Pepernoot Coat from Waffle Patterns

You can also read this review (and other reviews of the same pattern) on Pattern Review.

pepernoot coat

For a long time I was very proud of (ahem, stubborn about) not paying for patterns, only self-drafting and using free patterns. I finally took the plunge and shelled out a precious €12.30 for the Pepernoot Coat from Waffle Patterns. In my small Hungarian city, €12.30 can buy a lot of things – a couple of books, several bottles of nice wine, dinner out for two people – but no regrets here. I’m happy that the first pattern I ever paid for was this one.

Pattern Description:

From the website:
*Functional coat with a high neck hood.
*Front zipper open.
*Zipper pockets on the sides.
*Rounded yoke on the front and back.

pepernoot coat

Pattern Sizing:

*EUR 34-48 (US 2-16) (UK 6-20), I sewed size 42 based on my body measurements. The pattern has a lot of ease in the sides and sleeves, but the collar/neck/shoulders fit perfectly true to size.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?

More or less. I made some alterations, described below.

pepernoot coat

Were the instructions easy to follow?

There’s not much hand-holding or details about techniques, but since the pattern is for advanced sewers, I think the instructions were adequate. The illustrations were very clear and helpful.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?

The main thing I didn’t like about the Pepernoot was the back curved yoke, so I redrafted it to be much straighter and match with the back arm seam.

pepernoot coat

Although printing and taping together the separate lining pattern was a pain, it was well worth it to have a nice-fitting lining. I really like how well the pattern came together, even the places where you need to ease pieces together (shoulders, armscye) were so easy that I didn’t even need to use basting stitches to gather. The waistline is a bit high and hits at a very flattering place for me.

pepernoot coat

Fabric and Notions Used:

The outer fabric is an 80/20 wool acrylic blend. I really like the texture of it. The lining is just cheapo lining fabric, I assume polyester, but it’s interlined with another layer of 95% wool for warmth. The two layers of wool make the coat super toasty, in fact it might be a little overkill for a Hungarian winter, but oh well.

pepernoot coat

The pattern says to buy 3.3 meters of main fabric. I bought 3.5 in case it shrunk (it didn’t shrink at all, naturally) and had a lot left over, more than half a meter. I think because I narrowed the sleeves I could get away with less.

pepernoot coat

At first I bought a 65 cm zipper (the pattern calls for a 70 cm but the store was out) which turned out to be comically short. I think 70 cm would also have been too short; I ended up using an 85 cm zip and it was perfect!

pepernoot coat

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:

Based on the incredibly helpful post by Mari of Seamster Patterns about sewing her boucle Pepernoot, I took a few centimeters out of the hood vertically, simply by folding the two hood pieces up a bit. I also added more match marks to the hood pieces.

pepernoot coat

My muslin was okay, very promising, although as basically every other reviewer of this pattern mentioned there is a LOT of ease in the sides and sleeves.

pepernoot coat

So I took 2 inches off both sides (1″ from the front, 1″ from the back) as well as 2″ from the sleeve. I did a fairly lazy adjustment by just folding out 2″ from the under sleeve. This way all the match marks still lined up.

In the Pepernoot sew-along, Rhonda suggests checking the position of the sleeve tabs before sewing them in place, and this was good advice – I moved them a few centimeters up to hit my wrist better.

pepernoot coat

She also made the suggestion that instead of the zippered pocket, the same pocket shape can be made into a simple patch pocket and I ended up doing that. I didn’t like the look of the zippers I had, and since I always have my hands in my pockets I didn’t want to scrape them on the zipper all the time.

The other big change I made was to fix the irritatingly-off-center front band. It was as easy as finishing the band on all four sides and then top-stitching the band into place, centered along the zipper.

pepernoot coat

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?

Yes and yes! I’m already thinking about a spring raincoat version with a zip-out lining…

pepernoot coat

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2016 in Review: Reflections and Plans

It’s that time of year: Gillian of Crafting a Rainbow is hosting her annual Top 5 event, a chance to look back at your sewing year and evaluate yourself. Last year I wrote just one post evaluating my “year”, but I’m breaking 2016 into a handful of posts: my hits and misses of the year, a round-up of how my Sew 16 goals turned out, and today: my reflections on the year and plans for the future.

Towards the end of 2016 I made some major changes to what and how I sew. When fall came and I had to put away my summer dresses (one of my hits of 2016), I found myself in a wardrobe slump – I’m perfectly happy with my uniform of skirt+top+cardigan every day, but somehow I just couldn’t put together me-made outfits that made me happy. Gradually I realized why:


Above is a picture of fabric scraps from everything I’ve sewn in the past few years. Below are the fabrics of the garments  I wear most often and really enjoy wearing.


See the difference? The things I like to sew were not the things I like to wear. I like to sew bright colors, flowery prints, crisp cottons, flowing Marcy-Tilton-style dresses and tunics, look-at-me original garments. I like to wear black and navy, solid colors and muted textures, knits, fitted garments, blend-into-the-background garments. So the first mindset I changed was to replace “I want to sew that!” with “I want to wear that!”

In a similar vein, I need to plan better that I want to sew, and plan how it will fit into my existing wardrobe. I was greatly inspired by The Vivienne Files and used her series of posts about building a wardrobe from scratch to make up an imaginary capsule wardrobe for myself, based on the pieces I wear most anyway. Going through the steps was a great way of evaluating what I have, planning how I can wear it, and seeing what is missing.


wardrobe building - black, gray, wine and mustard


Now that I have a plan, I’ve been making steady progress on it. And it’s a great feeling knowing that instead of sewing garments, I’m sewing a wardrobe.


wardrobe building - black, gray, wine and mustard (1)


One thing I like about The Vivienne Files’ approach to wardrobe building is the idea of “core” sets in the same color. If I have a selection of tops, skirts, cardigan, dresses, etc in a single color, then a garment in an accent color becomes much easier to wear. But it means that first I should focus on building up my core sets, and then later add in the accent pieces. Instead of buying interesting fabrics – you know, those ones that catch your eye with their unusual colors and then sit in the stash unused for years – I need to buy fabrics in my core colors.

Likewise, I should be less hesitant about sewing duplicates of garments I know I like and wear. Instead of “I already have a black skirt!” I should try “Would a longer / slimmer / more formal black skirt be equally useful?”


wardrobe building 2 - navy core


My last resolution has to do with quality of garments, and letting things go when they’ve done their duty. Those boots with the little tiny I-can-pretend-invisible-but-not-really holes at the heel, that top with the hem falling down, that stretched-out sweater with pills… I wouldn’t give them to a friend or consider them nice enough for donation, so what am I doing putting them on my body? I rarely feel good wearing ratty clothes, so I’m changing my mindset from “Is this nice enough for me to wear?” to “Is this nice enough that I would loan it to a friend without shame?”

So those 5 mindsets are my main goals for the future. I’m curious to see where my wardrobe will be a year from now! As for concrete sewing plans, here’s my montage for Lucky Lucille’s #2017makenine:

make 9

See you in 2017!

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2016 in Review: Top 5 Hits and Misses

It’s that time of year: Gillian of Crafting a Rainbow is hosting her annual Top 5 event, a chance to look back at your sewing year and evaluate yourself. Last year I wrote just one post evaluating my “year”, but I’m breaking 2016 into a handful of posts: my hits and misses of the year, my reflections and plans for the future, and a round-up of how my Sew 16 goals turned out.

The Hits

Looking back on my daily outfit photos, the weeks that stood out where the ones when I wore the same three summer dresses, repeatedly, over and over, again and again. These dresses really pulled their weight this summer! I wore them so often that I stopped bothering with the daily outfit photo and just reused the same picture again and again:

weeks of 2016.07.04-2016.08.08

In February and March I made 10 garments to enter in Pattern Review’s 2016 Wardrobe Contest. Of those 10, the yellow cardigan is by far my favorite, and the most-used piece. Who knew such a bright color would be so versatile?

yellow card

After 4 muslins (FOUR!) and multiple in-progress alterations, I finally managed to sew myself a fall jacket. By the time it was done I only got a few weeks wear out of it, but at least I have it ready for next year!

fall coat

Sometimes the simplest things are the most successful: using this free papavero pattern I sewed a black linen skirt. It was comfortable enough to wear in the hottest days of summer, and when the weather cooled down I added a temporary lining for warmth and so I can wear it with tights.

black bacon skirt

I sewed  several  bags, as usual. The light brown fake leather was hair-tearingly painful to sew but the resulting bag is lovely (if you don’t peek closely at the top-stitching, woof).

brown fake leather bag

For winter I needed a new black bag, and again simple is best. It’s basically a duffel, narrower at the top and wider at the bottom:

black bag

The front zipper opens wide so I can get at everything, and the shorter back zipper is a separate pocket for papers and folders so they’re not crushed by everything else in the bag.

black bag front and back

The Misses

I tried to like this shrug, but it just didn’t work. Luckily a year later I could buy more of the fabric and turn it into a proper cardigan.


This is technically from 2015, but oh well. I spent a long, long time suffering with making this black skirt suit and I never wear it, neither together nor as separates. I don’t have a good shirt to wear with the suit. The skirt is too floofy for my current style. The jacket might have a chance to redeem itself, but I’m not hoping. And the whole thing is cotton and wrinkles like crazy (that second picture even hurts to look at).

black suit

I sewed several short-sleeve shirts and wore none of them more than twice. Lesson learned: short sleeves aren’t my thing.

This origami boat raglan top is so pretty by its own, but I don’t know how to work it into my wardrobe. This is only a partial fail, because I like it enough to keep trying!

origami boat raglan top

And finally, the pants that were so unsuitable for me that I only wore them once. Since then they’ve been at the very very bottom of my “someday I’ll fix this” pile, but I doubt they’ll ever see daylight.


Hit or Miss?

And finally, two things that were part hit, part miss. I like my red corduroy pants (pictured just above), I wear them occasionally, and it was great to finally work out a nice pants pattern for myself. On the other hand, for a girl who wears mostly skirts, a bright red pair of pants was not the wise choice, and nor was the corduroy.

The other hit/miss would be my daily outfit photo project. Although I did succeed in taking a picture every day for nearly a year, I rarely posted them because the quality is pretty bad. Oh well, from a distance they make a nice collage 🙂

some weeks collage


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Sew16 update

Now that fall has arrived, the end of 2016 seems to be just over the horizon… so how am I doing on my Sew 16 Challenge? I’m pretty sure I’ll manage 16 challenges by the end of the year; many are in progress but there are some which I can confidently tick off:

1. Newbie – Sew a type of garment you never have before.
Success! My original plan was to sew pants, two kinds of them: American pants (trousers) and British pants (undies). And I managed both! I sewed two pairs of corduroy pants:


And a selection of undies, which I’m not posting pictures of, but imagine some basic briefs in jersey leftover from my other projects and you’ve got the idea.

7. Share the Love – Sew for someone you never have before.
After one of my best friends complimented me several times on my drapey-pockets cardigan, it finally dawned on me that I ought to make her one. It was an easy sew; the only change needed was to shorten the arms a bit. The green one went to her and I’ve seen her wearing it several times – no higher compliment than that!


8. Stash Stretcher – Sew something entirely from stash materials: pattern, notions, and all.
Actually, my recently-finished ginghamalong top was all from the stash. The pattern is my go-to button down, the fabric was bought last spring, the thread and snaps were leftovers, and even the bias-binding hem was from some other project.

finished collage

12. Same Same, But Different – Sew the same thing from different fabrics.

One of the first things I posted on this blog was a green skirt, copied from one of my favorite RTW skirts and improved by adding pockets. The original and my first copy were on the bias, but last spring I re-found the pattern and realized I could just as well cut it on grain and get a skirt out of a minimum of fabric (the black one was a 65cm remnant). So I made three in quick succession:

black denim skirt

crazy skirt



maroon canvas skirt

18. Piles of Styles – Take one homemade garment and style it as many ways as you can.
Yes! Since the beginning of the year, I’ve been taking daily outfit photos, an incredibly painful and humbling experience. The upside is is that it’s given me a great insight into the things I’ve worn, how I wore them, and how I felt in them. A good example would be my maroon self-drafted pencil skirt, which I’ve worn frequently and loved every time.

skirt (1)

On the other hand, there’s this dark purple bolero / cropped sweater thing that I wore in several ways but never really got into.

purple bolero

And, inspired by Carolyn’s 6-different-ways posts, I tried to see how I could make one single item look different by combining it with different things. Like this bright sunny yellow cardigan:

yellow card

Or something like a basic striped shirt:


19. Sew Less Frosting – Stop sewing pretty, photogenic things that you will rarely wear. Stop sewing impractical things.
I mentioned at the end of my ginghamalong post that I thought I had fulfilled this goal: instead of a pretty floofy picture-perfect dress that would have sat in my closet, I made a boring-but-useful button-down shirt, and that was a good feeling.


So… that’s 6 challenges done and dusted. A handful more are also finished, but I don’t have nice pictures to accompany them, so that’s a later post. Several are in progress, and will probably be done before December 31st. Or not, no worries 🙂


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Ginghamalong / gingham top

Over the last few weeks I’ve enjoyed the Ginghamalong coordinated by Karen of Did You Make That? It was inspiring to see the awesome awesome projects on Instagram and on blogs. And I was finally prompted to cut into the 2 meters of teal-blue gingham I bought from Van Gool Stoffen (Tilburg, Netherlands) when I was there last Easter.


The top is a self-drafted princess-seam button-down that I’ve made several times before. I cut the side pieces on the bias, which is both a nice detail as well as a clever way to avoid pattern matching.

bias sides

There was a considerable amount of matching involved in the back, in the darts, the yoke, and the joining the yoke to the back.


The original position of the back darts put them in the middle of a stripe, but that looked kind of odd so I picked them out and moved them inward.

back before and after

When the basic shell was finished I ran into some questions… what kind of collar? What kind of sleeves? What kind of buttons?

Recently I updated a shirt dress  whose collar bothered me by taking out the upper collar and just leaving the stand. I decided to do the same here, just using the collar stand without the upper collar.

The sleeves were the next hurdle. I had originally planned it sleeveless but having asked for opinions (on Instagram, plus whatever friends happened to be online when I was asking) and got a landslide vote towards sleeves. I had a good long think about it and realized that in addition to looking better, the sleeves version will get more wear.


I made matching bias to hem the sleeves, but I hemmed the bottom using a bit of leftover. Because why use matching when I could use a totally different blue gingham instead?? The pearl snaps up the front are from my stash.


I’m really happy with the result (despite my faces in these photos…). The color is so cheerful;  plus I have a pair of matching shoes.


The back also turned out brilliantly, it fits my sway back like a glove.

back and sides

close up

One last great thing about this top: it definitely fulfills one of my Sew 16 Challenges, to sew less frosting and more cake. I dithered about making this fabric into a pretty, theme-y, photogenic gingham dress, but in the end I went with a garment that I know I will get more wear from.

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Summer Dresses 2016

Last year I also wrote about my quest for the perfect summer dress. Of all those dresses from last year only one is still in my wardrobe, and only because I haven’t gotten around to making it into a skirt yet. This year I had a better idea of what I wanted (light, flowy, covering) and ended up with three new maxi dresses which have seen heavy wear so far this summer:

three dresses

The first was a case of the fabric dictating the dress. I bought this fabric way back in January, at which time it was only used as a scarf:


But when warmer weather rolled around it called out to be made into a swishy maxi dress. I drafted the pattern from a princess-seam top, moving the princess seams to be 2.5″ (6.5 cm) from the seam, and then cutting the side panel as one piece 5″ (13 cm) wide. With gathers at the pocket and at the knee this side strip adds volume to the dress.

2016.06.30 reused pic


My helper also enjoyed cutting out and hemming this dress:



2016.07.02 - Copy

The second dress is a free pattern, the Summer Drape Top by So Sew Easy. Turning it into a dress was as easy as extending the pieces. I added two triangles of fabric at the side seams for extra flowiness and swishability (of course those are both real words) but the dress would have been quite wearable without them. I also added patch pockets because, well, pockets. The print is so busy you don’t see any of the details:

2016.07.10 - Copy

Although the pattern calls for knit, I made this dress from a lightweight cotton voile and it worked fine; the only place I ran into trouble was that the straps ended up short at the front. So I unpicked the gathers in the middle, added a section, and redistributed the gathers.


The last dress was another simple self-draft: the back is plain, the front is a basic top slashed-and-spread to make some gathers at the bust and above the stomach. I’m glad I didn’t do anything more elaborate because the busy fabric pretty much hides all details.

A pleat above the knee gives extra volume to the skirt; this is just a rectangle of fabric added into the seam and stitched securely at the top.


And here’s the other side of the coin, the failed dress. Of course it was the one which I thought would be the easiest, based on something I saw a colleague wearing, similar to this:


Inspired by too much Pinterest, I imagined I would just whip together some squares and triangles and end up with a lovely flowy dress. Well, I won’t bore you with the series of my mistakes, but here’s the biggest one: fabric choice! My light flowy fabric did not give me nice crisp points like that dress above. In fact, it looked (and felt) like wearing rags:


Look at those sad limp points! I’m not sure what to do with it now. Hem it into a top or a really short dress, I guess.

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Me-Made-May 2016

Me-Made-May is over for another year.

My main goal, of wearing only me-made clothes outside the house, was a great success:

me made may

Where I failed is in the intention behind my original goal: “[I will] endeavor to wear me-made clothes every day outside the house in May”. Translation: on days when I stay home in my pajamas, who cares what I wear? I had a long hard think about that over the month, and I want to change what I wear at home and on off days. I obviously love myself and my husband more than my colleagues and students, and I respect us and the cat more than anyone I might run into on the street, so why not dress to respect that?

My other goals for the month were also mostly successes:

1) to try to wear the less-used items of my wardrobe and evaluate if they are worth keeping or not. I did! Most pieces are worth keeping; I rediscovered my love for a couple of pieces I thought I hated; and I found a couple things which are going to be donated.

week of 2016.05.02

2) to not buy any new fabric in May but instead focus on finishing projects and fixing up things that need it. Weeeelllll, I didn’t buy any NEW fabric. I mean, barely any. I bought several yards and big pieces from a second-hand store, and I had to order a piece to meet a minimum requirement on some elastics and finishings I was ordering. And despite not buying anything new, I didn’t make as much progress on the unfinished projects as I would have hoped. In fact, I didn’t work on any of them at all. But I did add several to the trash pile, so that’s a success.

week of 2016.05.09

3) to make progress on my Sew ’16 goals. As of now, I count that I’ve completed 4 goals (Newbie, Good Enough, Share the Love, Same Same But Different) and have a solid start on 3 more (Let It Go, Dream the Impossible Dream, Inspired). I ought to finish 8 by the end of June if I want to finish 16 by December.

week of 2016.05.16 but 16 was holiday

4) to sew more slowly and mindfully; a wonderful success. I set up three boxes next to my sewing area to hold my current projects – three projects at a time, no more. Each project has to be either finished or tossed: no more UFOs! I started a notebook of ideas so I can work out plans and problems before starting sewing. Unlike last May, I didn’t let myself get caught up in “if I finish this tonight I can wear it for tomorrow’s selfie!” In fact, I think I only finished one thing this whole month, which has to be a record low for me. And it was great!

week of 2016.05.23

5) to tidy up my sewing area and supplies. This was also my part of goal for MAGAM’s Mad May theme: to tackle the storage area under the bed. At the beginning of May it was a messy pile of scraps, larger pieces, half-finished projects, clothes waiting to be refashioned, and … who knows what else. Now it’s a tidy (small) collection of fabric pieces big enough to make something from, a very few garments waiting to be refashioned, and muslins from previous projects.

And it’s never too early to think ahead; I already know my goal for next year: to wear all me-made-clothes every day of the month, and have one day a week which is 100% me-made. Meaning everything from shoes, undies, jacket etc. That should give me something to work for in the next 11 months!

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