Choose life. Choose fabric.

Happy Sunday guys!

Firstly, I’d like to say thanks to everyone who commented on last week’s post about the subscription boxes – it seems that despite their apparent popularity, people generally think they are a waste of money and would rather choose materials themselves. That’s what I thought too, but wondered if I was in the minority because they just seem to be so damn popular 🤷🏻‍♀️ I’m happy with the sock box that I bought, but I’m not bothered at all about trying any of the quilting or dressmaking boxes. I’ve scratched that itch and will forget about it now.

And talking of things being popular… unless you’ve been living under a rock, you will know that the Great British Sewing Bee is back on our screens. Some of you may remember that I applied for this year’s show, but pulled out of the audition process. I told people it was because of workplace-related constraints, but in truth – I just didn’t want to go on the show. My heart wasn’t in it.

The show just feels a little… meh, to me. I mean, obvs I love sewing, but it’s just so – British. (Okay. I know that it’s the BRITISH sewing bee, but still). I find the whole idea a bit uninspiring. Sure, it’s great that people can go on there and develop their dressmaking skills – and the show can even end up altering their lives in ways they never imagined – but I find all the fawning over what’s-his-name to be just a tad embarrassing, and that Esme woman looks bloody miserable in every single shot I’ve seen of her.

Something about the whole idea of being tasked with making a garment, and then being judged on it by some ‘experts’ has the rebel in me all wound up. I wouldn’t really care whether they thought my creations were ‘good enough’ or not – I’m not out to be a crowd-pleaser. I’m here to be me. And if I’m having a good time with what I’m creating, that’s all that matters.

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Which is why I won’t be applying for the show again.

There. I said it.

And y’know what?

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Feels good man✌🏻

I feel 100% better now I’ve got that off my chest, because everyone else in the sewing community seems to think the show is the best thing since sliced bread. And I don’t.

And I just couldn’t hold it in any longer.

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If you know me IRL, you’ll know that I generally give two fingers to the ‘trends‘ anyway, and often have opinions that are against the massesso it won’t really come as a surprise. The world would be a v. boring place if we were all the same, amirite?

I know about 99% of the sewing community will love the GBSB, so you can hate me if you want, it’s cool 🤷🏻

But… if you want to stick around, you can read all about my awesome new coat 🤘🏻

Spoiler! It’s another Deer and Doe Opium. Remember this one, which I photographed jet-lagged in New York’s Central Park?

Last year, Deer and Doe asked me if I would like to be one of the first people to make their new release coat pattern – the Opium. Obviously, I replied with a BIG FAT YES, because we all know how much I love Deer and Doe patterns 😍 It was a new style to me – a loose-fitting swing coat. Usually I prefer more fitted coats, but I fell in love with the shape of it – it was so easy to wear. (And it didn’t matter if I demolished an oversized meal – simply loosen the belt 🙌🏻)

d0033 deer and doe sewing pattern opium coat

I loved that first one so much that I made another 🙌🏻

Deer and Doe Opium Coat by Wanderstitch 2275

(Modelled here with my all-time greatest charity shop find: £3 never-worn hot-pink leopard print heels IN MY SIZE 🙌🏻)💕👠

Even though both coats are made from exactly the same pattern – with no adjustments – the fabrics chosen have made them quite different.

For the first one, I used a jacquard wool that I scored off eBay, which wasn’t *too* heavy and had a little bit of drape to it. For this second one, I used some Lady McElroy wool coating that was considerably thicker and heavier, and much warmer. Kind of like a really thick felt.

Those little triangle-shaped welts were much easier with the heavier wool for sure. The jacquard wool frayed a little bit with the fiddly corners and all the turning out of the points, but the leopard print fabric stayed put and didn’t fray at all. Trying to topstitch through four layers of that thicker wool was quite interesting though – a heavy needle is definitely required.

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The stable weave of the fabric meant I didn’t need to finish the seam allowances, which saved me a fair bit of time 🙌🏻 I don’t know what it is about sewing-geek pictures of the innards of garments, but they make my inner nerd happy, so here you go 👀🤓

(lolz just noticed the bucket of dog toys in the bottom corner… honestly I spend so much time putting toys back into that bucket I swear they are worse than children 🤣)

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You’re instructed to use interfacing tape around the armhole and along the shoulder seam, to stop droopage. On a heavier fabric such as this, it’s definitely needed so don’t skip it. I ran out of tape after doing the armholes, so for the shoulder seam I instead sewed some stable ribbon into the seams. Worked just as well, and used up the random ribbon that I’ve had for years and didn’t know what to do with.

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I added piping into the lining of this second version – one of my most favourite things to do 😍 I used the one remaining leftover piece of piping I made for the husbeast’s Western Shirt (on the blog NEXT WEEK guys – it’s worth the wait I promise!!), and it was the perfect length. Woop!

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I don’t usually wear the colour brown, and although my favourite print – animal print – tends to comes in brown more than any other colour, I usually try to look for it in different colours (pink, purple and orange being the main ones). But this wool coating seemed a nice, warm tone… so I decided to give it a chance. I’m glad I did.

I considered my options for lining fabrics, and the only coordinating colours I came up with were varying shades of brown. No matter how they were named, ‘cappuccino‘, ‘golden hour‘, ‘mocha‘ were all essentially brown. If I had brown outer fabric, and brown piping, there was no way I was having a brown lining too. I just couldn’t do that to myself.

When all else fails in life, something hot pink is usually the answer – and this coat was no exception 💕

Deer and Doe Opium Coat by Wanderstitch 2278

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This lining fabric, which despite having the scandalous price of £6.99 per metre, is amazeballs. It feels beautifully soft and drapes gorgeously – you could totally make garments from this. It would make a lovely blouse, or Ogden Cami. Sure, it’s plain, not patterned (I do love a good patterned lining), but it’s perfect to use with patterned outer fabrics. I’ve already bought some more of it to line a magenta skirt that I’m making to wear to an Indian wedding (the silk brocade I bought to make the skirt with turned out to be slightly see-through 😱)

Using hot pink for the lining makes me a little bit more comfortable with the outside of the coat being brown – it definitely makes it feel more ‘me’.

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The fact that the wool is nice and thick and stable means that the coat is great for wearing when it’s cold – it keeps out most of the elements including wind and rain (verified using the wonderful four-seasons-in-one-day British weather 🌧️). The thickness does also mean, however, that it makes me look a bit chunky when I’m wearing it 👀 All that heavy wool wrapped around me can undo my weeks of gym classes just like THAT. But – I’m warm, so I guess there’s a trade-off somewhere 🤷🏻

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I forgot to put the belt loops on my first Opium (I’d sewn up the lining before I’d realised I still hadn’t attached them 🤦🏻‍♀️), so I was determined to put them on this version – despite the thick fabric. I got all DIY on its ass and used a hammer to smack the layers of the rebel loops into submission before attempting to stitch them to the coat – the best I could do through all the layers was a sloppy line of zig-zag stitch at the top and bottom. It ain’t pretty – but it also ain’t goin’ nowhere. After doing one of the loops, I realised that I’d caught the pocket bag in not one, but BOTH of the stitching lines – and had to spend what felt like eternity unpicking my I-will-zig-zag-you-within-an-inch-of-your-life seam.

FFS.

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that would be great kill me meme

The fabric, if I’m honest, is a little too thick for the belt. It doesn’t stay fastened if you just knot it once, which means you have to knot it twice and have it look all weird and sticky-outy on your stomach. There’s no way I’m ditching the belt though, after the effort that went in to the installation of the belt loops. A buckle fastening would be miles better.

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Through desperation, I figured out that the best way to turn the belt inside out after stitching the sides, was with a ruler. You just had to give it enough elbow grease (and over the halfway join, you need a fair bit of push), and slowly but surely you’d end up with it the right way out with minimal faff. Result.

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If you’re looking for a way to dip your toe into coat-making, the Opium would totally be a good choice – no fiddly buttonholes, raglan sleeves (which are easier than set-in sleeves) and a lining as well to have a bash at if you’ve not tackled a lined garment before. Plus, super clear instructions from Deer and Doe as well 👌🏻

This coat gets worn on the regular, and has encouraged me to step outside my usual comfort zone when it comes to coat designs. Not that I need to make more coats mind you – I reckon I’ve got about enough to fill a wardrobe as it is 😨

I’m loving the wall that we photographed this coat in front of – so much colour, so much going on with it! That’s what I love about Brick Lane – every time we go, the walls are different, and it’s exciting to walk the streets and see what we find. Across the road from where we took these pictures was another beautiful piece of artwork, but sadly it was above ground level so I wasn’t able to take photos in front of it ☹️ So I stood and admired it instead.

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We’ve now had a few of our four-day working weeks, and I can confirm that we’re getting done nowhere near as much as we thought we would 🤣 By the time you get up a few hours later than what you would have done on a work day (say, 9am vs 6am), had a leisurely breakfast together (which takes you to 10am), got yourself washed and dressed (it’s now 10:30am), and actually started doing something productive, most of the day has gone. Friday has always been our date night too (and by ‘date night’, I actually mean ‘cinema night’), and the earliest film we could make on a workday would be 9pm. Now that we’re not at work, we can get an earlier film – say, 6pm – and actually be home before midnight. This does, however, shorten even further our available time on a Friday for getting shiz done 🤷🏻 So yeah… not as productive as we thought 🤔🤣

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Ah well. We have so far used our Fridays to cut fabric for a couple of things to add to the shop (so I need to get cracking on sewing those), and we’ve been to the dentist (turns out I need a filling as part of my tooth has broke off 😳), and in a couple of weeks we will be trekking across London for the Knitting and Stitching show at Olympia.

So not all bad, I guess.

I’m quite excited about next week’s post – the Handsome Husbeast’s western shirt (it has suede!) – but I’ll leave you for now with some more pics of my new favourite coat 😍

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Next week on the blog is the lonnnng awaited western shirt I made for the husbeast – you won’t want to miss it, it’s a good’un! 🤠

Subscribe below to make sure you don’t miss out! 👇🏻

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23 Comments

  1. Vivien T
    February 17, 2019 / 8:55 am

    So agree with you re the Sewing Bee! But I shall watch so I can moan about it. Since when has sewing been a race anyway?
    I think it also gives the wrong impression to beginner sewists and to the non sewing viewer, that you can knock out a perfect garment quickly. It annoys me that we don’t see many close-ups of the actual stitching, so you can’t possibly judge how well things are made.
    But on the positive side, it is nice to see how the contestants help each other (kudos to Juliet) and really enjoy their sewing, most of the time.
    What would be good would be to see a proper sewing programme on tv, but that would be deemed to be boring by the programme makers, I’m sure.
    Love your blog, keep up the good work!

    • Sarah
      Author
      February 19, 2019 / 8:43 am

      I’m glad I’m not the only one that doesn’t like the Sewing Bee! Totally agree with you on the speed/quality thing – there were some garments from the show on display at the GBSB Live show in London, and although I only had a quick look, they weren’t perfect (and some not to a great standard), but that’s what you’d expect from novice sewists. Like you say, the show gives the impression that their makes are perfect garments, which essentially devalues the time and effort that goes in to learning dressmaking skills 🤦🏻‍♀️
      So glad that you enjoy the blog! 🙌🏻😁

  2. February 17, 2019 / 8:59 am

    OMG! I’m so glad you said that about Esme from GBSB…you took the words right outta my mouth! She does look miserable lolol! Loving your coat, and the lining is WOW!!! xx

    • Sarah
      Author
      February 19, 2019 / 8:44 am

      Haha, I’m glad it’s not just me that thinks she needs to smile once in a while! 🙄 The lining in this coat is just EVERYTHING for me 🙌🏻😍

  3. Leckie
    February 17, 2019 / 10:34 am

    I’m enjoying the Sewing Bee…I really like the new presenter…my only gripe is that it’s almost completely female led in designs/patterns etc. This is of course understandable as that is their market of people who watch/buy the book. I encourage any programme that gets people sewing. I’ve had a few messages from people who want to sew and have cobtacted me about what to do next. I think sewing and entering a competition are different things and can understand why it doesn’t appeal. Keep up witht he blog. Lots of inspiration 🙂

    • Sarah
      Author
      February 19, 2019 / 8:50 am

      YES! It’s *so* female orientated 😕 There’s a fair few male contestants on there this time, so I’d like to see them tackle a men’s shirt, or tshirt or something. I’m sure the men want to learn to sew things for themselves and not just dresses! I still can’t get my head around the shortage of men’s patterns, because even women probably have husbands/sons/fathers etc that they would like to sew for 🤷🏻‍♀️
      I’m liking the fact that they have a new male presenter, and the pink fur coat I’ve seen him wearing is just the best 😍😍😍
      I guess I’ll forgive the show, if it gets people sewing… BusterSew has said that the Bee was what got him in to sewing, so it’s clearly working on some level.
      You’re totally right – it’s the *competition* bit that puts me off. Hadn’t thought of it like that, so thank you! 🙌🏻

  4. Bren Holmes
    February 17, 2019 / 11:26 am

    I love both of your coats. Your work looks so professional. I do enjoy watching the Sewing Bee, but totally would not want to be on it. I don’t agree with the speed over finish approach to sewing, but I do admire those who can manage both.
    When you get used to having Fridays at home, you’ll begin to get more done. At moment you are in ‘ Friday is holiday’ mode. It will wear off.

    • Sarah
      Author
      February 19, 2019 / 5:57 pm

      Thanks Bren! I’m not sure I was rocking the ‘professional’ vibes at the point I sewed the pocket lining into the belt loop 😂 I’m learning to slow down with sewing and make things well, with quality fabrics, so that they last. The knitting is back too, which is slower by nature.
      I think you’re right – I’m not yet used to having Fridays off! I’m sure the productivity will (hopefully) increase with time!

  5. February 17, 2019 / 12:06 pm

    I’m with you [as usual] on GBSB. Last season I blogged about it [or was it the one before? meh they blur into one] and got lots of flak for being so mean and opinionated. Wotevva. No one is forced onto our TV screens, they need to put on their big girl pants and suck on any criticism. Wotsisname is indeed way over-rated [wtf does he actually KNOW about sewing? sod all from his comments]
    I watched episode one in the hope of a good swear at the screen, but it was just dull and lacklustre. I hate the ‘chop-up-charity-shop-clothes-to-make-something-unwearable’ challenge. Why get ‘Britain’s best dressmakers’ on and make them rush to hack out crap?
    Meh.
    And grrr.
    Love the coat, but my red one is even fancier lol. I am loving NOT having a belt as I always look like a badly tied bag of laundry…

    • Sarah
      Author
      February 19, 2019 / 8:58 am

      Haha… there will always be people that disagree with you on pretty much everything, so it’s a bit harsh to use ‘mean and opinionated’ 🤔 Being opinionated is good, because this is how things get changed and challenged. If everyone just agreed with everyone else the world would be a verrrrry different place 🤷🏻‍♀️
      I’m not in to refashioning at all, unless you’re talking some priceless vintage silk or wool that’s got holes in but could be turned into a beautiful vest or jacket or something – I’m absolutely not down for using ugly synthetic fabrics to make something equally as hideous 😒
      I do love your red coat – it’s such a beautiful colour 😍❤️ I’m not sure how I’m feeling on the whole coat-with-belt thing, I don’t think that this one is helped by the fact that the fabric is just so thick so it looks a bit chunky… 🤷🏻‍♀️

  6. February 17, 2019 / 12:26 pm

    Hey, great coat! And another great photo shoot! I can’t wait to see Aaron’s shirt next week… I know I’ll be insanely jealous of it (… but in a nice encouraging way 😂)
    I haven’t seen this season of the Bee yet, but I’m looking forward to it… until there’s a show on tv about real sewing I guess it’s all we have, and, like a mug, I guess I’ll take that for now! It’s what got me into sewing in the first place, so I suppose it’ll always have a place in my viewing schedule. But like the baking, art & pottery; it’s all about making a tv show – so for a reality tv show, there’s a large chunk of the reality removed!
    Anyway, if the last 4 seasons are anything to go by, I doubt you’d find anything you’d want to sew with in their haberdashery!
    Keep on doing You. No one else can 👍🙏👏

    • Sarah
      Author
      February 19, 2019 / 9:02 am

      If the Bee was what got you in to sewing, then I’ll forgive it ❤️ I love seeing all your makes (and your amazeballs drawings which I still aspire to, but will get nowhere near 😂). That’s the thing as well, I know that if I went on the show that there would be ZERO fabrics that I would want to use 👀🤷🏻‍♀️😂 Now if I could get on Project Runway and have access to the entire Mood Fabrics store, that’s a different cup of tea… 😍
      I can’t wait for you to see the shirt next week… I know you will love it – I love it and it’s not even my shirt 😂 He always gets comments on it when he wears it! 🤠

  7. Cindy
    February 17, 2019 / 1:17 pm

    That is my favourite coat for you too. I adore the hot pink insides, you look amazing, and the shoes are the cherry on the top.

    Well done kids, maybe get up on Friday a litter earlier and change date night, you are trying to make a new life a better life get the work in now, you wont regret it. No more 9 to 5 is waiting at the end. Just for the 2 of you. Go for it big time.

    Shirt looks really cool hes a really good egg wearing and loving all your makes and supporting you both as he does. You’re a good team
    Take care
    Cindy xx

    • Sarah
      Author
      February 19, 2019 / 9:04 am

      Thanks Cindy! I do totally love the lining of this coat 😍😍😍 And the shoes… so pretty but can’t walk in them 😂
      Just for you I’ll make the effort to get up a few minutes earlier this week 😘
      The husbeast is definitely a good’un, that’s for sure ❤️

  8. February 17, 2019 / 2:32 pm

    I love the coats, have to check them out. No opinion on the Sewing Bee, can’t find it here to watch. Your fabric choices are lovely, and I would totally use the pink lining! So enjoy your posts, your personality comes through so clearly.

    • Sarah
      Author
      February 19, 2019 / 5:58 pm

      Ahh, thank you! I’m so glad you enjoy the blog! I guess you could say I do have quite a big personality 😂
      The pink lining is EVERYTHING isn’t it?! The colour is just so vibrant, and it makes me happy to look at it 💕

  9. February 17, 2019 / 2:34 pm

    I don’t care for the Sewing Bee – you are definitely not alone. Love your coat! Could you please tell me how much outer fabric you needed? I bought wayyy to much for my Rumana, but I’m not sure if it’s enough for an Opium. All the other makes I’ve seen so far didn’t impress me that much, but your coats show me it could actually be a style I can learn to love

    • Sarah
      Author
      February 19, 2019 / 6:01 pm

      Yaaaaay I’m glad you’re part of the non-bee club too! 🙌🏻
      I had three metres of fabric for the Opium, and I had a little bit left over – not enough left over to cut it down to 2.5 metres I don’t think, so I’d say three to be safe. I made a size 38 or 40 – can’t quite remember off the top of my head!
      I’m so happy that my versions have inspired you to have a go ☺️

  10. February 18, 2019 / 8:57 am

    Gorgeous coat, love the lines of it, and the pocket flat is a lovey detail. the pink lining is wonderful. well wear!

    I dont think I would ever consider going on the GBSB – times sewing does not seem appealing. I do find the show appealing in that while I am sewing a long time, I like to see how others sew, and I think its a nice mix of easy peasy and tech details. I think anyone thinking of learning how to sew, it is a worthy watch. That being said, a show worth checking on the BBC archives is Clothes that Count – as Ann Ladbury’s sewing tips are the best – and also its an curious time piece

    • Sarah
      Author
      February 26, 2019 / 8:43 am

      Thank you! 💕
      Thanks for the tip on ‘Clothes That Count’ – I’m gonna check that out!
      I agree that sewing under time pressure isn’t the best thing… to me it reinforces ‘fast fashion’ and makes non-sewists think that you can knock out garments super quickly with minimal skills. Sewing quality garments takes time, and skills that take many years to gain. I’d rather see a show that focuses on slower sewing with more complex details – perhaps completing an entire outfit over a course of a few weeks, with one week the bottom half, another week the top half etc.

  11. Iris
    September 12, 2019 / 8:45 am

    I am finally taking the plunge sewing this coat with some precious doeskin fabric from Fabworks. Your finished coat and the innard pictures is such an inspiration!! I have a question for you: have you considered underlining your wool fabric? My wool fabric is very similar to yours — squigy, drapy brushed wool. I worry that underlining it would ruin the drapy-ness and swingy-ness (both real words :P). But I worry about the coat sagging over time. What your experience after making 2 coats and wearing them over time?

    • Sarah
      Author
      September 18, 2019 / 5:18 pm

      Hi Iris! Yayyyyy I’m so glad that you’re going to sew the coat – you’ll love it I’m sure 🙂
      It’s funny that you should ask about underlining actually – I’ve not underlined any of the coats I’ve made to date, and the only one that possibly *could* have done with it is my Le 809 from DP Studio… but that’s also the longest and heaviest coat I’ve ever made. If I make another (which I probably will, as it’s such a cool style) I’ll think about underlining with something really lightweight but sturdy (as it’s heavy enough already!).
      Saying that – I don’t find that either of my Opium coats need the underlining, and there’s already a LOT of fabric around the waist if you’re wearing the belt and I wouldn’t want to add to that.
      Saying that, I’ve just now cut out a coat that’s to be underlined with cotton flannel, and looking at the pattern envelope it’s going to give it a very stiff and solid look (‘structured’ – that’s the word I was trying to get!). For this particular design that’s what they intend though – whereas with the Opium I think you want that swingy-ness. The Opium I made in the black and red wool has much more of a swing than the thicker leopard print coating.
      So…. now that I’ve rambled for ten minutes I’ll get to my answer – I wouldn’t line the opium as I think it will lose its flowyness! Hope that helps and happy sewing! 🙂 💜

  12. Iris
    September 26, 2019 / 1:48 pm

    Thanks for your absolutely thorough reply!! You raised a good point about not wanting it be too bulky around the waist and maintain that flowiness. I’m midway through my coat now. In the end I did half-and-half — I drafted a back stay (only for the upper back and down to 3 inches below the armpits) and the top of the shoulders. I’m just worried about the heavy wool dragging the shoulders out of shape. But kept the rest unlined. I’m going to cut out the lining tonight. It’s so exciting to see my coat take shape!

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