed these winter berries on my daily dog walk and they are a pretty good match.  I quite like the bright golden yellow lichen colour as a contrast here too!  

The rest of the dress is simply a plain shift, shaped with darts front and back.  I only lined the main body of the dress using the same pieces as cut from the satin, not the sleeves as I needed them to remain floaty.  The size I cut is a 12 however I did end up needing to let the side seams and darts out a little around the hips and could have done with grading out to a size 14 here.  I've made a note on my pattern.  Because the fabric is shiny it does tend to spotlight every curve in high definition, so although the top half is fine, with the soft folds around the neck, I felt more comfortable with a bit more ease further down!

There is the option to make a wide, wrap around obi-belt, however I chose to keep the lines simple and not add anything else.  I always have the feeling that my proportions don't really suite belted dresses because they tend to ride up right under my ribs where the smallest part of my waist naturally is, and the phrase 'sack tied in the middle' comes to mind.  There is enough shaping in the dress through the seams and darts for my liking, although you could cut the body of the dress straighter and create interesting shapes by cinching it in the middle with a tie belt.  

I realise I haven't shown any photos of the back (I find this hard to do with my iPhone set on timer, propped up on the bird-table as I can't see what's in the frame with my back to it!).  However the zip is set into the back seam and with hindsight should probably have been down a size seam, or alternatively an invisible zip.  It's fine, but the shiny fabric does make it slightly more obvious that I would have ideally liked it to be.  

I like using up stuff I already have lying around, like this blue lining, especially as my fabric hoard is I admit getting a little bit out of hand.  There is everything from lime green fun-fur to navy and yellow wool tweed and fine silk organza in here.  There are green and purple suede skins, recycled lace curtains and two crammed shoe boxes of antique lace trim.  I have furnishing fabric in wine coloured brocade as well as 60's psychedelic satin, gold sequin mesh and some cotton bought from Thailand with peach coloured Hello Kitty print.  The Cloth House bag hanging in pride of place is filled with gorgeous fabric that they were selling off for only £3 per metre, feather light pure wool suiting and beautiful silks too good to turn down for the price and yet I've still no idea what half of it will be made into.  In fact, diving into my stash cupboard is often where I get my ideas.  Recycling and reusing bits and pieces or putting different textures and prints together is a favourite way of getting inspired for me and something that often keeps happily awake at night.

Having just photographed and properly acknowledged this stash of fabric by writing about it here, I really should step away from the fabric shops and tell myself I don't need to buy very much more fabric in the next year or so.  There must be plenty of projects in here for a while yet and probably some of the long-term residents could be given away in order to fulfil their potential elsewhere and free up some space.  In the meantime, a Hello Kitty and sequin ballgown perhaps? Or lurex and suede pyjamas??  Who knows what Frankenstein creations might emerge!

Monday, 9 November 2015

Foxy Tweed and Leather Cushion

I'm starting to think about all the things I want to make for my home that I still haven't got round to doing.  We have been decorating over the last few weeks and when all the painting is done and the furniture moved back into the sitting room, I'd like to have some lovely new cushions to throw around and a new cover for the old ottoman.  Also I'm planning my list of Christmas gifts to make this year.  I don't make clothes for other people as I think choosing clothes is a very personal thing and I'm also aware I personally have quite eclectic tastes, some of which won't be for everyone!  But I do like making other kinds of things for people and last Christmas I really enjoyed sewing some handmade gifts for family.  Obviously I will have to take care how I blog about them as I make them this year, as that would be a bit of a give away.  But here is a gift that I made last year, a wool tweed cushion trimmed with leather.  The appliqué design is of a fox.  He looks just like the fox on my allotment, who I sometimes see standing motionless with his pointy nose sniffing the air, before he spots me coming down the path and melts away under the bramble bushes.

I used larger sections of tweed for the background in soft cream, grey and beige and at the bottom left a forest green.  Then I enjoyed spending time piecing together my foxy face using deep reds, heather and rust coloured tweed scraps.  I have a whole box full of offcuts and samples that were given to me in the hope I could use them up somehow as they are such gorgeous colours and lovely quality wool.  Some of the pieces are only a couple of inches square, but perfect for this sort of project.  I've also seen bags of offcuts come up on eBay from time to time as factories and mills sometimes sell these by weight.  You can never be sure what you get in the bag of course, although you may be lucky and find one or two of good lengths.  But for crafty projects a nice mix of scraps is just as good.

I drew a fox head first on sturdy paper and then cut up the drawing into pieces.  I used the paper shapes to work out how the sections would fit together and play around with the colours.  I wanted to leave some of the background showing through where his brown felt eye is in the middle.  I also wanted his neck ruff to gradually disappear into broken sections, almost as though he's melting away into his tweedy background.  I've used a mixture of stitches here to simply appliqué the design onto the backing sections and decided to use one colour thread all the way through, making the stitches visibly part of the patchwork effect.  I've also used pinking shears to crimp the edge some of the pieces to add more texture.

His nose and one section of his neck ruff is cut out in brown leather and there are leather button loops at the back.  The leather is recycled from an old garment.  I used a fairly deep overlap section at the back of the cushion to insert the pad through and two button closures.

The back is one piece of lovely cream and caramel coloured wool and edges are finished with piping in the same fabric.  I always use feather cushion pads on the inside as I think they look and feel nicer than synthetic ones and they mould better to the shape you need them when snuggling up.  Another good tip, if you're using feather pads, is to always cut the cushion cover slightly smaller than the size of your cushion pad.  This makes sure the feathers really fill the whole area right to the corners and the cushion looks plump and luxurious.  This won't work if you use a synthetic pad though, when you should cut the cover to fit the pad exactly or it will just buckle inside.  I'm glad to say the cushion was received well and went to join a collection of foxy furnishings in his new abode!  I think I might take the idea and re-work it to create a design for my own home.  I have some lovely grey and blue shades of herringbone and check, which might make a bold badger or a cheeky rabbit.  

A collection of blue-grey toadstools could also work in these colours and I quite like this off-cut of Osborne & Little fabric called 'Mementoes' that I have in my stash.  This would make lovely cushions, which I can pop them straight over the existing cotton cushion covers and instantly have a new and different look for the room this winter.  Cosy!

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Halloween Costume Hack!

Around here, Halloween is a big deal!  It was never something I remember celebrating as a child, although we did have turnip lanterns on bonfire night.  Nowadays in our neighbourhood, local streets and houses are transformed on 31 October into a village of creepy cottages, magical mansions, flickering pumpkin lanterns and plenty of freaky fun.  For the younger kids it's a chance to dress up, grab your swag bag and go around in the dark collecting sweets galore at each of the houses taking part.  Always with an adult hovering in the background to run back to, just in case the sweetie-giver happens to be dressed in a particularly convincing mask!  The older kids and teens revel in scaring each other and chancing their arm at getting a few goodies too.  It's definitely a family friendly affair and there are strict rules to the game.  If there is a pumpkin twinkling away outside to welcome you, then it is an invitation to knock and see who might be waiting inside to treat you, or make you jump.  If no pumpkin, then you respect that house's privacy and don't knock on the door.  

There is no such thing as going 'over the top' with decorations and some of the creations were truly theatrical in their ambition, with whole front gardens transformed into hammer horror style settings.  Even cars, wheely-bins and garages are dressed to thrill and the all important pumpkins ranged from simple smiley faces to works of art in carving. 

Our Halloween preparations started back in the spring, planting 'jack o lantern' seeds for home grown pumpkins on the allotment.  We watched them grow, proudly pointing out the biggest ones marked out as having the best lantern potential.  We harvested them last week, lugging them back with aching arms, turning one into soup, and the others have been sitting in jolly trio in the kitchen.  They've been glowing away, seasonally orange and waiting to be transformed into candle-lit, goblin-faced characters!  A good tip if you do grow your own is to always cut them with a good bit of stalk left on.  They'll keep a lot longer.

This year, there has been a lot of talk about children's dressing up costumes and the dangers of cheap synthetic fabric when in the presence of flames.  It horrifies me to think how easy it can be for a child in a witches costume to brush against a flickering candle and instantly find themselves trapped in a melting plastic prison.  So easily done and a life changing consequence.  It has made me think very differently about popping out for a quick and easy supermarket outfit for my kids to dress up in and so this year I'm taking a home made approach to kitting the the little demons out.  I have to be realistic and confess that I don't have the time or patience to create home made versions from scratch, although there are lots of great patterns for sale to make your own spooky outfits if you feel so inclined.  I have to confess also that I do have previous form in trying to cobble together my own costumes for parties we've had at home that have achieved varying levels of success.  In fact we used to hold a party every year and it became quite a challenge to make something that was even more outlandish than the last.  Brilliant fun, but less realistic with the ever growing list of other demands upon our time and energy and the increasing size and general boisterousness of the little demons.  The last house party saw me bound from head to foot in ripped sheets dressed as a mummy, which seemed like a good idea until I realised I'd spent the afternoon wrapping myself so meticulously well that I couldn't move or raise my arms to even eat and drink!

So I thought this year I would use up some of the kids' old clothes, some scraps from my stash, a few props and a bit of imagination instead.  No sewing!  I've also invested in some really good quality face paints, which I hope will not only transform a rather cobbled together costume into a convincing Halloween character, but I also reckon they will come in handy for future parties and school dressing up days too.  They've already been called into service to address a sudden request from school to dress as an alien.  One blue-painted child and a pair of deely-boppers and bingo!  One alien! Having spent £20 on 4 colours of paints as an investment then, I wanted to spend no more on the outfits, only working with what I have already.

And so, to the costumes.  The first items to get the Halloween treatment was a pair of red corduroy trousers that had worn through at the knee and a rather stained and crumpled t-shirt.  Both have been hanging around and used as play clothes, being too battered for the charity bag.  A few scissor snips and some artful ripping and we have a suitably zombified ensemble.  Face paints did the rest of the job, and thus complete the desired 'Sean of the Dead' look!  Scary!

The next outfit, a little witch, was basically a collection of grey 'normal' clothes (woolly dress and tights) with the addition of witchy hat and a cloak.  The cloak was simply a square of novelty material with black cobwebs on it that I have in my stash cupboard and have used as a table covering for halloween parties in the past. Of course black clothes would have been more traditionally witch-like I suppose, but I didn't have any black kids clothes and anyway, I didn't feel the need for a forensic level of accuracy here. Once again the face paints provided the transformative element to the look.

The little witch was a tricky moving target to snap and so she escaped me getting photo of her! I think it's fun to try and put together a 'home made' outfit and it's definitely more fun for the kids as you all try to collect together all the bits and bobs and make them work.  Then explaining who they're supposed to be to others when they fail to guess.  It does take more time of course than picking something off a rail, and sometimes you have to use a bit of imagination.  But that's all part of the charm.  Visiting friends and offering a makeover was fun too and I managed a skeleton, two cats and 'Malificent' before our motley crew headed off into the night.

The great thing about Halloween is that, while you can indulge covering everything and everyone in sight in heaps of glorious tat, it has all virtually disappeared by lunchtime the next day.  All the lost souls and living dead, jolly jokers and grinning goblins have been sent packing and the neighbourhood turns back into normal again.  Until next year! Mwah ha ha ha!

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Silver and Black Metallic Brocade Jacket

While late autumn sun still lingers but the nights seriously draw in I start to think about warmer fabrics, more decadent layering and perhaps .... just a little bit of sparkle to brighten things up? This is my first step into metallics this year. 

The jacket's inspiration came from some small pieces of fabulous pure silk brocade given to me by a friend.  

One of the advantages of people finding out you sew, and that you occasionally use remnants, oddments and cast offs, is that sometimes they give you really interesting and, in this case, incredibly beautiful fabric. This sumptuous black and silver woven silk brocade came to me in two very long, slender strips which were an off-cut from a much larger piece that was made into a throw for an interior design project.   These two pieces have therefore been stored away waiting for the right idea to emerge, as there was no opportunity to cut out anything more than a few inches wide.  This fitted jacket design was taken from Simplicity 2341. Its narrow sections and princess seams were perfect to fit close to the body and was a good project to use up the strips of fabric.  

The pattern gives you a number of options for customising the look, either with military hardware, a more classic biker style in leather or simple fitted, zip fronted jacket. I used a mixture of these design features and then added and customised some of my own ideas along the way.  

My version of the jacket features a stand up, mandarin style collar and shoulder epaulettes that layer across the front in two flaps secured by a button.  The silk is a soft, aged silver colour with a low level sheen and a matt, woven leaf design in black. It's so unusual and almost glows without being too shiny.  It also sews beautifully.  I chose to use contrasting, plain black wool fabric and decided to make the arms out of the same black wool too that I picked up some time ago in a sale. I was working with extremely limited amounts of the metallic silk and so needed every scrap to fit in the main body of the jacket, front and back.  By cutting with absolutely limited seam allowances and making the jacket quite fitted by bringing in the princess seams, I was able to just get the pattern pieces to jigsaw together.  The sections are top stitched in black thread and I used a plain black open ended zip.

There is a band around each lower arm,  a band across the centre back and button details front and back.  The pockets are small but functional for popping in a phone or something, but also served as another place for some detailing and added luxe with some fabric contrast.  In fact I just ran out of fabric for the second pocket, with only one tiny scrap left and so had to improvise with leather across the bottom section in order to complete it.  I like the asymmetric look this gives the jacket and the extra element of detail it provides.  There are lots of tweedy and brocade fabric jackets around again in the shops this season, with leather inserts, patches and trim to give them interest and a contemporary feel. Adding leather over the silk, and using it here on the pocket (to fix a gap!), gives the jacket a more modern look. Sometimes you can come across a problem, only to find it makes you use your imagination to fix the issue.  As with sewing, so with life!

The leather trim is recycled from an old and much loved pair of black leather trousers that I refused to throw away when they tore across the thigh.  I remember when it happened and was heartbroken to have ruined them so spectacularly!  I love the fact that they now live on in another form.  The top of the pockets are edged with the black wool and I've used the leather as piping and then topstitched.  The bands I chose to add on each arm are again piped with leather also, simply by folding it and catching the edges underneath the arm band seam.  It gives the sleeves a nice weight at the cuff and balances the look of the sleeve nicely with the rest of the jacket.

These buttons are quite old, found when rummaging in my Granny's button tin.  I've had this tin of beautiful buttons for many years now, but I can remember being allowed to play with it at her house when I was very small.  I used to spend ages sorting the buttons, choosing my favourites and finding the unusual shapes and colours.  The black military style cameos seemed fitting for this jacket, but also they're incredibly detailed and beautifully made.  

The front ones feature an anchor and crown.  The ones on the back band look like someone standing by the sea, waving to a big ship with three funnels.  The camera on my phone struggled to focus on these, you might be able to make out only some of the tiny detail, but I'm so glad I've found a place to use them as I think they're such beautiful little objects.

The front facings inside are black wool and the lining is a simple black satin.  I realised when I'd finished inserting this that it should really have had a hanging loop on the inside.  Always so useful when you need to pop your jacket off when out and about somewhere and you don't want to risk it getting dirty or crumpled.  

It's lovely to have an outer layer for keeping a bit warmer, whilst also making an outfit more dressy.  I'm wearing it here with a black, skater style wool dress, opaque tights and black leather boots.  It's a change from my leather jacket, which I would otherwise have worn over this outfit, and I think it's quite an unusual mix of styles and textures.  The first metallics of the season have arrived.

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Le Vie en Rose - Trench Part Deux!

Here's the finished trench coat, and, as the French saying goes, l'm in the pink!  Well, pink and yellow that is. There really is no wonder this pattern got so many commendations online by other stitchers and makers, it is a dream to put together and considering this was my first coat project, all went very smoothly indeed.  Nevertheless, I still spent until 2am in the morning sewing hems and buttons to get it finished!  I wanted to wear it last weekend to a few days away with girlfriends to Liverpool, and having had such a busy couple of weeks already, it required a middle-of-the night sewing session to complete the job. 

In case you missed the first post about this, (Trench Part 1), the pattern is McCalls 5525 which features a number of trench coat versions to customise.  The pattern is now out of print but I got mine, uncut from eBay, for a bargain price and I've seen it come up from time to time for sale on line second hand.  The fabric is a cotton sateen with a bit of stretch and is a combination of plum and damson tones with shots of yellow and moody greys.  The coat has a great shape, lots of structure and detail with a fab stand-up collar.

I chose view E, the longer line classic trench coat.  There really were no real issues with the pattern at all and the fit was spot on with virtually no adjustments needed.  I cut a size 12 and although it'll never be a coat for wearing over bulky layers, as a dress coat it is a perfect fit.  There are absolutely loads of reviews of 5525 online as it was voted best pattern of 2009 by Pattern Review website, so there are lots of versions of this out there on the net.  The only couple of points to note, as others have done, is that the yoke section is drafted slightly off kilter, so you just need to double it over and cut it on the fold of the fabric so that each side is even.  

Also the pockets are indeed very small, so if you like to have deeper pockets then do cut them bigger.  I didn't want huge pockets as it's unlikely I'll want to put more than a phone or my hand in there, so I just added another inch or so around the bottom for a bit more depth.  The only other slight hiccup I encountered was working out the pockets flaps, where topstitching is described that is actually underneath the flap and so unseen.  The diagram shows the pocket flap facing towards the back of the garment instead of where it sits in its finished state towards the front, and shows the 'topstitching' running along the underneath, which is a bit confusing as this stitching is actually concealed in the end.  For some unknown reason this really bent my brain for a few minutes! Anyway, not a deal breaker, more likely to be down to the way I visualise things sometimes.  I added a hanging loop at the inside collar so that I can pop it on a peg or hang it up in a public loo when the need arises.

I chose to topstitch all the seams in grey thread, although with such a busy fabric it probably isn't that noticeable on the main body of the coat.  The buttons are a natural grey and black horn colour, as is the buckle on the belt.  There are epaulettes, sleeve bands, a tab at the collar, lined back yoke and pocket flaps, all of which add to the classic trench look and provide lots of detail that I really enjoyed making.  

The lining inside is a medium weight cream satin, as are the pocket bags, as I thought a quiet and sleek inside was the best option given the very exuberant exterior.  It's a luxurious lining and makes the coat lovely to wear and easy to slip on and off over layers.  

I didn't think about fabric pattern repeat really when I was cutting out as matching wasn't really that much of a consideration.  Also I was really squeeeeezed for fabric and only just managed to place all my pieces without cutting into seam allowance, which meant very little room to manoeuvre around the fabric design.  Fortunately I don't think I have any odd looking areas and it's all worked out ok.  The colours are fairly evenly spaced.  I did have a bit of a dither about whether the roses should be facing up or hanging down.  In the end they are hanging down, as this looked more natural I thought.  

The trip to Liverpool was a great road test for this coat with lots of opportunity to see how it weathered three long and busy days of shopping, walking, lunches, bar hopping and generally being carted around everywhere.  Here it is enduring a lengthy window shopping session!

After being scrunched up on a train luggage rack, taken on and off in changing rooms, flung over cafe chairs and bar stools and jostling with crowds at the Cavern Club at midnight, it still managed to to look cool and crease free. 

Not too hot or heavy to wear over light layers on a sunny afternoon, but with plenty of coverage for keeping out cold northern breezes when the evening draws in.  It's my new favourite day-to-night coat.  Cheers!