Happy New Year! I hope everyone had a great holiday season. For the first time in 20 years, I was not working in retail over the holiday season, which means I was able to enjoy some time off. It was lovely and there were actually a couple of sunny days that I took full advantage of to get some blog photos of recent completed projects. One of which is my long awaited Christine Haynes Ellsworth Coat.
I’m usually pretty good about finishing a project before starting the next one—I do that so I don’t end up with a bunch of UFOs—but every now and then, a project comes along that takes FOREVER to finish and this was that project.
I started this jacket at Camp Workroom Social. Not in 2018, but in 2017. I was so close to completing it at Camp that year. When I got home, all I had left to do was bag the lining and add the buttons, but I was intimidated to do the lining part on my own because I had heard that was the trickiest part. So it sat on my dress form until the following spring. That’s about when the Seattle Sews group started meeting, so I brought it to one of the meet-ups, thinking there would be strength in numbers and that if I got stuck I would at least be around other sewists that could help me figure it out. I was right and after a bit of head scratching, we eventually figured it out.
The “birthing” of the lining is pretty cool. You basically just sew the sleeve cuffs together and then pull everything through an opening left inside the sleeve. It looks super weird and like it’s not going to work and then it does. Apparently that was enough excitement for me for a while, because then it sat on my dress form for several more months waiting for buttons.
By this time, fall was approaching and there was no way I was going back to camp without finishing this, so that finally motivated me to pull this off my dress form and get the dang buttons on. And… buttonholes. Why oh why does that last buttonhole always vex me so? My new sewing machine does a great job of buttonholes—and to be fair, the fabric was thicker up by the collar— but I swear it always happens where things are going great, I get a false sense of security, I think I am on the home stretch and then BAM, the last freakin’ buttonhole goes totally wonky. I know what you are thinking, if you haven’t cut open the buttonhole, you can still rip out the thread and start over, right? Yeah, sort of… usually, but this time it was black thread on black twill (that I had purposely set to be thicker and wider), so it was a nightmare to pull out. I couldn’t tell what was the thread and what was the weave of the fabric. Boo.
It all worked out in the end though. It screwed up twice and removed the thread as best I could both times, until I finally set the buttonhole to its regular width and density and it worked okay that time. Once I put fray check on it and cut it open it didn’t look that bad. During all of this, I kept going back to Helen’s (of Helen’s Closet) blog post about her Ellsworth and saw that she said that she had problems with her buttonholes too and it made me feel a lot better. I get so caught up on things sometimes, but always feel better when I read that other people have trouble, see that their garment looks fine, and that they moved on from it and are not taking it too seriously. I need to be reminded of that sometimes, so I love our sewing community for that reason. Thanks Helen!
So you’re probably think that the buttonhole debacle is the end of the story, but it’s not. I had another challenge ahead; getting photos of it. The days were getting shorter, darker, and more rainy, so the opportunities to shoot outdoors were few and far between. I had been waiting so long to finish this coat, that I sure as shit wasn’t going to wait any longer to wear it. I could imagine waiting so long to photograph it that it would be summer again by the time I did and then I would have to wait a whole year longer to wear it. Nope, I was wearing it.
Here is where the cautionary tale comes in. Photograph your makes as soon as you can. I’m not saying don’t wear them first, but know that if you do, you risk something happening to the garment before you photograph it. I never would have imagined that what could happen would be a 4-year-old barfing pepperoni all over it, but happen it did. Those are really all of the details you need to know. I’m sure you can imagine it wasn’t the most pleasant thing to witness, yet I couldn’t help but laugh at the absurdness of it all. I mean, I had watched the kid shoving fistfuls of pepperoni into his mouth moments earlier, so I suppose I should have seen it coming.
As it turns out, black denim is very easy to spot clean and there was Photoshop for any spots I may have missed. Amazingly enough, the coat doesn’t smell like pepperoni or barf! So again, everything was fine.
Changing the subject from baby barf, you want to know what I love about this coat the most? The lining. No puke there!
In the end, everything turned out fine and this coat was well worth the wait. It’s been a pretty mild winter here in Seattle, so I am still getting to wear it. It layers well over a sweater and with some mitts and a beanie, I am quite comfortable. I am so happy I decided to go with a basic black too, because I can wear it with anything, yet I still have a fun lining. The lining is rayon and allows the sleeves to slide on nicely. It even seems like it might add a little warmth. It definitely has a nice weight.
Big thanks again to Christine Haynes, who taught the class at camp where this coat’s harrowing journey originally began (you can read about my experience at camp that year here). It’s a great pattern and I have some gray wool in my stash calling out to be another Ellsworth coat. Now that I know how to bag a lining, it won’t take nearly as long! 😉