Are you super excited? It’s about to come together. This last week of our Sashiko Happy Coat MAL we attach the sleeves and work all those finishing details that bring the coat to life. And then it’s done, done DONE!!! Wear it with pride!!! Even if it’s just inside the house.... for now.
Did you notice that I just verbally whipped through that last phase of making as though it’s over in a flash? Errrm. As if. Finishing details can totally transform a project, and I don’t know about you, but this is where I slow down making sure I take extra care, and imagining my finishing touches. Imagine what? I hear you ask... It’s all there in the pattern – the pdf describes how I embellished by Original competition coat, and hey, it’s a great coat (award-winning even)...
But I just can’t do the same thing twice. It’s why my coat No2. Curio Spring version has buttons and an extra trim of (pink Alpaca Rhythm Jitterbug) slip stitch around the collar that wasn’t on my original coat. If I repeated the same exercise on each coat, it would be a wasted opportunity for design exploration as there are so many ideas in my head I want to see come to life.
So... Official statement: I am going off-book.
I think it was pretty clear with my Stonewashed/Whirlette “Yarn Experiment” that I was diverging from the proven path, but even with my Our Tribe Leftovers coat I had a different Grand Plan in mind... which I have been keeping quiet about ...until now.
It’s finally time for me to show you snippets of I have been planning all along for coats 3 & 4... Yes, I said snippets not finished coats. Sorry about that – I don’t mean to tease (but I also kind of do – haha) – but I have stumbled at the finish line and have not completed either coat. I need to re-do something for Coco Black (it happens to all of us), and with the time I have, I need to help you all finish your coats rather than finish my own!
The super-great thing I love about my coat pattern is that it’s a fashion jigsaw puzzle, and all the pieces are individual canvasses. You can make your own masterpiece however you like!!! Finishing details are transformative. And after you catch a glimpse of how my coats are developing, maybe you will want to go “off-book” too?
LET’S TALK SLEEVES!
A bit of technical stuff first: The sleeves were tricky to design, and it appears my short rows that shape the beginning and ends of the sleeves have thrown a few people who found themselves at the cuff end of the sleeve but wanting to increase and it wasn’t making sense, so I made a conceptual sketch to show the approach to construction of those beginning short rows and full length rows using a size Small as an example, and you can see that below.
The actual numbers of stitches and rows differ between sizes of course, but this is the basic idea of how it is constructed. Keeping track of the math when I wrote the pattern did do my head in a bit, but I assure you it works.
Sleeves completed – awesome. I find the hardest part about joining the sleeves to the bodice is not the actual seam, but edging across the Sleeve Cap.
So I have made a video for edging along the sleeve cap – it shows me edging across the first few sections of my Small sleeve and a decrease section using 2 strands of Our Tribe. No sound, just a visual. The edging technique is still the same – find 2 loops (and sometimes I have to go searching for these myself, lol - it was a late night when I made this video) – but I find the tricky bit is keeping track of stitch count relative to each sleeve section as described in Schematic 6. Stitch markers are the answer (they usually are), and after edging across the beginning short row section, I place a marker in the first edging dc of each section as I work across. Much easier that way.
Then it’s smooth sailing down the other side of the sleeve. I put a marker into my active loop so I could then work my embroidery. What? Shouldn’t I have already done that!? Well, err... yes, usually you would have.
Embroidery paths are cool as they are, but for my Leftovers coat I wanted to try out my original idea for the sleeve embroidery. Ummm...?
You would have (quite understandably) thought that my pattern WAS my original idea for the coat sleeve, but NO... My original embroidery plan for the sleeve was not possible on a size Small - the Sashiko-inspired embroidery paths were determined both by the math of what was available to all sizes of “canvas,” and also so the stitching would avoid short row step areas (where you lose your grid pattern of holes). Drawing more stitch charts for different sizes was to be avoided in the name of simplicity. (Yep - totally get you might not believe me there, it’s already quite a production as it is, but it could have been way more complicated!)
So, anyway, I compromised and limited it to the motifs you see on your charts instead.
Now I am 4 coats in though, and it finally dawned on me how I can make my original idea possible on a Small sleeve without a pattern re-write! It might not for the feint-hearted, but here it is:
I had wanted to have a chunky band of collar-style embroidery (small motifs) around the cuff, but the size Small sleeve was 2 rows too narrow to make it fit. I recently realised when I edge the sleeve in preparation for seaming it into a tube, I am actually adding those 2 rows – lightbulb moment!!! So, the first thing I did to my Leftovers sleeve is edge it, then started the embroidery (instead of the other way around). On the downside, the Our Tribe is still attached which gets in the way sometimes with the embroidery, but so be it.
Another small bump in the road is that it does bring the embroidery over the lowest short row step at the side sleeve, so that takes some experimenting to see where those stitches best-sit for Size Small only (ie, fudge it). Sizes Medium and larger will have enough rows to do this without crocheting over the short row step though, if you feel inspired by the pics below to also give it a go.
Here is what I have done, step by step, with descriptions under each photo:
So in the above photo you can see my block of collar-style embroidery. I chose to start in the third stitch in from the edge (you will see why soon). I have worked 2 rows of small (2ss per path) motifs, and the very outside stitches are worked blo into the edging dc stitches (I will have to take care with the seam to not accidentally trap them in the seam).
The pink strip of embroidery (2 strands Alpaca Rhythm in Jitterbug) is worked 2 stitches above the top row of motifs. This pink band is as described in the Sleeve embroidery chart – slip stitch one way, then back the other way, keeping to one side of the previous stitches. The stitch markers placed up the sleeve are indicating where the standard embroidery motifs will be worked.
Now I have added a strip of Alpaca Rhythm in Paso (2 strands) in the row of sts between the motifs and the pink band, transferred the active loop to the WS, ch2 to move up to the row above the pink band (since I have already edged, I don't want o ch1 over the edge so the seam stays clear), transferred the active loop back to the RS, and slip stitched back the other way. I have made these thinner than the central Jitterbug one as they are the support-act.
Now I have added another row of Paso across the second row of stitches up from the cuff edge (2 strands, slip stitched one-way across), and the central motifs have been worked with one strand each of Paso and Jitterbug – it’s getting very painterly, and I just LOVE playing with colour! Lots of colour equates to lots of happy!!
Et voilá!! Jitterbug double stranded has added the final motif details. Embroidery on sleeve completed the way I have always wanted it and I am pretty happy!! It does mean more tails to sew in, but I wanted to experiment with thread combinations when I work the embroidery (that will also include the Bodice, yes). I hope it looks good on the finished coat... time will tell, but so far so good.
JOINING THE SLEEVE TO THE BODICE
Whatever embroidery pattern you have going on for your sleeve, once its edged, next step is seaming it into a tube, and joining it to the bodice. These steps are shown pretty clearly with the photos and instructions in my pattern using techniques we have already practised on other parts of the coat. Once each sleeve is attached, the instructions for joining the two ends of your embroidery strips around the sleeve and finishing the cuffs are also pretty straight forward, so let’s move on to the collar.
FINISHING DETAILS FOR THE COLLAR:
For my Leftovers Collar, I am adding a judicious amount of Jitterbug and Paso to match the OTT vibe of the sleeve. It’s got to be balanced, right?
My Original collar just has a strip of orange contrast around the seam section and that is what is described in the pattern. My Curio Spring collar needed more pink, so I kept going with more slip stitching, and made it double sided – how? Let me show you with my Leftovers version:
I have started out exactly as described in Step 7. Assembly with 2 strands of Alpaca Rhythm in Paso, but instead of fastening off, I continued to slip stitch around the outer edge of the Collar back to the start point. Then, transfer the active loop to the other side of work (RS Collar), cut a 7 metre tail (we all have the same size Collar, and I won at yarn chicken, so this should be about right for everyone) and gently pull it through to the other side of the work (WS Collar). Then slip stitch back the other way, keeping to one side of the previous slip stitch strip for a neat finish. I angled my hook in to the left each time to avoid catching/disrupting the slip stitches on the other side.
But for Leftovers, I am going further; pushing boundaries (why not, right? – It will be my last coat!)
I re-joined with 2 strands of Jitterbug to perform the same technique parallel to the Paso on both sides of work, working into the holes made by the slip stitches of Assembly Step 6... I am not sure if you have picked up on it yet, but it’s fair to say my approach to this coat is “OTT” (Over The Top). It’s going to be LOUD, PROUD, and an ELABORATE explosion of colour by the time I finish the embroidery on the bodice. There is A LOT more colour to add to this (hopeful) masterpiece yet!
With all those added trims and tails hanging around from the coat pieces, most of the tails can be weaved to a dc edging row, and then gently sewn back and forth underneath some dc stitches, stretching the fabric as you go so you don't accidentally great tight/puckered spots.
Here is a series of photos to show how I finished a tail around the feature collar: it disappears.....
ON TO MY STONEWASHED/WHIRLETTE EXPERIMENT:
My Coco Black coat balances things out as a restrained crisp statement of “TCFS” (Too Cool For School) and I will likely feel the need wear sunglasses when donning this coat, even at night... Just like Corey. Hart. (80s music reference for those who might be wondering).
So anyway, important news:
Officially, my husband has declared that my Coco Black Happy coat is
The. Best. One.
And he capped his stamp of approval off with “I would wear that”. (Not sure how I feel about that one, given it has a skirt, but let’s not dwell).
So, what have I been brewing up as finishing details for Coco Black Yarn Experiment that motivates my husband to say these things? It's the whole black and white thing I have going on, plus...
Doesn’t sound like much, but...
Cool, huh? Such a small detail can make a huge impact! How did I make the Button tab?
Here are the stitch charts:
The square edge was sewn to the sleeve along the seam, then tacked back along the top edge. Purely decorative, but adds interest.
And I couldn’t resist a matching set of motifs on the folded back section of the collar.
I tried the collar on, placed a stitch marker on each side to designate the centre of the motifs, took the coat off, checked they were symmetrically placed, then slip stitched away...
I am actually thinking about stitching the collar to itself so its permanently folded over for this one and it keeps its structure... Hmmmm. I will let you all know when I finish. I am adding another little detail too, but I will keep that one up my sleeve (haha) until the finished reveal.
The Button holes are okay as they are but they are best reinforced with a rim of slip stitch around each opening using 1 strand of Yarn A, and then sew the tails in neatly. The idea is to stabilise against excessive stretch rather than making the holes smaller.
The buttons themselves – I find if you attach them when it lies flat, and then hang it on your body, the fabric might bunch between the buttons. I place the coat on my mannequin so I can see how the fabric falls and attach the buttons from top to bottom, making sure they match up with the buttonholes, and are aligned down the edge of the left front Bodice. That way you are already accounting for gravity.
And.... DONE! (Just as soon as I find the time)... Two completely different coats and one pattern!
What will you do with your blank canvas?
I am absolutely loving seeing more and more finished coat photos in the groups!! They all look so beautiful and it's really something to know there will be Happy coats being worn all around the world because of something I dreamed up in my head!
Thank you so much to Scheepjes for asking me to lead this Sashiko Happy Coat MAL in their Facebook groups, and for yarn support! What a wonderful experience for me, and I hope, for you too!! I have been thrilled to see so many colour variations for your coats, and I am blown away by those who are making this as their first crochet garment!! Bravo - What a first project! If you have caught the wearable crochet bug, I do have other patterns on Ravelry that might take your fancy and I have been working on something new along-side this MAL (there are actually a few things that compete with coat-making time), so you never know what’s around the corner!
As much as this is the last official MAL post, I will post again over the next couple of weeks to show off my finished my coats, and to show off some of YOUR coats! Keep those photos coming in the groups or Insta, and tag me so I can see! I will be browsing....
And I will announce the remaining two Dutch translated MAL posts in the groups too, so keep an eye out.
Here is a couple of last pics of how mine is shaping up – she is going to look like a garden of flowers! Maybe I will rename her Floral Bouquet.....