I made my winter coat. I finished it well over a month ago but I haven’t been able to photograph it because I’ve been waiting for a good bit of snow and outside picture sessions are limited due to light to the weekends.
I picked it up originally when I was pregnant with Sam because I thought it would be a good maternity coat with the empire seam (the waist seam actually sits a little lower than an empire would–I know because I always have to lower the length on empires because of my bust). Indeed I still think it would be extremely easy to alter for maternity, but in the end I couldn’t justify spending that much time on a garment that would offer me very little use. I filed the pattern away.
Post pregnancy, I pretty much hate empire waists. But when I decided that I could no longer ignore this crazy beautiful teal wool I scored from a darling PR’er who was cleaning out her stash (I think I paid $30 all told for over 4 yards of this plus matching silk thread and buttons), I kept coming back to the neck on this pattern. Being a scarf lover, a lapel hater, and a beginner in tailoring, it all seemed too good to pass up. My muslin turned out really well and surprisingly flattering, so I decided to forge ahead.
It took me 2 solid naptimes to cut everything out. Because of the thickness of the wool, I had to cut it single layer, which of course took twice as long. I decided to interline it with cotton flannel for warmth because there’s a 0% chance that I’m taking the time to make a coat and have it not be warm. The lining is a random poly I found in the clearance section at Denver Fabrics. I liked the vintage travel print, it was slippery enough, and it matched well with the wool.
My husband was out of town for a week in October, so you better believe I used up every naptime and late nights that week working. I was keeping track of my time just to see how long this project took me, and though I lost official track, I’d say it took me around 25 hours. A big project for sure, but not as unreasonable as I had originally thought a coat to be.
As for tailoring, I drafted a back stay from muslin and catchstitched down all of the horizontal seams. This was really necessary because though this wool pressed really well, the thickness was far too much for the seams to lay flat when pressed. It’s nearly critical to do this on the shoulder seam. It is shaped like an L because the neck edge of the shoulder seam forms the funnel neck.
Because of this, you cannot press the seam unless the allowances are catchstitched open first. The beauty of the thickness of this wool is that I could easily and quickly catchstich completely invisibly. I topstitched the princess seams to take care of the same issue while adding a nice detail.
I popped in small 1/2″ shoulder pads for a nice smooth appearance. The shoulders are a hair wide in an 8 (I’m starting to think I need to measure my shoulders again because it seems that the last few patterns I’ve made have been “a hair” too wide in the shoulders–I might need a narrow shoulder adjustment), but the shoulder pads make that a little less obvious.
I bagged the lining which was way simpler, cleaner and faster than whatever craziness Vogue was telling you to do. *Mystery* poly was a surprising delight to sew with–particularly after I hand basted on the flannel for interlining. It didn’t even slip and slide as I was cutting it. I was really grateful for not having to cut it too in a single layer. I like poly too as a lining too because I freeze in rayon, its available in a lot more fun prints and way cheaper than silk.
Though I had matching buttons, they were a bit too small for this project, so I covered two for the closure and added a large snap at the top to keep the neck closed. The pattern calls for raw piping to be used for button loops. I can’t imagine that looking all that great. I made quick loops by taking 2 1″ wide strips and a strip of Steam-a-Seam along one edge. I folded and fused over the SAS, which gave me a nice crisp edge (useful notion for such thick wool) folded over that and topstitched. Because my wool didn’t ravel this worked out. If you have a wool that will ravel you would have to cut the strip wider to accomodate another fold to meet in the middle before you topstitched the loop.
I’m so pleased with how this coat turned out. In September Sewaholic wrote about what scares you about making a coat. It was a really thought provoking post. I think I commented to the effect of “Nothing, I think I’m ready to tackle a coat”, and really I was. There was nothing about this project that I felt like was beyond me which shows me how much I’ve grown in the past year. My brain kind of went squishy after I finished this project for a week, but I will attribute that to the magnitude of this project in comparison to my normal project duration which is about 1 or 2 naptimes.
My full review is here. As for you, dear readers, have you sewn much outerwear? Speaking of Sewaholic, Will you be jumping on the Minoru bandwagon in January? I’m on the fence about it as I already want to do PR’s Jeans contest and it is going on at the same time as the Minoru sew along.