Sewing the Robson Trench Coat

22 Apr

Spoiler: There are no finished projects in this post, sry2say! I’ve been working on this coat for the past week, and I thought it might be beneficial to show some progress photos as well as share some tips πŸ™‚

Anyway, let’s get down to business. Have y’all seen the newest addition to Sewaholic patterns – Robson Coat?! AHHH. I’m on Tasia’s pattern tester email list, and every time she sends out an email for testing, I’m almost always too busy with current projects/too poor to buy fabric (as was this case) so I have to pass… and I always think, “Man, I’m going to regret passing on this.” Sure enough, when the official announcement came out, I considered punching myself in the face out of frustration, because, FUCK. That coat is awesome and I need one, weather be dammed.

What really sealed the deal for me was getting an eyeful of Novita’s lace version. It’s just jaw-droppingly beautiful, and I immediately wanted to be a shameless copycat and make my own version (of course I asked first ;)).

This is the lace I am using for my coat:
Robson Progress - lace fabric
It’s from Mood, of course, and I think I bought the last of the bolt in the store so you can’t have it nyah nyah nyah πŸ˜‰ It’s labeled an outwear fabric, and it’s nice and weighty for a trench coat. At $20 a yard, it was definitely a splurge (and remember – I had to buy underlining, bias binding, buttons, thread, interfacing, all that fun stuff!), but I recalled Novita saying she only used 4m to make hers, so I ordered 4 yards and it was just enough. Yay! The lace is underlined with navy cotton sateen, and the bias binding is made with white/navy polka dot cotton batiste.

I’m not going to sugarcoat – this jacket requires quite a bit of stamina to make, as it takes a loong time. I spent at least 8 hours just prepping the dang thing, before I even got to sewing! Cutting the fabric pieces (twice, since they are underlined), making my own bias binding (because I clearly don’t have enough to do as it is), attaching the interfacing, basting the underlined pieces together, marking the notches, etc etc. I chose to do all this before I started sewing, just to get it out of the way.

Robson Progress - fusing interfacing

My garment press made fusing interfacing fun! I just stuck the pieces in the press, sprayed them with water, and set a timer on my phone for 30 seconds. After 30 seconds, I flipped the pieces, sprayed them again, and fused for another 30 seconds. Since the press doesn’t require you to stand over it and hold it down (like an iron), I could get other things done in the meantime…

Robson Progress - thread

Such as prepping my thread and winding bobbins. My bobbin winder is amazing and self-motorized (no holding down the pedal!), so I was actually winding bobbins, fusing interfacing, AND dicking around on Instagram at the same time! GLORY.

Since my coat has several different colors going on, I am using three different thread colors. Part of what is making this take so long is that I have to keep changing out the thread with practically every step!

Robson Progress

Deciding on how I would handle the underlining took a lot of thought. Since my lace is see-through and the inside of the coat is not lined, I had to take that into consideration when it came to fusing the (BRIGHT WHITE) interfacing to my pieces. Thankfully, all the interfaced pieces do require a facing on the opposite side, so I simply fused my underlining to the wrong side of my cotton sateen.

Robson Progress - underlining

Then I stacked the lace on the sateen and basted the pieces together – all 30+ of them (yeah, there are a LOT of pieces in this pattern!). THAT PART TOOK FOREVER AND EVER AND EVER. Thankfully, I was able to get them machine-basted, which definitely sped up the process – I think I would have cried if I had to hand-baste all that!

More info on underlining can be found in this blog post, fyi!

Robson Progress - test button hole

I also had to consider how my button holes would look on the lace. Fortunately, my machine makes pretty awesome button holes, so combined with my new button hole cutter, I think they look pretty profesh, yeah?

I was planning to do a whole series of posts on this coat – but honestly, once I started sewing (like, actually sewing, and not prep :B), it’s pretty fast and straight forward! There isn’t a lot to elaborate on as far as the instructions are concerned. I did want to share a how I dealt with the binding, though – the instructions just have you fold the binding in half and wrap around the edges of the seam allowance (as like this), which is fine when you’re working with a lighter weight fabric – but not two thicker fabrics sewn together! I actually tried to bind a seam as per the instructions, and then laughed for about 20 minutes when I saw how ugly and sad it turned out!

So here’s my advice to you~ for those bound seams-

Robson Progress - trimming seam allowances

First, pull your seam allowances apart (you will need to remove the basting stitches holding the layers together) and trim down the shell fabric to 1/4″. This will greatly reduce the bulk of your seams, making it easier to wrap the bias binding around the remaining seam allowances.

Robson Progress - trimmed seam allowances

Here is the seam with the shell fabric (blue lace) trimmed down. You may also want to trim down your underlining at this point – not too much, just enough to get the edges even if they aren’t already. As a sidenote, sorry about all the thread/cat hair. Apparently, cotton sateen is a magnet for EVERYTHING. Who woulda thought?

Robson Progress - bias binding

Open one side of your bias tape and pin it to the seam allowances, right sides together with raw edges matching.

Robson Progress - bias binding

Sew the bias tape to the seam allowances – try to get your stitching line right along the opened fold. I use a long basting stitch for this step; it’s really just to keep things in place while you top stitch.

Robson Progress - bias binding

When you flip the binding to the other side, it should naturally fall into place.

Robson Progress - bias binding

Top stitch with a matching thread. See how nice that looks? It’s an extra step for sure, but totally worth it in my opinion. With a thicker fabric, it can be hard to get that tiny bias tape folded around the edge with an even stitch and both sides caught in the fold. I’d rather take my time and get things done right the first time, rather than try to take short-cuts that result in a personal one-on-one with my seam ripper πŸ™‚

Robson Progress - grading seams

Another tip if you’re sewing the Robson is to be sure to aggressively grade those seam allowances by the collar, because they can get real thick real fast.

Robson Progress

I have the body mostly done at this point and it’s become quite a beast to wrangle under the sewing machine. I’ve taken to pulling my top drawer out and using it as a tabletop for the bulk of the coat.

fucking cat
fucking cat

Since all the interior seams are finished with binding, I haven’t needed my serger at all for this project – so I took the opportunity to take it in for it’s yearly cleaning/maintenance. As you can see, Amelia is pissed that she has to share her ~window seat~ with that dumb ol’ machine.

Anyway, it’s look great so far-

Robson Progress
Robson Progress

I love how nicely that collar rolls! Just beautiful!

I plan to have this finished within the next week or so. Since it’s for the Mood Sewing Network, The Big Reveal won’t be until May – sorry! I’m such a tease.


65 Responses to “Sewing the Robson Trench Coat”

  1. Sarah W. April 22, 2013 at 2:48 pm #


  2. iveta April 22, 2013 at 2:56 pm #


  3. Lori April 22, 2013 at 3:02 pm #

    This is stunning, I loved that fabric when I got the sample. Your trench is going to be spectacular!

    • LLADYBIRD April 23, 2013 at 9:02 am #

      Me too! I was trying SO HARD to come up with an excuse to buy it, perfect timing for that pattern release πŸ˜€

  4. Luba Grosman April 22, 2013 at 3:12 pm #

    Nice. Even though I don’t understand half the stuff you are talking about, being a beginner at sewing, I love your style of writing and the pieces (at least most of them). I think it would take me a few years before I tackle a coat like this one.

  5. designcloseup April 22, 2013 at 3:15 pm #

    Really love your choice of fabric…best of luck to finish your coat!

  6. K-Line April 22, 2013 at 3:18 pm #

    It’s gonna be gorgeous! And I am so jealous of that press. You really do have all the gizmos.

    • LLADYBIRD April 23, 2013 at 9:03 am #

      I am definitely building a gizmo collection… although, let’s be fair, I wouldn’t have any of this stuff if I didn’t have access to such an awesome flea market πŸ™‚

  7. Gjeometry April 22, 2013 at 3:21 pm #

    Woah!!! The Robson in Lace!!! So divine, can’t wait to see it! And, your cat is adorable, Kitty says to say “meow”.

  8. blancapate April 22, 2013 at 3:48 pm #

    That fabric looks AMAZING!!! I’m jealous already… πŸ˜‰ It looks like a lot of work though, but with that many pieces – GEEZ, I’m not surprised!! I’m like you, I try to get the underlining and prep all done at once so when I sit down to actually sew, it takes no time at all.

    Can’t wait to see the finished coat!!


  9. sewbusylizzy April 22, 2013 at 3:51 pm #

    This is ridiculously gorgeous!

  10. larakrjacobs April 22, 2013 at 4:04 pm #

    This is beautiful! I love that fabric and it looks so well made already x

  11. MarrieB April 22, 2013 at 4:13 pm #

    Your coat is looking great! I’m working on the same pattern right now, and have been sewing my bias tape the same way. πŸ™‚ Can’t wait to see the finished version!

  12. christine haynes April 22, 2013 at 4:51 pm #

    This is seriously gorgeous! Can’t wait to see it all done!

  13. Sarah April 22, 2013 at 5:05 pm #

    This is looking amazing! Fantastic fabric. I am sure it will be worth the work.

  14. Anne W April 22, 2013 at 5:12 pm #

    Looooove that fabric choice! I think I am going to have to get this pattern, can’t wait to see your finished article!

  15. Marie April 22, 2013 at 5:18 pm #

    Oh my, cannot wait to see this finished! Your fabric choice is inspired Lauren! Aaaand, I want a garment press!

  16. Laura April 22, 2013 at 6:35 pm #

    You’re so cute! I am still contemplating whether to tackle such a task as a trench coat!! Anyway, it’s nice to have someone like you express the way I would have felt doing this. Really appreciate your sharing the process and you are oh so talented and fast. I consider you to be a super seamstress given the garments you have made so far, that’s record breaking. Can’t wait to see this finished, ok…I know, it’s tough and I have to be patient! I am sooooo envious of that garment press!

  17. Bec Stitches April 22, 2013 at 6:46 pm #

    Gorgeous! It will look great when its done πŸ™‚
    Wow if it’s taking you a long time, it would take me a year lol.. I think coats will have to wait a couple of years before I tackle them πŸ™‚

  18. annette tirette April 22, 2013 at 6:47 pm #

    Wow! That looks amazing! I made my first Robson in a very basic and cheap navy cotton, but I definitely want to make a special verison one day…

  19. Carlee April 22, 2013 at 7:12 pm #

    That looks incredible! Can’t wait to see it!

  20. Peter April 22, 2013 at 7:20 pm #

    It’s looking great, Lauren. Can’t wait to see the finished coat!

  21. Neeno - Sew Me Love April 22, 2013 at 7:44 pm #

    Fabolous collar!

  22. Megan April 22, 2013 at 7:46 pm #

    Oh, I think it’s going to look so nice with the lace. Can’t wait to see it!

  23. maddie April 22, 2013 at 8:42 pm #

    Whoa. You’re doing a fantastic job! See, isn’t it such a good feeling to do things the right way in the first place, and take the extra time, then fight with a damn seam ripper after?

    I’m super impressed by your press machine. That’s needs another WHOA.

    Thanks for the tip applying the binding – very clever!

  24. Mary Elizabeth April 22, 2013 at 10:23 pm #

    No kidding that this takes forever. I’m working on a trenchcoat too (a Simplicity one- the Robson would require too much alteration for my hourglassy, 43″ bust self) and just acquiring all of my materials and taking the time to get quality stuff is taking so much time, but it’s just as well as I’ve had little time for any of the sewing of it. I have all of the exterior cut out, but I still have to cut the interfacing (I got an order of the good stuff last week) and my lining (which is an awesome AMH voile that was on sale and should be in my hands on Wednesday). This coat will surely earn a “This Took Forever” label.

    • LLADYBIRD April 23, 2013 at 9:05 am #

      Oh yes, but isn’t it worth it? Even just the sewing process is fun (well, for me anyway haha), not to mention getting to wear it! I think I might make a “This Took Forever” label for my coat too, ha!

      • Mary Elizabeth April 23, 2013 at 4:11 pm #

        I have a few of the ones from that one embroidery site kicking around my sewing room. I really need to get one of those “Made with $%@#&” labels because some of my projects really deserve one (my denim Kelly skirt comes to mind… -_-U).

  25. Jen April 22, 2013 at 11:02 pm #

    Wow, your coat looks like it’s going to be amazing!!!! I haven’t bought my pattern yet, but since we are getting into the cooler months here, it’s definitely on my list of things to make!

    • LLADYBIRD April 23, 2013 at 9:07 am #

      Omg totally unrelated but we have the same name… I’m also a Jennifer Lauren. So funny πŸ™‚ NAME TWINZ

  26. KendinDik.Com April 22, 2013 at 11:32 pm #

    Δ°t looks very promising! πŸ™‚

  27. Sandra April 23, 2013 at 1:46 am #

    I love your fabric – quite stunning. I too googled at Novita’s for ages! I’ve spent two half days and I’m just up to the sewing stage. I decided to only attach interlining to the back, sides and sleeves but hand basted because my fabric of choice is crepe backed satin and a polka-dot silk interlining. Can’t wait to see your finished coat.

    • LLADYBIRD April 23, 2013 at 9:05 am #

      OOOH that sounds so fancy!! Want to see!!!!

  28. Novita April 23, 2013 at 5:03 am #

    Oooh this is so exciting! And polkadot binding! Now I regret not having contrast bindings on mine!

  29. Bec April 23, 2013 at 5:11 am #

    Fantastic! Every version I see of this makes me want it more and more! I love your honesty, I hate it when things look quick and easy and they AREN’T! But I also fuse with the iron press, and love it! Thanks for all the tips and ideas you show on your blog too, they all sink in the brain to help me later on (I hope!). We also have identical cats! Spooky!

    • LLADYBIRD April 23, 2013 at 9:06 am #

      Haha no way is this pattern quick! Although it’s pretty straightforward as far as the actual construction goes… just time-consuming. Don’t worry, I’ll never lie to y’all about that shit πŸ™‚

  30. Clipped Curves April 23, 2013 at 5:20 am #

    This is gonna be gorgeous when it’s finished (I have a thing for blue!). Thanks for the tip about binding bulky seams too.

  31. Nicki April 23, 2013 at 5:43 am #

    Cannot wait to see the finished item. Great job on the collar and I love the fabric

  32. CGCouture April 23, 2013 at 8:39 am #

    Mood had better start working on sourcing some more of that fabric in all sorts of amazing color combinations!! I want it in all the colors!! This is like the most amazing trench ever, can’t wait to see the finished pics!

  33. Becca April 23, 2013 at 9:01 am #

    It’s looking good! I LOVE that fabric! I can’t wait to see it finished. You’re going to look gorgeous in that color.

  34. sallie April 23, 2013 at 9:25 am #

    Wow! It looks beautiful!!

  35. tinygoldenpins April 23, 2013 at 9:42 am #

    I’m going to die when I see it. Seriously. Right at the computer. I know it’s freezing cold here in North Carolina so if you finish it soon, I think you’ll get tons of wear out of it. It looks incredible!!!!

  36. Leila April 23, 2013 at 10:34 am #

    I’m so jealous of your sewing toys. I’m guessing I live in a cave or something because I hadn’t thought of doing a lace trench. I actually would like to make the Robson in a clear waterproof material like Gene Hackman’s character in The Conversation.

  37. Kelly April 23, 2013 at 11:03 am #

    Yay, you’re sewing a Robson coat too! I really loved Novita’s version, so I can’t wait to see your coat! Your fabric is beautiful.

  38. Lisa April 23, 2013 at 5:46 pm #

    THAT MATERIAL! On a trench. Brilliant! I love the coat you linked to that Novita made; I can’t wait to see how yours turns out, too! πŸ™‚

  39. Carolyn April 23, 2013 at 6:25 pm #

    It’s looking good! And the binding is perfect with it!

  40. Justina April 23, 2013 at 7:11 pm #

    Wow it’s looking beautiful I love how the lace pops ! Can’t wait to see the finished article !

  41. aem2 April 23, 2013 at 7:39 pm #

    So gorgeous! You really have an eye for cool fabric combinations. I totally want to steal this idea, even though I really don’t need a lace coat…

  42. goodbyevalentino April 23, 2013 at 7:44 pm #

    OK, you have my undivided attention. Can’t wait to see the finished project!

  43. Adrienne April 23, 2013 at 9:31 pm #

    Wow this is looking fantastic! And I bet it’s going to look even more spectacular on you!

  44. gingermakes April 24, 2013 at 8:14 pm #

    Looking GOOD! Can’t wait to see this on you!

  45. kimmie April 24, 2013 at 9:13 pm #

    I’m pretty obsessed with the idea of a lace trench. It like all different awesome things are coming together in a ven diagram. Can’t wait to see the sleeves.

  46. Kelly April 24, 2013 at 10:51 pm #

    Wow, that is going to be beautiful! Can’t wait to see the finished coat! I just bought that same buttonhole cutter but haven’t had an occasion to use it yet πŸ™‚

  47. crystalpleats April 25, 2013 at 12:08 am #

    Great information here! Your coat is going to be amazing. I am in love with Novita’s version, too.

  48. Nicole April 25, 2013 at 10:56 pm #

    Ooh, this is going to be awesome! Underlining is such a ton of work. Yikes! But it looks perfect.

  49. missjoiedevivre April 26, 2013 at 12:47 am #

    Blimey that does sound like a lotta lotta work. But it looks like it’s going to pay off!

  50. Flavie April 26, 2013 at 3:26 am #

    Whoaa ! I can’t wait to see it finished πŸ™‚

  51. thesecretlifeofseams April 26, 2013 at 10:29 am #

    It’s going to be totally stunning, can’t wait!

  52. Kat April 27, 2013 at 12:50 pm #

    An eyelet trench coat! That has to be the hottest garment I have ever seen.

  53. declanc August 13, 2013 at 6:41 am #

    waw!…its amazing…thanks for tips.i am also sewing one coat & this tips are very helpful for me. i have got some new ideas from your post. i know it takes long time but it going to be stunning.your fabric is also luck..


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