22 September 2013

Tour de Troit 2013

The Tour de Troit is sort of like the Tour de France but without the hills, speed racers, insane long distance, and doping scandals.  For the 12th consecutive year, local organizations and business along with the Detroit Police Department joined together to sponsor a 30-mile ride through the city.  For the hard core riders, there was also a 70-mile route.  The most riding I've done in a single day was about 45 miles. 70 miles isn't happening - at least not until I get a much softer seat.

My friend, K., and I have been training for this ride for the last couple of weeks.  We rode the Detroit Slow Roll on Labour Day and a 17-mile ride in Flint a couple of weeks ago.

The tour started at Roosevelt Park in front of the tragically iconic Michigan Central Station. I'm old enough to remember the interior of the train station before it closed in the late 80s.  Soooo beautiful.  So classic.  So heartbreaking.

The tour took some 6000 bikers through southwest Detroit, back up Michigan Avenue, through Midtown, IndianVillage, around Belle Isle, through downtown, and back to Michigan Central.

  Some people just don't know when to stop riding.

I haven't ridden like this in a couple of years.  My last hard core ride was in 2011 during a trip to The Netherlands.  There, I rode for 30+ miles per day for a week...well six of seven days.  I had a terrible migraine that one day and decided to sit the ride out.  More info on that fantastic voyage can be found here.

In all I had a great time and look forward to riding this (or another) tour again next year.  Actually, I might do one more ride in a couple of weeks.  This would be a ride into Canada and then 20 miles around Detroit.  We'll see about that.  Right now, my body is all kinds of achy.  I don't think there's enough Tiger Balm and Epsom salt in the world to ease the pain I am feeling right now.  
As for sewing, I've not sewn a single stitch since finishing my coat.  I have grand plans to sew a few items for a fall 6PAC.  The fabric is ready and patterns are picked.  I just need to get started.
I hope everyone had a good weekend.  I'm off to try and stretch my achy muscles.  Oh and grade some papers.   Maybe.


15 September 2013

Indygo Junction 740 (coat): Complete

Finally the coat is done!  Except for a couple of snaps.  And belt loops.  And good press.  

I FREAKIN' LOVE THIS COAT!  I thought I wouldn't get a chance to wear it until October.  But because Michigan weather is wrong on so many levels, I can actually wear it now.  

Let me tell you about this weather.  Wednesday, the high was 95F.  Friday night, there were frost and freeze warnings.  The high was 66F today.  Do you see what I'm talking about?  Wrong.  Just wrong.  Excuse me, Michigan, can we ease into this freeze?  My body doesn't appreciate being shocked like that.  Humid and 95 to breezy and cold is a bit much.  Thanks.

Okay.  Back to the coat.

Fabric & Notions:
  • 2 yards of upholstery fabric (main body)
  • 1 yard of upholstery fabric (sleeve and lower bands)
  • 2 yards of Kasha flannel-backed satin lining
  • 1.5 packages of Wright's piping
  • fusible interfacing for the front, side front, collar, and all hems
  • small piece of pre-washed muslin for back stay
  • 2 11" x 3 " bias-cut polar fleece for sleeve heads
  • 90/14 universal needle
  • large and medium-sized snaps
  • single belt buckle 
Machine Setup:
  • regular machine with walking foot
  • serger with medium-brown thread
Alterations, Pattern Changes, & Lining:

I wrote a series of posts about the changes I made to this pattern.  For more info, please visit these links:

Construction Highlights:

Light Tailoring

I was going to go all out and do padstitching, hair canvas - the whole nine.  But since I have at least one more coat on my radar before the year ends, I scratched that idea and took the easy route.  I fused interfacing to the entire front and side front panels, cut the under collar on the bias and fused interfacing to it, inserted a back stay, and added sleeve heads for cap support.  


I cannot stress enough how nice it is to use sleeve heads to help set in a sleeve.  My fabric was thick and I don't think using the two rows of ease stitches would have been enough to set the sleeve in nicely.  I have ZERO puckers on my sleeves and got them both in on the first try.  If you haven't used sleeve heads on your jackets or coats, do it!!  Now!  =)

Order of Construction

The instructions have you construct the bodice and bands separately, then attach the bands to the bottom of the coat.  Instead, I added the bands to each panel (side front, front, side back, and back) so that I could fit the vertical and side seams as I sewed.  This way just makes more sense to me.

The fabric raveled A LOT so I finished the edges first before sewing them together.  I used my wooden clapper to help get nice flat seams and to reduce bulk.  The seams on the lining were serged together and pressed to one side.


I decided not to bag the lining and let it hang loose.  I wanted to be able to get access to the inside in case I need to adjust further for fit or repair some future weak spot.  Like I said, the fabric raveled something awful and even though I serged, I'm not sure how it's going to hold up after lots of wear.  After making the lining pieces and all of the other changes, I intend to wear the hell out of this coat.

Since my lining isn't bagged, I wasn't sure how to finish the area where the piping ends.  So I cut out some of the cord from the end, tucked the end piece under and stitched it in place.  I make a note to think about this more the next time (oh yeah, there will be a next time).


Though this coat took a lot of work, I am SOOOOO glad that I pushed through and finished.  There were times that I felt like sending this project to Area 51 - the real one.  I had already had the fabric and pattern for at least six years and waiting another year would have been nothing.  The simple truth is that I was afraid of ruining the fabric.  When I thought about it, I realized that this fabric I like so much is just going to continue gathering dust and not ever be enjoyed UNLESS I do something with it.  So, I got over my fear and just cut.  It was the right decision.  =)

I want to take a moment to thank everyone who showed some love and support through the making of this coat.  I am very grateful to be among a group of goodhearted folks like you. 

Up next:  I wanted  to try making a woven button-front blouse for BeaJay's Scary September Challenge.  But, I think I will sew something that doesn't take much thought right now.  I'd like to make a few pieces from my Fall 6PAC plan that I have yet to blog about.  Most of the patterns are TNTs so these shouldn't be to hard to sew.

Until next time, peace!

07 September 2013

The Questions & Other Stuff

Based on some conversations on PR, Debbie Cook of Stitches and Seams asked and answered some questions about her sewing habits.  Knowing that us blog-folk like to share, it'll be no time before everyone is posting their own answer to "The Questions."  Since I like hopping on and off bandwagons from time to time, here are my answers:

1.  Do you cut with your fabric RS or WS out?

I cut with the fabric mostly WS out.  This way, I can make all of my markings as I lift the pattern paper.  For plaids (which I have yet to sew), single-layer pieces, or when watching motif placement is important, I cut with the right side out. 

2.   How do you make your pattern markings?

It depends on the fabric.  Most of the time, I use old pieces of natural soap or wax tracing paper for dots, darts, or other important markings.  For white or delicate fabrics, I use small pieces of low-tack painters tape to mark the right/wrong side and dots.  To mark notches, CF, CB, or fold lines, I snip into the seam allowances.

3.  Do you follow the cutting layout in patterns?

Nope, though I used to when I first started sewing.  At some point in time, I stopped looking.  I try to lay out the patterns to minimize waste.
4.  Are you obsessed with re-folding your pattern tissue on or very close to the original fold lines?

Never.  Well, maybe not never.  I take the time to fold BWOF magazine and Jalie pattern sheets.  If I need to trace a pattern, I cut around the piece(s) to be traced and then fold it in anyway that makes it fit back into the envelope.  If the pattern has lots of pieces and tracings, I put them both into a 1-gallon Ziploc bag - again folded any old kind of way.

5.  Do you make all of the markings?

Most of the time.  I save buttonholes for the end.  Notches, tuck lines, and anything that helps construction are marked.

Anyone else jumping on "The Questions" bandwagon?


The only thing I have left to do with the Indygo Junction coat is the hem.  I've played around with the belt several times and can't find a layout that I like.  So, I will probably not stitch the belt to the coat and, instead, leave it free hanging with belt loops or a buckle.  I am still waiting on the buttons.  They didn't go in the last firing and I don't know when they will.  In the meantime, I will get some pictures in the next couple of days.


My next sewing project will be....wait for it...an attempt at a button-front woven blouse.  Anyone who knows my sewing history knows that this has been a quest for a LONG time.  I decided to join BeaJay's Scary September challenge (original post) and resume the quest for a good-fitting woven blouse.  She's already posted an update of risk-takers.  At this rate, I might be rolling my project into Onerous October.  =) 

Until next time, peace!


02 September 2013

Almost Finished. Holla!

I am really close to finishing the coat and, honestly, I am glad.  Project fatigue is starting to set in and it's time to move on to something else.  All that's left to do is to tack down the facing, sew the hem, attach/do something with the belt, and attach the buttons.  

The pattern calls for elastic loops to secure the buttons.  I have no idea where to find this notion or how to make them.  I was thinking of getting some hair twisty things and using that. We'll see.

The buttons I intend to use will be about 1.5 inches and ceramic.  I made a set for this coat earlier this year, but the color isn't quite the same.  I made six more last week and need to have them bisque fired, glazed, and fired again.  That process will probably take a couple of weeks.

Anyway, here's where the coat stands now.  


The neck area was challenging to sew because of all of the thickness, but I managed.  I neglected to serge-finish the neckline, so I hope it doesn't ravel too much.  It will be a hot mess if it does and a royal pain in the ass to correct.

I am SOOOOOO glad I went with the Kasha lining.  The coat is very warm and feels divine.  The upholstery fabric is some sort of polyester on the outside and a super soft cotton/poly blend chenille on the inside.  Adding the lining did make the coat much heavier and much more snug.  But the trade off of extra warmth without feeling sticky or being shocked by static is totally worth it.

I L.O.V.E. the piping accent.  I think I will include piping between the facing and lining on every single jacket.  Seriously!  This little detail gives such a nice and professional look.

Oh and Tasia's (Sewaholic) tutorial on creating lining pieces?  FANTASTIC!  Everything went together smoothly.  I can't recommend this tute enough.

That's all for now.  I'll probably finish up the hem and facing today.  Photos of the finished coat and a full review will be posted soon.  Gotta get the buttons!



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