My latest coat adventure started when I was reorganizing my fabric stash. I always say I don't really have that much fabric accumulated - but what I do have is starting to spill out of the shelves where it should reside and threatening to take over the spare bedroom. Yes, it is my guest bedroom, although if I have a guest I then have to do some serious tidying to expose the actual bed. Because it is so convenient to toss any new purchase or accumulation on top of the bed - for a future time when I will put it away. Ha! Who wants to put things away neatly when there are better ways to spend my time? Like actually sewing, or being outside enjoying our seemingly endless summer weather, or just about anything else.
So after a good look at the accumulation, and knowing I was going to New York with the high likelihood that I would buy some fabric there, I decided to see what exactly was taking up space. You know what takes up a lot of space? Wool coating fabric. No matter how you fold that stuff it is bulky. And I still had a large piece of this green wool coating - previous used in part on my Tri-Color Coat. This realization combined with a Burda pattern release where I fell hard for the idea of a peacoat. Here's the Burda pattern that grabbed me, Burda Detachable Fur Collar Coat 10/2016 # 119. So I promptly purchased that downloadable PDF from their website and got to work making a muslin.
Which was OK, but just not quite my thing.
I did like the welt pockets that give it a casual peacoat look, and the lapels, while large are proportional and just right for this style. But I am just not a fan of double breasted coats. In theory I like them, they look so sharp and stylish, but wearing, I always feel like there is too much fabric, particularly when it is not buttoned. Also this coat has a princess seam side panel, so no actual side seam and that makes fitting just a little bit more work.
Anyway - I was looking at it on my dress form and though, hmmmmm, very similar to another pattern I have already made - which fits perfectly - my black wool coat. Which I made at the end of 2010. It pays to keep good patterns!
Here's the pattern I used, Simplicity 2311. I mentioned this pattern on Instagram a while ago saying that it was discontinued, but Simplicity commented that it was still available. I think it is a really good pattern. with a lot of options in the envelope (you know I love a pattern with multiple views).
Onward to sewing details. I happened to take a lot of photos while sewing this one - so this is for all of you who like to see the construction details up close :) That is the beauty of sewing a pattern repeat: no fitting, just sewing.
First up - buttonholes. Well actually first up is cutting out, doing all the pattern markings with tailor's tacks, applying the interfacing and then it's time to get down to actual sewing.
As you can see, I love being able to mark on the inside of coats or other wool garment that have interfacing, you can use a lead pencil and it is so easy to see. The dart in the top left corner is marked in pencil, actually connecting the dots of the tailor's tacks. Then I mark the placement of the buttonholes with pencil on the interfacing side. Then use silk thread to do a thread trace of the actual buttonhole. The vertical lines are just as important as the horizontal, as they keep the buttonholes in a line down the front of the garment.
Next I place the buttonhole welts on the right side of the fabric. I tend to use 1/4" wide welts on thick coating fabric, mostly because they look proportional and also because I can't seem to make them any narrower in thick fabric like this.
This is where the vertical lines come into play. Using them I run a trace of chalk perpendicular to the stitch line, which tells me where to start and stop stitching.
There it is, stitching in a purple-blue thread so I could actually see what I was doing. OH yes, make it easy on my eyeballs and use a thread shade just a bit different than your fabric for spots that are fussy and the stitching won't show - so much easier to see what is what.
Gratuitous presser foot shot. Also - I count the stitches. WHAT? Yep I do. So the needle goes in, and I stitch forward 3, back 3, then forward counting until I get to the end, then back 3. And if all goes well than each buttonhole will be the exact number of stitches.
Here is the backside of the buttonhole.
Where I pull the threads to the wrong side and tie a knot. Necessary? I dunno. Just the way I was taught so I do it. Plus there are little sewing tasks that give pleasure, and for some reason I like to tie knots. In fact I have to keep myself from doing it in unnecessary places!
OK, just a few more views of this buttonhole. And yes, I do draw the slice. Which I do with a sharp scissors - it is so important to get those little triangles the right size.
As with any thick fabric it is a bit fiddly to flip the welts inside, but a good press and steam gets them nice and flat.
All done! well almost. The facing isn't sewn on so that step where you attach the facings to the buttonhole is still to come but that is a lot later in the process.
Onward to other parts of the coat. The two sides of this fabric seem indistinguishable but I don't want to risk it, so I mark all the wrong sides with tailors' wax chalk.
Also I can't stand it when I can see the pocket lining on a side seam, it's one of those things that once I see it I can't look anywhere else and it spoils the garment for me. Ditto for novelty linings - I've seen lots of garments on blogs etc with printed or contrast linings and think, oh cute! But when I sew something, particularly a coat I want the lining to disappear. So I extend the pocket seam allowance at the pocket placement and then the pocket lining starts about 1" further into the pocket. That lining will never peek out.
As for the inside of the buttonholes - jumping ahead in the construction, typically I would slice the facing open over the buttonhole. Yes I boldly slice (after basting the facing in a little square around the periphery of the buttonhole so it stays in place and oriented over the buttonhole exactly. And then just flip the fabric inside and hand stitch. Which was impossible in this thick fabric. So I hand stitched the first one and didn't really like the result. For numbers 2 and 3 I machine stitched in the ditch around the buttonhole and trimmed away the fabric. Much better. I should have done that with the first one but oh well. And defied my usual rule of making test and practice buttonholes.
So not my neatest finish but workable and if anyone is close enough to examine my stitching I would probably give them a swift kick. Unless I invite you to scrutinize - which I probably would at some sewing meet-up where we all compare notes and details.
By the way - the buttons I bought at Stone Mountain - my go-to spot for buttons. Aren't they a perfect match and just enough detail to add a little something extra to the coat.
Next up, the collar and lapel. Which I will reserve for the subsequent post as this one is getting a bit long.
By the way - even though I moan and groan about the end of summer and not liking the fall patterns, I have quite a few finished items so lots of blog posts for the rest of this year. And with some rain returning the weather is cooperating for some sitting down with my laptop and a cup of coffee.
By the way - over the weekend I planted about 100 tulip and daffodil bulbs. As I do it I think "one for me and one for the squirrels" my garden nemesis! (nemeses?) anyway I hope to see them in springtime. The bulbs - not the squirrels.
More to come on this coat, collar, lapels, extra interfacing, trimming. All the fun stuff.
And my shipment from Kashi at Metro Textiles in New York arrived this week, so now I have to decide which of my latest fabric purchases I will start with.
Happy almost Halloween sewing. I make a solemn vow each year never to enter Joann Fabrics the week prior to Halloween - it is downright scary in there with the costume sewers and the fleece. Oh the fleece - who buys it? what do they make? It is an avalanche of fleece. And most of it feels so plastic-y. Eek.
Today's garden photo, despite the change in the weather still a few rose blooms struggling to appear.