I have a few new items to blog about, but getting photos with real daylight in our short storm filled days is currently impossible. However, I have the photos for this coat I made several years ago and I wanted to blog about it, as I am currently working on a new coat.
This may be hard to believe (and I sort of don’t believe it myself) but this coat was only the third or fourth thing I ever made. By the time I tried it I had done a term and a half of adult education evening classes, which had provided an excellent start so I had probably learned more than someone teaching themselves, from books, patterns, or the blogosphere. I had also taken on sleeves, buttons and button holes and collars, so I had dealt with many of the required elements. However, had I been part of the SBC at that time I would never have taken on the challenge of a coat, seeing it as too difficult. As it was, I knew no better, so pressed on myself, and the end result was great – it has lasted three seasons of hard wear.
The pattern I used for this coat is simplicity 2508, one of the project runway designs. The basic lines are princess seams front and back with raglan sleeves – classic lines with lots of possibilities for fit adjustments. It comes with 3 front designs (single and double breasted with a single or double rows of buttons), 4 different collars, 3 different sleeve finishes, 3 different pockets, and optional belt, back tab, back flap and front flaps. I used the double breasted front with a single offset line of buttons and the large offset collar. Other optional details I used include in seam welt pockets, a back tab and a straight sleeve band with feature buttons.
This pattern is OOP, but if you can find a copy I would recommend it wholeheartedly – the number of pattern pieces and design options are phenomenal so it is great value, and they are really classic lines which will stay in style for a long time.
This is also one of the few patterns I have ever made that has fitted me out of the envelope. This is a miracle, and a great bit of luck because at that stage I did not know how to alter a pattern, or make a muslin, and I didn’t know enough to baste as I sewed to check the fit – I sewed and hoped. As it turned out it worked, but I wouldn’t want to rely on it now. The funny thing is that even now I know more I don’t see fit issues – this pattern is a fitting miracle for me that I can’t explain. I just cut and sewed from the envelope, and it worked.
I don’t know much about the fabric I used for this coat – the fabric is a nice coating, but I have no idea of its fibre content – I would guess poly, possibly with a bit of wool if I was lucky. Again I got lucky with this – it was a really nice fabric to work with no fraying. The lining is a standard poly lining. It has started to tear at the seams now after a few years wear – this has taught me lessons about what is necessary to make linings to last. The main coating is a gorgeous rich purple and the lining is in a deep cherry red which work really well.
In terms of sewing techniques I followed the sewing instructions to the letter as written – I knew no better – I interfacing and topstitched as instructed. Even as a beginner I found I could follow the instructions and get a good result – I expected nothing else from pattern instructions, now I know I cannot always expect this, I got lucky again. The only place I am not happy with the finish (even now after three years wear) is the buttonholes – even having practised and done buttonholes before I had issues with my sewing machine and had to unpick some and even those that worked have slightly warped and distorted now.
All in all, I love this coat and I wear it everyday in winter. I have constantly got compliments for it. I know many beginner sewists think of a coat as a big step that is beyond them, but I would encourage them to try it – it might be a challenge, but the rewards will be huge as it is an item which you will wear regularly. My top tips for beginners trying coating (most of which I didn’t know at the time):
- Choose a pattern with ‘easy’ features such as in seam or patch pockets (rather than welt) and plain buttonholes (rather than bound). Also raglan sleeves are easier than fitted, and if you are sewing a lining make sure the pattern that comes with separate lining pieces.
- check the reviews of the patterns you are considering on pattern review to ensure the instructions and pattern pieces are good
- make a mock up garment to check fit
- buy a coating fabric that is firm and not liable to fraying, with not too much stretch. you can tell this by feeling it. the great thing about a good firm coating fabric is it doesn’t need the edges finishing as they don’t fray. Fabrics with a bit of wool take shape really nicely.