It’s all finished! And I’m in love. Completely smitten.
The supplies and pattern for this project (which you can read more about here) were from my husband for my birthday and it is easily one of the best birthday presents I have ever had! It just kept on giving! I have loved every stage of bringing this coat into reality – from pattern and fabric selection to learning to sew with wool and now wearing it out and about. It has taken me just under 2 weeks to get it finished from fabric cutting to wearing.
Because it was never going to be a quick project I really enjoyed taking my time over every stage (even the cutting out and block fusing my interfacing!) I made two muslins in the end as I fell between a size 6 and 8. I was closer to a size 6 but I found the muslin too restricting and cutting under my arms when I was reaching forward. So I tried a size 8 – only to find the fit much better through the arms and shoulders but too big everywhere else. I decided to grade from a size 8 across the shoulders and arms to a size 6 below the armscythe just to pull it in – I was really nervous about making the changes to all the right pattern pieces but I just took my time. By the way – there is probably a much better way of pattern adjusting for the fit issues I was having – but I didn’t really know where to start so I stuck with my usual grading between sizes! I am pleased I made the changes though as they have worked and I really wanted a good fit through the bust so that the a-line style looked neat and not too loose.
I made the decision to interface all my wool fabric to give it plenty of body – and also to avoid having to cut out extra pieces of interfacing (laziness really!). I used my kitchen table as a giant ironing board and followed the instruction as described in this post to ‘spot fuse’. It worked brilliantly and I had everything fused and cut out in an evening.
After this I followed Heather Lou’s excellent sewalong. I was able to do most stages in an evening and took my time. I loved working with my beautiful wool melton fabric. A joy to sew and I was completely geeking out over how fun it was to press the seams into shape.
Anyway. I did have a little stumble along the way in that the lining fabric I had chosen was fraying like crazy and I was really concerned about it being robust enough to withstand the stresses of coat wearing. I decided to take a trip to my trusty local fabric shop and get some advice from the lovely Lauren over at Guthrie and Ghani. Between us we decided that it wasn’t going to cut it….so I picked a blue stripy lining and we managed to squeeze the pattern pieces onto 1.3m (excluding pockets)! Much better – phew. I was back on track.
One of the things this project has done to me is that I am constantly eyeing up everyones outerwear. The school run has become a source of inspiration – so many different coat styles and so many different details! On one such occasion I had a moment when I spotted piping detail between the lining and facing of a fellow mum’s coat. I was sold and by the time I got home I turned my sewing box upside down to find what I was sure I had: Prym duchesse satin bias binding in red – it was from my SewBrum goodie bag!
I’ve never sewn piping before – but I was sure it wouldn’t be too taxing. I read up on a few tutorials – and came across the suggestion to use wonder tape instead of pins to secure the piping to the fabric and help secure it round corners. That evening I had it all sewn on and it was a breeze! I love the extra detail and splash of added colour.
My next big decision was buttons or snaps. I love the giant snaps that Heather used on her coat – but I also love the detailing that buttons can add. Eventually I opted for buttons just on the collar and snaps for the body of the coat – to give it a minimalistic touch and clean lines.
However, I also knew that the buttonholes on my machine leave a lot to be desired! So I went for learning another new skill – bound buttonholes. There are plenty of tutorials on the web – but I used this one over on Colette Patterns. I realised as I started to read about it that you should complete this step right at the beginning! Luckily I had only sewn up the shell by this point so it was easy enough to add them in. They are not perfect, but a respectable first attempt! Ironically my first one was my best – I got a bit cocky and wasn’t as precise with my second.
After all the details had been added in it was time to bag the lining. I have to say that in preparing for this stage I read the instructions and sewalong a few times and each time was left feeling more than a little nervous as to what on earth half the instructions were talking about. BUT as soon as I started it became so clear – I just stitched where Heather said to stitch, cut where she said to cut and tried not to let my brain overthink! It was pretty magical to see it turn through so perfectly! It took me a couple of evenings to make all the finishing touches such as anchoring the lining and adding the buttons / snaps. The snaps….oh the snaps! They took so much longer than I was expecting! They also had a habit of shifting around until I realised that a strip of wonder tape on the back of them was a great way of keeping them in position until I had them properly sewn down.
I have loved making this coat – and I love wearing it! I am really proud of what I have managed to accomplish – especially when at this point a year ago I hadn’t made a single item of clothing. Not one. Ever. It’s great to take on a challenge and realise that you can learn as you go – and for most things being able to sew a line of stitching and read a pattern are all the skills you really need. So…. what’s your next challenge?