pattern review · review · sewing

{ VOGUE 8550 } Red Pea Coat, this girl is on fire…

For those of you that have been following my blogging journey for a bit, you’ve probably seen me talk about the red Vogue 8550 pea coat that has been haunting me since I started way back when in late 2010. Im not proud to say I started so long ago, the truth hurts. I had terrible trouble with the sizing (of which Vogue referred to as ‘ease’) &  lost interest which so happened to (thankfully) co-incide with our relocation out of Holland so the sad pieces were boxed up. This box did not make the “cut” to our move to the UKso it stayed at home & waited patiently while we completed our work on the island. I should have known the pattern would give me nothing but trouble, the moment it arrived I noticed page 3 of the instructions  missing. It took a few weeks for it to be sent on. Was it a sign of things to come ??….

Anyway, fast forward 2 & some years  –  January I mentioned the red coat had been retrieved from its box & lovingly pressed, ready to tackle once & for all. I trimmed, re-measured & marked but then all the other sewing got in the way & I quickly realised this coat was going to have to be nursed, slowly & calmly…inch by inch…

Im proud to say, its { DONE } & Im so proud of myself for buckling up & getting it finished. (Ok ok, its missing its buttons…but more on that later).Vogue8550_front

Buckle up – a kinda long review but here are the details & more info on the process :

{ DESCRIPTION } Vogue Divine Details – fitted, lined coat with front & back tucks, standing collar, princess seams, full length sleeves and shoulder pads. Above mid-knee length, button closure and belt.


{ FABRIC USED } A medium weight red wool found at Schröder Stoffen in Rotterdam, Holland. It was quite expensive but I loved this particular shade of red. I had been looking for a red wool to make another coat (using the V8438 pattern I had sewn before) but after seeing the V8550 in red, I was sold.

At first I was quite tempted to use a “WOW” lining, something wild & unexpected, but once I finished constructing the outer, I realised the red is { WOW } enough & my SIL had gifted me with this black fabric & I thought would be perfect for the lining so I went ahead & used it. I did however use the red thread to stitch the lining up which adds a very subtle accent to the black & ties the two together.Vogue8550_lining_front

{ SIZING } This was my biggest headache & I have left my original Pattern Review WIP as it was so it can still be read. I very rarely do muslins because I find they sap me of the excitement of making the real thing. Ive been sewing for long enough to know which measurements are important for me & I thought I had gotten quite comfortable with the Big 4 sizing that cutting my usual size would be ok. I was kinda wrong. This was grossly { HUGE }. I immediately thought I had farked up with my cutting so I double checked all the pieces had been cut the right size before contacting some other sewers/bloggers who I thought may have sewn this coat to enquire if they had similar problems. Unfortunately, no-one had sewn this so I had no sewcialist assistance . I then contacted Vogue directly. They came back saying the pattern had a “fair amount of ease on a FITTED coat but that they did not think there was anything wrong with the sizing”. So I got on with chopping, trimming & wasting expensive fabric to fit. Its not the ease that annoys me, its the fact that the pattern does not mention the ease at all. Anyway, moving swiftly on…

{ INSTRUCTIONS } Overall the instructions are not bad however some steps were not as clear as I thought they could be. Nearing the end, I battled to make sense of how the lining fits to the wool at the front seams. I gave up & constructed the way that I thought made sense.

{ CHANGES } The only little change I made was to the pockets. Instead of having them lined & sitting on the inside of the coat, I sewed them into the wool layer but did not bring them through the lining….in other words, they sit between the lining & the outer. I did this because I dont like pockets flapping on the inside of my coats. The pattern called for the lining to be made with the same pieces as the outer however instead of tucked like the outer, rather just pleated in. At first I thought all this extra fabric on the inside would be quite bulky however once pressed & stitched down, it gave a good weight to the inner & supports the wool well.

The coat has no loops/guides for the belt/waist tie! WTF am I meant to do with the tie when I take the coat off? I eeeked out every last bit of red wool to make the tie so I really hope I dont lose it in an absent minded outing…I might still go back & make chain loop guides…

{ LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY } ***Although it took me so long, it was not because of the level of difficulty per se. The tucks have a fair degree of complexity, even with the markings, however apart from the tucks, this is a standard princess cut coat. It was not an easy sew, but I dont think it was an advanced sew either.

{ TIME } HAHAHAHAHAHAA really!?  I normally keep a time card for kicks …I kicked this time card into the bin!!

{ LESSONS LEARNT } Take your time. I was eventually having nightmares about the coat but I knew if I rushed it would end up being a rubbish looking garment.

{ SUM IT UP } This is a lovely coat, the tuck detail is gorgeous & Im so pleased I finished it….all 2,5kgs of it!! Initially I had my doubts about whether it would keep me warm enough in the winter but once I joined the lining & felt the weight, I knew this would be a great winter coat… & I do love the RED. I had purchased big red buttons in Holland before I started but once it came time to use them, they just looked too big & the coat felt kinda clown-ish. Im hesitating with sewing them on until Ive managed to make a trip to Komolka to see if they have something slightly smaller & more suitable. Once the holes are cut, they cut so I need to be 100% sure.

I have hemmed the coat but I have not attached the lining to the wool as yet – the reason you ask? Well, Im not 100% happy with the darn shoulder pads. I feel like they are limp & lacking in the stiff department. I think Im going to change the shoulder pads. Im sure on my next trip to Komolka, I will have luck with finding alternative buttons & shoulder pads.

I might also go ahead & move the pockets from the side seams to the princess seams. I know this sounds crazy but the side seams seem too far back for me to get to the pockets. I may also just remove them completely!!

In hindsight, the problems with the sizing was almost two-fold. I still think the pattern has way too much ease however I also think my choice of wool did not help, especially with the extended periods where the WIP sat on Poppy pleading for attention. Even though this was post-tuck production, I think the wool may have stretched slightly adding to the list of problems.

I would recommend V8550 especially if you love the tuck details however, I would urge you to make a muslin first just to make sure of the sizing. I know I know, me advising making a muslin – I must be drunk! I think this coat would look amazing done in cream, but I dont think Im gonna be the one to make it!

This image clearly explains what got me through some painful & frustrating moments { Nespresso Vanilla Infused coffee }coffee_break

& elation at finally finishing! I had made a deal with myself that I would finish this before starting on something new….Im so excited to start fresh 🙂Vogue8550_elation

{ related posts }



Happy Friday to you all –

A few days ago I was sorting some of my fabric stash because since we moved into our new house, I pretty much transferred fabrics straight from boxes to their storage without giving it much thought – in other words – I simply needed to have the boxes out of the way so I could think.

I use the Ikea 4-drawer Malm chests for my fabric storage.


{ source : Ikea }

I line the drawers with craft paper first and each drawer is dedicated to a specific type of fabric ie. on the bottom I have heavy winter fabrics (wools etc), next drawer up I store my cottons, then my lightweights ie chiffons, lace etc.  I do this because its easier for me to keep track  & I dont have to wade between heavy fabrics when Im looking for a silk…you get the idea right?! In the top drawers I keep my bits ‘n bobs for instance, buttons, ribbons, bindings, notions etc. As I mentioned in my NY resos post, I do plan on doing some shelves in the sewing room for books & I had thought of using the underside of the shelves for bottles of notions etc – we shall see.

Anyway, while I was sorting I realised that I have so much fabric that Ive bought on my travels and there are a few pieces I simply {CANNOT} even think of cutting. Its like Ive grown some attachment to them & its gotten all emotional & stuff…. {SERIOUSLY?} yes, seriously. Ive posted a few pics below so you can see which ones Im referring to :



I’ll admit, the majority of these fabrics are found on my travels to Canada, South Africa, Holland & UK so they all kinda hold sentimental memories of these travels. I guess cutting into them would still mean I have memories albeit in the form of a garment…Im pathetic with this {CANT CUT} thing but I feel like they are all too sentimental…..what can I do ?? Ive thought of going shopping for new pieces which might help to cure me because as soon as you have a new favourite, the old favourites seem to be demoted {HOWEVER} looking at how old some of these favourites are – it would appear Im not demoting anything. ever!!

Do any of you suffer from the same syndrome ? & if so, how have you overcome it?

Thanks for stopping by x

{ related posts }

chit-chat · sewing

{ Etsy Lovin’ }


{ source : bathtub jungle }

Hello blog friends –

Ive been lovin’ some sewing/knitting inspired jewels on Etsy recently & I thought I would share because I dont know a single sewer/knitter that would resist all any of these lovely pieces. Sewing is one of the things that really defines me so I have a lovely pair of small scissors in the form of a brooch that I wear often. Sometimes its nestled into my {FAUX} fur gilet, sometimes its on my scarf, sometimes i pin it to my hat/beret but Ive almost always got it on somewhere. Im loving the sewing machine silhouette too so Ive been trying to decide which one/s to purchase.

{ source : skymagenta }

Check these out – maybe you will find something you like too. Ive linked directly to the Etsy shops via the image source title.

{ source : vintageandglam }


{ source : hooligan alley }


{ source : mindilee }

If I’m not mistaken, all of these etsy shops are USA based so lucky for those of you based there. The rest of us would have to fork out more for postage but since they are such small pieces, I doubt it would break the bank.

Enjoy & be sure to let me know if you purchase any of these. Happy shopping ! x

review · sewing

{DVD review – Basics with Claire Shaeffer}

Claire_Schaeffer-f ran a Christmas competition back in 2010 & I was the {oh so lucky} winner of their first day prize which was this double DVD called Basics with Claire Shaeffer. Claire’s best-selling book, Couture Sewing Techniques has sold 75,000+ copies and this DVD Im sure will grow to sell just as many, if not more.

At first I was a little intimidated by the DVD because Claire Schaeffer really is a Couture Sewing expert & since at the time I had little to no experience with couture sewing techniques, I wondered if this DVD would just be way ahead of my skill level.

I did not watch this immediately – in fact, it took me some months before I finally watched Disc 1 but I was quickly irritated at myself for waiting so long because throughout the whole DVD are these  fantastic techniques that are the basics of all sewing – not just couture. Since I have no formal sewing training, a lot of what Claire discusses in the DVD, is important to know/learn/remember irrelevant of your skill level.

{Disc1} starts with the basics  – an introduction and essential tools, followed by some basic hand sewing techniques ie. beginnings & endings, basting stitches, permanent stitches, slipstitches, hemming stitches and machine stitches as well as focusing on darts {balancing darts to be specific} which i found terribly useful especially when sewing with wools & wool based fabrics.

{Disc2} goes into slightly more detail on how to make those bars & chains, marking techniques, shrinking and stretching techniques and pressing techniques (which I thought should have been on Disc1 but I understand why it is on Disc2 instead). Also covered on Disc2 is a section focussing on {BIAS}, how to & whys and then also a small discussion on {STAYS} for stabalising zipper areas, elastic casings etc. Terribly handy to know all round.


Overall, I found this DVD extremely useful and informative not just by listening but also by watching how Claire not only makes some of these hand stitiches but more so by the things she does so instinctively ie. how she handles fabrics, how she sits, how she works off the table & not on her lap or in her other hand – all adding to the overall learning experience.

A few pennies dropped with regards to why couture is so expensive – the amount of hand sewing and hours that go into some of these exquisite gowns and garments is {MIND BLOWING} but so necessary. I love my Sapphy and I would run into a burning house to retrieve my sewing machine {REALLY, I WOULD}, but after watching this DVD I appreciate more the skill that goes into a couture garment, rather than just judging it by its price tag.

Ok, so things I didnt like about this DVD :

It is not MAC friendly {SNIFF SNIFF} and I therefore had to watch this on my smaller laptop as opposed to the vivid colour display of my MAC. Not a huge problem, just something I thought I would point out especially if there are folk out there wanting to purchase this & dont own a windows based PC. I would not like you to be disappointed on receiving this & it doesnt work.

So, would I recommend this – yes, I would absolutely recommend this DVD to any sewer, irrelevant of whether you are a beginner or not. If you are a beginner, I think you could benefit from learning skills the correct way from scratch and if you already sew, I think you could learn some more advanced techniques too.  The DVD runs for 180minutes in english & currently retails on AmazonUK for GBP30,22 and on AmazonUS for USD40,93. You may also purchase her Vogue Custom Couture Collection V8333 here or V8621 here {& both on sale} to put all your skills into practice 🙂

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me through the comments section. Thank you for stopping by x