grainline studio

Finished: Cascade coat

This coat was born out of frantic necessity and ridiculous ambition. Did I mention I only started sewing about a year ago? I read lots of reviews and blogs though, and the skills required for this coat  (Cascade from Grainline Studio) didn’t seem that difficult (#famouslastwords). The steps are easy enough, and Jen’s instructions and sewalong are super clear and helpful, but there’s just A LOT. There are a lot of pieces, a lot of steps, a lot of fabric required, etc. It took time, but I had no outerwear (and Belgian winters are damp and cold), so I sewed my little novice heart out.

Finished: Cascade coat Read More »

work in progress: cascade coat

Let’s take stock of where I am with my coat.


  • Self fabric, 5 meters at €1/m
  • Lining fabric, 4 meters at €1/m
  • Thread, 1000 meters, Guntermann brand, €7 (and some change)
  • Zippers, 2x€4.60 (one for the maternity panel)
  • Snaps,€8.50 (for the maternity panel)
  • Snap installer,€13.95 (for the maternity panel)
  • Interlining fabric, €10/m (I probably used 1 meter)
  • Interfacing, 3 meters at €20.22 total
  • Cascade PDF pattern, €15.37 ($16.94)

Probably adding up just the amount for what is used for the coat itself, I’d guess (generously), I’ve spent €53. The maternity panel will use additional fabric, lining, interfacing, the other zipper and the snaps (and the installer, although that will hopefully get additional use as well). The pattern will be used again, dammit.

I ended up cutting a straight size 10 based on the finished measurements. It even fits my belly (for now) with room to spare!

Sewing the Cascade coat, by Small Bobbins

Everything seems doable so far, none of the steps are too wacky or difficult. I can see already where I should be taking more care, but I’ve convinced myself already that this is a learning experience. I’m not going for perfection, plus, I just need a dang coat already! My next version (I’m telling myself) will be made with nicer materials and done with more care.

Sewing the Cascade coat, by Small Bobbins

I can already tell that my zipper band is too wide (the contrast material I chose is a bit stretchy) and some seams aren’t so carefully measured. I had to shorten my front bands a bit to be 1/2″ away from either ends of the coat; my guess is that my poly-blend fabric stretched as I sewed it. I decided not to sew the toggles, but now I see why they would’ve been useful to keep the center front band from flapping open.

Sewing the Cascade coat, by Small Bobbins

All of my fabric choices were not the best. I didn’t take into account that Jen says to stay away from bonded interfacing when I bought mine, plus it doesn’t stick so well to the self fabric. The plaid wool/poly blend I used doesn’t seem incredibly warm, doesn’t press well, seems to stretch a bit, plus it smells super chemically when it gets wet or steamed. The interlining is a sweater knit jersey (also used here, I’m wearing it under the coat in the photos without the sleeves); it stretched all over the place when I basted it (I could’ve hand-basted, but see above, I’m too lazy and cold!) and my seams ended up wonky. In some places, the white basting stiches stick out on the front of the coat and in other places I can see I missed the interlining fabric all together.

Sewing the Cascade coat, by Small Bobbins

I still have the hood and lining to go. It feels like I’m near the end, but then I remember, wait, I have to practically construct the whole coat again for the lining! Remember, Kirstin, you got yourself into this mess.

Oh yeah, and then I’m going to attempt the maternity insert when that’s all done. Yippee!

work in progress: cascade coat Read More »

Alder shirtdress

Alder shirtdress (pattern by Grainline Studio), made by Small Bobbins

After seeing Anna’s maternity version of Grainline Studio’s Alder shirtdress pattern, I wanted to try it for myself. The length made it seem ideal for a top to wear over tights that I could pair with a sweater when it gets cold. The buttons and collar seemed like good skill-builders. I just needed to figure out what size to make it so that I could get some decent use out of it.

Alder shirtdress (pattern by Grainline Studio), made by Small Bobbins

I made View A (the straighter cut, without the gathered skirt), and cut a size 12 at the bust, grading to 16 at the waist. It’s very roomy! Maybe this means I can wear it until the end of my pregnancy. If I find the motivation, I may take off some width and length after the little lady is born so it’s not so super huge on me.

Alder shirtdress (pattern by Grainline Studio), made by Small Bobbins

Alder shirtdress (pattern by Grainline Studio), made by Small Bobbins

The actual construction was not so difficult; like the Bianca, I didn’t get tripped up until it came time to make the collar, but I was much more successful this time. It probably helps that there’s a great (English!) sewalong for this pattern.

Alder shirtdress (pattern by Grainline Studio), made by Small Bobbins

I had to buy a buttonhole foot for my Bernina. I’m pleased with the results, but I wonder if I really needed the special foot. It just has two grooves on the bottom that accommodate for the thick channels of thread that make the buttonhole. I could have a whole blog dedicated to trying to unravel the mysteries of sewing machine feet and whether I should buy all of them or none of them.

Alder shirtdress (pattern by Grainline Studio), made by Small Bobbins

The fabric is a lightweight denim with lots of teeny tiny flowers. I was worried that maybe the small print would be overwhelming, but I’m okay with the results. After doing a few knit projects, it was so nice to work with though. It holds a press! It doesn’t shift or stretch!

Alder shirtdress (pattern by Grainline Studio), made by Small Bobbins

Pairing it with a belt, cardigan and tights, I’m hoping to get a decent amount of wear out of this.

For my next one, I’m thinking about making a shirt version (or View B, with the gathered skirt). Although after my most recent fabric shopping spree, I don’t really have any appropriate wovens in my stash (yet!).
Alder shirtdress (pattern by Grainline Studio), made by Small Bobbins

I have to admit though, I was glad to get back into simpler knit projects after this. There are so many pieces! So much pressing! So much interfacing!

(That lasted for like… a day. Did I mention I’m making a coat now?)

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I’m going to make a coat!

I’m struggling to remember how I handled cold weather last time I was pregnant (my kids will have nearly identical birthdays so my pregnancy timeline is exactly the same; I will be biggest when it’s coldest). I think I borrowed a bigger-sized coat from my stepmom, or maybe my huge brown ski coat sufficed, or maybe I just didn’t zip it over my belly and didn’t go out too often?

I debated making a coat for this pregnancy. Think of the skills I’d learn! Yeah, but think of the sunk cost of buying the materials for something that maybe I don’t have the skill-set to make well. But it’s only for a short amount of time. Still, I don’t have any coat at all, shouldn’t I plan on having something wearable? The time making a coat could go towards making several other outfits. Or one, because I’m still pretty slow at sewing.

I made a plan: either a Cascade or a Minoru, plus an attempt at self-drafting a jacket insert. My idea is that I could make the coat in a normal size, add the insert for the belly and babywearing, and still have a wearable coat when either is no longer needed.

Still, good coat materials cost about a billion euros. I included fabric requirements when I went to the Stoffen Spektakel a few weeks ago, saw some wools that were 20 euros per meter minimum, and decided NOPE. Threw the whole plan out the window.

Then, a fabric store in my neighborhood had a closing sale! Advertising 1-10 euros per meter for everything, I snooped and was mostly disappointed. They had some 5 euro per meter wools, but nothing screamed “coat” to me. Then, I found a wool/poly blend for 1 euro per meter buried in a back corner. Right next to something that I think (I hope) is an appropriate lining fabric for 1 euro per meter. Bingo! Who cares if it’s wearable in the long run? Five meters of self fabric and four meters of lining for nine euros; I’m making myself a coat!

making a coat, by small bobbins

I ordered two identical zippers and other notions, and I’m taking inspiration from this jacket insert shape and size to make my own. I have no idea how warm it will be or if I will get it done in time or if it’s within my skill-set. I decided on a Cascade after all, the simple shape seems like I might have better luck ending up with something I can wear post-pregnancy, and wear with the insert.

I’m a bit concerned about warmth since I bought polyester fabrics. I’m not going to splurge on any sort of fleece lining at this point, but spying on my stash (can’t believe I even have enough fabric for “a stash” now) I have leftover grey sweater knit, or a grey ribbed cotton jersey, that could add just a bit of extra warmth without a ton of bulk.

I’m really waffling about the size. The measurements are pushing me towards a straight 12, but I don’t want a coat that’s too huge, and there’s a decent amount of ease built in. Looking at the finished pattern measurements, I could fit with a straight size 10, even with the belly, but the panel would cover me for sure. I could go down to an 8 for the sake of my ego; a 10 would strike a good in-between. I could grade to a 12 at the hip for more movement, although I probably won’t be wearing so many layers underneath anyway.

I’m really excited to get started, although I do already feel a bit over my head. What is it that makes it so difficult that the pattern is rated “Advanced”? Reading Jen’s blog, it sounds mostly that it’s to ensure that sewers understand it’s not necessarily difficult with the required techniques, but just the required investment of time and materials. Checking blogs for other’s experiences with the pattern seemed to echo that. The steps themselves aren’t too difficult, but there are just so dang many of them.

Wish me luck! I better get back to sewing, it’s getting cold in Belgium!

I’m going to make a coat! Read More »

Hemlock shirt

Hemlock tee (pattern by Grainline Studio), made by Small Bobbins

The first of many, I hope! This is a free pattern from Grainline Studio, a simple one-size boxy shirt for knit fabrics. I used a light, tissue-weight cream and navy striped knit and I’m pretty pleased with the results. The only big hang-up I have is my lack of pattern-matching skills (or cutting skills in general), which resulted in the front and back being different lengths, which resulted in me hemming the back way shorter to keep them an even length, which results in the back hem curling up because the hem is so short.

Hemlock tee (pattern by Grainline Studio), made by Small Bobbins

Next time, despite the belly, I’ll take in the sides a bit; it’s a bit too boxy for how I like to dress in public (perfectly fine for layering or for staying around the house). I will shorten the sleeves too. Pairing this shirt with these jeans (a size up from normal that are happily still seeing me through my current pregnancy) reads a bit too “mom” to me, especially with my new haircut (which, frustratingly, did not have the desired effect and adds to the soccer mom vibe).

Hemlock tee (pattern by Grainline Studio), made by Small Bobbins

It’s really comfortable, despite that I don’t think I will ever wear it out in public (except for underneath sweaters, jackets, coats, etc.), it’s an excellent shirt for lounging, and I can see it in heavy rotation when I’m on maternity leave. I’ve been on the hunt for a similar weight jersey in other colors, plain white being my main goal, but any sort of modern, subtle print would be wonderful. Haven’t come across too many sources in Belgium of good printed jersey not meant for kids. Um, Mama needs cute clothes too!

Hemlock tee (pattern by Grainline Studio), made by Small Bobbins

Hemlock shirt Read More »