I CAN’T STOP MAKING COATS. PLZ SEND HALP.
Yep, I’ve made another one. In my defence though, I’m *always* cold, and there’s probably only about three days of the year that I don’t wear a coat. So they get a lot of wear. That makes it fine, right? Good, I’m glad you see my point of view.
Despite London having a mini heatwave about a week ago – 27 degrees! I wore a summer dress and no socks! – it’s now bloody freezing again so the coats and jumpers are back out. I’ve even had the heating on again. Surely it shouldn’t be *this* cold as we head into May?! ?
I’m not really in to anoraks or cropped jackets (see ‘cold’ above), but I love the coats of the 60’s and 70’s – there’s something about the styles and the shapes that just draws me in. If you read last week’s post you’ll know that I recently had a little shopping spree where I snaffled two vintage Vogue coat patterns and I cannot WAIT to make them (yes, I realise that summer is coming, but I hate summer so if it could just roll on by real quickly and let beautiful autumn come early that’d be great, please and thank you). I really like drooling over the chic silhouettes of the retro cocoon coats – they’re beautiful on the models but sadly I just know that they are going to make me look like Violet from Charlie and the Chocolate factory so I’m not even going to *think* about sewing one.
Y’all know I love to make the crazy and loud coats, but this time I wanted to make something to be a wingman to my smart (‘grown-up’) coat that I’ve had for a few years now but is showing a few battle scars. I stumbled across this beauty of a pattern on eBay when I was browsing the results of my ashamedly-regular search for ‘vintage coat sewing pattern’ (yes, I actually do that. Sometimes I spend hours doing that).
This pattern is from the 70’s, and back then patterns came in single sizes only (none of this multi-size business that we have now), so you’ve gotta be lucky to find the pattern you want in your particular size. And don’t forget that vintage sizing is different – a size 10 these days is NOT the same as a vintage size 10. Instead, look at the bust/hip/waist measurements on the envelope and see how they compare to the measurements of the modern patterns that you use. I’ll give you a heads up – the waist measurement that corresponds to your bust measurement will be much smaller on the vintage pattern than on the modern pattern. Always go by your ACTUAL measurements though – because the amount of ease might differ considerably as well. Don’t be me and gamble on guessing the amount of ease that’s ‘probably’ included (I haven’t been caught out yet, but I know I will be, my time will come).
If you’re looking for coat/jacket fabric, I’d definitely recommend Moons. I’ve used their fabrics a few times now and they’re really good quality. Plus, they have literally EVERY COLOUR UNDER THE SUN so whatever shade you want, they got it.
Although I do love a lot of the vintage fashions, this is actually the first truly vintage sewing pattern that I’ve used. And by ‘truly vintage’ I mean it’s not one of those ‘modern vintage’ patterns that we have so many of now. Vintage instructions can be a little different to what you’re used to, and also a lot less hand-holdey. For this coat, literally all they gave me was ‘make bound buttonholes at the markings’. Ermmmm say what now? Surely this isn’t going to be all they give me? Yep, and don’t call me Shirley.
This was the first project I’d tackled that had bound buttonholes, so obvs I was looking for a bit more instruction that this. Half an hour and a lot of googling/YouTubing later and I sort of had an idea of how to approach this. Spoiler alert: it’s a faff. An almighty faff. I do really love how the buttonholes look (SO much nicer than a machined one!) but holy moly do they take a lot of time, (accurate) cutting, and (accurate) folding, and pressing, and (did I mention accurate?) stitching. But they are 100% worth the effort. I would even go out on a limb here and say that I’d actually make the effort to put them in on ALL coats that I make from now on – they would look especially fancy on the Vogue V8940 jackets/coats that I make for the husbeast. In fact, he has some obscenely luxurious herringbone cashmere coating that he picked up from the GBSB Live show last year, which would be an absolute crime to machine a buttonhole in, so I’d better get practicing.
(just as a side note on the GBSB show – does anyone know if it’s happening in 2018? There’s nothing on their website, and as we’re now in April already you think they would at least be giving you the heads up on the date by now… I even tweeted them to ask and they never responded. RUDE ?)
For a first attempt I’m pretty pleased with the buttonholes – they work, at least. Some are better than others, and on one of them the corresponding hole in the facing is a bit out of line, so there’s definitely room for improvement.
The coat actually came together pretty easily – the trickiest bit, no surprise, was those mitred corners on the front and back. Doing them for the first time is one thing, but doing them for the first time while following instructions from a vintage pattern is something else. Thankfully they turned out alright, I’m not sure that they are perfect but they definitely pass the test. You do have to reinforce the corners of the fabric with little bias squares before you go chopping in to them, which is 100% not a step to be skipped otherwise you may end up with rogue holes where the fabric has been put under stress. *I cut small squares from the main fabric, but on reflection I should have cut them from something with a sturdier weave as this wool is prone to fraying at the edges.*
And just for the lolz, they make you repeat the whole process with the lining fabric ? This was less fun.
I did some pad stitching on the interfacing in the collar, I’m not *totally* sure whether this made a difference or not but the collar looks pretty good on the finished coat so I’m telling myself it was worth the effort. Again I had no idea what I was doing (common theme here it seems) so I just kind of copied the picture in the instructions and did my best to follow what they were trying to tell me… ?
I recently bought a jacket tailoring book (which I’m ashamed to say I haven’t actually read yet…) so I’m hoping to get some pro tips from it on taking my jacket sewing to the next level. I mainly bought it for the welt pocket techniques that came highly recommended as an alternative to the rubbish method you’re given in the Vogue Patterns instructions for V8940 because both times I’ve attempted this pattern the welts have been a bit of a shambles. I’ve also now got some hair canvas which I’ll use on the collars of future jackets – from what I understand this is much better for structure and shaping of jackets than regular ol’ Vilene interfacing, but I have a feeling that there’s more of this pad stitching business involved.
To continue my recent obsession with piping ALL THE THINGS, I made some piping to go in between the lining and the facings. I’m actually a little bit addicted to doing this on coats now – it’s so easy and gives such a pro finish! I’m also a little bit obsessed with making my own piping too, I used to buy it ready-made and then moan that the colour wasn’t quite what I wanted, so I had a bash at making my own and then couldn’t believe how easy it was. This is definitely the way forward for me now.
The pink paisley lining is from Minerva Crafts, and it’s become my go-to lining which I’ve used in many colour variations to date, usually in coats. I don’t really do plain linings, and the paisley print on this is just enough to hold my interest when I don’t want something lairy (which isn’t very often…)
When it came to sewing the assembled lining body to the neck facing, I realised something was amiss somewhere. No way did the two edges match up. WHAT. DEVILRY. IS. THIS.
The curve of the lining neck edge wasn’t long enough to meet the facing, and no amount of clipping was gonna sort that out because of how far out it was. I mean, look at that picture. You know something’s wrong when it looks like this. Had I missed something along the way? Cut the wrong piece? I heaved out all of the templates and cutting layouts to try to figure out what was going on. I found the mistake pretty quickly – that one little sentence that had caused so much drama: ‘cut here for lining’.
I could see that this would immediately make that lining neck curve longer so that it would fit the facing. The scissors were called to duty and the drama llama sent back to his pen – and the seam sewn. I kick myself every time this happens for being so damn lazy – I really must start tracing SEPARATE pieces for lining fabrics rather than just marking the cutting lines on the main fabric pieces. Not only does it avoid situations like these, but it also eliminates having to dig through a massive pile of cut pieces of fabric to pull out the templates that are also to be used for lining. Lesson learned and head suitably hung in shame for slacking off.
This coat has gotten a LOT of wear since I made it, I really love it. The fit is good, despite it being a bust 32.5″ and me not actually having a bust that measures 32.5″. I can even get a jumper on underneath it and still do it up. I do feel like the seam details on the front and back kind of get lost in the texture of the fabric, which is why I’d like to make it again in a smoother boiled wool – these details would then stand out more.
I know that this might have been the thing back when the pattern was released, but I would prefer a cleaner and more enclosed) finish to the lining – the raw edge of the hem is finished with bias tape and the lining hemmed, and then the two are secured loosely with thread chains. I’d prefer enclosed seams rather than this, so it’s something I’ll look at for next time (and there WILL be a next time). Also I would have preferred the pattern to have two-piece sleeves, rather than one-piece, but that’s only a small gripe and I guess if I *really* wanted to I could swap in two-piece sleeves.
One thing I did enjoy about this pattern was the amount of topstitching – it satisfied my inner topstitching nerd immensely.
I definitely will be making this coat again from different fabrics – I think a thick boiled wool would work well and give the collar a lot more structure – plus it would be a lot warmer! The Abraham Moon wool fabric is a slightly less dense weave, it’s not really warm enough for a *proper* winter coat – and by that I mean something you could wear when it’s below zero – which is why I’d like to try again in a thicker fabric which would hopefully keep out the icy winter winds we so frequently enjoy here in the UK. I am actually sort of considering using the cashmere I picked up in Paris to make a second version of this coat… even though I bought it with the intention of using it to copy my RTW coat. I have a pattern that’s really similar to that coat, so perhaps I’ll make that up first and then compare the two side by side and decided which one gets the honour of the cashmere.
This pattern has earned itself a place as a ‘keeper’ in my pattern stash – one that I’ll for sure make again. I only have a small handful of patterns that fall into this category, but it’s good to see that the pile is slowly growing.
This is another make that I photographed on our Paris trip in Feb – I took several makes with me, intending to photograph them in different chic Parisian locations, but ended up using the Louvre for four shoots ? It’s just so photogenic! There was one particular spot I wanted to check out because I’d seen some lovely photos taken there, but once we had walked there (and it was FAR) it was basically a building site and cropping the frame to get all the scaffolding out of it left us with something extremely underwhelming… lolz.
So the Louvre it was. I was pleased that I’d figured out how to make my beret look less stupid on my head by that point, too.
So, what’cha think? You likey? I likey. I likey so much that I’m going to make several.
I’m like a crazy cat lady, but with coats. Crazy coat lady. #noapologies
Coming up next week on the Wanderstitch blog… a ridiculously luxurious cashmere skirt that I made from Holland and Sherry fabric which I scored from the GBSB Live show last year ? Subscribe below to make sure you don’t miss out!