Thursday, September 2, 2010
Sew-Along Prep: An Interview with the Designer!
We're gearing up to the big Lady Grey Sew Along! I have a special treat for you today: Sarai Mitnick of Colette Patterns, the very talented creator of this pattern, is here to answer a few questions in preparation.
Gertie: Which era was the inspiration for this design?
Sarai: I don't think there was one particular era I had in mind for the coat, actually. The wide collar and wrap style seems vaguely 40s noir-ish to me, the overall ladylike shaping and bracelet length sleeves is a bit 50s, and the short length feels a little 60s. Maybe that's one reason I think the coat can go so many different ways, depending on fabric choice.
I love that the coat has princess seams, since that makes it easy to fit along the curves of the body. Any tips for making fitting alterations to this pattern?
I'd say that you should try to use a fabric for your muslin that comes close to the weight and drape of you final garment fabric, which will give you a better idea about fit. So perhaps find a heavier fabric for your muslin if you're going with a heavy fabric.
Overall, fitting should be pretty easy once you've made a muslin, and the wrap styling really helps make the fit more adjustable. When you make your muslin, perhaps pay attention around the neckline for any pulling or gaping that might be caused by various fit issues (e.g. being long-waisted, short-waisted, high bust, etc).
Do you have any words of advice for those trying a pattern of this level for the first time?
This pattern is labeled "advanced" mainly because of the number of pattern pieces involved, and the time it takes to construct. It's not really a project to rush through. That said, a lot of people have told me they thought it was quite easy because the instructions are pretty comprehensive. It just takes time, so don't rush yourself. And if you don't understand a technique or term, look it up... use it as an opportunity to stretch and expand your skills!
The big question on readers' minds is what fabric to use. Are there any specific fabrics that you think are particularly successful for this design?
I love it in lightweight wools. I just got back from a trip to our amazingly big fabric store here in Portland, and was looking through the wools with this question in mind. I think on the lighter end, wool flannels (made for suiting, heavier than shirt-weight) and gabardines would be really nice. Tropical wools are also great.
Also, and this is just my preference, but I think this coat begs for an awesome lining! For the sample you see on my website, I used a heavy silk crepe in sort of a terra cotta orange with big white dots. It gets a lot of attention and feels really luxurious.
Are there any particular fabrics that you recommend for cold temperatures? What about mild?
Any wool coating would be great for cold temperatures, and of course you can interline it if you really want added warmth. (Readers, we'll be addressing interlining for warmth!—Gertie) Cashmere or a cashmere blend would be amazing. For mild temperatures, if you're doing a winter coat, again I think a heavy flannel or wool gab would be great. I've seen some Spring / Fall versions in things like cotton canvas, and they look awesome! Much more like a glamorous trench coat.
Are there any fabrics that you'd recommend staying away from, such as those that might be too heavy or too light?
I've made this coat in melton wool. I love melton wool because it's so warm and has such a great texture, but bulky seams were a bit of a problem. I had to hammer the heck out of them. So I would be careful with anything that heavy. Do some test seams before you sew. And you could try a different seaming technique, like butted seams, if you really want to use melton in particular (it is very dense and doesn't fray). I think my main advice would be this: beware of bulky seams, because there will be a lot of them!
On the lighter end, it's really up to you how light you want to go!
One other thing I'd mention is to think about the drape of your fabric. The peplum on this coat is quite exaggerated, so if you use a heavy fabric with a lot of body, it will probably be quite pronounced! You might like that effect, or you might want to remove some of that fullness, so just be aware so you can make that design decision ahead of time.
Thanks so much, Sarai! Readers, check back in a couple days for a post of suggested fabrics from Ann of Gorgeous Fabrics.