I made a coat! I never thought I would in a million years - always been scared of all the tailoring involved. This year I was really in need of a new wool coat and my inner cheapgoat won me over. The coats I like in the shops are usually quite expensive and they don't fit me that well since I'm two sizes bigger around my derriere compared to my bust - I call it extreme pearshape..
Last year I made this coat - or put correctly a coatigan. It didn't involve any tailoring apart from fusible vlieseline and was frankly a really easy make. Last winter I had this thought of one day being able to make a proper wintercoat, but I never imagined I would take the leap this fall.
I'll break up my coatmaking in two blogposts. This first one will be about all the work put into making a coat and the next will be the big reveal. Sit tight if you are curious about coatmaking. It wasn't as hard as I imagined, but I wouldn't recommend it to the faint of hearted or for the very impatient seamstress.
First, a sneakpeak of my finished coat before rambling about all the steps for making a tailored coat.
First, choosing a pattern. I had a picture in my head of the coat I wanted to make. Unfortunately my dreamcoat didn't come with a readymade pattern, so I used pattern no. 102 from the november issue of Burdastyle 2013. This pattern isn't really suited for a wool wintercoat. First of all, its made of linen cut on the bias.. Who wears an unlined linen coat in november? Not in my hemisphere. I decided to change the grainline of the pattern and make a muslin to test the fit, when cut with a more ordinary grainline. I cut the coat one size larger than my usual size, since the wool, interlining and lining are much more bulky than one layer of linen. My muslin showed, that the sleeves were very narrow so I made the sleeves wider - I want to be able to wear a sweater underneath the coat. I used this Threads article on how to make the sleeves wider. On another note - please consider using a two piece sleeve, when making a coat. Your arms doesn't hang straight down your body and so shouldn't your sleeve either. A coat sleeve is usually quite thick and this will result in pull lines across your sleeves if you don't use a two piece. This is especially the case if you use a narrow sleeve and less so with a wider sleeve.
Burdastyle is notoriously known for providing very sparsely sewing guidance. I therefore also bought the book "Tailoring - sewing the perfect jacket" from Amazon. I would never have been able to make this coat without this book. Please ignore the pictures from the eighties - the author knows all about tailoring a jacket. I referred to this book again and again. The book also tells you about the difference between different tailoring methods and where to use them. I highly recommend this book if you are interested in making a tailored coat or jacket.
Second step in my coatmaking was gathering the supplies. I bought this nice kashmir blend wool from Metermeter. It's so soft, but presses beautifully. I bought this lining from Stofdepotet in a darker colour. It's unfortunately now sold out. It is a nice twillweave in a navy-black colour. Since I live in Denmark, I wanted my coat to be really warm so I can use it all winter. I therefore bought a thermal interlining. The interlining is really thin - almost as thin as the lining and doesn't add much bulk - only thing about the interlining is, that you shouldn't put your iron anywhere near it or it will melt. So be careful about the steps in your coatmaking and don't put your interlining in before you have finished pressing your coat.
New to me in this coatmaking process was horsehair canvas. It's a sew in interfacing that adds a crispness to your coat a regular fusible will never do. New to me was also using bees wax to enforce the thread when handsewing. This worked so well and I will surely use this again.
Third, after cutting out all your pieces the tailoring part begins. Some patterns (esp. vintage) will have pattern pieces for the sew in interfacing as well. Since this is a Burdastyle pattern it doesn't. I had to make pattern pieces myself. I'm no expert, but I can tell you how I did it. I cut out sew in interfacing (the horsehair canvas) for the revers seperately and then for the front - see picture below. I also cut out a backstay and back undercollar in horsehair canvas. I used fusible interfacing to stabilize the front and facings. I also used fusible interfacing to stabilize the hemlines on the coatbody and sleeves. I used the advice given in my tailoring book and i'm quite curious how the coat will hold the shape after some wears. I hope the different types of interfacing will make the coat last for more than one season.
This picture shows how I sewed in the horsehair canvas on the back undercollar. I drawed the rounded lines by hand and then used patchsticthing to shape the undercollar to hold is shape.
Here you can see how I interfaced the front pieces. First a generel fusible interfacing (but not on the revers) and then a sew in interfacing on the revers and on the shoulders. Be sure that the sew in interfacing on the revers ends excactly on the foldline, where you want the revers to fold back.
Here you can see how I interfaced the revers. After the sew in interfacing I added a sturdy ribbon - any will do - the green is actually for giftwrapping... - add the ribbon to the edges on the revers but not in the seamallowance. Also add a ribbon on the excact foldline. Mine is black here. Also, note that its really important that you sew the interfacing on the revers in correctly. Its the seamlines that will make the revers fall nicely to the correct side. Here you see my lines. I sewed along the drawn lines on my sew in interfacing.
The coat sure isn't pretty on the inside, but all this is to help build and stabilize the shape of the coat.
I forgot to take pictures of my sleeveheads. The sleeveheads are used to stabilize a nice rounded shoulder and prevent it from collapsing during wear. My tailoring book told me to use lambswool for sleeveheads, but I didn't have any. I turned to instagram for help and the lovely Nanna from How to make fashions told me just to use the wool from my coat. I cut two pieces of the wool on the bias - approximately 3-4 cm wide - and sewed it into the sleeves between the front and back notches (not under the arm) stretching the wool slightly as I sewed. 2-3 cm of the biasstrips were in the sleeves and 1 cm in the coatbody. That way the bias strips will prevent the sleevehead from collapsing. Hope this explanation makes sense?
On the last photos you can see my backstay. I didn't patchstitch my backstay to the back coatpieces. I just sewed the backstay to the seamallowances.
Not shown here is the thermal interlining. I used the lining pattern to cut the thermal interlining but I didn't add seamallowance on the shoulder and for the coat hem and sleeve hem. I sewed the thermal twopiece sleeves together and cut down the seamallowance to a minimum. I then sewed the thermal sleeves to the coatsleeves in the stitching line. I sewed the sideseams on the front and backpieces of the thermal interlining and sewed the thermal interlining to the shoulder seamallowance of the coat body. Remember to cut away as much of the seamallowance of the seam interlining to avoid too much bulk.
The last step of making a coat is to sew in the lining. I didn't do a bagged linning, so I sewed the lining to the facings and then handsewed the hem of the lining to the coat in the sleeves and to the coat hemline.
Are you still here? I´m sure this was quite a long and rather boring read if you are not planning a coat. I hope you can use my ramblings if you are making a coat yourself. Don´t hesitate to ask, if there is anything you would like to hear more about.
Coatmaking isn't that difficult - it just require a lot of patience if you are using the sew in interfacing method. Otherwise it's not more difficult than making a shirt.
How about you - are you making a coat? - and which one are you making?
Stay tuned for the big reveal:)