Category Archives: Coat

Coat – finished!

Coat

My coat’s finished! Just in time for autumn, by the looks of the impromptu photoshoot I took with my sister in the park this lovely afternoon. A bit lumpy, bumpy and imperfect it might be, but it turned out perfectly wearable – even a bit cute – so I’m calling it a win.

Coat
Coat
Coat

To recap, I started out with Burda’s Retro Short Coat pattern, but made a bunch of alterations. Briefly: I took all of the gathering out of the front yoke and some out of the back; shortened it; removed the lapels and collar; added a hood; added fastenings; and constructed the facings and linings totally differently. Thanks to my toile-ing the final sew went pretty smoothly; the only thing that didn’t go to plan is the bottom hem because I tried to do this jump hem technique without practicing first. It wound up too short and kind of bulky, although steaming and pressing helped a lot and it pretty much looks OK right? I wonder if topstitching would help it lie even flatter – might give it a go.

Coat

I’m pleased with how neat the welt pockets turned out (I invented a genius construction method involving chalk and sticky tape, which I’ll write up if anyone’s interested), less pleased how they ended up awkwardly close to the bottom due to aforementioned hemming woes. I shortened the pocket bags so at least they fit, but they’re stupidly small now. Wah.

Coat
Coat

Mmm, details. I like the buckles and magnetic hood snap a lot; as well as being practical additions I think they go a long way to making the coat look more professional. The buckles come with holes pre-punched so it was an easy task handsewing them on, though it took nearly a whole episode of Project Runway. The snaps just have prongs which push through the fabric and secure at the back.

Coat
Coat
Coat

I almost like the inside the best, especially the little hang loop and snazzy diagonal plaid across the yoke. I even pattern-matched the checks horizontally across the inner seams, how’s that for attention to detail? I mostly used Jen Grainline’s bagging tutorial to insert the lining but had to alter the process a bit to accommodate the hood. There’s just a few inches handsewn at the back neck, all the other seams were machine sewn from the inside.

Coat
Coat

I decided to tot up the costs (like Karen did for her coat) – here’s the breakdown:

  • Pattern, Burda Retro Short Coat: $5.40 / £3.40
  • Toile fabrics, Rolls & Rems and Ultimate Craft: ~£8 (some leftover)
  • Main fabric, Dalston Mill, 2.5m at £17.50: £43.75
  • Lining, Dalston Mill, 2m at £7.60: £15.20 (some leftover)
  • Gutermann thread and brushed cotton interfacing, Sew Essential: £11 (some leftover)
  • Buckles and magnetic snaps, bag-clasps.co.uk: £13

    Total: £94.35

    That’s probably more than I’d usually spend on a RTW coat because I’m a cheapskate, but in terms of a learning experience and getting a totally unique (albeit slightly wobbly) coat, I am happy with the investment.

    Coat
    Coat

    I think this coat might mark a turning point in my sewing, actually. Up until now I’ve considered myself in ‘training mode’: buying mostly cheap fabrics and rushing through constructions, not paying much attention to the overall finish and details in favour of fast gratification. For this coat I really took my time and enjoyed the process for what it was: a learning experience, a wealth of new techniques to master, an investment in time and materials. Certainly it showed I still have a long way to go, but it proved to myself that I am able to be patient and methodical and see how it pays off.

    Phew, essay over. Anyone else making a coat this year? I feel like this may not be my last.

  • Coat progress

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    Finally, one pretty much finished coat toile. Er, yes, it looks a bit different to last time. After my previous toile I had another rethink, looking at my old coat that I love and realising I wanted to tweak a few things to make it more similar.

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    The major adjustment was adding a hood, something I decided I didn’t want to be without over the rainy British winter. This meant scrapping the old lapel and collar – fine by me as they were proving a pain to construct. Making the hood was really straightforward: I traced the pieces (2 x lining, facing and outer) from my other coat and assembled it all leaving the neckline edge open.

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    Then I removed the collar and facings from my toile, cut the front neckline edge straight across, and stitched the outside edge of the hood to the shell of my coat. Pleasingly the hood fitted perfectly around the neckline with no further adjustments needed. (I took this photo before removing the facings – realised it was better to attach the facings to the lining rather than the coat fronts at this stage.)

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    All raw edges nicely enclosed by the lining. I’ll put some kind of fastening on the flappy bits so I can close it up around my neck when it gets really chilly. I’ll also interface it on the final coat to make it stiffer and sturdier. I think I’ll also put a fastening on the coat front where the facing naturally turns: probably a cool pleather buckle of some sort inspired by Meg’s awesome take on this pattern.

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    Sorry for the rubbish photo. Ugh, so dark and gloomy this week. Lining the toile actually turned out to be pretty painless – but only because I completely ignored the pattern instructions and instead mostly followed Jen Grainline’s tutorial. It made MUCH more sense, especially being able to see photos for each step. I’ve also removed even more of the excess fabric from the front and sides so it bares scant resemblance to the original pattern now, in both looks and construction.

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    I’ve bought my final fabric! Dalston Mill came through – thank you Clare for the tip. I found this pettably soft charcoal wool with an almost peachskin finish for £17.50 a metre. (Reluctantly given up on the colourblocking idea as the likelihood of finding two perfect shades in the same wool seemed near impossible.) It’s a slightly stressful place to shop, with barely enough space to squeeze through the cramped aisles and the pushy shop staff watching you like hawks, ready to swoop if you dare touch the bolts of fabric on your own. But they have an amazing range of wool coatings and suitings, and probably anything else you would ever need too.

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    I especially lurve my lining: a brushed check in moody bruise-y shades of brown, blue and green at £7.60/m. I hope it will peek out here and there as it’s too pretty to be hidden inside. Might even do the welts in it, y/n?

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    Speaking of which, I’m getting lots of practice in on the welts before doing the real thing. Accuracy is not my forte and you really, really need your stitching to be spot on for these to look good. I am already loving working with this coating though, it presses and sews up a dream. Now to cut it up and get going for real… *deep breath*

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    (Josh also picked out this light wool plaid at Dalston Mill for himself, which he’s requested a winter button-down shirt in. Eek, sewing for someone else will be my next challenge!)

    Coat planning: the toile(s)

    Planning and toile-ing this coat has been a very interesting experience, and my most unique sewing project to date. I’m most definitely a dive-in type of sewist, and usually finish a project in one or two sittings. But with this one it’s been draped over my mannequin for weeks, the pattern pieces reworked and reworked, seams ripped and re-drafted. There are a lot of fit adjustments and new skills to pick up to get this right – and I really want to get it right. Plus it’s getting increasingly urgent as the temperature’s really starting to drop and I’m determined to not buy a coat.

    This is where I’m at now: toile number 2, made with my cheap Rolls & Rems ponte knit. The first toile wound up huge, with masses of loose fabric everywhere despite cutting the smallest size to allow for ease. I know the pattern is supposed to be roomy, but it drowned me! I ripped it apart and chopped away at the pattern pieces to remove the excess fabric. I took nearly all of the gathering out of the fronts, slimmed the sleeves and took a good few inches off the hem. Feeling much better now. (Ignore the woeful first attempt at welt pockets – definitely need more practice at those.)

    The collar construction is confusing me a whole lot: I think I got correctly to this point, but the next direction says: ‘Pin back attachment seams together. In back, turn facing up again and stitch seam allowances together, close to collar attachment seams’. WHAT? Which are those seams?! This is where diagrams would be real useful, Burda. Can anyone help?

    The next step is the dry run at adding lining, which I am dreading. The Burda instructions are again completely impenetrable and I simply can’t envision how it’ll all stitch together without diagrams or photos of the finished inside to refer to.

    The ponte knit I’m toile-ing with probably isn’t helping matters: it’s heavy and stretchy, causing unwanted weight and drag, so I have to start considering how my final fabric will behave. The pattern actually recommends gabardine, but I’d really prefer to use a wool of some sort. I’m going to New York in a couple of weeks, so will definitely be hitting the famous Mood to try and find something perfect. (Can anyone recommend other NYC fabric shop must-visits?)

    Coat planning

    So I’m really not one to start looking forward to autumn/winter after the first couple of weeks of summer. I dread it to be honest: I’m definitely a sunny weather person and my SAD kicks in as soon as the cold and dark starts drawing in. But here’s one thing to look forward to: I’ve decided to sew myself a nice autumnal jacket/coat this year. I’ve had the same short, swing-y royal blue duffel coat for about 7 years because I haven’t found anything I like as much in the shops, and it definitely needs to be retired soon. I think it’d be a great challenge to set myself to make my own this year, and it means I can design it exactly how I want. I know I want something colour blocked, probably in browns and greys. Pockets are obviously a requirement, and it must look good over both skinny jeans and dresses. I rarely get that cold in London so I don’t need anything too heavy and ‘coaty’, and I’ll be cycling so lots of armhole movement is a must.

    coatplan1

    My current frontrunner is this Burda short swing coat, a copy of an original 50s style. It’s pretty similar to my old duffel, though I’m a bit worried about the very voluminous shape and heavy yoke gathering – could get a bit unflattering. It would be easy to colourblock since the yoke and sleeves are separate pieces to the main body. Fabric choice would be really important here: it needs some weightiness to make it hang nicely but anything too thick will make the gathers monstrous. I’m considering a boiled wool but wonder if the grey ponte knit I picked up at Rolls and Rems would work out ok. I’ve already bought and pieced together this pattern, but the typically Burda-style lack of detail in the instructions is worrying me already. Welt pockets, lining, collar facings… eek! I think a practice toile is definitely in order first.

    Any other jacket/coat patterns you’ve seen that you think might fit my criteria? And any tips for where to look for coating fabrics in London? I think that feeling up the fabrics in person will be important to get the right weight I’m after.