Monday, December 8, 2014

I made a coat [with smoochy lips AND the flu]

Damn. I sewed the buttons on too tight.
Four or five years ago, two different sewing bloggers posted beautiful projects using this same embroidered wool. I have no idea who they were now, those memories have long been wiped clean from my brain. One was a young girl from California who made a short cape out of it, and then a lady from Michigan (Mary?) who made a skirt. Mary was kind enough to share the store where she found it, so I called them and ordered the last three yards on the roll.

And then it sat.

And sat.

I pulled it out last winter, but just couldn't bring myself to sew anything, and so back it went.

Finally, this fall I started looking for a suitable pattern for it. I've been terrified of ruining the fabric, but I had this realization - it wasn't doing me any good sitting in a box in the basement!  I went back and forth between a few vintage patterns and a few modern, and finally settled on Burda 7072. I liked the shorter sleeves and the princess seam pockets, it had a vintage vibe without being a vintage pattern.

Fast forward to Thanksgiving week. I had the whole week off since I'd been hoarding my vacation days {i.e. burning myself out unnecessarily} and sewing was high on my list of Things To Do.

Time is precious around here; I don't have hours on end to sew uninterrupted when the kids are home, but that lends itself perfectly to a project like this. I would go downstairs, work on one task, and then set it aside for a few hours or a day. It virtually guaranteed I was fresh every time I touched the coat, I think that helped a lot.

It also helped a lot that my sons constructed a new fort in the closet under the basement stairs. That kept them busy and out of my hair.

These steps happened between Monday and Wednesday...

Cutting out the pattern pieces was interesting, as I was trying to maximize all of the embroidered fabric, which only ran along one side. I had to turn it crosswise to cut it. After inspecting the fabric for any moth damage, I did find a few holes but they ran along the selvage, so it's possible they were damage from the manufacturing process, too.

Anyway, the weave on this is fairly loose. I knew I needed to stabilize it, but my experience with interfacing pattern pieces for a wool coat was not great. When I did that on a heavy black wool coating, it added way too much bulk to the seams. This gray is fairly light, though, and since I couldn't figure out how to pick and choose what to interface, I decided to do it all.

Each piece got interfaced with Pro-weft supreme Medium fusible interfacing from Fashion Sewing Supply. I'm really impressed with it, this was the first project I used it on, and it does give body and support while maintaining drape. Excellent.

Then I had to make a decision about interlining. My lining is silk, the wool has a loose weave, and we do have a proper winter here. So after much hemming and hawing, I settled on using white muslin fabric to interline it. I could have gone with something lighter like silk organza, but I didn't want to wait for shipping and I'm happy with the muslin. I was sewing with dark gray thread and the interlining was white, so that made picking out any stitches easy!

One of the first decisions I had to make was the buttons and buttonholes. I knew if I wanted bound buttonholes I had to make them first, but the idea of sewing them through four layers of fabric (fabric, interfacing, interlining, welt) scared the crap out of me.

Pause to celebrate Thanksgiving with my family....

Onwards and upwards, I practiced bound buttonholes Friday afternoon on scraps of fabric. They went ok, so I forged on with four bound buttonholes, and four corresponding welt holes.  They're not perfect, instead of perfectly matched slots they look more like smoochy lips but I'm ok with that.

This pattern is perfectly drafted and the instructions are total crap, as per usual with Burda. The sleeve/undersleeve/side pieces get attached to the front and back by sewing a 90 degree angle, but you would never have known that by reading the instructions! The first one was such a disaster, I unpicked it all and lay in bed that night visualizing what I had to do.

Total crap corner.
Sew up sleeve, place needle, pivot and clip corner, sew down side. I went downstairs first thing in the morning to try it again.

Voila! Four perfectly sewn sleeve corners. Whew. I breathed a sigh of relief.

Until I realized that the lining pieces would have to be constructed exactly the same way. Eight perfectly sewn sleeve corners? Holy crap, that's pressure. But I did it, I plowed through it.

And then this happened...

My oldest son got super sick the Saturday after Thanksgiving, and tested positive for influenza A. My youngest took the hit on Sunday afternoon. It was fun, and by fun I mean go out and get your flu shots because this sickness is real and it sucks. I was diagnosed Tuesday.
Well, that was rough. What little energy I had disappeared, and yet I still had hours of sewing left! There's a reason they call these types of projects labors of love. I'm not sure I was feeling love at this point.
This blog post is starting to feel as long as the process of making the coat! On-seam pockets (once again, craptastic Burda instructions that have you sew the pocket to the side seam with a 5/8" SA. Huh?? By offsetting pockets with a 1/4" SA, the pocket lays nicely inside and you never see it. Why wouldn't they tell you that?? I did it anyway. They could have also been generous and given us a 1" bump out on the pattern pieces, but I am probably asking too much.
There are a few things wrong with these pictures. 1) I had ten minutes to snap them. 2) I sewed the buttons on too tight so it's pulling across the chest and 3) my tripod was set down too low by one of my kids.
My lining is a silk twill I bought for $3 a yard at Hancock's many years ago, when they were selling out of their silks. I ended up with four or five lengths of wild patterned silks, perfect for linings.
Sorry. Blurry photo.
I bagged the lining, but since my facing piece was not sewn on and wasn't notched out at the bottom, I had to make up my own method for attaching the bottom and turning that corner. All of the internet tutes I could find (and the Threads tutorial that has nicely drawn diagrams) are for sewn-on facings with a notch out. I made do. It looks the same, maybe the order of attachment is different, I don't really even care at this point.
This pattern calls for the back piece to be cut and seamed. I assumed that meant it was shaped. NO. It is not. I could have cut it on the fold. Dammit!
At this point, I was at mile 23 of a 26.6 marathon. My legs were jiggly, I avoided eye contact with the coat whenever I walked by it on the dressform standing in the stairwell to the basement (she wore the coat for me to avoid it becoming a crumpled mess but I think that may have happened anyway), and I broke out in a sweat at the thought that I still needed to make covered buttons and sew them on.

Sweet Lord above, did I really want this coat that badly?

Apparently I did.

The buttons were made. I hated the look of them. I shopped for another week for buttons I didn't hate, and landed on these. The coat is done. And so am I.

I need to press the bottom. I apologize for the crapbag photo quality.
And wouldn't this coat look fab with long gloves and a matching faux fur cowl??
OK, maybe I'm not done. Just ready to make something simple. Like a t-shirt. Or leggings.

And shop for long gloves!


  1. Wow! A labor of love. Very striking coat. I love that pattern. Thanks for posting (and I hope everyone is over the FLU!)

  2. Replies
    1. Thanks redrockcity! I hope I can wear it the way it deserves!