November 24, 2014

Coating with Cashmerette unveiled! Or, lessons in coatmaking

The never-ending green coat of doom is DONE! 

My goodness, that was an epic project. I started off foolishly thinking it would be fairly straightforward, because I used the same pattern, Simplicity 1759, as I did for the my coat last year which turned out really well. However, there were two major things I didn’t account for: the difference that a different fabric would make (cashmere vs. wool boucle), and the different collar variation – last time I drafted my own big collar, this time I went with view B, which is a sort of standing collar which angles in to the neck.

My many coat-in-progress posts (see them all here!) documented the trials and tribulations I had with the construction… But I managed to perservere with help from the lovely sewing community, and with the exception of some slightly wavy upper right bodice seams the end result was pretty decent.

And perhaps my favourite feature of all is the flamingo lining.. Flamingos for the win! 

But, let’s move onto the elephant in the room. Did you notice that so far all the photos are of the coat undone? Yep, that’s not a coincidence.

Because….. this.

And this. 

 I’m not sure if these photos do it justice but it looks really, really bad done up in person. As in: friends said to me “Oh, I’m sure it doesn’t actually look as bad as you think!” and then they saw it and went “ah, well, I bet you learned a lot!” *sheepish face*.

Of course, we all have wadders from time to time. I won’t deny that it smarts to have a wadder be something where you invested in the fabric and in so much time sewing and re-sewing, but there you go, such is life. I’m not sure that it’s really salvageable because ultimately, the shape just doesn’t suit me – I think it’s mostly the collar and the button positioning (which I can’t change due to bound buttonholes…) – but others think it’s too big around the hips, so let’s face it, it all round doesn’t suit me.

Sigh. Let’s review the things that did work out OK!

The actual collar is kind of fun, even if it doesn’t suit me.

Probably my best bound buttonholes to date (thanks again, Karen!)

All said, I did learn quite a few things from making this coat – in addition to what I figured out last year (full list of coat tutorials here!). 
  • Always make a full muslin of something you’re going to make with expensive fabric – even if you’re just doing a variation of something that worked for you before
  • Always test the interfacing / fabric combination first before you interface the whole thing – it turned out that the combo of my cashmere and proweft interfacing refused to go around curves and therefore had to be ripped out
  • Block fusing sometimes works… and sometimes doesn’t. 
I’m left with a coat which I’m not sure will get much wear, but in the meantime, I’m plotting to make another. Before I started sewing I was always a huge coat fan, and I don’t think that’s going to change anytime soon, coat fail or no coat fail!
Are you working on coat projects this year? Which patterns are you using? And have you ever had an epic coat fail like this? 

93 thoughts on “Coating with Cashmerette unveiled! Or, lessons in coatmaking

  1. Katie says:

    It really doesn’t look bad done up to me! It would be such a shame to make it a wadder after all the work you put in. I love the collar shape and those wee buttonholes.

    1. Jenny says:

      Yeah… it’s much more obvious in person. Oh well!

  2. cidell says:

    It’s a beautiful color. And the fabric is clearly a good one. Do you not like it done up because it’s unflattering or something wonky happened? Your bound buttonholes are perfection. I would keep it unbuttoned just so people could see them 🙂

    1. Jenny says:

      Yes, it’s really unflattering, but it’s hard to see in these photos. However, I guess I’ll wear it undone a bit in the spring!

  3. Caroline says:

    I really love it – but will take your word that it’s not satisfactory since you’ve seen it in person! Your stitching and construction are top-notch. The buttonholes and the collar are fabulous. I hope you get some wear out of it as a spring coat (unbuttoned). The color is wonderful on you.

    1. Jenny says:

      Thank Caroline, yes I love the colour and the quality turned out well in the end. I just learned my lesson not to embark on a big project without a full muslin first…

    2. Caroline says:

      do you think it would work if you cut it down into a jacket? maybe something that you would naturally wear open?

  4. sewmanju says:

    Such a shame you’re not happy with it: colour and buttonholes are lovely. And I like the collar and the top stitching. Ah well, you are the best person to judge it. Hope you might wear it a little!

    1. Jenny says:

      Thanks, I love the colour too! Maybe I’ll have to make another green coat someday..

  5. Sam says:

    It’s a beautiful colour and the quality looks amazing. What a shame you’re not happy with it done up! I know it wouldn’t give you much more room, but could you move the buttons – particularly the top one – over a little more towards the edge? That might help a little with shape.

    1. Jenny says:

      That’s an interesting idea.. I might try it out!

  6. tanyamaile says:

    I still like the coat. The color looks spectacular on you and it doesn’t look bad at all when it’s unbuttoned. So maybe you can wear it with heavier sweaters on casual days? You win some and lose some — it’s only human. It just sucks when it’s something that took a lot of time and money and was meant to be an investment piece. I’m positive your next coat will be fabulous. 🙂

    1. Jenny says:

      Hi Tanya – yeah, I think it’ll basically be a layering piece in the spring/fall vs. a full-on coat. But all contributes to my coat-learning 🙂

  7. Rox says:

    Would a belt help make this more flattering? Its such a shame you don’t like it: I feel your pain.

    1. Jenny says:

      Hi Rox – the problem is mostly the “closed” neckline which sadly a belt doesn’t really help with, but maybe next time!

  8. Gail says:

    I think it’s beautiful, although I can understand your disappointment with the fit. It does look fantastic undone, and with only the 2 buttons, I’m thinking it’s not meant for very cold weather anyway. I wonder if you have enough fabric left to make a belt? I could really see it crossed and belted in front, cardigan-style (I’ve been seeing coats on Pinterest worn this way).

    1. Jenny says:

      Hi Gail – thanks! Unf there’s no fabric left, so I’ll just have to chalk this one up to experience

  9. Heather Lou says:

    I’m so happy you finished it and it looks pretty great for all the horror of the actual making. But I gotta agree, the closure/lapel is not my favourite. I think it would have been super flattering on you with a wide fold over lapel….. ahh, live and learn. The colour is fabulous though!

    1. Jenny says:

      Right?! When I sort of force the lapel over to look like a wide folded over one it looks 99% better… it was my own stupid fault for not muslining the collar first. You live and learn!

  10. Debbie Iles says:

    Gorgeous colour and there is still so much great about it. It would be a bit of unpicking but what I would try is add another butonhole and button undreneath. I’d leave the top one as is but just not do it up. Men’s suit jackets are like this…or should be….so that would be my reasoning.

    1. Jenny says:

      Hmm interesting! It would definitely be a lot of surgery to add more bound buttonholes though I agree with you that it would look a lot better with more buttons down the front. I’m going to leave it for a while and let’s see if I get a new burst of energy!

  11. Here’s the thing: I know this didn’t turn out exactly how you’d hoped, but honestly, I can imagine strangers on the street turning to stare at your amazing green coat as you walk by! And I love the collar on you! But if you’re not loving the collar and the fit through the bust, I’d just make a giant circle scarf that coordinates with the coat and covers up that area a bit. This is too pretty not to wear!

    1. Jenny says:

      A gigantic scarf is definitely an option! I’ll have to keep an eye out for one (or finally learn to knit….)

  12. And Sew On says:

    What about just belting it? It’s so beautiful

    1. Jenny says:

      Sadly belting doesn’t really address what’s wrong with it 🙁

  13. Those are some KICKIN’ bound buttonholes!

    1. Jenny says:

      Why thank you Villain!

  14. Andie L. says:

    I’m so sad for you. It’s such a gorgeous coat. I wish it worked out for you. 🙁 What a bummer! I’m so glad it hasn’t stopped your coat making. 🙂

    1. Jenny says:

      No it definitely hasn’t! I’ve always been a big coat person, even before I started sewing, so it’s just on to the next one 🙂

  15. Karen says:

    I know you are disappointed in your coat. For what it’s worth, you saved me from making a similar mistake in my choice of fabric for my first coat attempt. I chose a fabric similar to your black boucle from last year although I was dying to go for cashmere. I will make a full muslin. Thank you for sharing your experiences.

    1. Jenny says:

      I’m glad my mistakes saved someone else!! 🙂

  16. Bum bum bum. It’s such a thing of glory, and the colour is so amazing on you. It really does look absolutely LOVELY undone, and it’s made so beautifully. Well done on finishing it. I reckon you will put it away for a while and come back to it in a few months and like it a lot more/have the energy you fiddle around with it a bit more. For now though, pat yourself on the back/raise a glass of fizz for finishing something so difficult and make summat fun.

    1. Jenny says:

      Yep, I think it’ll live in my cupboard for a while and then we’ll see..

  17. Madalynne says:

    You finished! You finished! Yay for finishing! Loved following along with all your hard work.

    1. Jenny says:

      I did! Yay to that.

  18. lisa g. says:

    How disappointing! It holds so much promise… such a shame it didn’t work out. You’re right, the fit is off, but the color looks spectacular. I really like the style of the collar, I’ve thought of making this pattern myself. I’ll be sure to do a full muslin if I ever do!

    1. Jenny says:

      Yeah, definitely see how it suits you first – I think with my broad shoulders and big bust it’s not a great look, but it certainly could be on other people

  19. Michelle says:

    That color is gorgeous on you. How does it look when styled with a scarf? I’m wondering if that would help hide the slightly wonky bits a bit. (You know, how throwing a cardigan over a dress that you’re not super pleased with often helps quite a bit.)

    I am going to be embarking on my own coat-making adventure soon (my first “real” coat, although I’ve done jackets), and I’ll be using the Simplicity Leanne Marshall coat pattern. Early reports from others doing muslins are that it runs a bit small, so that should be interesting.

    1. Jenny says:

      Oh that’s interesting on the Leanne Marshall because that’s next on my list… DEFINITELY MUSLINING 😀

  20. Denise says:

    Maybe shorten it to car-coat length? That would also give you back enough fabric to make a belt.

    1. Jenny says:

      That’s a thought… Maybe next year when the trauma is all a distant memory…

  21. Candice says:

    This is such a lovely coat! I love your attitude in not letting a few wonky bits,which look fine to me btw get you down!

    1. Jenny says:

      Thanks Candice!

  22. A step in the tailoring process which is rarely mentioned is the need to have a coat, blazer, etc. professionally pressed (at the dry cleaner’s). Believe me, it makes a big difference.

    1. Jenny says:

      I actually did do that! Which accounts for it looking fairly nice 🙂 But sadly it can’t solve the style problems.

  23. Bettina says:

    First of all: wow, well done and soooo many superb details about it. Next: the collar, I think, actually does suit you (and the color too). I’ll throw in my two (Euro) cents in and hope you don’t mind (it’s only my opinion, feel free to disregard). It seems to me that the two horizontal lines in the outer front panels are sitting too high and look a bit like misplaced bust darts pointing to where they shouldn’t. Possibly as a consequence there is a little too much material sideways next to the bust.

    As for the ‘huge around the hips’ this may be linked? All the detail is above your waist and so the bottom half becomes one broad canvas (note how this gets broken up when you wear it open).

    Last a question: have you worn it belted yet? And if a belt looks good, an alternative version could be: how about two small subtle belt slits in the downward seam and a belt out of the same material which does not gather the back but only the front (does that make sense? wish I could draw in the comments….

    1. Jenny says:

      Yeah the darts weren’t there originally, they were to solve a shaping issue on the side, although they are actually pretty much at the right height (even if it doesn’t look like it). Funnily enough the exact same pattern made in a boucle really did looked shapely so I think it’s the combo of the fabric and the next top half/button placement.

  24. Texas Urban says:

    Your coat is beautiful, and the color is fabulous on you. If you feel that the neckline is not flattering, and have no green cashmere left, why not add a fabulous fur collar, cut from the notched collar from the pattern? Make it black or dark grey to echo the buttons from high end fake fur, or haunt charity shops for the real thing—many coats have come with detachable fur collars in the past several decades from high end designers.
    Google search will provide numerous examples of current offerings from Burberry, Ralph Lauren etc. with this style. As a matter of fact, Nordstrom has “Bright Coats’ and “Luxe trim” as major trends this season-you will have both with a fur collar. No further ripping of your beautiful coat required, just add appropriate sized buttons on the inside of the coat’s neckline. The facing of the collar will have the buttonholes.
    And do move the buttons on the coat over a bit, as Sam suggested.
    Finally, please keep in mind that all of the fusing and unfusing that the coat endured probably caused enough shrinkage of the cashmere to make a “fit difference” vs. your other version of this pattern.

    1. Jenny says:

      OOOOOOOH I hadn’t thought of a fur collar, that’s a great idea! I am going to be checking my scarf and collar options pronto.
      And yes I think the interfacing debacle no doubt affected the material *but* the difference in the pattern is mostly through the hips/waist that didn’t have those issues, so I suspect it would have been boxy either way. Still, you live and learn – I’ll be doing lots of fabric testing next time…

    2. Texas Urban says:

      The Topshop stole will be perfect- exactly the shape that I had envisioned! No sewing required, and usable on other garments to change the look!

    3. Jenny says:

      YEAH! Cross your fingers for me. If it works well, I”ll take some more photos. I also have this soft leather belt that might go with it (and I might even take off the buttons…)

  25. What kind of fabric did you use for your lining? I’m planning on making my first coat someday from some gorgeous fashion fabric I bought a while back. I really want a fun lining, but I’m unsure what kinds of fabrics to use. I need it to be warm because the fabric I bought is lighter weight, so I would be interested in a kasha, but so far I’ve only found it in boring, solid fabrics. I suppose I could just go with a thin lining and underline it with an extra layer of interfacing. Since it’ll be my first coat, I don’t have any personal experience to draw from and have been reading up all I can from the blogosphere.

    1. Jenny says:

      hi! So for this one I used a poly crepe de chine, which isn’t warm at all. For my last one ( I used BOTH Kasha lining *and* I underlined that with thinsulate. As a result it’s really warm – it’s fine down to about 25 degrees, which covers a lot of the winter here.

  26. I love the coat and especially the lining. It looks great on you! Love the color!

  27. Angie says:

    I think the coat looks great on you. I also think done up, it looks a little big.
    Is there any way you can move the buttons over to the right, add two more buttons to the left and make it look double breasted?

    1. Jenny says:

      Yeah it does seem big.. I’m definitely going to have a think about playing with the buttons – if I added another row the coat would be off center but I might be able to fiddle with the horizontal placement…

  28. Goodness that colour is amazing on you. Love the flamingos too! I hope that the mega scarf/fur collar options do save it a bit for you. I know (not on such a scale) that no matter what other well meaning people say if I’m not happy with certain aspects of a garment no convincing from others will change that. But some cunning neck wear disguises may do the trick. Your skills are great.

    1. Jenny says:

      Yeah, I’m feeling quite positive about the fur collar idea! And maybe I’ll take the buttons off and try just belting it a bit like a cardigan coat.. We shall see.

  29. karen ball says:

    I’m so glad my e-book helped with those AWESOME bound buttonholes. I spent this weekend making some myself, so I know how much work has gone into this coat on a gazillion levels. Learning, learning… You should feel incredibly proud of yourself. I think that getting to the end of a project like this is similair to getting to the end of a first draft of a novel. YOU DID IT!

    1. Jenny says:

      Yay for your eBook! It’s really good. And thanks, it does take a lot of work and it’s a little unbelievable/anticlimatic once it’s done (similar to my grad school thesis which I just finished!)

  30. Marjie says:

    If you have any fabric left, could you make a belt, and wear it belted but not buttoned? It looks too big on you, but being able to wrap it to the proper width and belt it might help. It’s a shame it’s too big, because the color is terrific and looks great on you, plus, it has a flamingo lining! How awesome is that?

    1. Jenny says:

      Flamingos for the win! I’m definitely going to try a few options… let’s see 😀

  31. Crab and Bee says:

    I so applaud your tenacity in finishing this piece! And yes, thank you for sharing your experiences. I would have assumed that many coating fabrics would behave in similar ways, too. I think it looks great unbuttoned – how about wearing it as a wrap?

    My coat fail has been being too scared to make one last year! I’m trying again this year.

    1. Jenny says:

      I’m definitely going to try that!
      Coats really aren’t that scary as long as you get forgiving fabrics 🙂

  32. Anne says:

    Im so sorry your project didn’t turn out great. But I bet you learned a lot. I’d love to see how your fur collar turns out. I plan on making a coat for myself this winter, and that is partially inspired by you.

    1. Jenny says:

      I definitely learned a lot! And the collar arrives at the end of the week so we will see how it goes…

  33. Well done! I agree with you that the other coat suits you much better, but bravo for finishing it, and the color and lining really are lovely. I’m starting in on a coat now, although I’m already feeling daunted by the cutting. I’m turning the Ninot Jacket pattern into a swing coat. Fingers crossed!

    1. Jenny says:

      Can’t wait to see it! I know it’s been a long time coming 😀

  34. Faye Lewis says:

    I feel just awful for you, but you are so brave in finishing. I had an epic coat fail earlier this year and I did finish the project too.

    1. Jenny says:

      Epic coat fail twins !

  35. Mon says:

    Hi Jenny,
    I have to say I really love this coat on you.
    I love the color and the collar most.
    That color goes so well with your skin color and the lining surely is a terrific feature.
    I hope you grow to like it.

    1. Jenny says:

      Thanks Mon, that’s very kind of you

  36. Wendy says:

    This fabric is just too fabulous to be a wadder! And like many others, I actually really like the way the neckline looks on you. The fur collar is a great idea. I was going to suggest that you take off the collar, leaving the great-looking vee lapel–you said the neckline was too “closed”, and IMHO it’s the height of the collar that is the problem. I was also going to suggest, like Denise, that shortening it and using the cut-off portion to make a belt would be a good idea. And most radically, if it just really doesn’t work, take it apart and re-cut it with more shape through the mid-section, or turn it into a jacket. Looking forward to seeing it again!

    1. Jenny says:

      Yes taking the collar off or even cropping it is an option, although I’d have to totally dissemble it through the front which right now is an exhausting thought! But I may have the energy next year 😀

  37. Amanda says:

    The colour on you is spectacular! Pity about the buttonhole placement- ugh 🙁 Maybe team belt could be the winner?

    1. Jenny says:

      I’m definitely going to try!

  38. Jenny, those buttonholes are lovely! (Thank you for recommending the e-book. It helped demystify the process and make in unintimidating.)

    I’m working on Vogue V1419. (I look forward to doing the bulk of the work this Thursday and Friday.)

    1. Jenny says:

      Awesome – good luck!

  39. cidell says:

    Hey Jenny, Do you know what percentage of cashmere your coating is? I just bought some that is 5 percent and now I’m thinking through how to best handle the material.


    1. Jenny says:

      It’s 100% – I doubt you’ll have an issue with 5%, but do test it first!

  40. Lynn says:

    Despite the lovely color and luxe fiber, I think the fabric is your culprit. It seems to be rather a dense weave and therefore the fabric has a lot of body and is difficult to shape into or around curves.

    1. Jenny says:

      That may well be true – it doesn’t like shaping at all, and this weekend I made coats for some kid using wool and it was so, so, so much easier to shape!

  41. Melissa says:

    I am crying inside for you! I hope you can figure out some creative way to fix it so it can be worn, even if open. If I remember correctly, didn’t you purchase this fabric at the meet up in NYC at Mood?

  42. I’m so sorry! Did you try putting a welt/belt on the back at the waist? It would gather it in a few inches . . .

    Sell her? Sad resolve, but . . .

    She still is rather pretty. Though, the 100 percent cash was prob the issue.

  43. Sara A. says:

    If the problem is the closed in neckline, I think you should surrender to Boston winter and get a whole bunch of fabulous scarves! That neckline would frame a scarf to perfection- both the floaty kind in spring and woolen ones for right now.

  44. I think it could be button placement. This fabric is thick and you could need very long shanks to make the coat hang properly around the closed buttons. Line it up exactly where you want it to close. Measure the thickness of the coat at those points and make long thread shanks to hold the buttons in place. If need be, sew the buttons on top of your bound buttonholes – fake- and then use snaps underneath to keep it closed. I think the neckline and the color is very flattering. It will look great with a scarf. But yes, it is too big thru the hips. I think most of us tend to do this.

  45. fourkid says:

    Sooo glad for you that you saw it through to the end. I have always learned as much from my “challenges” as from my successes. I like the coat – you did a beautiful job ~ but when compared to last year’s coat, this one does not quite hit the mark – I agree. But it is still a beautiful coat. I was thinking that maybe self covered buttons or something that blends better might help you love it more. I am not crazy about the two black buttons drawing so much attention to themselves. Use your coat this winter and work with it for the season, if you still don’t love it – then give it away as soon as you replace it with your next version. It is a lovely coat and deserves to warm someone for many years to come.

  46. Symon says:

    Oh what a shame – the construction is lovely, and I really like the collar too, but I can totally sympathize as I literally JUST did the same thing – sunk a bunch of time and effort into a coat whose shape just does not suit me. That said, I’ve worn it a ton because it is warm, and it is comfortable, so perhaps your green coat of doom will get some use after all? ^__^ Maybe it’s not a wadder but a workhorse!!! 😀

  47. Alessa says:

    Aww what a shame! Maybe you can find someone that looks as fantastic in it as you should have, putting all that work into it?
    I’m currently working on an Anise jacket. I would have liked to make a coat but I could only get a jacket length of the fabric, and even so it was a tight squeeze…

  48. Divamazon says:

    Awww man! 🙁 I love the look of it open though! Maybe a really thick sweater? 🙂

    I’m currently working on a Burda coat…fingers crossed. First real coat…we’ll see how this adventure goes.

Let me know what you think!