The Dream Coat: Part Four– Finished!

The beast has been vanquished, and the Dream coat is finally done! Overall I’m quite pleased with it. I learned a lot: messed some things up, asked and answered a lot of questions, and then made more questions. It’s very comfortable to wear and feels solid like armor with all that quilting. Dream armor. I hope it lives up to its inspiration. I wanted it to feel like a story; like every time you look at it you notice some new detail, some new secret.

Here’s a shot when it was still missing collar and sleeves. You can see some of the quilting of insanity.


Detail shot. Note the pocket flaps– I think they turned out pretty nicely.


I also inherited some wonderful brass buttons that seemed to have arrived just for this project.


Here it is in all it’s glory:








Sleeve detail. The two stripes are a bit of an artist’s mark– I thought I might make them a common thread (haha) on all the coats. They represent the old magpie rhyme:

One for sorrow,

Two for joy,

Three for a girl,

Four for a boy,

Five for silver,

Six for gold,

Seven for a secret,

Never to be told.



Truth be told, I rather liked the secret-never-to-be-told, but seven was a bit more than I could deal with. So joy it is.

Back detail. I vented it in the shoulders and gave it a box pleat at the tail. I drafted both of these into the pattern and they were one of the toughest parts, having never done them before and adding them in– there was a lot of “what the hell am I doing… please please please don’t let me mess it up”  Hopefully the next ones will be a bit more graceful. Many thanks to all the wonderful bloggers out there whose tutorials, tips and tricks helped save my sanity on this.



Some lining detail. You can see the top on my hem facing there because I fucked up. Pleat fail. Everything is ruined.



The front facings are more simple and have silver flames and stars embroidered on. There’s a bit of ribbon piping between lining and facing as well.


And here you can see the hidden inner pocket. Because pockets!


Detail of the inner collar. The collar stands up, so this is rarely visible. It’s meant as a secret moment just for the wearer; something just for you. It’s a quote from Sandman and reads:

“Sometimes you wake up.

Sometimes the fall kills you.

And sometimes, when you fall, you fly.”


So it’s done. Sweet dreams.




Coats, Works in Progress

Dream Coat: Part Three–Fabric Explosion!

I’m started on the outer layer of the coat. I found a nice black-patterned bottomweight for the base layer and have cut out the MILLION pieces, so now they are ready to get all artsy.

Laying out fabric like a bawss.


So many pins… so very many pins…




This was my workspace/bed a few days ago…


…and this is it a few days later.


This part of the work is not exactly tedious, but it’s this weird, non-verbal sort of brain work. After a day of this I am pretty incapable of coherent speech. I communicate largely through strange sounds and hand gestures. I am pretty much an ewok.

The good thing is I get to listen to a lot of audio-books while I do it, just to remind my brain what words are. So far I’ve “read” The Giver by Lois Lowry, The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman (how appropriate),  Telegraph Avenue by Michael Chabon, The Casual Vacancy, by J.K. Rowling, and Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill. Several of these were read by British narrators, so at least my squeaky ewok noises sound posh and classy.

I’m attaching all the strips and scraps with lots and lots of stitching. Ungodly amounts of stitching. I may actually be liking the back more than the front at this moment.



Here you can see the chalk layout for some of the quilting:


Then, because I can’t get enough quilting action, apparently, I thought I’d try sewing flame patterns on the bottom section of the pieces. Remember that whole bit about Dream’s cloak being all flames inside? I wanted to bring a bit of that to the outside as well, so I stitched in flames in red metallic thread. I don’t have a picture of that yet but here’s the chalk layouts.


The red thread is much more subtle– you  have to really get up close and look before you notice that it is laying out flames. I felt a little torn on putting in so much stitch work that is so subtle, but it’s all a learning process, right? If I hate it or it isn’t worth it I won’t do it again. And in any case I’m taking the attitude that all these details, however subtle, are adding to the overall majesty of the piece. Right? Of course.

That’s all for now. It’s weirdly hot-yet-cloudy in Boulder today, which I think is a sign that ice cream should be sought. OBVIOUSLY.

Coats, Works in Progress

Dream Coat: Part Two–Lining

I started in on the lining first– seemed easier, I think. I was probably wrong.

I thought it would be nice to work the flames inside Dream’s cloak into the lining, so I decided to hand-dye it. I got a really nice flannel-back satin for the lining, which I KNEW was going to be hell to dye but I decided to go for it anyway.

I apologize to my husband and kitchen.

Here’s the first go. I used a mix of I-Dye Poly and Rit, to try to deal with the mix of poly and cotton in the fabric.


Note the curious dog face in the corner.


I was tricked by the “wet fabric” effect into thinking that several colors were darker and more saturated than they truly were. As a result, I re-dipped several sections of the lining and the whole process took about two (long, messy) days.

Second dip!



Once it dried, it was a lot lighter, of course, but it turned out rather pretty overall, I think. The flannel-back satin has an interesting effect because the flannel backing takes the color much better than the satin, so there is a sort of interesting sheen effect of the light satin with this darker base.


The pictures didn’t capture the orange bottom very well–it is light but is much richer and prettier than it is appearing here.  Bah.


Next: Into the abyss of fabric experimentation on the outer coat. I’ve realized I’m a bit paralyzed with uncertainty, so I’m going to take a slug of bourbon and just start. Caution to the wind! Into the breach!

Coats, Works in Progress

The Dream Coat (yes, THAT Dream)

To use the most-uttered statement in the world of WordPress–I’ve been remiss in my blogging.

I’ve been working. And taking pictures. But they have been just sitting on various devices, making rude faces at me, building up into a big ol’ guilt-mountain. UNTIL TODAY. Today, gentle reader, I have ventured into the wilds of Pekoe Sip House, where dude-bros discussing au pairs and Muy Thai rub elbows with white women in head-scarves doing dramatic chakra-blessings over their rooibos. I am not kidding. And it is only 8:30 am.

I have fueled myself with chai (with real milk, because I am going promptly to hell) and will now endeavor to sort out some of what I’ve been doing lately. I may need more chai.

A bit of foundation– feel free to skip this and go straight to pretty pictures. I’m in the process of building up a portfolio to apply to grad school, to continue to study the sartorial arts, or the artsy sartorials. One of those.  I’m building the crux of this portfolio around coats– sort of a conceptual bee I’ve had in my (shiny) bonnet for quite a while and have probably talked at you about before. Basically I have some ideas for pieces that are both art and garment, but it’s a lot of ideas in a lot of uncharted territory and I pretty much have no idea what I’m doing but I have faith it shall be, if not awesome, at least interesting.  So that’s the WHY of it.

I started with the Purple Scrappy Coat, which I still haven’t finished. It pretty much taught me just enough to know that I wanted to make the whole thing from scratch and have control over the shape and style of the coat. I may have control issues.

So I made the Piped Damask Coat to begin learning about that. I should mention that I am not, at this present moment, expecting to become a master tailor. Tailoring is an intense craft that, frankly, scares the shit out of me, so while I intend to pick up as much knowledge and skill as possible, please don’t mistake this for me being all “I’m a tailor now!” That’s like drawing a stick figure and then introducing yourself as an artist.  But I digress…

The newest project is inspired by The Sandman. That’s right, this guy:


Isn’t he just DREAMY?

(i’m sorry.)


If you don’t know the Sandman books, go read them all, right now, then come back. These books have been HUGELY influential in my life, and if I could pick ANY ONE LIVING, FAMOUS PERSON to be friends with, it would absolutely be Neil Gaiman. I have even drawn this wonderful alternate reality: It’s me and Neil drinking tea and discussing books and dogs and the magic of small things, all while taking a lovely jog, and we don’t spill a drop, no not a one.


Right. Fangirling over. I am so embarrassed.

I thought to myself, “If I were the Lord of Dreams, what would I wear?” so it’s the Dream Coat… no technicolor involved.

Here’s some of the first sketches.


Lots of doodle of pockets and sleeves…


Dream is pretty much tall, dark and handsome. Emphasis on dark. He’s a bit of a mope sometimes, but you love him anyway. He makes my inner goth very happy. He’s always in black, so I’m thinking black on black on black for the coat, clearly. However, his cloak is all flames on the inside, so I want to work in an element of that as well.

I picked a very nice Burda pattern as the base pattern to mock up a muslin in. I’m basically taking the shape and sleeves of this coat and altering the hell out of it.

Point A:


 I drafted a new collar, added a hood, lengthened and changed the sleeves, added inseam pockets, added pleats to the back and changed the hemline. Pray for me that it goes together alright at the end.ImageImage

Lots of alterations and bourbon went into this pattern.Image

It should be a lot closer to this now.

Point B:


Next– into the (fabric) breach! Stay tuned!


Coats 101

It is finally time for me to make a coat.

Coats (and jackets) are probably my favorite garments; there’s something very security-blanket-meets-armor about a good coat. And I have been afraid to try making one. So many pieces! So many details! So many notions! Interfacing! Buttons–what?! And what the hell is wiggan? But I’m going to do it. I believe I ranted at length about it in this post, but the direction I am wanting to move in, artistically, (read that with a posh accent), is towards unique, hand-crafted outerwear. An intersection between art and function, spanning both. 

In school, I was allowed to be completely immersed in art for art’s sake; making and experimenting and not worrying about a bottom line any more serious than my letter grade. Post-school, thrown into the (lack of) job market, working in a coffee shop, I became very concerned with commercial uses and marketability– making things I could SELL. Now I feel like I’m coming back to some middle way. I think art students are often underserved on learning marketing, branding and survival, but I also think being passionate about your work is important, and that if you do something that bores you just because you can sell it, both you and your work will ultimately suffer. 


This philosophical moment brought to you by Ponds Cold Cream.


Anyway, coats. And no, I still haven’t finished the purple patchy coat. It’s been the learning-horse, and largely what I learned was that I need to be able to make my garments from scratch and to design them myself from the ground up to get the result I want. So it’s sitting unfinished for the moment, though I plan to finish it at that elusive time we know as “someday.”

So I took a basic coats/jackets class and finally attempted my first coat, from a commercial pattern and everything! Woo!

I bought this pattern, largely because I have a weakness for stand-collars and double-breasted styles:


I bought a gorgeous, but complicated, damask-print canvas fabric. I also, at the urging of awesome-teacher Diana, decided to pipe the seams– a new trick for me, which I love and now I want to pipe everything. Piping for all! Piping on underwear! Piping on the dog!




Progress pockets… and more piping! The lining is a gorgeous orange. I should have matched the lining and piping but the piping was a last-minute decision, so it is red. This is not a mistake, this is a bold artistic choice!Image


I took a few more progress shots but they looked pretty dull so I shan’t include them. Suffice it to say this beast took a while. Matching the print alone took the better part of a day, and then once I put the coat together I realized it needed all sorts of alterations. Next time I will make a muslin for sure– I have learned my lesson!! I took in the sides, sleeves, bust and back, and there are more alterations I will probably add on if I ever make a version of this pattern again. So there are lots of “learning moments” on this coat, (like the hem. That hem and learning to line the thing nearly killed me) but overall, for my first coat ever, I’m pretty pleased. 

Finished coat, with neck unbuttoned. I disagree with this pattern detail, by the way. It leaves a strange gap in between the collar and front facing and if I make it again I think I’ll just join the collar and facing. I’d also extend the other side of the collar so the wrap and are symmetrical, but I like big high collars. It just looks weird to me with the one side longer than the other and hanging open like that.


And buttoned. I like the look of it when closed. I opted for buttons just on the closure, rather than the intended double-row down the front. It just seemed too busy with both rows of buttons, and I rather liked the asymmetry.






Partially open, I like the “lapel” effect but again, that top collar piece bugs me. Oh well. 


Sexy rich orange lining. Next time I will add a back-pleat to the lining– it could use it for ease. 


Action shots!


I took about 4 inches out of the back– it was a pretty shapeless coat at first. 







Thanks to Diana and Better Living Through Sewing for the help and guidance. If you live in the Bay Area and want to sew I highly recommend her classes. Plus, it turns out she went to the same high school in Boulder that I did. Funny ol’ world, innit?




The Once and Future Hoodie has arrived…

(What else would it be?)
Introducing the newest addition to our Incandescent Armor Jackets: The Once and Future Hoodie! For space-age royalty only PLEASE, darling. Released in a limited run, with all the same fantastic features and fit of the IA Jacket family. Get on your high horse.