December 2, 2013

Coatly ambitions

I’ve been sewing for about 3 years now, and seem to have a followed a pretty classic trajectory if other sewing bloggers are anything to go by. To wit:
– Ooooh I’m going to learn to sew and make dresses and FUN!
– Aha, this is quite tricky. OK, I’ll make some napkins and a cushion
– Right, now I’ll make a wrap skirt (no buttons or zips, eek!) out of whimsical quilting cotton
– Hmm I’ll brave a zip…. well that wasn’t *too* bad.
– Stretchy stuff: now *that* would be good to sew… slow progress.
…. until, well, now I’m reasonably confident attempting most basic things: skirts, dresses, tops, button-down shirts, even, on occasion, trousers (admittedly, infant and sleeping trousers only so far).
However two major sewing milestones lie ahead: the wedding dress and the coat.
So, in absence of anyone to marry right now, I’m making a coat! (Purely a process of elimination, you understand).
I have had a long-beloved coat from Soia and Kyo for a few years now, procured “accidentally” from a local boutique when I was just meant to go out for a pint of milk. Oops. It’s made of a very heavy black wool twill, with this amazing huge collar that sticks up and makes my (large) head look small (guest appearance from my Mum here!)
However, incessant wearing through Boston winters has not served this poor coat well, alas.

I attempted to find a new coat while in London a few weeks ago, but sadly, my “inbetweenie” size caused me frustration once again. Too big for Max Mara and other nice coat purveyors; too small for the plus-size brands like Marina Rinaldi. This is of course one of the reasons I took up sewing – and led to the refreshing realisation that it really *is* the clothes that don’t fit you, not a problem with you not fitting the clothes. That’s not to say that sewing doesn’t bring its own frustrations – Mary eloquently explained this recently in a fabulous post – but this is a classic case of sewing saving the day.
So, I’m going to try to copy my coat. My approach is to take a basic pattern, Simplicity 1759 View A,  which has the same bones as my coat, with a princess seam, fairly simple lines and in-seam pockets – and then draft my own collar. The good news is that the collar on my old coat is very simple – just one piece that’s interfaced a lot and folded over. I’ve never copied anything before but I reckon a single piece of fabric is a good place to start…
With most sewing projects, the ability to make things look professional depends on a lot of tips and tricks that the patterns don’t tell you (quite why they don’t, I’m not sure). I’ll be following a couple of tutorials – Kenneth D. King’s Carefree Fly Coat BluPrint course; a back stay tutorial thanks to Sewaholic; and a lining tutorial by Grainline Studio.
I picked out my fabric last month at Mood in New York. I went looking for a black twill to match my existing coat but none of them really wowed me – and when I’m going to be spending this much time on something, I need (demand!) to be wowed. Instead, I stumbled across this gorgeous Marc Jacobs boucle wool and it cried out to me. It’s hard to photograph but it’s a dark black interspersed with silvery white threads. The buttons I got from a totally crazy Iranian button-seller in the Garment District. I got some high quality weft interfacing from Fashion Sewing Supply, Kasha lining (satin with a fleece backing) on the recommendation of Gertie from B&J, and also got some Thinsulate from B&J which apparently will make it toasty warm.

So that’s the plan! The challenge now is to make this thing before it gets too warm to wear it… (interspersed with Christmas sewing, of course).

Do you have any tips, dear sewists of the blogosphere? I’m slightly afraid of spending mucho time and money on something that doesn’t look good in the end… I need all the help I can get!

**This post was updated 10 Jan 19 to reflect the change of Craftsy to BluPrint.

4 thoughts on “Coatly ambitions

  1. T says:

    Oooh … lovely fabric and you’re brave in tackling a coat. I’ve only ever made two and they were like being in a sewing war! I got some really rubbishy cheap nylon coating to make a muslin on my second one, as you need to see how the bulk of the fabric works when you make a toile (rather than using a thinner material) as it makes a big difference with fit and the hang of the garment. My other tip would be to change your needle often as I found some of the thick layers really made it blunt quickly and then the seams weren’t as good. Lastly, I would only tackle sewing it on days when you have plenty of time … as I remember sewing a coat took ages and I think must have warped the time space continuum in some way. Definitely not a thing to be sewn in haste! Good luck with your coat sewing. I’m looking forward to seeing the finished silvery sparkleness!

  2. Jenny says:

    Thanks for the advice! I was about to make my muslin out of… muslin, but you’re right – I should try to get some cheap coating. I think a trip to JoAnns may be in my future…

  3. Carolyn says:

    Good luck with your coat! I’m sure you’ll do a fantastic job, Simplicity instructions are usually pretty good 🙂

  4. Jenny says:

    Thanks so much Carolyn! I love your blog – especially your fabric printing is so inspirational 🙂

Let me know what you think!