Occasionally I find myself alone for the weekend.  I teach double classes every other Saturday; my husband goes to his family farm a few times a month.  Sometimes it works out for me to stay home while he and our little girl go.  This affords me unrestrained creative time.  I don’t pick up after myself, I hardly bathe, I keep strange hours and eat over the kitchen sink, always completely absorbed in a single task for hours on end.  I spend the last quiet hours of these weekends cleaning a madwoman.  It is good for me to have these times, but equally good that they don’t come too often.

(I left the typo because it is funny.  I suppose it also applies, I do shower when I expect them home…)

Today after teaching I couldn’t ignore the call of my coat pattern.  I have the Billie Collection to finish, I have piped welts to practice, but never mind.  Throwing caution to the wind, I uncrackeld the smooth white pattern paper, slipped translucent polytrace over the top, and un-stashed my favorite black pattern-tracing gel pen. 

First piece- Front.  I want to try cutting the yokes on the bias, I just had to know how the rest of the coat was cut.

The pattern provides subtle shaping through cut, as suspected.  I drew a straight line between two points with my ruler and chalk.  I think this will be very nice, not at all like a bathrobe.  I think it will drape in beautiful, reserved folds considering the heavy, dense fabric I’m using.  Did I mention the prom-gown-lining fabric is an exceptionally heavy satin?

But what is this?  I measured, re-measured, and measured again; the grainline as marked runs skewy to the CF.  You can see the marked CF line, and then the slightly off-grain grainline.  I ask myself- is this a nuance of the cut, intended to create a gently backwardly flared CF line on the skirt?  Or is it simply a mistake?  I pondered for some time, and decided to inspect the back pattern piece.

Once again, look at those beautifully drawn curves.  I think it will actually fit rather closely around the hips, which may compensate for a potentially matronly bodice.

What about those two horizontal lines?  The natural waistline as marked, and the natural waistline from the marking and perpendicular to the CB.  This piece is cut on the fold, I can only assume the straight of grain.  But what’s this?  A CB fold and a grainline?  Again, the CB grainline runs slightly skewy to the CB.  Mistake or art?  Or both?

I moved on to the Front Yoke.  By this time I had the idea that I wanted to sit down and bang out a quick muslin.  This evening.  With four pattern pieces, why not?

What?  The grainline again runs skewy to the marked CF.  Is it because the top is a wrap-style?  If so and the grainline is meant to run perpendicular to the floor, then is the collar meant to overlap and flap over enormously?  I suppose the collar in the pattern illustration takes over the entire front of the coat.

Moving on to the back yoke. 

Noteworthy because while it is marked cut on fold, there is no confusing grainline.  Which confuses me more.   We have either an extremely nuanced cut, or sloppy drafting.  Or sloppy copying, it is a reproduction.  I doubt sloppy copying, the high production values of the reproduction speaks of attention to detail. I can’t decide.

Check out the shaping on the sleeve:

The top is straight, and longer than the underneath.  The sleeve must accommodate movement very well, the top covers over the wrist, but the bottom hem of the bell sleeve stays out of whatever you reach for.  This is my guess, and lends credence to “Nuanced cut.”

The cutting layout doesn’t help much:

It looks like the Front is cut on the straight of grain as well as the back.  I appreciate the use of fabric and wonder how I’ll do my cutting.  Even though the back yoke says to cut on fold, it looks like you cut each half a little out from the selvage and seam them together- probably to save fabric.   I wonder if it would ruin the coat to cut the yokes on the bias, and the rest on the straight?  Will it matter, as long as all my other fabrics (interfacing, interlining, lining) follow the stipulated grainlines?  Very interesting.

I wonder if I need to do any alterations for size, or if my usual pattern alterations will be swallowed by the coat?

I think I’ll go cut that muslin now.  I want to use common sense and cut everything as I know it would be cut conventionally.  The other side of me wants to cut it just slightly off-grain, as marked, to see what would happen.

The choices…


  1. I had to laugh because my bf's away on business and I'm doing the exact same thing — I spent most of yesterday sewing in my pajamas and wound up drinking margaritas and watching old movies while hemming on the couch. Eight straight hours of sewing — bliss!I'd love to see you muslin the pattern as marked — I'm intrigued by the juxtaposition of grainline and CF/CB. It looks too deliberate to be a mistake. Modern pattern drafting teaches that CF and CB Must Always Be On Grain, but was this always the case? You undoubtedly have far more skill and expertise than me, but most of the time, when I try to be more clever than the pattern, I regret it.

  2. Grant is about to go away for ten days and I will be doing exactly the same as you. I already have a list of things to do, including building shelves and I will spend the next two days gathering food and materials so I don't even have to leave my property. As for the coat, I'm really curious. I've been watching DVDs of a show called Jeeves and Wooster, which is set in the 20's. I keep rewinding and making sketches of the women's clothing. Interesting thing is that so many of the silhouettes are current and most of the outfits I would wear now. I think the only thing to do is muslin using the grainline that you think is correct and seeing how it hangs. Please post a progress report – I'm curious.

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