When I originally posted my Vogue coat muslin posts, there was quite a bit of interest about what goes in the process of making a coat from start to finish. I’m not one to tease, so here’s a glimpse into what I’ve been up to, coat-wise, for the past couple of weeks.
The first thing I should mention is that coat-making isn’t hard. It is time consuming, for sure, but anyone with a few projects under their belt could easily tackle this. It might take you a couple of months, and you may have some hair-pulling moments (either with deciphering instructions or actually trying follow them), but it’s doable. I don’t know who started this whole thing of ~omg coat-making is so hard~ (probably the same person who said that sewing with knits was also difficult. Nope! It sure ain’t!), but, ugh, just ignore them. It’s not hard. It’s time consuming, it’s expensive, and you definitely need to muslin the shit out of your pattern before you even think about cutting into your coating… but in reality, it’s not terribly different from making a lined skirt or dress. You just need to follow a few more steps. You can also totally omit the whole tailoring part, with the special interfacing and padstitching and bound button holes and all that – and then shit gets super easy (well, as super easy as sewing a lined garment can get :)). Personally, I don’t see the point in spending all that money on a garment if you’re not going to go all out and do the whole nine yards, but then again, I think tailoring is fun. So do what you will.
My first task, post-muslin, was to start cutting the plaid coating. I won’t go into detail on that process – basically the same steps as the tutorial I posted on matching plaid – and it took foreverrrr. Seriously, I think I spent close to three hours just cutting the outside fabric! WOOF. I also had to cut interfacing (I am using hair canvas, which is a hefty interfacing commonly used for tailoring purposes, such as coats!), lining, and silk organza. The silk organza was a last-minute addition – I originally wasn’t planning on underlining, although the pattern calls for it, since I don’t need my coating to be super warm in our mild winters. However, my pattern is a fairly structured peacoat, and the coating has a bit of a loose weave, so I decided to underline with silk organza to give it that nice crisp hand without adding a lot of bulk or unneeded warmth.
Silk organza can be expensive, and some people like to use poly if it’s not touching the skin… but personally, if I’m going to dump all this time and money into a coat, the couple dollars in price difference doesn’t really effect my final budget. So I went with silk, since it presses nicely along with the wool.
The bonus part of using an organza underlining (or really, any underlining at all) is that you can mark directly on the underlining and you don’t have to worry about it showing through the coat fabric. I totally use a sharpie. Go ahead, judge me.
I underlined my pieces flat on my tabletop (see this tutorial if you need more info on underlining!), using silk basting thread and going alllll the way around each piece. Every piece is underlined except the facing – only because I ran out of silk organza :). I will be interfacing that piece with a fusible. This process took a long time, but it’s pretty relaxing work – perfect for grabbing the computer and watching shitty documentaries. That’s my excuse, and I’m sticking to it.
After underlining, it was time to put in the bound button holes!
I was actually a little scared of this part! I don’t know why – I’ve sewn plenty of successful bound button holes in my day, and used a different technique each time. Maybe I’m out of practice, but for whatever reason, I was not looking forward to this part and I definitely put it off for like, a week. Which is shitty because bound button holes are the kind of thing that get done before you do any other work on the coat, so that meant the project was put on hold until I got my ass in gear and put those damn button holes in the front piece!
To make my button holes, I wanted to try yet another technique, so I downloaded Karen’s e-book on bound button holes and followed her instructions. Folks, these are the prettiest, most perfect button holes I’ve ever made on the first try. Seriously! If you have any concerns about doing these, or have fucked them up in the past, you should definitely check out her book. I think I paid about $3.50 for it after the rate conversion. For $3.50, you really have no excuses.
I mean – look at them! I even managed to match up the plaid on that particular one, ha!
As I mentioned previously, the instructions include all the steps needed for a fully tailored coat, so fortunately I don’t need to compile a list of steps and modify the pattern to suit my needs. They are a little different from the previous coats I’ve made, in that some of the pieces are sewn together before you start with the interfacing and pad stitching. Personally, I like to do all that before I assemble the rest of the coat because it makes it easier to handle, but I’m also a stickler for following instructions. So, I attached the pocket, the front and side pieces (being careful to match up the plaid, which for some reason took me like an HOUR. Shifty plaid, go die.). I attached the interfacing using long basting stitches with my silk thread. This took a while, but I also recently rediscovered all my favorite awful pop-punk and ska bands from my youth, so I may or may not have had a personal dance party in the process.
Here you can see some of the details – the hair canvas, the uneven permanent basting with the silk thread, my underlining, the pressed open seams. It’s coming along, that’s for sure!
Next, I sewed my twill tape to the roll line of the collar. This will help the collar keep it’s shape as a wear it, since the twill tape will dictate how it falls at the fold line. You measure your twill tape to the length of the roll line, then subtract 1/4″ from the length and ease the coating to the tape and catch stitch it down. Pretty simple, but it makes a huge difference in the finished coat.
I also marked my pad stitching lines on the collar, but I forgot to take a photo. I totally used that sharpie, too. Ha!
So that’s where we are now! The coat fronts have been mostly assembled – I just need to pad stitch the collar, and it’ll be ready to attach to the back and side back pieces. Obviously, it’s not anywhere near completion, but that doesn’t stop me from pinning it to my dress form and pretending it’s a coat. Call it inspiration, or call it a kick in the pants, or whatever. Either way, I’d love to finish this by Christmas, but we’ll see!
I know the plaid looks like it doesn’t match in those pictures, but the fronts are not properly overlapped. Trust me. Three hours of cutting means all the plaid fucking matches, dammit.
What’s on your sewing table this week?