Murder on The Orient Express

Last year, the lovely Camille at Deer and Doe reached out to me to see if I wanted to sew a version of their Bleuet dress to celebrate the relaunch of the pattern – and I made this beauty:

Deer and Doe Bleuet Dress Alexander Henry Heart of Darkness Fabric

I was – obvs – super excited to receive another email this year asking if I’d be interested in sewing up their new release Opium coat – y’all know I can’t resist sewing a coat ?

The Opium is a swing coat with raglan sleeves and origami welt pockets, and is entirely lined. Version A (below) is closed with snaps, version B includes a belt.

The Opium is not my usual style of coat – or indeed garment. I don’t wear circle skirts, or fit and flare dresses, or anything that has too much fabric to it. But – I actually love my Opium. So much so that I’ve already cut another! Yay for trying new things and winning! ??

The pattern launch was to be while I was in New York though, so either I had to make – and photograph – the coat before I left, or take it with me and photograph it there. I was already desperately trying to finish off loads of makes to take with me to photograph in NYC, but who in their right mind wouldn’t want to add another deadline to their already manic holiday countdown?! I couldn’t (and didn’t want to) say no, so I set about finding my fabric ASAP.

Per the pattern envelope, the recommended fabrics are:

Melton wool, boiled wool, Loden, wool gabardine. Lining: rayon bemberg, silk. 

In my mind, I pictured a rustic autumn wool – but struggled to find the exact shade I wanted. It’s always tricky buying online, especially when you have a very particular colour in mind, and with rusty orange you run the risk of ending up with a fabric that either looks like it’s been Tango’d ? or – shudder – is not actually orange but brown.

So I played it safe with a black and red wool jacquard that I found from Iana Fabrics on eBay – a seller that I’ve bought from before and have been very happy with. At £12.99 a metre it was a good price too, because coat fabrics can get hella expensive! (£80pm cashmere, anyone?) The jacquard could be used with either side as the right side – depending on which colour you wanted to be more prominent – and this was something I took advantage of, flipping it over for the belt and pocket welts. From a distance the fabric *kind of* looks like an autumn-leaf-colour, so I guess you could say I sort of achieved the original autumnal vision ??

I had my pdf pattern printed through Patternsy, whom I’ve used many times now and I’m always happy with the service. Plus, their turnaround is exceptionally fast, and as I was really was against the clock for this one I needed all the help I could get! The husbeast lovingly traced this pattern for me while I panic-sewed everything else that needed to be finished before our trip ?

I finished the coat in the nick of time before we left, but with no time to photograph so in the suitcase it went! ?✈️

The lining is from Minerva Crafts (here, for £6.99 per metre). The name of the coat – Opium – along with the origami pockets, made me think of the Far East and I wanted a lining that channeled that vibe. I chose this oriental-style poly jacquard, and I’m really happy with how it looks. I did consider the red and black colourway, as I actually liked that one better, but I thought it would be too matchy-matchy with the outer fabric of the coat. The black and gold gives a nice contrast.

The outer wool was too thick to be able to add the belt loops – so my belt hangs free. It’s no biggie though – if I want to wear it open, I’ll just leave the belt at home. Or shove it in my bag.

I really love the pocket welts on this coat – they are nice touch to what is an otherwise un-fussy, clean-lined design. Although they might look a bit complicated, they really weren’t tricky to make!

The finishings on the sleeves and hem are really neat and tidy – sometimes my hems are a bit messy (especially at the front corners where the lining meets the facing) but the instructions given for the Opium are just perfect. I don’t even know why other patterns do it differently – it was so easy to get a tidy finish and I’ll be cementing the method into my memory for future usage!

The shoulder seams are strengthened with iron on tape – something I’ve not used before, but I can now see why it’s a good idea. The weight of the coat – mainly that skirt – would totally pull down the shoulders and distort the seams.

(plz excuse the downright grotty ironing board cover. It does get washed from time to time, I promise. Also promise that next year I will make a new one. Scouts honour.)

The design of the Opium is unusual in that you end up with a seam down the outside of the arm – but it looks fine.

I think I’ll make the same view for my next Opium (the with the belt, as opposed to the one with the snaps), but I might actually add some snaps anyway so that I can try wearing it closed without the belt, just to see what kind of silhouette it gives. I’m a little bit worried it’s going to look like a triangular sack on me, but you never know until you try eh?

The Opium is PERFECT for someone that’s new to sewing coats or is a bit nervous at tackling a larger project. The sleeves are raglan sleeves, so you don’t have to fuss with setting in a sleeve head, and there’s no buttonholes to deal with. If you want to be able to close your coat, you can simply sew on snaps by hand. Easy peasy. The instructions are super-clear and easy to follow, so I really would recommend this pattern to a coat newbie. The first coat I ever made was a Burda pattern – I didn’t know at the time of their reputation for crap instructions – and it was a total shambles. Don’t make the same mistake as me… buy a user-friendly pattern ?

I’m always excited for a new Deer and Doe collection, but sadly the other pattern they released at the same time as the Opium – the Magnolia Dress – just really isn’t my style, so I won’t be making that. I’ll be eagerly awaiting their new releases next year though ?

In the meantime, I’m currently working on my second Opium, this time with a thicker wool fabric which I’m actually a little bit concerned about because I feel that there’s gonna be a lot of seam-hammering with this one. It’s SUPER thick. I’m a smidge worried it’s *too* thick for this kind of style, but meh. I’ve started so I’ll finish, as they say. I certainly stand much less of a chance getting belt loops onto this one, that’s for sure, so it might also be sans belt loops. I bet it’s going to be really warm and cosy though! Here’s a little sneak peek of the fabric combo I’ve chosen ?

(Yes, I realise I was bashing the colour brown at the start of this post, and that the wool coating above is brown, BUT it’s animal print so that makes it okay ?)

Overall the Opium has been a great success, and it’s been successfully integrated into the daily wardrobe. It’s getting regular wears.

These photos of the coat were taken in Central Park, the day after we arrived in New York, while we were still oh-so-jetlagged. So if I look grumpy, or tired, you know why ?

I’ve got so many amazing photo shoots from New York City that I just can’t WAIT to get on the blog and show you guys – but I’m afraid you’re gonna have to wait until next year ? I’m super snowed with orders from the Etsy store – which, don’t get me wrong, is AMAZING – but that sadly means that I don’t have a lot of time (actually pretty much no time) for sewing other things right now, let alone editing what is probably over a thousand photos ? Anything other than sewing shop orders is currently evaluated on a ‘need’ basis – if it’s not crucial to be done right this second, it’s put off until it has to be done right this second. This means that the washing up is left until we’re out of plates and dinner is about to come out of the oven, Aaron hasn’t had a shave in who knows how long and currently looks like Jesus, and we’re wearing clothes that haven’t seen anything other than the back of the wardrobe for about five years because all the decent clothes are in the washing basket and the laundry hasn’t been done. But I’m actually really happy about this – because it means that the shop, the thing we created, is doing well. And it’s exciting to think about where it might take us.


Next week on the Wanderstitch blog… a review of how my 2018 Make Nine went ✂️ Subscribe below to make sure you don’t miss out! ??


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  1. December 9, 2018 / 8:12 am

    Nice one kid! Belt loops on thick fabric- when I was a kid all coats only had thread loops for belts, and they always worked fine. Use thick waxed buttonhole twist, they take a moment or two to make, honest! [And on the off chance that they break or pull out, only moments to replce…result!]

    • Sarah
      December 10, 2018 / 8:54 am

      Thanks! I was just last night making the belt loops for the next version… I ended up smacking ‘em with the clapper to reduce the bulk ? It did make a difference to the thickness, but whether I’ll actually be able to sew them onto the coat or not remains to be seen. If it’s another failure, I’ll be getting the buttonhole twist out! ??

  2. Celia
    December 9, 2018 / 8:13 am

    Fantastic coat, so versatile and comfy to wear! Love your choice of fabric and lining!

    • Sarah
      December 10, 2018 / 8:55 am

      Thanks Celia! ? It really is so easy to wear… It’s totally not my usual style of coat so I’m really glad I gave it a try!

  3. Virginia Davis
    December 9, 2018 / 10:26 am

    Beautiful coat. I love the silouette and choice of face fabric and lining!

    • Sarah
      December 10, 2018 / 8:56 am

      Thank you Virginia! ? I don’t have any other coats that are this sort of style, and I’m really pleased I made it because I love the silhouette too! I can’t decide whether I like it best open or belted though ???‍♀️

  4. December 9, 2018 / 11:34 am

    Wow another great coat. I love the fabrics ??
    Great news on the Etsy shop ? … knuckle down, it’s only a couple of weeks away! ????

    • Sarah
      December 10, 2018 / 8:57 am

      Thank youuuu ☺️☺️ You know I love a good coat ? Haha, yep the last posting date for the UK is next Thursday… not that I’m counting down or anything lol ?

  5. Julie @stitchandink
    December 9, 2018 / 1:44 pm

    Hey Sarah, If i hadn’t seen this on you I never would’ve considered that pattern. It’s a beautiful shape on you. Love it! ?? I really enjoy reading your blog every week. It’s a Sunday morning tradition. ?.


    • Sarah
      December 10, 2018 / 8:58 am

      Ahh thank you so much Julie! ? I love it when people say that reading the blog forms part of their Sunday routine ☺️☺️☺️ It makes me so happy!
      I’m so glad that you enjoy it.
      I’m not sure I would have chosen this pattern on my own if Deer and Doe hadn’t approached me… but I’m *so* glad that I made it because I love it! The second one is well underway now! ?

  6. Brenda Evans
    December 9, 2018 / 1:51 pm

    Another wonderful blog always look forward to Sundays.!!!!!

    • Sarah
      December 10, 2018 / 8:59 am

      Thank you Brenda! I’m so glad that you enjoy the blog, it makes me so happy when people say that reading the blog is part of their Sunday rituals! ☺️☺️☺️

  7. Brenda Holmes
    December 9, 2018 / 2:47 pm

    You look totally fabulous in that coat.

    • Sarah
      December 10, 2018 / 9:00 am

      Thank you Brenda! ? It’s super comfy, and really easy to wear. It’s a winner for me!

  8. December 11, 2018 / 8:54 am

    You can also crochet a simple chain for belt loops – or make it from a overlock chain!

    • Sarah
      December 18, 2018 / 5:53 pm

      Aha, yes thanks for the idea! I reckon I could crochet one ?

  9. December 11, 2018 / 10:06 pm

    I love your Opium! I had seen the pattern before but I didn’t like the boxy shape much, but I think your belt-version is awesome!

  10. Rebecca in SoCal
    December 13, 2018 / 6:54 am

    I love that you’re making another one already. It’s kind of a fun style to wear, easy and swingy, right?

    I also thought of thread loops, but also would consider a piece of ribbon (grosgrain, probably).

    Great on your Etsy shop success!

    • Sarah
      December 18, 2018 / 5:54 pm

      Ahaaaa yes ribbon! Why didn’t I think of that ???‍♀️ it’s quite a chunky belt so ribbon probably would have been a good shout. And yes, it’s super easy to wear! The second one is now finished – yay! ????

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