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Sashiko Happy Coat MAL Experiment – Bodice Progress Report

Updated: Jul 12, 2020

Hi Everyone, I hope you are all happy this weekend, stitching away in a bubble of yarn and Sashiko Happy Coat MAL hookery!! Today’s blog is to keep you all informed on how my Experimental coat is going so fellow yarn scientists who are joining me on this new design adventure can get cracking on their bodice pieces! I won’t keep you in suspense any longer – my Coco Black coat is going AWESOME!!

Before I get into the nitty gritty of it though, thank you all so much for your enthusiasm in joining me in this MAL - It’s soooo good to see a rainbow of coats in development! I try to provide a lot of information on my blogs so the answers to problems encountered along the way are likely to be found here. As much as I like to help people when I can, it would be great for makers to seek help in the blogs here or within the Scheepjes Facebook groups first where possible, as there is a fair bit for me to juggle to keep things moving on schedule.

Now for the Nitty Gritty...

Compared to the original Our Tribe design, my preliminary results from swatching and making the collar in SW/W suggested I could use the same hook size (5mm), and follow the same size instructions (in my case “Small”), and finish with a coat that was VERY CLOSE TO the size as described in the schematics for the original design. If you are hazy on the details – click here to read my previous Yarn Experiment blog.

I had anticipated that the cotton-based Stonewashed/Whirlette version of my coat might have had a few issues compared to the merino-based Our Tribe original design though, simply because cotton is a bit stiff and not elastic like the OT merino is, and it can tend to stretch under its own weight if left hanging. It’s lack of elasticity might make the armhole a bit tight possibly – did I need to increase this? Would the weight of the coat feel too great? Did I need to trim some length from the coat to lighten the load? Did anything need changing, or could you just plunge on in with a vision of Stonewashed and Whirlette tweed-look fabric floating in front of your eyes and it was going to come out like a dream??

I am amazed and very happy to say..... Go ahead and plunge!!! ...Right after you read through a couple of discoveries and drool over some wip photos.

Left is Coco Black wip, right is my Sashiko Happy Coat No.2 - BOTH are size Small

I crocheted both coats in this photo with a 5mm hook, and for both I followed the Small size instructions exactly as written in my Sashiko Happy Coat pattern. For the tweed-look experimental version “Coco Black”, I used 1 strand Stonewashed 803 Black Onyx combined with 1 strand of Whirlette 851 Licorice instead of double stranded Our Tribe.

Below I talk about the scientific discoveries I made during crocheting the Coco Black Bodice, blocking it and attaching it to the collar to assess function.

Discovery #1: Turning chain, extension chain, and working into the last st of the row for a straight edge:

For all turning chain, extension chain, and ch at the base of each fdc stitch, because the cotton-based SW/W is not elastic, you are best to gently pull the chain a tiny bit higher to make sure it is not too tight to work into during the next row, or limit the drape of the fabric at the edges.

Discovery #2: The FDC

The fdc for the Bodice Row 1: Inserting the hook under 2 loops* of the previous stitch to work the fdc is the idea, and very doable once you get used to the flecked strands, but for some this might make you want to poke your own eye out with a fork... so, if you find yourself in the eye-ball removal category, take it easy on yourself and just insert under the 1 loop* to get through it.

*(each single loop has 2 strands of yarn as we are working double stranded).

If you do this, you will think it looks super-long and wrong. Don’t worry, when you work the Main Fabric Pattern back the other way, it pulls on the top of each stitch a bit and the super-long strip of fdc stitches shrinks back into a desired length, and the future edging of the coat opening during assembly will also compensate for a looser fdc row.

For the fdc at the Back Left Armhole though (which we will talk about in next blog), it is best to insert the hook under 2 loops of the previous stitch – it’s only a short run of stitches and it will mean the high tension and frequently moving armhole area of the coat isn’t sagging when worn a few times. Just in case.

Discovery #3: Comparing Bodice Hemline Curves

I had been a bit concerned that blocking would not be enough to shape the bottom edge of the coat from three connected straight lines into a subtle curve. Maybe the stiffness of the cotton would resist the shape you can convince merino fibres to stretch to, and so maybe we would need to increase hook size for the lower half of the middle third of each coat piece (Left Front, Back and Right Front) to compensate?

So, in the name of science I changed from a 5mm to a 5.5mm in those lower middle-third sections for the Left Front and the Back pieces, but not the Right Front piece, so I could see how they behaved when blocked. Here is a photo of my Coco Black Bodice and Collar post-blocking:

Collar and Bodice post-blocking

I am happy to say it really did not make an appreciable difference! The hemline blocked up beautifully in the Right Front piece just the same as the others anyway, with the overall hemline softened. Yay! – so no need to worry about that. Use the hook you achieved gauge with over the entire bodice. Easy.

Discovery #4: Armhole

I had been a bit concerned that the armhole might end up a bit bunchy as the Stonewashed/Whirlette fabric is more stiff than the Our Tribe version. As worked (pre-blocked), it did feel a little snug around this area. Stitch markers make great holding pins to act as the temporary shoulder seam to check how it will hang. Here is a photo pre-blocking (left) and post-blocking (right).

Before and after wet blocking

When I blocked the Bodice, the depth of the armhole space changed from 17.5cm to 19cm when laid flat, and stretches a bit further with gravity when worn so it actually feels pretty good! The fabric does soften up quite a bit with blocking and feels comfortable. Another Yay! Check this out:

Identical Veronicas are rubbing shoulders: check out the level of the lower armhole!

Discovery #5: Overall Bodice Length

There had been some worry maybe the coat is too heavy and might need trimming (removal of stitches), but this didn’t turn out to be the case either! In fact, when hanging, the Stonewashed/Whirlette is slightly shorter – probably due to the stiffness of the fibres so fresh after making. Three “Yay”s in a row!

It’s a celebration with a caveat though: this photo was taken after I let the coats hang on my two Veronica Mannequins overnight, and the length of the Coco Black had been shorter the night before. It grew almost 1.5 cm under its own weight thanks to our inescapable friend gravity (this will also happen to your Our Tribe versions too if it hangs long enough).

I for one, LOVE my Coco Black with the length as it is, and I think you can make your version of the coat with whatever length adjustment you would have done anyway without removing a couple of extra stitches because it’s cotton. I will be storing Coco as I do my other coats between photos or wearing: gently folded / rolled in a large draw, and not hanging. I suggest you do the same, and only hang your coat on your body when wearing it.

Discussion: the Weight

My finished blue Coat No.2 is also a Small and weighs 924g. Given that the SW/W collar weighed 100g vs the OT collar 78g, I can estimate my finished Coco Black to weigh:

100/78 x 924g = 1185g

Is this going to be too heavy? I went to my closet and weighed a fully lined fabric similar coat I have and that weighed 1150g, so not too bad at all.

So far my joined collar and bodice weighs 814g. The only weight yet to add is 2 sleeves and small amount of trim and some buttons. It feels good on without feeling “weighed down”, and the weight hangs from the broad attachment of a solid reinforced seam across the width of the collar, not just the shoulder seams. I think we are looking good.

But if you are wondering how much lighter it would be if you made it shorter:

As a guide, I have calculated that each dc flo stitch in SW/W weighs approx 0.0345g and if you removed 6 stitches of coat length, it would reduce the weight by approx. 40g (size S) to 50g (size XXL) to almost 60g (size 4XL). Removing 12 stitches would reduce twice that weight.

Button Hole Row: Instructions

I have decided to go with 2 buttons on my collar (as original pattern) and 11 buttons down the front of my coat – so 13 in total.

The button hole row is worked from the hemline to the collar, the last stitch remains unworked as per Neckline shaping, and each button hole repeat is made of 6 sts: (2 dc flo, 2 ch, skip 2 sts, then 2 dc flo) – all in UK terms.

For your tweed-look SW/W coat, crochet in Main Fabric Pattern from the hemline until you have [(6 x number of desired button holes at front of coat) +1] stitches remaining, then work your number of desired button hole stitch repeats (finishing with 2 dc flo), and leave the last st of the previous row unworked, turn, and work the last 2 rows as described in the pattern.

For my example, I worked Main Fabric Patt until (11 x 6) + 1 = 67 sts remained, then worked (2 dc flo, ch2, skip 2 sts, 2 dc flo) 11 times, left the last st unworked, then turned....

So here is one last longing look at classic black and white loveliness! You will want to know I used 3 strands of Whirlette instead of doubles stranded "Yarn A" for the edging and joining. Two strands was not chunky enough for the fabric, so I went with three. This used 58g of Whirlette

And that’s it! Go get hooking on those tweed Left Front Bodice pieces with whatever hook you achieved gauge with, following the instructions for the size you would have made with the Our Tribe as already covered in the blog post describing how to read schematics and customise your fit.

Dont forget, you can buy the Sashiko Happy Coat pattern on Ravelry or Etsy!

You can find Scheepjes retailers all over the world by clicking here, and these blog posts will remain on my site for future reference. (Have a good read through all my prep MAL posts here on my blog before getting stuck in to the actual project though).

Please also consider supporting my blog and shop via these affiliate links:

Wool Warehouse (in the UK)

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It is no extra cost to you, and helps me to continue designing as I receive a small percentage of the sale.

Other handy shops:

Black Sheep Wools (in the UK)

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& shopping at Yarns For All helps to support a small Australian business in my local city of Perth Western Australia (a good option if you live in New Zealand - they ship worldwide).

Happy stitching,

Susan (Peppergoose)


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