Tailoring the Vogue Coat

5 Dec

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.

Vogue Coat WIP

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!

Vogue Coat WIP

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.

Vogue Coat WIP

I mean – look at them! I even managed to match up the plaid on that particular one, ha!

Vogue Coat WIP

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.

Vogue Coat WIP

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!

Vogue Coat WIP

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!

Vogue Coat WIP

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?


60 Responses to “Tailoring the Vogue Coat”

  1. knitmo December 5, 2013 at 1:32 pm #

    This week I have sewn a velvet and sparkly skirt for my daughter to wear to the Christmas concert tonight and Christmas quilts for all three minons. One is all done. One is quilted and I’ve started hand stitching the binding on and the third is assembled but not quilted.

    I enjoyed the post on tailoring. I’ve not done it yet, but I want to. Since my winter coat is in shaky repair (there was a terrible incident with a cart at the grocery store) I am upping my resolve to actually sew a good winter coat for an frigid Iowa winter before next winter. My dream? A Belstaff style that Sherlock Holmes wears in BBC’s Sherlock.

  2. Rach December 5, 2013 at 1:38 pm #

    That is SOME tailoring right there. I’m so envious of your patience, my coat took me a weekend but probably isn’t half as beautiful as yours is going to be. x

  3. Beth B. December 5, 2013 at 1:41 pm #

    I interrupted my reading of a tailoring book to gobble up this post 🙂 About to start on a second muslin for a pea coat for my husband. I was also hoping to have it done by Christmas…we’ll see!

    • LLADYBIRD December 5, 2013 at 4:24 pm #

      Multiple muslins are such a pain in the ass! At least you know the fit will be perfect once you start working on the actual coat 🙂 Good luck with your deadline – maybe we can hold each other accountable? 🙂 Haha!

  4. Addie Gecas December 5, 2013 at 1:42 pm #

    I was so hoping you would do a post like this! No matter how many posts on tailoring I read, it still gives me butterflies. (Is that weird? Okay, yes, it’s weird.) I’m planning to make two coats next semester for my senior collection and this is getting me so excited to dive in!

    Your coat looks GORGEOUS so far, and I can’t wait to see more! If you do any more progress posts, just know you’ll have at least one voracious reader!

  5. gingermakes December 5, 2013 at 1:42 pm #

    This is really coming together beautifully! I don’t know why, but I always love seeing coat-in-progress posts on sewing blogs– it’s so inspirational!

  6. Mary Elizabeth December 5, 2013 at 1:58 pm #

    I have a trench coat that I’ve been working on foreverrrrr. It’s just stalled because after I did the welt pockets, I realized that they were too low, despite having been placed according to the pattern. Now I can’t decide if it would be worth the effort of tearing out alll that fucking stitching and redoing them. Ugh.

    Right now, I’m working on a pair of 40’s pants for myself for a bigass swing dance camp that I’m going to at the end of the month and a fancy vest for my father, who’s a professional Santa Claus and needs a new vest for his Santa suit.

    • LLADYBIRD December 5, 2013 at 4:29 pm #

      Dude, as someone who has been there done that with the welt pockets (on my Robson coat) – just suck it up and unpick them. Yes, it sucks, but what sucks worse is having a finished coat with pockets that in the wrong place. I never use my Robson pockets and it’s a shame, because they’re so pretty. They’re just too low, on an otherwise perfect coat. If you can rip them out and redo them in the right place, it’s worth the extra effort. Seriously!

      Also, I really really really love that your dad is a professional Santa Claus. Like, I’m so tickled right now. And you are making his vest!! Ahh, I love this comment so much!

      • Mary Elizabeth December 6, 2013 at 12:20 am #

        Yeah, I know that I should, but uggghhh it’s going to be like pulling teeth. And haha, thanks! Next summer I’ll hopefully be making a new full Santa suit for him. That will be quite the blog post when it’s finished…

  7. Kelly December 5, 2013 at 2:17 pm #

    Wow, I am impressed with all that work, it is looking great so far! I would imagine coat making is one of those things that is overwhelming when looking at the whole process, but when you break it down to each step is not so bad? I just started a Minoru jacket- baby steps to an actual coat 🙂

    • LLADYBIRD December 5, 2013 at 4:30 pm #

      Pretty much! You just take things one step at a time and they all come together quite nicely 🙂 If you’re working on a Minoru, you’ve already got a leg in the coat-making process!:)

  8. didyoumakethat December 5, 2013 at 2:23 pm #

    Thank you SO much for the shout out on the ebook. Your coat looks amazing and your buttonholes are plaid perfection. Can’t wait to see the finished item. You just get better and better.

    • LLADYBIRD December 5, 2013 at 4:30 pm #

      Thank you SO much for writing that ebook! It’s so fabulous, and my bound button holes have never looked better. I can’t wait to do the clean finish on the facing – I think that’ll really make them look ace 🙂

    • Angela December 6, 2013 at 10:02 am #

      i already have it, and will second Lauren – it is great!

  9. Jenny December 5, 2013 at 2:26 pm #

    This is so inspirational but also totally freaking me out! I’m just starting to make my first coat, and I feel like there are so many tips and tricks out there that it’s unclear which ones are really important – for instance, I love the twill tape tip but never heard of it before! Do you have any books or tutorials in particular that you’ve been following for the tailoring aspects?


    • LLADYBIRD December 5, 2013 at 4:34 pm #

      Don’t let it freak out you! Coat-making can be as simple or complicated as you want it to be 🙂 Since you’re copying a RTW, you could easily just go the standard construction that came with your pattern and it would be fine. Or you can go all out and include the fun interfacings and stitches… or maybe just meet somewhere in the middle. Have you seen the Lady Grey Sewalong that Gertie hosted a few years ago? There is TONS of great information on making a coat (I made my first coat following this sewalong, and I still refer to it from time to time), plus photos and videos. Hands down, the best free resource I’ve found on the ‘nets. Check it out!

      • Jenny December 6, 2013 at 12:15 pm #

        Thanks! I just checked out Gertie’s sewalong and it is amazing (no surprise, of course) – just a case of jumping in now… eek!

    • Addie Marie December 5, 2013 at 11:55 pm #

      Another great reference, if you’re looking for a book, is the Singer Tailoring book (http://www.amazon.com/Tailoring-Singer-Sewing-Reference-Library/dp/0865732426). It has step-by-step instructions and clear photos and while the garments are hilariously outdated, the tips are flawless. You can buy it used for a pittance — mine was $3 from Abe Books!

      • Jenny December 6, 2013 at 12:16 pm #

        Excellent, I’ll have a look to see if I can get a cheap copy 🙂 Thanks!

  10. Peter December 5, 2013 at 2:59 pm #

    Looking good, Lauren! Can’t wait to see the finished coat.

  11. Emmie B December 5, 2013 at 3:19 pm #

    I’m feeling bad. In all the million things I got from the tailor who was retiring, One of the two things i left behind was the hair canvas. I couldn’t think of what I would use it in (clearly because I’m not up on my coat making) and now I feel like a dope. Argh!

    • LLADYBIRD December 5, 2013 at 4:40 pm #

      Oh nooooo!! Don’t feel too terrible; at least it’s not some kind of super valuable commodity that you can’t buy new now, you know? And I’m sure someone ended up with that hair canvas, and are thrilled with their stash 🙂

      • Emmie December 9, 2013 at 10:25 am #

        I contacted him and he still has it!

  12. denimskirtsetcKa December 5, 2013 at 3:21 pm #

    Great post Lauren. Useful info for when I get round to making a tailored coat.

  13. The Nerdy Seamstress December 5, 2013 at 3:33 pm #

    Oh my goodness! You’re my idol! I wish I had your mad sewing skills. One day, one day. As I was reading your post, I see these white dots coming from the gingham. I’m like what in the world? Are my eyes playing tricks on me? Ha. Of course I was hypnotized by it as I am right now. 😛 I think it’s adorable, both the coat and the snow flakes. I can’t wait to see it finished. I want to make a wool plaid coat with bound button holes too. I have my fabric ready and a pattern picked (Pavot), but I’m just deathly scared.

    • LLADYBIRD December 5, 2013 at 4:42 pm #

      Haha! Yes, I love the little snowflakes 🙂 I think they’re just here for December! And ooh, I can’t wait to see your Pavot. I want that pattern sooo bad, but I’m on a tight budget so shit’s gotta wait… for now. I’ll live vicariously through you, instead!

    • Emily January 19, 2014 at 7:59 am #

      Hi! I know I’m “late to the party” here, but I also am about to start a Pavot, and was wondering about bound buttonholes. Have you gotten there yet? I’m curious how those would work on the vertical, since you have to put the buttonhole in vertically (or do you??). I would love to hear more about your experience!

      • LLADYBIRD January 19, 2014 at 3:12 pm #

        I know this comment isn’t meant for me, so pardon my butting in 🙂 I’ve actually never seen a vertical bound button hole, so I’m not sure if they would work that way. My advice is to make a swatch and try it out, or just rotate those bad boys and make them horizontal. I think most coats tend to have horizontal button holes, yes? Or did I just make that up?

        • dressingtherole January 20, 2014 at 7:50 pm #

          Thanks for the suggestion – will definitely do a sample! I googled “bound buttonhole” and got literally about a hundred hits of horizontal ones and one vertical one. Looks like most coats use horizontal ones – the Pavot has vertical buttonholes (the pattern doesn’t call for bound buttonholes, I’m just and over-achiever :P) since the button placket/front facing is pretty narrow, so horizontal buttonholes would end up too close to the edge and cause gaping.

  14. Bella December 5, 2013 at 3:40 pm #

    Hi! Your coat is looking great. I feel inspired. Couple of questions: it looks like your organza is permanently basted to your seam allowances, right? How about the hair canvas? Are those basting stitches permanent, and if so, is it just tacked to the organza and not the outer fabric? Otherwise wouldn’t the stitches show on the outside? Just trying to get my head around the logistics of it all. I’m keen to start my own coat in a couple months, ready for the Southern Hemisphere winter.

    • LLADYBIRD December 5, 2013 at 4:45 pm #

      Nope, the organza is actually just a temporary baste. Once I attach the pieces together by machine, I pull out the basting stitches so the seam allowances can hang free. I don’t think it truly matters one way or the other, although taking out the basting stitches does make things neater (not that anyone will see it, but *I* know!). For the hair canvas, it is permanently basted to both the organza and the outer fabric. The long side of the stitches are only on the inside (where you can see them), and I only pick up the tiiiiinest little bit of thread from the coating fabric. You can’t see it at all. These need to stay permanent so that the canvas stays flush with the coating. I hope this makes sense!

      • Bella December 9, 2013 at 8:34 pm #

        Yes that does make sense. Thank you!

  15. tillybuttons December 5, 2013 at 4:02 pm #

    Ahhh… this is looking beauuuutiful, Lauren. Awesome fabric choice. I’m so impressed with all the work you’re putting into the structure of this coat, it’ll be a beaut for sure. That Karen is a dear, isn’t she? xxx

  16. Kim December 5, 2013 at 4:52 pm #

    Wow your bound buttonholes look amazing! The rest of the coat looks really good already too 😉 I really love the construction pics. Looking forward to seeing the rest! As you already know from Instagram, I’m working on another Archer, a plaid one! With the help of your tutorial, super thanks for that!

  17. Nancy Bymers December 5, 2013 at 5:23 pm #

    I’m working on the Pendleton 49’er I mentioned after your post about matching plaids. I skipped the bound buttonholes, but now knowing that you do it before you attach the facing will be my excuse. My mom and eldest sister were master bound buttonholers. I have yet to even do a practice one.

    • LLADYBIRD December 8, 2013 at 12:46 pm #

      You should get you that ebook 😉

  18. Lisa McMahan December 5, 2013 at 5:31 pm #

    I was so encouraged to see your post on coat making. Even though I don’t have a ton of experience I couldn’t help myself and ordered a pattern from Jamie Christina for her Abbey Coat. It is so cute; I have to give it a go. I’ll be making muslins over my Christmas break along with a few other things. I’ll be referring to the tips on this post to help me succeed. Thanks for sharing!

    • LLADYBIRD December 8, 2013 at 12:46 pm #

      Ah, I love the Abbey Coat! I totally have the pattern too, been meaning to make it up 🙂 Can’t wait to see yours!

  19. macstabby December 5, 2013 at 6:36 pm #

    Super cool! I do not have the patience for that kind of matching.

    I recently heard Mighty Mighty Bosstones on the radio while in my car- I jammed the fuck out while driving home from work hahaha.

    • LLADYBIRD December 8, 2013 at 12:47 pm #

      Times like that are when I really really love driving 🙂 haha!

  20. kelt December 5, 2013 at 7:16 pm #

    “the plaid fucking matches, dammit” has to be the funniest thing I’ve ever read on a sewing blog!

  21. Amy W December 5, 2013 at 8:19 pm #

    I love the plaid! The finished coat is going to look great!! I think I’m going to attempt a coat later next year in time for winter. Currently I’m working on projects for others- party skirt for a friend, shirt and shorts for my little nephew, top and leggings for my niece. This was my first attempt at knits and it was easy. I’m so glad I crossed over to using knits.

    • LLADYBIRD December 8, 2013 at 12:47 pm #

      Knits are SO self-gratifying to sew, are they not? 🙂 Welcome to the dark side!

  22. carolinascallin December 5, 2013 at 9:53 pm #

    Impressive plaid matching! Seriously, this is a great project and I’m loving following along 🙂 That tip about the twill tape on the collar was pretty neat! So much work goes into making a coat! It’s going to be fabulous when you finish it – can’t wait to see the finished product!

    PS…LOVING your snow 😉

  23. Jen (stitchynotions) December 6, 2013 at 6:02 am #

    Wow, what a fantastic post. Very encouraging for us scaredy cat newbie sewists. Having said that I am tackling the Albion coat for my husband. You give so many helpful tips.. amazing. Your fabric looks great, can’t wait to see the finished article!

  24. Blue Sunday December 6, 2013 at 11:04 am #

    Love this coat. I can only aspire!!

  25. symondezyn December 6, 2013 at 1:53 pm #

    Thanks for sharing your process! I’m planning a tailored coat soon and while I’m at least mostly confident in my tailoring/hand sewing abilities, fully tailoring a coat (including bound buttonholes) is still uncharted waters for me so it’s kind of comforting to follow your progress too 🙂

    I also wanted to say that a) “Shifty plaid, go die” made me seriously LOL at work here, and b) (this is gonna sound weird) but the other night I actually FINALLY got time to get some sewing in and I was feeling my motivation wane, when I actually briefly (unconsciously) channeled YOU, and was like ‘not gonna let this silk win… I can CONQUER this sleeve” and totally did… so thank you for being an inspiration, even subconsciously! 🙂

  26. Jo December 6, 2013 at 4:51 pm #

    Thanks for taking the fear factor out of coats. You know I’m so sick of people putting dread on new techniques, lol! Stuff those annoying people who that say knits are hard too! You make it seem like making a coat is attainable which is awesome. I totally want to make one now heh. But the expense is enough to stop me for now haha. This is going to look so rad and thanks for all the cool in progress shots and explanations! 🙂

    • LLADYBIRD December 8, 2013 at 12:49 pm #

      Yeah… it definitely gets expensive. I think my first coat cost me like $350+! But I also bought too much fabric (it was a Colette pattern) and most of the tools/notions I spent $$ on covered multiple projects. The second coat I made cost considerably less. If you got the fabric on sale and skipped the heavy tailoring, you could easily make a coat for under $100 🙂

  27. sallie December 9, 2013 at 11:45 am #

    Woohoo!! This is looking awesome!! And thanks for the behind the scenes! I’m going to get working on my first EVER coat after Xmas (I mitigated the ‘expensive’ factor by asking for a lot of the supplies from Santa… that Santa… he’s always looking out for us sewists!) I was kinda pumped to do the all-out tailoring, but I think the pattern I chose won’t require a lot of it. However! It was super helpful to hear that you only underlined in silk organza because I was debating on what to use for underlining, if I wanted to go for heavy duty warmth or not… good to know another Southern gal who skips that part!

  28. maddie January 10, 2014 at 12:26 pm #

    Lauren, this post will SOOO come in handy for me this year! On my list of garments to sew is Pauline Alice’s Ninot Jacket. After reading your completed post yesterday, I came back to check out the details of how you made it. You rocked this coat! I’ve made a coat before, but I have forgotten a lot of the intricacies.

    Question – you underlined the entire jacket with silk organza (except the front facing, which is fused). Is there any reason why? Were any of the other pieces fused? I’m going back and forth about how I’m going to construct my coat, and whether to fully fuse or underline is a question.

    • LLADYBIRD January 10, 2014 at 6:06 pm #

      The only piece I fused was the front and back facing (back facing just being that tiny piece where a tag would be sewn above the lining). I decided to go with that because I wanted my facing to be sturdy, and silk organza underlining really just adds a layer and not actual support (I hope that makes sense! It makes sense in my head, but it’s kind of hard to explain haha). Everything else is underlined in silk organza, since they don’t really need a foundation (the front pieces have a foundation of hair canvas). You could fuse the entire jacket if you wanted to – we did that a lot at Muna’s – but personally, I like the breathability of wool, so fusing an interfacing on top of that seemed to defeat the purpose. By adding a layer of silk, I get the light support I want, with bonus warmth and breathability. The front facing doesn’t matter quite as much in breathability terms, hence the fusing 🙂

      • maddie January 16, 2014 at 12:30 pm #

        Lauren, this totally makes sense! Thank you. I think this is a good route for me in my next jacket. I bid on this fabric – http://www.ebay.com/itm/380815461660?ssPageName=STRK:MEBIDX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1431.l2649 – to make a Ninot jacket. Seriously, how amazing is this?!? Anything that is vintage from an estate sale calls my name. But just like velvet, I’ll have to be careful with pressing because it has a pile and I don’t want to smush it (nice verbiage, eh?). Underlining it in organza won’t make it too stiff (it’s already a stiff fabric), but will still add a tiny bit of structure.

        P.S. Sorry to get back to you so late.

        • LLADYBIRD January 16, 2014 at 12:33 pm #

          Ack, that is beautiful fabric!! I hope you win it (aka pls save me a tiny swatch 😉 haha)

          • maddie January 16, 2014 at 6:29 pm #

            Absolutely 🙂


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