The Trench – Christine Haynes Pattern

Trench - Christine Haynes Pattern - Chic & Simple Sewing - csews.com

I’m on a stashbusting mission – spurred by The Quirky Peach, who launched a Summer Stashbust Challenge in June. I had intended to make The Trench from Christine Haynes‘ first book Chic & Simple Sewing but somehow never got around to it. A few years ago I had made two other versions of The Trench in solid fabrics (except for the bias tape, which was striped in one and houndstooth in another). You can see those versions here and here (warning – pix aren’t very good).

Joel Dewberry - Ginseng collection - Jasmine palette - csews.com

I’ve had three yards of this Joel Dewberry fabric, part of his Ginseng collection of cotton sateen home dec, since 2010 – yes, that’s a four-year delay! The image on the left is taken from Joel’s website so it has the correct color. Isn’t this fabric pretty? This is his Orchid design in the Jasmine palette.

It’s the fabric I picked for my first stashbusting projects. (Here’s my post on stashbusting.)

This is pattern is a TNT (tried and true) for me. It’s simple to make – with only seven pattern pieces to cu – front, back, sleeves, patch pockets, not including the bias tape. The only tricky part is the bias tape edging along the front edge and the neckline – you just need to be careful to catch the double-fold bias tape on both sides of the jacket. I didn’t do a very good job on the first one I made – my bias tape needed stabilizer. This is a medium-weight home dec fabric that didn’t need any stabilizer but it’s rather thick to sew at the beginning and end of the neckline where you have to fold over the ends.

The Trench - Christine Haynes pattern - Chic & Simple Sewing - csews.com

I used size large and only made one adjustment – I made the sleeves about two inches longer because I have really long arms and didn’t want my sleeves to end too near my elbows.

This jacket has raglan sleeves, which means the sleeves go right up to the collar (think baseball tee). This style works well with my broad shoulders. I didn’t have to do any wide shoulder adjustments! My biggest challenge in making this particular jacket was deciding which color bias tape to use. If you follow me on Instagram (@csews), you may have seen all the variations – hot pink, green, cream, fabric – and then finally the winner – the same fabric plus hot pink bias tape. (Special thanks to the many sewcialists who chimed in when I was pondering my bias tape options!) I did a lot of basting and pinning before I finally got around to sewing the bias tape – and then I had to rip out and redo some of the neckline because I didn’t catch all of the pink bias tape. :/

Here’s a compilation of the IG photos. The last photo is of one of my patch pockets. I put a little bit of pink bias tape along the top edge of the pocket. I thought about putting it around the bottom of the pocket but I decided to keep it simple.

Bias tape for the Trench - csews.com

I decided to use the green bias tape for a Hong Kong seam finish for the side seams and sleeves. The Trench is an unlined jacket so I thought that would give it a nice look on the inside.

Hong Kong seam finish - csews.com

And I do like the look but – wow – it sure is tedious because you have to sew the bias tape to each raw edge, which means two strips of bias tape per seam. Then I ran out of bias tape and I had to buy another package (grrrr), using nearly 6 yards total!

Check out those seams!

Trench - inside right

I used hot pink seam tape for the sleeve hems and the bottom hem, which you can see above. And here are a few more photos.

Trench - Christine Haynes Pattern - csews.com

I really like this jacket but I don’t think it goes with much of my existing wardrobe, so it’s not as versatile as I thought it would be. Actually, I have no idea what I was thinking when I bought it but I was really fixated on making this jacket with this fabric.

The Trench - Christine Haynes patterns - csews.com

I do have a few RTW things in a solid cream, such as this skirt and sweater but it’s not a color I wear very often. I have a lot of solid black in my wardrobe  so maybe I could wear that with this jacket in the fall. The large patch pockets are great. I can easily put my phone, keys, a small notebook, and more in these pockets.

The Trench - Christine Haynes pattern - Chic  Simple Sewing - csews.com

Here’s a closer shot of the front – you can see the flat piping.

The Trench - Christine Haynes pattern - Chic   Sim[le Sewing - csews.com

Finally, here’s  detail of my vintage beret. I got it at All Things Vintage in Oakland. It’s got eight sections, which gives it a nice round shape. It’s one of my favorite berets. Oh, and the lipstick I’m wearing is American Beauty by Besame Cosmetics. As soon as I saw it on Handmade by Heather‘s IG feed (@knitnbee) a couple of weeks ago, I had to get it.

Vintage beret - csews.com

Backstory of the shoot: I got up early because I knew it would be overcast in the morning and the cloud cover would be gone in a couple of hours and I wanted to avoid the hot California sun that would cast stark shadows. I walked to my shooting location, set up my tripod and shot about three test shots using my digital camera’s timer. Then the battery died! The one time I didn’t check the battery. Auugh! So I traipsed home, plugged in the charger for about an hour and hoped that would be enough power – luckily it was.

What are you making this summer? Are you using any stash fabric?

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Q&A with Designer Christine Haynes

Derby Dress pattern (photo by Bob Lake)

This month Christine Haynes launched her new pattern line, which kicks off with two lovely patterns for summer weather: Derby Dress and Chelsea Dress.

You can order them on her website ChristineHaynes.com on this page and soon you will be able to buy them in shops around the country. After they ship, Christine will put a store list on her site so everyone knows where to find them locally.

I interviewed her via email earlier this month.

How long have you been working on the patterns and what made you decide to embark on this project?
I have been working on this since the fall of last year. I knew I didn’t want to do another book right now, but really wanted to continue releasing designs into the world. I decided last summer to do a Kickstarter campaign and when it was funded in the fall, I got going on it!

How much money did you raise via Kickstarter?
I raised just over $6,500 through Kickstarter, which is almost enough to pay for all the expenses to launch the first two patterns.

Christine Haynes

How long did you give yourself to raise the money?
I selected the maximum time limit, which was 60 days.

Did you think you’d be able to meet your goal when you decided to use Kickstarter?
Honestly, I had no idea if I’d be able to raise my goal or not! I thought I could, but there was an element of doubt from launch to funding, 24/7.

In your book Chic and Simple Sewing, there are no zippers or buttons on any of the clothes featured in the book. Will any of your upcoming patterns have any buttons or zippers?
Absolutely! My book was really all about removing the fear of sewing garments for beginners, so I didn’t want them worrying about fit and difficult details like darts and such. But these patterns are for levels beyond absolute beginners, so in the first two patterns there are details like facings, collars, princess seams, buttons, gathering, and more! But don’t worry, they aren’t super difficult. [Update: The book is now out of print. You may be able to find used copies on Amazon.]

Chelsea Dress pattern (photo by Bob Lake)

What advice do you have for aspiring designers who want to create a line of sewing patterns?
Have a clear vision, more money than you think for funding it, and take your time to get it right! I am a bit frustrated that it’s taking longer than I thought it would, but I want them done right!

What inspires your designs?
I am really inspired by the 1950s and 1960s, but I never want to look like I’m wearing a costume. It’s a very fine line! I try to go away every year to just be, exist, and live. This allows me to do a lot of observation and clears my head from the clutter of daily life. It’s my most clear time to sketch and think of new designs.

Mother’s Day Gifts – Sewing Books!

The Trench – pattern by Christine Haynes

Last weekend my older sister showed my blog to my Mom on an iPad. A couple days later I spoke to my Mom on the phone (she lives on the East Coast and I live in California) and she said she liked the purple trench coat featured on this page of my blog. This is the coat I made from Christine Haynes book Chic & Simple Sewing, which I reviewed here.  She asked me if it was easy to make and I told her yes, she could certainly make one.

Yesterday I realized that time was running out on getting my Mom something for Mother’s Day. Then I thought – hey, I’ll get her a copy of Christine’s book! So I immediately ordered a copy on Amazon – I did check with a local independent bookstore first but they didn’t have one in stock – and I got an email today saying that it had shipped and would likely arrive on Saturday. Yay.

So if you’re racking your brain about what to get your Mom for Mother’s Day, consider a sewing book. Two lovely options:

Chic & Simply Sewing, which you can get on Christine’s website (or on Amazon) – This includes many patterns for a variety of clothes (see my review for more info).

 

Colette Sewing Handbook, available on Colette Patterns website (or on Amazon) – This book is about Sarai Mitnick’s approach to sewing and it includes five patterns. I will be reviewing it soon.

 

The Hand of Fabric

The half-finished red crepe jacket

When I first began sewing as a young girl, I sewed mostly woven cotton fabric and made pretty basic clothes. So I never really had to be concerned about the “hand” of fabric. What is the hand of fabric? It’s how a fabric feels when you touch it – soft, stiff, flowing, crisp, and so on.

But over the past few years, I have delved into making clothes from fabric I had never used before – stretch knits, wool crepe, silk, herringbone tweed, dupioni, and home dec textiles. And now I’ve discovered that hand is really important – especially if I decide to deviate from what a pattern suggests.

Patterns typically list fabrics to use and let you know whether obvious diagonals are OK. They also take into consideration the hand and how it would work with the design. For example, when I made The Trench from Christine Haynes’s book Chic & Simple Sewing, I used a wool fabric that didn’t quite work. I needed something with a stiffer hand so the top part wouldn’t flop. When I made it a second time using a more heavyweight fabric, I didn’t have that problem (see Sewing Another Trench Coat).

I bought a remnant of some beautiful red imported Italian wool crepe from Britex Fabrics a couple years ago. It was one of the more expensive remnants I’d ever purchased (even at 30 percent off the remnant price it was still more than $50 – I’ve conveniently forgotten how much it was).

At the time, I had an Anne Klein jacket pattern in mind but soon realized that I didn’t have enough yardage – luckily I figured that out before I cut it. But I wanted to make a jacket so I flipped through a Vogue pattern book and found a cute cropped jacket. The pattern didn’t list wool crepe but it did say “crepe” so I thought, why not?

Well, after I began sewed the main body pieces, I realized that the hand of my wool crepe and the silk lining was too soft for this pattern. I really don’t like the way the front horizontal seam looks. The fabric just isn’t very forgiving. Maybe if I’d chosen a lining with a stiffer hand, it would look better. But what I should have done is really considered my fabric’s hand and the pattern – and how they would work together.

So it’s been hanging in my closet for months as I try to figure out what to do. I really don’t want to take it apart because it’s pretty hard to pick out the thread. I bought a red silk thread that matches really well. Plus I clipped the seams in some areas in the hopes that that would help.

Now I ponder placing some ribbon or lace over that darn seam but it’s hard to decide what will look best – a black grosgrain ribbon? some grey lace? a red moiré satin ribbon? In the meantime, it hangs in my closet waiting for my decision and for me to attach its cropped sleeves….

 

Sewing Another Trench Coat

The Trench - in purple

I made my first version of this coat a couple years ago. (You can read about it in this post The Trench.”) The pattern is from Christine Haynes aptly named book Chic & Simple Sewing, which I reviewed here.

I found this handwoven heavyweight cotton purple fabric at the East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse. I thought it would do nicely for this coat. The Depot sells cut fabric (not on the bolt) for $2/yard, fabric on the bolt is $3/yard. (For more info, see my post, Fabric at the East Bay Depot.)

Then I had to decide what I would use for the bias tape. I found a lovely remnant of striped silk at Discount Fabrics in San Francisco. I liked the idea of having diagonally striped bias tape.

After I started sewing the coat and attached the sleeves, I wondered about using more of the silk fabric as an additional accent to the coat. Eventually, I decided to put some of the silk fabric along the bottom edge of the sleeves. These pieces would be sort of like cuffs but I would just be placing a piece of fabric over the sleeve ends.

If I had figured this out earlier, I could have sewed the silk on to the sleeve before I attached the sleeves. It would be a pain to rip out the seams so I ended up hand sewing the silk to the sleeves (see photos below).

I actually made the bias tape last year and finally got around to finishing The Trench this past weekend. The big difference between this version and my previous one, is fusible tape. When I made this coat the first time around, I hadn’t used any fusible tape for sewing seams. It would have made my seams on the bias tape look significantly better. The bias tape didn’t lay flat so I hid that unevenness by sewing rick rack on top of the seam line. You can see that version here.

For the purple trench, I used a double-sided fusible tape –  Design Plus Ulta-soft Double Sided Fusible (3/8″) – which I read about in the an issue of Threads magazine. It is an excellent stabilizer for lightweight fabrics. Back in 2009, I ordered of two rolls of it from LJ Designs. At that time it was $9.99 for a 27-yard roll. (The price has gone up a dollar.) My first roll is nearly depleted but I still have one roll that’s unused.

It was a very tedious process ironing the fusible to the bias tape because I had to first iron it on one side and then the other. The good thing was that there was just a little edge of fusible at the center fold of the bias tape. So I could then put the bias tape over the unfinished coat edges and iron it in place. This meant I didn’t have to pin the bias tape. Yay.

The fabric I used was rather thick so I hand sewed the hem. Also, because this particular cotton has a tendency to unravel, I sewed bias tape over all the seams, which is a nice detail on an unlined jacket.

Below are many photos of preparing and attaching the bias tape, making the pockets and cuffs, and other details.

Ironing fusible to one side of bias tape
Peeling the paper from the fusible tape
Ironing the bias tape
Ironing fusible to opposite side
Ironing bias tape in place
Sewing on bias tape
Front edge and neckline
Bias tape along front edge. Neckline bias tape ironed in place
Pinning the cuff in place for hand sewing
Finished cuff
Notches cut into pocket corner curves
Ironing the pocket

 

Pinning the pocket
Sewing the pocket to The Trench
Inside view of the bottom hem and seam covered with bias tape

Chic & Simple Sewing

As soon as I flipped through Chic & Simple Sewing by Christine Haynes, I knew I had to buy it. I immediately wanted to make many of the clothes in this book. There are great color photos of the clothes – always a plus. Sometimes a sketch just doesn’t quite do it. So it’s nice to see what the designs look like on a human body. And the attractive models are photographed is a variety of locations – on the street at night, near the beach, window walking down a path, sitting on a piano bench inside, and so on. The author’s fabric choices are excellent and one of the reasons the clothes look so lovely. Full-size patterns are included with the book (sizes: S, M, L).

The subtitle says, “Skirts, Dresses, Tops, and Jackets for the Modern Seamstress.” And that’s essentially what’s inside. Remarkably, none of the lovely designs have zippers or buttonholes! As a result, it’s a good book for a beginning seamstress. But not everything is necessarily easy to make so it’s probably best to at least know your way around a sewing machine and sew a straight seam before making some of these stylish clothes. Christine rates the difficulty level on a scale of 1 to 5 for each piece. For example, the more complicated wrap dress gets a 5 rating and the trench coat gets a 3.

Tie Jacket (w/o the tie)

WHAT’S INSIDE

Christine introduces each pattern, giving her take on the design and describing the fabric she recommends and the fabric on the version that the model’s wearing. She also dispenses advice on what to consider when buying fabric to make a particular piece of clothing. For example, for “The A-line Skirt,” she says: “What’s important is that you choose lightweight or medium weight fabric. If you pick something too heavy and thick, the skirt will stick out from the waist, which might be unflattering.” (Her polite way of saying, it really won’t look good with heavy fabric so don’t try it.)

The book is organized into five chapters, with the first one devoted to the usual sewing basics (tools, sewing machine, measurements, etc.)  and then a few pages covering fabric, colors, and notions as well as some sewing techniques (basic stitching, pressing, and finishing details). Each of the remaining chapters covers a season, beginning with Spring (Chapter 2) and ending with Winter (Chapter 5). So you can pick out designs according to the season in which you expect to wear them. It’s an interesting way to organize the book. There’s a range of clothes within each chapter. For example, Spring has instructions for three dresses, a baby doll top, a circle skirt, and a “trench” coat. I put quotes around that because that’s what Christine Haynes calls it in the book “The Trench.” But it’s not a traditional trench coat with a collar, lapels, shoulder straps, and long sleeves.

My version of "The Trench"

This is a coat with no collar, 3/4 length sleeves, and nice big patch pockets that can hold any number of things (gloves, pens, cell phones, small books). I love the design.

WHAT I’VE MADE SO FAR

Here’s my version of the coat (see photo at right). I used some dark grey wool fabric for the coat and some lightweight wool herringbone for the bias tape trim. However, the main fabric I chose was a little lighter weight than it should have been because it just flopped open at the top, which didn’t look so good. So I added a covered button and made a loop out of some corded elastic to hook it closed. To read about my experience making this coat and for detailed photos of the results (and how I solved my bias tape problem), see “The Trench.”

From the Summer chapter, I made “The Wrap Top,” which is like the top half of a wrap-around dress. The top has little cap sleeves and wide ties that  wrap around you. A simple design but I picked a fabric that didn’t quite work with the design. It kinda gapes open in front where the front bodice pieces overlap. My bosom is (a-hem) not exactly well endowed so a crisper fabric would have been a better choice. So when I wear it, I just pin the pieces together with a sterling silver leaf pin I have to keep it from sagging.

The Tie Jacket

I also made “The Tie Jacket,” from the Fall chapter. It uses the same pattern as “The Trench Coat,” but it’s shorter – the hem is hip length rather than mid-thigh and there are no pockets. I found a couple yards of this black-and-white corduroy fabric with teeny herringbone at the East Bay Creative Reuse Depot and thought it would be perfect for this jacket. I had never seen such a print on corduroy before (see detail photo below, a quarter is about an inch, which will give you an idea of just how small the herringbone is). I think I like it better on me without the tie though. (See the photos above and left.)

I’d also like to make some of the skirts in the book. Christine’s got a nice A-line skirt with a wide ruffle at the bottom and a cool wrap skirt. The next time I’m in a skirt-making mood, I’ll definitely make one or both of them.

I think the only (minor) quibble is that women who are larger than size 10-12 won’t be able to wear these clothes. There is no extra large size to cut out. This is one of my favorite books with sewing patterns. You can order a signed copy of the book on Christine’s Etsy page or get a copy from your local bookstore (support your indie stores!) or on Amazon.

Detail: Herringbone corduroy of the Tie Jacket I made

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Trench

The Trench

This coat is the first thing I made from Christine Haynes‘s book, Chic & Simple Sewing. It has only has five pattern pieces: jacket front, jacket back, sleeve, pocket, and bias tape. And the last two items are optional as you can make the coat without the pockets and you can buy bias tape rather than making your own. It’s pretty easy to make and looks great.

I had a few yards of this rich dark grey wool fabric that I got at the East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse, a cool nonprofit organization in Oakland which sells all kinds of things that people donate (art supplies, fabric, furniture, beads, yarn, baskets, small appliances, you name it). I only paid $2/yard for this fabric! I also found a yard of lightweight herringbone tweed wool fabric at the Depot. So when I was looking at my fabric stash, I thought those two fabrics would make a good combination – the dark grey for the coat and the herringbone for contrasting bias tape. (For more info, check out this post “Fabric at the East Bay Depot” by yours truly.)

This was the first time I made my own bias tape. Before I bought Christine’s book, I had been reading about bias tape in Anna Maria Horner‘s beautiful book Seams to Me. Her instructions and diagram on making bias tape were very clear and easy to follow. (For an online tutorial, see Coletterie’s “How to make Bias Tape”.) I hadn’t thought about making my own bias tape before and Anna Marie’s book used bias tape tohttps://csews.com/clothes/the-trench such lovely effect, I was hooked. I went out and bought a couple different sizes of bias tape makers. I really wanted to make something with my own bias tape. And then I saw this coat in Christine’s book and realized this would be the perfect thing.

Like the title of Christine’s book, this coat is simple to sew. After you cut out the pieces, you sew each front piece to a sleeve piece and then the back edge of the sleeve to the back piece. It has raglan sleeves as you can see from this photo below.

The Trench has raglan sleeves.

It only became slightly tricky when I wasn’t quite sure which side was the “right” side because the fabric I was using was the same on both sides.

Once I sewed the main coat pieces, it was on to the bias tape along the front opening of the coat and then around the collar. At this point in my sewing life, I had not used things like Steam-a-Seam or other fusible webs, which make it easier to get nice looking seams. So I blithely sewed the bias tape to the front edge and soon realized that the lightweight herringbone I was using for my bias tape didn’t look so good. The seam didn’t quite lay flat and was a little puckered in some areas (darn it). My solution? Rick rack to the rescue! I bought some black rick rack that I sewed right over the seam, which made a nice transition between the herringbone bias tape and the dark grey of the main fabric.

Then I had another problem. The coat flopped open instead of staying upright like the one in the book. It was the fault of the fabric I choose plus the bias tape and rick rack added a little more weight that made it “flop.” So I decided that I needed a covered button to keep it together at the top. I put the button on one side and made a loop out of black corded elastic for the other. Click on the photos below to see larger versions of the rick rack and button. (Christine chose a medium-weight cotton fabric for her coat. I’ll be making another version of the coat using a heavier weight purple cotton fabric and striped bias tape.)

Bias tape, rick rack detail
Covered button detail

 

 

 

 

 

 

The last step was to hem the bottom and sew on the patch pockets, which are really useful. I love big pockets. The Trench has pockets large enough to stow your cell phone, a paperback book, wallet, and keys. I wear this coat a lot in the Bay Area. It’s perfect for cool weather here. But when it gets a little chillier, your arms will get cold because the sleeves are 3/4 length. So heave some arm warmers ready or wear a sweater underneath.

If you make this coat, you’ll be sure to get compliments on it. Thanks for a great pattern, Christine!