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Face it.  Sewing makes you awesome. And I looooooooove being awesome.  How awesome am I?  Am I (left) Michael Kors awesome? (center) Tahari awesome? (right)  Via Spiga awesome?

No? Am I perhaps alice + olivia awesome?  Karen Millen, L.A.M.B, Jones New York, Dolce & Gabbana, or Lanvin awesome (awesomeness pictured clockwise from left)?

Unlikely.  But I am completely and totally 100% Selfish Awesome, thanks to my old friend McCall 5525 (awesomeness pictured front, center and in your face)!

I finally got around to completely gutting my previous attempt at this jacket, and bringing it back to its pre-sewn state (note: ripping out miles of triple straight stitch topstitching is tedious). I interfaced every single piece with heavy, sew-in woven interfacing, and that finally gave me the body I wanted in this gorgeous, slightly sueded leopard fabric that I picked up last year in Montreal from Sam Textiles. And of course with that fabric, combined with my trusty McCall 5525 that has now yielded three favorite coats, my just-finished leopard version, the Key Lime Trench, and the Guggenheim Coat, I am feeling Selfish Awesome.

Here’s the obligatory photo pr0n, taken by Dan using his fancy schmancy new Nikon D7000 and budding artist’s eye:

What are you looking at?

It’s like I can’t stop checking myself out.  Ooh, what’s that on the inside?

Hey, it’s turquoise jacquard lining! Awesome! I picked the lining up on a recent trip to London to visit Martine. She’s like my snarkwife. And she’s never asked me to sew anything for her in 15 years of snark marriage, and she went fabric shopping with me for a whole day even though she doesn’t sew. She is also awesome.

Unfortunately I don’t remember the name of the store- AAA Fabrics?  A-Plus Fabrics?  It’s the big place on Goldhawk Road right near the tube stop. It is also awesome. I was going to go with green lining at first, and I was all like, “Turquoise or green?  Green, obviously.” And Martine was all like, “Duuuuh, turquoise.” And then I was like, “Well, duuuh. Obviously.” And that’s how that decision came about.

Here’s the macro shot with all of the redone topstitching:

As usual, I took everything in at all the seams to make for a slimmer fit.  I’m also considering adding the button bands on the sleeves but with buckles, but I have yet to find the right buckles so that’s a project for the future. And that’s about it.

How about you?  Are you sewing yourself some awesome today?  How awesome are you? Are you Selfish Awesome?

Well, here we are, May 29th, on the brink of summer in the northern hemisphere, and this is the view from my window:

So since it would appear that I’m living in the Arctic, I think I shall abandon my plans to get started on a pretty, breezy navy shirtdress for the time being and get started on an autumn jacket. Another jacket. Another McCall 5525 to be precise. I should be able to sew it in my sleep after the last two. And I’ll use this leopard print peachskin (?) that I picked up in Montreal.

Other than that, I’ll spend the day whining and pitying myself and bemoaning the not-very-summery weather. So, pretty much like any other day here at Chez Selfish :)

Thanks so much for your many, many suggestions for rescuing my black and white graphic floral trench! I sewed in the sleeves and the lining, and I have to say, I’m feeling much better about it now. Of course, in typical Selfish Seamstress style, I ask your advice, and then stubbornly end up sticking to plan A. I don’t have any newer pictures of the coat in its current state, so I’ll just refresh your memory with the last photo:

I had actually tried some black topstitching along the back princess seams originally but already ripped it all out. There was something about the slightly broken topstitching lines running almost straight against the swirling, smooth black curves of the flowers that just wasn’t working.

Also, I had actually thought about black piping at the onset of the project, and thought about it again very seriously after so many of you suggested it. But for some reason it wasn’t jiving in my mind’s eye, and part of the reason for that was that I couldn’t get the image of the Solomon R. Guggenheim museum out of my head:

Something about those clean, minimalist edges was really taking over my brain when I thought about the various design elements of the coat. Or perhaps I had the mental vanity image of myself walking around in the Guggenheim in my coat and I wanted it to go well with the museum :) Even though my flowery fabric is far from the stark white walls of the Guggenheim, somehow I wanted my coat to look “Guggenheimy” – spare and minimalist and graceful. Black piping would certainly have made the coat cuter but I just couldn’t commit to cute. I also thought it might push the coat into Chico’s territory; nothing wrong with Chico’s- it’s just not my aesthetic. [Oddly enough, I just went to look at Chico’s website to make sure it was the store I was thinking of, and this was the coat that came up on their splash page:

… which is sort of reaffirming my decision not to go with piping. The model looks beyond thrilled though!]

But wait!  Before you all groan that I ask for your advice and them promptly ignore it and why should you waste your time on me at all, I did take your advice!  See?

That, my friends, is part of the lining of my coat before I installed it. I found half of a package of black bias tape (regular Wright’s single fold crap) in my sewing box.  I have no idea when I bought it, nor do I have any recollection of having used the first half of it.  But there it was, like a few yards of providence wrapped around a bit of cardboard. Ta-da! Nicely piped front facing and lining, thanks to your clever suggestion. I will appreciate having that snazzy extra detail tucked in on the inside.

And in keeping with my mental image of a Guggenheim Coat, I’m probably going to save my punches of color for scarves or shoes or little half gloves, and leave the coat pure and white.  I may even forego buttons and just opt for a sash, and perhaps a discreet snap or two. It’s getting close to done– more photos soon!

How about you?  What non-clothing aesthetics influence what you make? What inspires your design choices besides other garments?

Proud Floridians will tell you that genuine Key Lime Pie is never actually green, but yellow. My newly finished McCall 5525 jacket is green, but I’m calling it “Key Lime Trench” anyway. I decree that genuine Key Lime Trenches can be green. I finally got around to photographing it today. Well, more correctly I ran around in a park while Dan snapped pictures- thanks, Dan! It’s still too chilly here for a spring jacket (I wore my heavy wool coat to the park and changed into my trench for the vanity shots), but I’m looking forward to warmer temperatures soon. Until then, I’m still playing with snow.

I used a combination of views- the length, collar, and lapels from view D, the sleeves and button bands from view E. I’m really glad I added the button bands on the sleeves- in the end I think they’re helping to keep the trench from looking too crafty-quilty and giving a more tailored finish. There’s lots of topstitching too, which helps as well.

The fabric is Amy Butler’s Full Moon Polka Dot in lime (100% cotton), fully underlined with white muslin (also 100% cotton) because it’s too lightweight for a jacket on its own. The freakishly matched buttons are Gutermann, the on-seam pockets are silk taffeta, of which I had a remnant from my Delancey dress, the lining is Bemberg (100% rayon) in a blush pink.  It’s a bit flimsy for a jacket, but it was all I had in the house:

I did a fair bit of hand finishing on this coat- the hem and sleeve hems are blindstitched by hand and the bottom of the lining and ends of the sleeve lining are also slipstitched by hand. I actually like hand sewing, and I find it gives me more control when easing than using the blindstitch on my machine (maybe because I rarely use it, so I’m not good at it.)

And here, more for the sake of stroking my sewing ego than any other reason, are lots of pictures of my new favorite spring jacket, in all of its buttoned and unbuttoned, front, side, and back view glory, shown here with a pair of my beloved Jalie 2908 jeans, cheery orange heels from ModCloth, and a beater I probably bought more than a decade ago. 


I love you, Key Lime Trench! 

Hi all!  First off, thank you so very very much for your help yesterday with sleeveboard/seam roll advice and for your many great button suggestions! I ended up picking up a seam roll because the sleeveboard in question didn’t seem like the greatest quality, but don’t worry- it’s on my list for the future.

And now for the all-important button decision, which I will tell you after drawing out the suspense much longer than necessary. For those of you who were rooting for the color “pop!” of fuchsia or orange or red buttons, I totally get the kitschy-chic aesthetic you were imagining. And if I were a super cool burgundy-haired 20-something Brooklyn-dwelling post-hipster with a graphic design career and fabulous nerd-chic glasses, I might go for it. On me, though, I think it would look too “homemade Easter coat.” Plus I think the golden-lit aesthetic of an Anthropologie catalogue photo has become too ingrained in my mind with this coat already (Dan said last night that it looked like it could come from Anthropologie! Ok, not that he shops there or is familiar with its product line, but still- he said it!) But don’t worry, fuchsia fans, I will steal your idea for the pop of color (well, even though the coat is already quite a color) and do you proud by wearing it with fuchsia suede footwear (Miss Sixty):

And bright orange shoes as well (Yoki brand from ModCloth):

So for buttons, that left the other suggestions of more neutral tones like wood or cream. First of all, at the moment I do not live in a major metropolitan area like Chicago or New York. The only fabric store near me is a rather depressing affair. Their button selection consists of three of those rotating “trees.” I spun each of those trees around several times in hopes of finding something similar to the wonderful round bone buttons that Shelley suggested yesterday (thank you!), which I didn’t. I pulled a couple of cream selections and a wood one, both of which were reasonable with the coat, and the wood ones especially were a cute-but-not-in-your-face look. I was sort of leaning towards them, as the cream button options were a little bit cheap-looking, when I spied these little Gutermann fellows hiding near the bottom of the brightly colored buttons tree on which I had been focusing less attention:

Lime green with a cream stitch print around the edge (the stitch may actually be white, but if so, the detailing is too fine to tell). Almost breathless, I plucked them off the tree and held them against my nearly-finished jacket to check… 

Dead-on perfect color match like you wouldn’t believe.

What are the chances? How on earth does one match a particular shade of lime green with such a tiny selection of buttons? I had pretty much ruled out green buttons before going to the store because I was fairly sure I wouldn’t find them in the right shade (you know what happens when you have the idea for something very specific in your head and then you go to the fabric store to try to find it… that never works!) They’re a little smaller than I was envisioning, but when I laid them out on the coat, I decided they would be just fine:

Ok.  Rail all you want about them not being what you would have chosen… my mind is made up! This jacket is so close to being done, I can taste it. And once it is, I will stop yammering about it and you won’t have to hear any more about it.

Well, except for when I post the finished pictures. Soon, kids, soon.

Well, gosh, you guys are all so helpful with your sleeve board/seam roll advice! Thanks! (BTW, thank you as well for your concern, and I realize I may have misled you into thinking that I’m relying on rusty stumps. I do have decent pins too, it’s just that they’re not all new and shiny and sharp, and I keep them all mixed up together. And I don’t toss them until they’re really blunt or bent beyond usefulness. In fact, I did just open a new box this weekend- not the fancy flower head kind (my favorite), but perfectly serviceable. So no pins for me on today’s shopping trip!) Since I have your ear, I’m going to bug you for more advice. Because if I’m going to take advantage of you, I’m going to do it to the fullest extent possible. Here we go.

What buttons for this, do you think?

It’s the McCall 5525 jacket, now partially lined, partially topstitched, yet to be hemmed, and probably you’re sick of seeing it by now. The blush pink lining is more transparent than I would like (you can see the polka dots in the seam allowances running down the middle) but I’m not sorry that I worked on it yesterday rather than waiting to buy more opaque lining. Sometimes when you feel like sewing and find the scraps of time in which to do it, you’ve just got to give in to it, transparent lining and all.

I’m still considering button bands and carriers for the sleeves too. And once I get some yet-to-be-purchased pressing apparatus, I’ll fix up those unpressed sleeve seams right away.

But more urgent for the time being is the issue of buttons. I’m no button connoisseur; I don’t get excited about fancy buttons or vintage buttons or button stores. A vast selection fills with me terror rather than joy. If I haven’t purchased them in advance, I usually just take the garment with me to the store and hold up various buttons against the garment until I find something that doesn’t clash or draw too much attention to itself. And I love doing matching fabric covered buttons because then I really don’t have to bother with any button-related design decisions. But fabric covered isn’t going to be an option for this polka dot monster. So what do you say?  Coordinating cream color to match the background? Something wood-toned? Leather? Try to find something to match the green?

Please weigh in, dear readers, before I go to the store tonight!

(Wow, given that I’m asking you to make all of my sewing decisions for me, I may as well just ask you to do all of my sewing for me too. I hope you all know the right response to that request by now though.)

It’s like the title says, I have a new best friend!  Now for those of you who have been thinking, “Wait  a sec… I thought the Selfish Seamstress was incapable of friendship,” you’re only partly correct.  The Selfish Seamstress indeed has no human friends, but she’s got her cat and as of today she also has double straight stitch.  Which one do you love more, Selfish Seamstress?  Neither. I love them both equally. Or maybe kitty just a smidge more. I have to admit, though, I’ve got quite the crush:

Yay! I thought last night that I was going to have to halt progress on my crafty McCall 5525 jacket because I decided I really wanted to topstitch it (to ward off some of the homemade look) and I didn’t have any topstitching thread. And today’s Easter which means lots of chocolate but no shopping. 

Then I noticed that wonderful little double topstitch icon on my machine, and just like that, the jacket was back on! 

As you can see, it’s a little tricky going around the sharp curves and corners because unlike with a regular straight stitch, the foot is going back and forth (imagine trying to drive in a smooth curve around a corner while simultaneously doing a 5-point turn.)  My stitching isn’t perfect, but overall, I’m pretty thrilled with the double straight stitch. Thank you, Husqvarna!

Luckily I had some matching lime green thread which I bought to use in a project for someone else which I never got around to doing. So double yay for a brand new spool of matching thread and the providence of selfishness! If I had my druthers, there’d be a fuchsia or tangerine lining for this jacket, but I don’t want to hold off until my next opportunity to go fabric shopping, which won’t be for days at this point. So I’ve got some blush pink in my stash which will do fine.  And when the outside is crazy polka dots, the fun lining becomes less of a priority.

And for those of you who are rolling your eyes that I actually bothered to write a post about double straight stitch?  Hush up, it’s new to me :) New best friend. Happy Easter and Passover, everyone!

For the first time in a while, I actually had a block of several hours in which to sit down and sew. So I did.  Here’s progress on my McCall 5525 jacket, done in Amy Butler Full Moon Polka Dot in lime, one of my recent cute prints acquisitions:

I’ve got most of the shell done, which took longer than one would think because I decided to interline all of the pieces with muslin to give it more body.  Yuck, like cutting pieces for TWO jackets. (Cutting is my least favorite part of the sewing process.) Now I’ve just got facings and lining left, and then finishing. And I’m considering adding button bands to the sleeves.

Although I do love to make fun coats, I took this one on with some apprehension because it seemed as though it could veer into crafty crazy territory, a.k.a. calico housecoat. But it’s actually looking ok so far- it looks less crazy on me than it does on the hanger. And Dan didn’t burst out laughing when he saw it, which is generally a sign that something can pass for Real Clothes, rather than Sewing Project. Keep your fingers crossed for a final result that I won’t be ashamed to wear out of the house!

About this blog

The Selfish Seamstress loves to design and sew garments, but only if she gets to keep them. I'm Elaine, known in the online sewing world as elainemay, and welcome to my selfish sewing blog.

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