Ever since I made my first trench coat last year (you know… the one in the amazing lace), I’ve been thinking of how to improve on it. Not that the lace coat needed a lot of improving – I mean, not to toot my own horn or anything (toot toot), but it’s pretty brilliant on it’s own. However, I knew there were a few things on the original that could use some updating.
For one, I needed a coat that was a lighter weight. In these transitional spring days (specifically – when I wake up and it’s 50 degrees outside, then suddenly turns 80 by afternoon… I mean, what the fuck, weather?), a lightweight coat is a nice thing to have around. My lace Robson was a little tooo heavy, my Minoru a little too fall-esque (don’t get me wrong, though, I LOVE THAT COAT and I wear it all the time… in the fall) and obviously I can’t wear my big awesome plaid coat right now. Cardigans do work, but I wanted something that would also protect me from the rain (because, let’s be real, wet wool smells like shit).
I knew I wanted to make another Robson – I’ve wanted to make another since, well, right after I finished the first one. It’s just a fun pattern to put together – it’s very detailed, there is a lot of fiddly work involved (with all the bias binding and topstitching), but it comes together sooo well. Plus, it looks super polished and who says I can’t have two trench coats amirite?
I spent several months looking for a good fabric – and to be honest, I initially had my heart set on making a classic tan trench. I’ve always loved the way those look – talk about polished! However, I couldn’t find a good twill fabric – either it had stretch (a personal no-no when it comes to coatmaking), or it was the wrong weight, or the color was off.
This cotton/poly reversible polka dot fabric ended up linked to me via one of Mood Fabric’s sale emails – y’all ever sign up for those? They are, in one word, dangerous. Fabrics for half off! Aiee!! As soon as I saw the fabric and the price ($7 a yard YESSSS), I knew it was meant to be. I bought 3 yards and it ended up on my doorstep a few days later.
Guys. This is basically my DREAM coat. The polka dots make it sooo much more fun than if it had just been a borin ol’ tan coat. I’m so glad I came across this fabric, and that I snapped it up when I did. I admit I was initially afraid it would be a little too lightweight for the structure of a trench – and it is pretty lightweight, it’s not super warm or anything (but, like I said, I don’t need super warmth right now so that’s fine with me!) – but once I got in the facings and the hem, it holds it’s shape pretty well. It has a nice crisp drape and the poly content in the fabric gives it a subtle sheen that I think looks really nice for this sort of garment.
Plus, it’s reversible! Meaning the inside still looks cool as shit, but I didn’t have to line it to make it that way :D Yay!
Since I’ve already once talked at length into the making of this coat (well, the lace version… you can see the posts here and here, if you’re curious!), I’ll just go over what I changed for this coat.
I think the biggest/most noticeable change is that it’s much shorter than the pattern is designed to be. I always felt like the lace one was a liiiittle too long on me – and not always the most flattering. The shorter length on the polka dot one is definitely more casual, which I like! To get this one hip length, I actually just put on the lace coat and measured how much to take off to get it where I wanted it, and then added my hem allowance and cut off the bottom of the pattern pieces. I usually use the lengthen/shorten lines (cos, duh, that’s what they’re there for), but I wanted my coat to be slightly more flared and I also felt that the waist length was fine… I just wanted to shorten the length below the waist. I think it worked out pretty well!
I also raised the pockets on my trench – the pockets on the lace one are WAY too low, and I never use them (like, I can barely get my hands in them ahaha). Again, I just put the trench on and measured where I wanted the pockets to hit – I think I raised them close to 2″. They’re about 1″ below the belt looks, which for me was the perfect spot. Now I can actually use my pockets!
One last thing I did was narrow the width of the front storm flaps on this trench – on my lace one, they have a tendency to stick out, and it’s pretty annoying! I wasn’t sure how to fix that, so ultimately I ended up putting on the lace trench (gah, most expensive muslin ever hahaha) and pinning out where there seemed to be excess flap, which I then measured and shaved off the pattern pieces. I think it was something like 1/2″, reduced to nothing – basically, if you look at the pattern piece, it’s where the bottom of the flap curves out by the armhole. After I cut that off, the flaps stay flat like they should.
Other than the above changes, I didn’t do anything else to the pattern. I did size this one down to the 0, so it’s smaller than the lace one (which I’ve lately felt like is a liiiiitle big). Other than that, I made no sizing adjustments and I did not stray from the directions!
I agonized for waaaay longer than I should have over what buttons to use for this coat. Initially, I had picked plain navy buttons – boring! Then I chose some cool cream buttons with a gold ring around the edge, but once they came in, they just looked all sorts of wrong with the coat. Of course, at this point we were pushing deadline, so I didn’t have time to reorder (and THANK GOD Mood returns buttons, because that was like $30 right there haha! More than I spent on the fabric! Whyyy are buttons so expensive?), so I turned to my stash for a solution.
Aren’t they cool, though? I got them from my Mamaw a few years ago – she used to work for a garment factory, and when they ultimately closed down, she came bearing loads of sewing notions. Mostly buttons and huge spools of thread, which my mom and I split. I have several jars of these gold buttons (with two different crests), silver buttons, and leather-wrapped buttons (in brown and black). I think she said they were used on Tommy Hilfiger coats? HA! Thanks for the buttons, I guess, Tommy!
Working with this fabric was pretty easy. I used a Microtex 90/10 needle and tried to be mindful of my pins (since it does like to show pin marks and where you’ve ripped out stitches – although getting it good with the steam iron makes most of the holes disappear). I was a little afraid that the polyester content would make this hard to press, but it played nice with the iron, so that’s good! The only thing that sucked is that it doesn’t ease terribly well, so I have a little bit of puckering at the sleeve caps, oh well!
Since the fabric isn’t too thick (despite being double-faced) and it pressed well, I chose to use the remaining yardage to make bias binding for all the insides. I used the same side I used for the exterior of the coat – I think it gives a nice contrast the wrong side!
Finally (yes, I’m wrapping up here, sorry y’all!), I swapped the tie belt with a gold buckle, to match the buttons. I think it gives the coat a nice final touch, plus, I just love buckles! I shortened the tie drastically and interfaced it for some extra stability.
One thing I want to mention is that I actually waterproofed this bad boy! I used Scotch Gard and, well, just sprayed the everloving shit out of it and left it to dry overnight. I actually finished this coat a couple of weeks ago (the photos were taken the Saturday before Mother’s day), and I’ve been wearing it ever since, due to a random cold snap. I’ve managed to wear it in light drizzle *and* for Bike to Work Day (where there was also a light drizzle), and it’s definitely waterproof! Dunno how well the waterproofing works for torrential downpour or anything like that, but it works for the purposes I intended :) This is my first experience using this stuff, so while I can’t vouch for it in the long-term, I’ll be sure to post an update in a few months :)
That’s it! Probably way too long of a post for something I’ve made twice (and already discussed at length), but hopefully this helps some of y’all who may have been on the fence about making this pattern or wanted to make the same changes I did.
Also! Landon took these photos for me – aren’t they nice? We actually shot these in my parent’s back yard, right above the creek that I used to play in as a kid :) That big plot of dirt behind me is actually my dad’s former garden (I say former because he moved everything closer to the house and put it in raised beds), although I think he’s going to plant corn there later this summer. If you think the garden looks huge, it is. It’s fucking gigantic and probably bigger than my house and yes, I’m spoiled with fresh vegetables all summer. Omg I can’t wait for tomato season.
Oh, right, and also – it’s my birthday today! Yay!! I’m 29 – and one year closer to 30 :) Think I might treat myself to a new Bernina foot soon, cos, well, I love buying myself presents. Ha!
Bye for now!!