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Sashiko Happy Coat MAL Week 1

Updated: Jul 12, 2020

IT'S HERE!! The day has finally arrived – its officially “GO” time!! I was blown away when I was invited to lead this Scheepjes Garment Masterclass MAL, and it's wonderful to have so many joining in! I do know my way around a crocheted garment, but let me begin with a confession....this is my first MAL rodeo! I will do my best to coach you through and live up to the trust placed in me by Scheepjes and by all of you. If you are feeling nervous about making the coat, well I feel a bit nervous too... but hey, you've got to give these things a red hot go, right?!

This week we make the Sashiko Happy Coat Collar, wet block it and while it's drying, get a start on the Left Front Bodice. The goal is to work up to the end of the skirt shaping rows at the side of the coat. Once the Collar is dry, we work the embroidery over the entire Collar and swear a few times as some frogging is almost inevitable – but it will be okay! We will get there after a few deep breaths...

Along the way, I want to share a few of my general making tips that can be applied to pretty much all of my garment patterns to help you achieve the best finish. I have included stitch charts as well to help overcome possible language difficulties too. Have your pattern handy and read on....


Forgotten or not sure how to work fdc? Click here to read my blog post all about it and come back to jump in to the collar tips:

Tip #1: Stitch Chart for beginning Collar Rows: The red outlined triangle is where you start, and I have drawn in the two ch at the beginning of the fdc with the first chain shrunk down - see this post on reversing the starting loop if you at all unsure whats going on here).

Each of those crosses with a smile underneath is a "dc flo" (UK terms) - it really is a Happy coat - Lol

Tip #2: Turning chain, extension chain, and working into the last st of the row for a straight edge:

Because the turning chain and extension chains count as the stitches throughout the project, you might gently pull it a tiny bit higher to make sure it is too tight to work into during the next row. This is particularly true for the Stonewashed/Whirlette experiment as cotton yarn does not stretch like Our Tribe does!

I showed this last week too, but in case you missed it, here is a short video to show how I turn the straight edge so your edge looks like mine. Turning away from you makes the chain stitch sit a bit less twisted so the “chain face” is easier to recognise when you come to it at the end of the next row. This comes in handy particularly for later when we edge across these row-ends, as it will be easier to see where to insert the hook for the edging stitches.

And a bonus stitch chart for a snippet of the Main Fabric Pattern straight edge:

Tip #3: Stitch Markers help A LOT:

Here is a little pic of my collar in progress. I like to place stitch markers between key sections of the pattern instructions. Like at the end of the increase Collar rows, the following instruction is:

“Next 68 Rows Main Fabric Patt, turn. [31 sts]”

So after working a handful of stitches of the first of those rows, I “PM” (place a stitch marker) in the holes at the bottom of the stitches I have just made, which makes counting those 68 rows easier later, and divides the piece into sections that match the pattern instructions. This is not something I write into the pattern (it’s already pretty wordy), but I find it useful for any crochet pattern to help keep track of where I am up to.

Blue stitch marker placed at the base of the first of the next 68 rows

Similarly, after Row 89 when the next instruction for the Button Hole version of the coat is:

“Cont in Basic Dec Patt as described in prev 2 rows for 14 more rows, finishing with 15 sts on a RS row”

I work 5-6 sts in the pattern then PM at the base of these sts so I can count my “14 more rows” from there. (See the pink marker in the photo below)

An added function of these markers is keeping tabs on which is the RS and which is the WS. If you always place these safety pin style markers with the latch on the RS of your work no matter what project you are doing, then you won’t ever get confused (particularly handy if both sides of the fabric look similar). Or, you could write on the stitch marker clasp with a permanent marker with RS or WS to make it clear.

decrease edge of collar and stitch marker in base of "continue" row instructions

Tip #4: Decrease side of collar looks a bit “bumpy” and “holey”. There are bumps and holes between rows created by working into the single loop of the last st, particularly on the decrease side of the collar as shown in the photo above. Yes, it looks bad now, but it’s amazing what a bit of edging will do later to make them disappear, so don’t worry, they are ok for now.

Tip #5: Stitch chart for the last few rows to show the Button Holes.

In case there is any confusion about the button hole row at the end of the collar from any of the translated patterns, I have drawn a little stitch chart shown here to make sure it’s clear. The solid red triangle is where you fasten off.

Forgotten or not sure how to block the collar?

Read my blog post “The Dreaded Swatch” and scroll down to the blocking section (it starts 2 photos above the cake - which was yummy btw), then come on back to join us again. Remember - just lay it flat so the fabric is lying on gauge and let it dry - no pins required.

Size of Coat Pieces:

Now as much as the pattern supplement describes coat piece sizes before and after blocking, this is based on math that extrapolates gauge out to the dimensions shown on the charts and is intended as a guideline - not an absolute. It doesn't account for which way you pulled on it before the measure and its flexible nature, or how the turning chain pull inwards a bit on the edges, so don't get too caught up with it being a prefect match. A centimetre here or there is not critical. Once the collar is embroidered, edged and then seamed to the adjacent bodice, it won't be the same shape or size is it now anyway. Consistent gauge over the entire project with the hook you used to achieve gauge for your swatch, and laying out your wet blocked coat pieces so the fabric is lying in a way that the gauge is correct is the key!

Tip #6: Sewing in the Our Tribe tails. I like to block the piece so the fabric is relaxed before sewing in the tails to avoid my sewing from gathering or puckering the fabric. It’s quite good to then sew in the tails before starting your embroidery. And I do mean sew, not weave – at least that’s what I do. I know it might be controversial, but hey, its working for me so far....

Here is a video showing me sewing my last tail in. I sew each strand separately to minimise bulk, and note how I am stretching the fabric a bit as I go so I don’t accidentally pull the tail too tight. I purposefully sew the tail back in on itself to exploit that fuzz. That characteristic that makes frogging Our Tribe an unhappy task also makes it easier to secure those tails!

Tip #7: Embroidery Guidelines

There can be a big difference between knowing the path you need to stitch and seeing the path you need to stitch! Pre-threading grid lines every 8 rows and stitches in the Collar can be a great way to keep tabs so you don’t end up a bit wonky. Use a smooth cotton thread in a contrasting colour so it’s easy to remove after the embroidery (be careful not to split the yarn). This main fabric is Our Tribe: one strand Heart and one strand Happy in Red; embroidery in Alpaca Rhythm in Bop.

Not everyone will need grid lines so frequently though – it comes down to personal preference. I made this video to explain all the tricky areas of embroidery on the collar, and the minimum guidelines I would place to make things easier.

The threaded guidelines you see in the video are placed every 28 rows from the start point, but I forgot to mention that in my video – oopsie! Here is a quick photo summary below:

And finally, how should the fabric behave after the embroidery? It’s important to still have some stretch and elasticity to it, or it might pucker and pull in when you wear it.

A quick note regarding the 90 degree turns at the edges - I realised last week in preparing for this post that my embroidery stitch chart for the collar doesn't show a 90 degree turn on one edge - Oops! Sorry folks.... # 90degreeturnsarebest

Now some people in the groups were a bit stuck after the first two stitch paths on their collars to know where to go next, so here is a photo of Mimi’s collar that I marked up with some suggested next moves to finish the pattern. (Thanks Mimi for letting me use your photos). I think it’s best to keep joining new yarn along the longest side of the collar, as its this edge that will attach to the bodice, and it means your sewn in tails are harder to find as they end up tucked at the back of the base of the collar.

Suggested next stitch paths are colour coded.

It doesn't really matter which order you work the stitch paths though - just keep zig-zagging across the collar and back, joining new yarn as appropriate until its all filled in! Here is mine in progress:

And finished..... Ta dah!!! I couldn’t wait to take photos so I haven’t sewn in those Alpaca Rhythm tails yet, but that's my next job.

"Leftovers" is glowing like a jewel!! I am totally going with loud and proud on this one....

Warning: you might need sunglasses as PPE for when this one is finished!


Before we start the Bodice-Skirt, if you have forgotten or not sure how to customise your bodice fit, click here on my previous blog post and then come back!

Now let’s look at some tips for working the Bodice.

Tip #1: FDC without a break, and don’t worry too much about stitch size variation for the fdc row.

When beginning the bodice, I turn off the tv or radio/music whatever, count the stitches out aloud as I work them all in one go. If you put the fdc down midway and come back to it, I find it can do your head in a bit to be sure where you are up to, and you lose your rhythm. Once I get to the specified stitch count, I count twice more to be really certain I have the right number before working bulk rows from that point. (And then I turn Netflix back

Because Scheepjes Our Tribe has a thick-thin variation to the yarn diameter, your fdc sts may not look like they have perfect even tension as you work this first instruction. This is not a problem – the effect disappears when you have worked the second row and there will also be edging worked on the other side of the fdc in the finishing stages of the coat.

For fellow yarn scientists out there going with the Stonewashed/Whirlette experiment:

I am still finalising my bodice experiment to see what needs changing (if anything) to compensate for the difference in fibre. I have hit a road block called “an absence of Whirlette” that I encountered four rows before the bodice finish line....

My top-up yarn delivery was scheduled to arrive just in time for this to all go swimmingly well, and for me to amaze you all with a Stonewashed/Whirlette tweed look bodice that totally ROCKS!...... and instead my yarn is stuck on the other side of Australia at a mail dispatch centre near Sydney airport..... I have tracked down the extra Whirlette I need, but it will be another couple of days before I finish the last few rows, block it (it will take a while to dry) and assess how it performs before I report my findings.

Please do not start your own SW/W bodice until I check this.

(Just to clarify what I am doing: for both my “leftovers” and “experimental” coats, I am using a 5mm hook and following exactly the same stitch instructions for a size Small. The pre-blocked gauge differs between these yarns, but the post-blocked gauge comes out almost the same. Because the SW/W cotton mix is less elastic/stretchy than the OT and is heavier though, I might need to remove some stitches to reduce the weight, or I might need to tweak the shaping at the lower edge, or maybe even the armhole. These are still unanswered questions, so don’t go there yet!!)

Tip #2: It’s a BIGGIE: When it’s appropriate for you to crochet the bodice, here is a visual summary of the Front Left Bodice Piece to highlight shaping details as a supplement to the written instructions.

Tip #3: If you are reducing the length of your coat by removing stitches, the section of 20 sts under the armhole (point of scissors in photo below) is where they come from – not any of the shaping rows. There are only 13 stitches available within these 20 for potential removal as shown by threaded guidelines below. (More specifics follow – keep scrolling).

Threaded guidelines highlight the stitches available to shorten the coat without affecting skirt shaping instructions

Ideally, as discussed last week if you are shortening your coat, you would remove either 6 sts or 12 sts to correspond to 1 or 2 button holes worth of fabric. If you are unsure what I am talking about, check back on last week’s post here.

Refer to your pattern where it says:

“Skirt Shaping Short Rows Left Front

Row 1 (RS) Main Fabric Patt to last 20 (all sizes) sts, leave rem sts unworked, turn. [85 sts] “

It is the 20 stitches shown in red that will reduce by the number of stitches you remove from the coat length, so make sure you have 85 sts at the end of this adjusted row to start the skirt-shaping short rows.

Bang out those skirt-shaping short rows (tv off for this with out-loud counting is my advice).

skirt shaping rows ready to start Row 15

At the end of this section, the last few words of Row 15 instruction says “dc flo across rem 20 sts”, and again, it is this 20 sts shown in red that will reduce by the number you remove from the coat length. So by the time you get to the end of this row, you should have 105 sts minus the number of stitches you have shortened your coat by (if applicable).

...and we have reached the end goal of week 1 – YAY!

After all that hooking, go and enjoy some stretches outside and maybe make some colourful scribbles and notes in your project journals!? (I don’t know about you, but I would love to see some colourful coat inspired artwork within the groups – maybe splash some watercolour paints on a bit of card in your chosen coat colours and draw some Sashiko inspired embroidery shapes on top?) ... or not. It’s cool either way.

More tips next week when we share the journey through to the remainder of the bodice and start to talk sleeves. As soon as I have assessed my Coco Black tweed look experimental bodice, I will make a separate mid-week post all about it on my blog here, and announce when its live within the groups.

If you are arriving fashionably late to this MAL Sashiko Happy Coat party, don't panic! 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:

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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).

I can't wait to see all the collar photos in the groups!

Susan (Peppergoose)


Susan Walsh (Peppergoose)
Jul 11, 2020

I change yarn near the edge somewhere 3-4 sts in, weave the tail towards the edge and hide it in the future edging. If you resist the urge to get rid of ends until all the edging and trims are done on a garment (general advice) then you have plenty of places to hide them that don’t interfere with the look and drape if the main fabric pieces. For the coat you want it out the way for the embroidery though - I would weave it neatly to the edge if the collar before embroidery then finish it off after assembly


Jul 09, 2020

Hi Susan, do you have tips and tricks for starting a new ball of yarn halfway a piece? Im working the collar now with other yarn then Scheepjes, and I need to attach new yarn. is it better to do this at the beginning of a row? And how do you sew in you ends then?


Susan Walsh (Peppergoose)
Apr 10, 2020

Love your enthusiasm! Thanks 😄


Apr 08, 2020

I’m so looking forward to working on this!! Unfortunately, I am traveling and the yarn shop in Canada is currently out of stock :( but I will definitely be on top of this when I get home! So excited to start though!!!

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