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inspiration: Sewing

DIY BOXY PINK COAT

Let me start by saying that I’ve been wanting to make a coat on this blog for such a long time, but the thought of using a pattern (kinda important when dealing with the arm hole shoulder area) put me off a little bit. That’s not because I don’t like patterns, but for some reason I can never find a pattern that enables a half an hour project, without having to faff around with lining and facing and all the other things that go into a real garment (i.e. not one I have dreamt up and thrown together…). Oh and perhaps I’m also inherently lazy and, as my teachers used to tell me, ‘unwilling to take instruction’.

I had a spare hour recently and decided to have a go at my style of sewing – creating something using an item I already own as the template. Personally this is my favourite way to create a garment, but it’s generally a process of trial and error – which suits my personality perfectly! Given I was time poor, I made the coat as simple as possible, doing away with lining, button, pockets, front closure – in fact almost everything! I kept the boxy shell of the coat and used a spongy neoprene fabric – no hemming – yay!

Make a simple coat with Geneva Vanderzeil of a pair and a spare apairandasparediy.com

Naturally I went with pink for my coat, as you can see it was the coat colour of the AW season, and looks to be the colour of the coming summer, which is perfect because this powdery shade has grown on me. Naturally I was inspired by all the pink coats on the runway!

Make a simple coat with Geneva Vanderzeil of a pair and a spare apairandasparediy.com

For all you aspiring magazine editors out there – you can totes shoulder cape it too! #fashun

Make a simple coat with Geneva Vanderzeil of a pair and a spare apairandasparediy.com

Wearing: DIY Coat, DIY cut off shorts, vintage white tee, Zara heels.

You need:

  • At least 2m (2.2 yards) of neoprene or fabric that won’t fray
  • Scissors
  • a ruler
  • chalk
  • matching thread
  • a sewing machine

make a simple coat with Geneva Vanderzeil of a pair and a spare apairandasparediy.com

You can see below I have done a rough indication of the pattern pieces you will need for your coat (I use the term ‘pattern’ loosely). I used a coat I already had to create the pattern pieces. This is pretty much the most important part of the process. You want to create two front panels, one back panel and two sleeve panels. You can create the pattern on some craft paper (like I did here), but I chose to mark the pattern directly onto the fabric (cue fainting of seasoned sewers). Definitely go with the craft paper if you are more pedantic/professional or would like to keep the pattern for next time.

Make a simple coat with Geneva Vanderzeil of a pair and a spare apairandasparediy.com

1.  Lay your coat on the fabric and mark with a pen the key points from your jacket onto the fabric (see above on the illustration the red dots I have put on the image). This will be one of your front panels, you want to do this for a front panel, back panel and the sleeve. Once you have the outlines, you’re going to need to add a seam allowance to the pattern so that when you make it it’s not too small. I added quite a large seam allowance because I wanted mine to be slightly bigger than the jacket I used. Make sure you retain the curve and angles of the pattern when you are adding an allowance so the shape stays the same.

make a simple coat with Geneva Vanderzeil of a pair and a spare apairandasparediy.com

2. This is what your front panels will look like. For anything symmetrical like the front panels and sleeves I usually do one panel and then flip it over to trace it onto the fabric so I have to mirror image panels. This was quite straightforward for this fabric because both sides of the fabric were the same. For the back panel, something I would do next time is make the design much higher on the back of the neck, much more so than the front panels. I only did mine with a marginal difference and my coat ended up a bit too boat neck in shape. We live and learn!

make a simple coat with Geneva Vanderzeil of a pair and a spare apairandasparediy.com

3. Do the same for the arm panels, tracing them off your own coat. This will be a bit trickier because on your coat they will be folded in half  to create the tube, so you want to either trace the sleeve onto doubled up fabric with the outer edge (from shoulder to cuff) along the fold of the fabric, or use your craft paper to make a template and use that to cut the folded fabric.

Make a simple coat with Geneva Vanderzeil of a pair and a spare apairandasparediy.com

4. Once your pattern pieces are sorted, choose your thread – I usually go darker when I don’t have the perfect shade. It didn’t matter that much because we weren’t going to see the thread.

Make a simple coat with Geneva Vanderzeil of a pair and a spare apairandasparediy.com

5. With the right sides facing, start by sewing the shoulder and side seams together, making sure to reinforce the beginning and end stitches. If you are using a fabric that will fray I would use a zig zig on the edges to stop crazy fraying.

Make a simple coat with Geneva Vanderzeil of a pair and a spare apairandasparediy.com

6. Sew the arms together by folding them in half and aligning the curved edge, again making sure to reinforce the first and last stitches. This is quite important because we won’t be turning the hem.

Make a simple coat with Geneva Vanderzeil of a pair and a spare apairandasparediy.com

7. Sew the arms to the body – this part can be a little tricky, you need to align the hole and the curved edges of the sleeves closely so there is no gap and pin them down, making sure that you are doing it right side to right side so that the seam is on the inside when turned the right way out. In the event that the sleeves are too small for the arm holes, you can always close the arm holes a little more.

make a simple coat with Geneva Vanderzeil of a pair and a spare apairandasparediy.com

Flip inside out and you should be all set! I didm’t need to iron because I’m pretty sure neoprene and ironing don’t go that well together.

make a simple coat with Geneva Vanderzeil of a pair and a spare apairandasparediy.com

You can of course add hems, buttons, pockets etc, but I stayed with the minimal theme on this one. Some nice bias tape sewn around the edges would be a cute touch to such a simple design. Maybe next time!

make a simple coat with Geneva Vanderzeil of a pair and a spare apairandasparediy.com

Loving the thought of creating more outerwear, with lots of tweaks of course, this is just the start! One thing I would recommend is that you use a lighter neoprene than I did, this is about 0.35mm thick, which when turned into a jacket is a little too boxy. This neoprene is a bit lighter and would probably sit better.

make a simple coat with Geneva Vanderzeil of a pair and a spare apairandasparediy.com make a simple coat with Geneva Vanderzeil of a pair and a spare apairandasparediy.com make a simple coat with Geneva Vanderzeil of a pair and a spare apairandasparediy.com

A big thank you to the talented Marion for taking these photos for me, and Ana for the make up (I never ever have my make up done but loved the simple and natural look Ana went with).

DIY TWO TONE TARTAN SKIRT

And just as everything 90′s is de rigueur this season, tartan has made a serious comeback (but I’m guessing you know that already, right?). And because it’s pretty much a requirement for me to make a skirt using every fabric that crops up on the trend-o-metre, I recently crafted this two tone tartan number, perfect for virtually instant lumberjack-ensemble-craving satisfaction.

To make this skirt I used a super simple gathered elastic waist construction (you will have seen it before here and here), but this time I made it half black and half tartan for the two tone look. In case you’re wondering, I often opt for this type of skirt when I want to make something fast (it looks particularly good in brocade or taffeta), for this version I crafted a belt in matching black fabric to go over the top of the gathered waistband, the perfect finish for the easiest skirt you’ll make all year (and it’s only January!).

how to make a two tone tartan skirtHow to make a two tone tartan skirtGeneva Vanderzeil from A Pair and a Spare makes a Tartan Skirt

Outfit: DIY skirt, Tony Bianco Heels, Witchery tee, Boda Skins Jacket, custom tartan watch that I designed here.  

You need:

  • 1 metre of black fabric (1.2 yards)
  • 1 metre of tartan fabric (1.2 yards)
  • Thread
  • Elastic to match the size of your waist
  • A sewing machine

Geneva Vanderzeil from A Pair and a Spare makes a Tartan Skirt

1. First, cut the fabric to the right length and shown in this pattern corresponding to how long you want it to sit when you wear it.

Two Tone Tartan Skirt

2. Sew the black and tartan fabric together where shown by dashed lines in the pattern.

Two Tone Tartan Skirt

3. Open out and iron. The resulting piece of fabric should look like this.

Geneva Vanderzeil from A Pair and a Spare makes a Tartan Skirt

4. Finish the hem on the fabric by rolling twice, ironing and then sewing down.

Geneva Vanderzeil from A Pair and a Spare makes a Tartan Skirt

5. Sew all the way around, creating a hem for the whole piece of fabric including the black section. Make sure the transition between the tartan and black section is as natural as possible.

Geneva Vanderzeil from A Pair and a Spare makes a Tartan Skirt

6. Then sew down the top edge, leaving a gap through which to thread your elastic. Sew the elastic together to secure. and then snip off any excess.

tartan skirt (4)

7. Sew the final short edge together, using a zig zag stitch to finish the edges so they don’t fray.

Two Tone Tartan Skirt

8. To create a simple waistband that looks better than the gathered elastic, cut a section of black fabric 7.5 cm (3 in) wide and sew down the edges ensuring the rough edge is folded over completely. Tie this over the top of the waistband and in a bow at the back to give a more finished look.

Geneva Vanderzeil from A Pair and a Spare makes a Tartan Skirt

Voila! Wear with your favourite biker jacket.

Two tone Tartan Skirthow to make a two tone tartan skirt

Oh and in case a tartan skirt wasn’t enough, I recently took my addiction to all things tartan to another level by custom designing a tartan watch using this cool program. All I did was take a picture of the fabric, edit it for colour and upload it to Zazzle’s website, playing around with the layout of it on the watch. The finished product came fairly quickly (considering most post takes foreverrrrrr to get to Hong Kong), and was such a simple way to get on board with whatever the perfect print or fabric trend is around that you like.

I can’t help but think good a watch design would look with this Tory Burch print or this Givenchy one be in the lead up to the summer season? Oh and psst, I’m told you can use the code ‘pairandaspare’ for 10% off your own design!

Outfit images by Luke Casey

DIY SCUBA / NEOPRENE MINI SKIRT

I’ve been feeling the scuba trend for quite a few seasons now, and recently got my hands on some blush pink wetsuit/ne0prene fabric and knew it would make a great skirt (you can find a few colours of neoprene here). I experimented with this process and made the template from scratch, so it needed a bit of tweaking here and there, but I found neoprene to be a really simple fabric to work with, particularly given you don’t need to sew any hems, and it was stretchy enough to not have to put in a zip, yay!

Geneva Vanderzeil of A Pair and A Spare makes a scuba skirt
Geneva Vanderzeil of A Pair and A Spare makes a scuba skirt

Wearing: Gap Tee, DIY Skirt, Zara Heels, Dylan Kain Bag

You need:

  • at least 2 metres ( 2.5 yards) of scuba/neoprene fabric around 0.5cm thick (1/4 of an inch)
  • craft paper
  • a pencil
  • super sharp scissors
  • pins
  • a sewing machine
  • matching needle and thread

(a sewing kit like this will have most of what you need to get started).

How to:

1. Draw and up and then cut out this pattern onto craft paper. Note the pattern isn’t to scale as it will end up being bigger than A4.Just sketch it onto paper and make sure the dimensions are the same. You may also want to modify it slightly for length by adding a few cm/inches to the wider part of the template at the bottom.

Geneva Vanderzeil shows you how to make a scuba skirt

2. Work out how many pattern pieces you need. They are 10cm (4 inches) wide at the top (the part that goes around your waist) so what you need to do is work out how many panels you need to go around your waist. Remember you will lose some room when you sew the seams so if need be cut an extra one. I cut 8 but ended up only needing 7 when I sewed it all together. Cut your chosen number of rectables out of neoprene bigger than the template.

Geneva Vanderzeil shows you how to make a scuba skirt

3. Stack them together and pin the template on top.

Geneva Vanderzeil shows you how to make a scuba skirt

4. Cut them out around the template.

Geneva Vanderzeil shows you how to make a scuba skirt

5. Make sure to match the template carefully!

Geneva Vanderzeil shows you how to make a scuba skirt

6. Placing the wrong side together, pin two pieces of neoprene together.

Geneva Vanderzeil shows you how to make a scuba skirt

7. Pin the rest to the edges all the way around.

Geneva Vanderzeil shows you how to make a scuba skirt

8. Sew all the edges together making sure to reinforce the beginning and end stitches.

Geneva Vanderzeil shows you how to make a scuba skirt

9. Sew the final panels together, you won’t need a zip because you should be able to get it over your head due to the stretch in the fabric. At this point you will want to check where it sits on your and perhaps add or remove panels, I ended up removing a panel and sewing the last seam together because I wanted it to sit high on my waist.

A Pair And A Spare Scuba Skirt A Pair And A Spare Scuba Skirt

Voila.

Geneva Vanderzeil of A Pair and A Spare makes a scuba skirtGeneva Vanderzeil of A Pair and A Spare makes a scuba skirt

Btw, have to say I’m loving my new bag from Dylan Kain, a super cool brand created by my sister’s friends who live between Melbourne and New York. I have my eye on this backpack too, although, having two black leather backpacks would probably be a bit over the top (or would it…?).

Geneva Vanderzeil of A Pair and A Spare makes a scuba skirt

Photography by Sarah Deutrom