Happy New Year Helmut!

New year, new me, new resolutions, new positivity ... really? Happy New Year!

Do you break yourself in gently to the new year? Do you take time to recover from the previous year, wrap yourself up and slowly put your head above the parapet of the new year to see what might be out there?

Or are you an all guns blazing, let's grab this year by the balls and start as we mean to go on type; resolutions, new projects already underway, clear action list, the previous year dusted off your shoulders like dandruff and a bright shiny face looking to all the possibility that awaits over the next 12 months?

I am keen to be in the latter camp, but find myself firmly in the former. By mid-way through December I'm usually desperate for a new year, to feel energised and find a new productivity. I'm trying very hard, but the shocks of 2016 linger and as I can't and don't want to break the continual loop of 'Listen without Prejudice' on Spotify, it's proving a little hard to be all go for 2017.

I haven't sewn a stitch in 2017 so far, but that's ok, I'm trying not to give myself a hard time but instead to enjoy the fruits of my pre-Christmas sewing extravaganza and slowly working up the energy to get sewing the things I planned in the autumn.

I may also have fallen down a huge Gilmore Girls rabbit hole. All seven seasons in six weeks. In my defense there were a few days of flu-induced all day TV sessions in there but I still think it merits some kind of sad medal. Now I have overcome that addiction I can move on and embrace 2017.

Anyway let's get to the sewing. This coat is my favourite item from the Pre-Christmas Sewing Bonanza. It's my take on a $1,200 Helmut Lang pale pink cashmere coat that I tried on in Saks a while ago; wryly smiling when the assistant asked if she should put it on hold for me; brain jumping straight to pattern and fabric options to recreate it.

It took a while to hunt down some fabric but I eventually saw Lauren from Guthrie & Ghani's Clare Coat made in the perfect not quite blush, not quite pink, not brown wool melton and after an agonizing (because fabric of course induces such intense emotions) wait to see if they could source any more - they had sold out by the time I got round to checking out their site - I was the proud owner of two large remnants for a tenth of the cost of the Helmut Lang beauty. Not cheap but coats aren't and wool shouldn't be. 

As an aside, I am a huge fan of Elizabeth Suzann, and this post about how her clothes are priced and the pricing of clothing in general is 100% on point.

I used The Maker's Atelier Raw Edged Unlined Coat pattern as the base for Helmut, adding a total of 8 inches width across the back by slashing and spreading from shoulder seam to hem. I added an inch to the collar depth, 4 inches to the sleeve width at the cuff (I could definitely have added more - although as it is I keep getting the sleeves caught on door handles ... ) and then taking the five inches off the hem that I added to my previous iteration to balance out the volume. I also made larger pockets, using the pattern piece from my beloved Burda coatigan affairs and contrast topstitching finished it off.

It was an easy make from a lovely and very adaptable pattern. I absolutely love the result and feel beyond stylish wearing it.

Annoyingly, my timing as always is rubbish as clearly it is now far too cold in NYC to wear an unlined coat, but over Christmas in a milder England, it was perfect. I took to wearing a RTW scuba bomber jacket underneath it which definitely helps make it more wearable in the cold. I have plans to recreate the stunning petrol blue velvet bomber I saw on The Maker's Atelier Instagram feed to wear under it as well. The colour combination would make my heart so happy.

This is about the fifth coat or jacket I've made in the last year or so. I have at least two more planned. I'm not really sure why. I have a ridiculous amount of coats, but there is something so satisfying about making them - not least I think due to the lack of detailed fitting involved and the sheer amount of wear they get. 

But the ultimate coat I want to make needs to be a beast as NYC for the next few months will be perishing. I have sub-standard circulation and get super cold which I hate, but I also hate the ubiquitous black quilted down jacket that I have taken to wearing. Why when it's this cold does style have to go out of the window? Is it possible to create a coat with the warmth and practicality of the dowdy down affair but with the style created by coats such as Helmut?

I have a dream of a notched collared, furry woolen, dark blue teal, just-above-ankle length coat that is secretly underlined with down and lined with fake fur. Or something.

We shall see.

In the meantime, I will be loving on Helmut at every above-freezing opportunity.

I hope the start to 2017 has been good for you, more productive than mine and that the year brings much happiness.

See you soon x

Outfit (admittedly an amalgamation of the mass production of US and UK stores - which I'm not über-thrilled about):

  • Jeans: Gap

  • Shirt: Cos

  • Boots: M&S

 

The Big Easy Top

Need a quick sewing fix? Like, the quickest sewing fix? That doesn’t involve pesky stretch fabrics?

Can I make a suggestion?

Get yourself The Big Easy Top pattern from The Makers’ Atelier and some boiled wool.

Better yet, get yourself the kit, then you don’t even have to think about fabric, or thread. It just all arrives at your door and approximately half an hour later you have a warm, chic, beautifully drafted sweater to add to your winter wardrobe. And you won't have to knit it!

In my case it was a year and half an hour, because despite the fact this is the quickest and most satisfying make ever, it sat at the bottom of my sewing list last winter and then it was Spring and who wants to sew wool in the Spring.

(This is the second item I have made from this line of patterns - the first being this coat.)

Normally I’m not that bothered by how quickly I can sew something, but when my sewjo is on the wane, I need something quick and satisfying to enable me to tackle those dungarees I’ve had loitering for a few weeks. 

So, I made up the funnel neck version. This involves two shoulder seams and two side / underarm seams, a couple of tacks to hold the collar in place and sewing in a label so I don’t wear it backwards. Easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy.

The wool is beautiful quality, its not scratchy although not as soft as I’d prefer, but I think that goes with the territory with boiled wool.

I made a couple of minor alterations; a forward shoulder adjustment and I stitched down my seam allowances, because I like the detail and I wasn’t sure how the wool would react to my iron. Oh and my iron has gone the route of the three irons I’ve had in the last three years. That is to say the automatic turn off gets fed up with my reliance on it and turns the thing off permanently. So I couldn’t iron it even if I had wanted to.

Whether you iron it or not, this glorious pattern is smart, is warm and is oh so quick.

See you soon x

(ps: nothing going on here other than I’m a huge fan of the patterns by The Makers Atelier and feel I should spread the word about their hugely wearable chic simplicity.)