When buying my camel-coloured coating, I had envisioned a classic coat with dark buttons and lapels. I even bought some dark buttons to go with it.
Upon getting home, I began to doubt.
I have literally never even sewn a shirt collar. Let alone lapels on a coat, which are more tailored. And how would a masculine-styled coat fit with my wardrobe? So I began to think of a more feminine, vintage-style of coat. The kind that looks like a dress: fitted on top and with a flared skirt. I didn’t know how well this style would go with my camel-coloured coating, but I took the plunge.
Designing the “Coat-Dress”
I started with my tailored jacket pattern block. I cut it off at the waist and added princess seams. Tracing off of my A-line skirt pattern, I added gores to this to line up with the bodice princess seams. This became the bottom half of the coat. My tailored jacket pattern block comes with a two-piece sleeve pattern so I used that too. Waist ties make everything look better so I designed one of those into the coat.
I decided on a simple straight collar, like a turtleneck. Wanting to avoid buttonholes, I opted for a (hopefully) invisible hook and eye closure.
So, how did my lazy coat-pattern-making work out?
Princess Seams Fiasco
Usually, a mock-up is a good idea. However, lately sewing had been low on my priority list and I knew if I added a mock-up on top of it all this coat would never get done.
Instead, I sewed the lining of the coat first, which became a mock-up of sorts. There were some errors right away. The princess seams needed reshaping, as they were bulging out in odd places. The two piece sleeves had the same problem. Trying on the coat lining, I pinned out the excess fabric, and resewed the problem-seams. This had to be repeated a few times before everything fit properly. Finally, I traced the changes I had made onto my coat pattern pieces (I hadn’t yet cut out my coating pieces).
For the collar and centre-front portions of the coat lining, I used the outer coating material to create facings.
Outer Coat Sewing: The Perpetually Unfinished Coat
Next I tackled the outer coat sewing. This was straightforward since I’d already done the legwork with the lining. But the hardest part was yet to come.
I now had two “coats”- one made of the blue lining material and the other of my camel-coloured coating. How would I attach them? By hand, of course. It would be slower but it seemed the most straightforward approach, having never done this before. I pressed the seam allowances on the two coats inward and invisibly hand-stitched them together ( is this called ladder stitch?)
The most tedious portion was the hem of the coat, since it was so flared and wide. For the hem of the skirt and the sleeves I simply folded the outer coating inward so there was an interior band of coating at the edge.
So, why did this project never end? There were two problems that upon “finishing” the coat caused me to hang it up in my closet with no intention of ever wearing it. The main issue was the hook and eye closure, which I will get to in the next paragraph. The second issue was more ambiguous. It looked too homemade. Not polished. However, I realized that if I added some hand top stitching to some or all of the seams, this really transformed it from an ugly duckling coat into something I was proud to wear. There is just something about hand-finishing that beautifies clothing. Doing this top-stitching not only added that extra love, it also streamlined and polished some of the seams which had been too bulgy.
I hand top-stitched the centre front seams, layer the skirt and sleeve hems, and even some of the collar seams. This gave it a mix between a hand-quilted and a couture look.
Coat Closure Issues
This coat had some serious closure issues. I had pictured a totally invisible hook and eye closure. In reality, despite using heavy duty hook and eyes, the coat gaped at the front. I tried adding more hook and eyes which didn’t fix the problem, so finally I added an extra band of fabric to overlap the centre front and cover the gaping. Problem solved! Perhaps I should have created buttonholes in the first place, but I am happy with how the invisible closure looks, especially with the waist belt. For my first coat project ever, I am quite happy with it.
What about you?
Have you ever sewn a coat? If so, was it frustrating or fun? What do you think about a hook and eye closure for a coat? Let me know in the comments below.
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