This coat is a total rule-breaker. A rebel of the coat world. It breaks all my style rules that I’ve spent many months figuring out – it’s not fitted, it’s slightly oversized, there is most definitely not a waistband. It’s boxy. Styles like this don’t usually work for me, because they make everything look in proportion with my hips – which are ginormous. But you know what? I BLOODY LOVE IT. So much so that I already have fabric for another one.
Why was I drawn to this coat? I’m not sure. Probably because it’s slightly masculine… despite the heels you see me in on the blog, I’m a tomboy at heart – flat shoes, short nails, no make up, jeans and a shirt. Such a disappointment to my mother who wanted a girly-girl that would love dolls and frilly dresses. I can’t do nice fancy things with my hair, or apply makeup to save my life, but I can fix a bicycle or a vintage car. Absolutely can’t cook. On the flip side, the husbeast is a good cleaner so we’re a good gender-fluid balance.
One thing’s for sure – you’re not gonna lose me in a crowd in this coat. Strangers in the street have felt the need to tell me how much they love it. This beautiful technicolour fabric is Gobelin fabric from Stoff and Stil, which is quite a heavy fabric (technically an upholstery fabric I think… but who cares about that – rules were made to be broken, as this coat has demonstrated). It’s not just fabulous from a distance either, if you look up close you can see all the different colours weaving in and out of each other. It’s kind of mesmerising. Especially the honeycomb pattern on the orange bit. OoooooOOOOOoooh.
The pattern I’ve used is the Republique Du Chiffon Gerard coat, which (according to their website) is no longer in stock – bummer. Someone on Instagram did say they were having trouble tracking down this pattern, so I’m not sure if it’s been discontinued… Not sure why they would stop printing it mind you, as it seems to be quite a popular pattern in the Instagram community.
You get a choice of three sleeve/body lengths to cut from the pattern – 160cm, 165cm and 170cm. I’m 166cm tall, but for reasons that I now can’t remember, I cut the 170cm. Probably because I hate coats where the sleeves are too short. I guess the success of this method of sizing depends on you having an arm length that’s somehow proportionate to your height, but it worked out ok for me using the slightly longer length.
The coat uses a construction method that I’ve never used before – though it’s quite a good one and gives a nice clean finish. You make the outer coat as a whole piece (so, that’s normal) and then the lining as a whole piece too (yep, again normal) but then you attach both of them right side together and sew round the whole thing. Everything. Including the hem. Not normal. Then you turn everything out the right way through a hole in the sleeve lining.
I have word of warning for anyone thinking of sewing this pattern – where it says ‘sew the sleeve seams and leave a hole in one of them’ this means LEAVE A HOLE IN EACH SLEEVE (ie two holes total) not ‘leave a hole in one seam out of all four’. This hole serves not just the purpose of being the means that you turn the whole thing inside out through (as I thought, hence why I only did one) but you need to have this hole in each sleeve in order to finish the sleeve cuff. Learned THAT the hard way, and will defo keep in mind for the next one.
One thing that frustrated me about the (VERY wordy) instructions for this coat, apart from the lack of pictures, was the fact that it keeps sending you to the website to view step by step tutorials of the complicated bits. That’s all well and good, but the narratives that accompany the pictures are in French (the whole tutorial is in French, there’s no english version so you better get those GCSE textbooks out PRONTO) and I had to keep flicking backwards and forwards between the tutorial and Google translate to actually make sense of the whole thing. Now I’m a pretty experienced sewist, like I’m not a div or anything, but their written instructions alone weren’t sufficient. Especially when it comes to the afore-mentioned sewing-the-cuff-through-the-hole-in-the-sleeve-lining fiasco. I read the tutorial as best I could. Twice. Then I attempted to somehow manipulate my sleeve and lining to look like it did in the pictures. And failed. And got cross. Gave it to the husband who also looked blank. But then he somehow made it look like it should… but when we turned it through the hole in the sleeve it was all wonky-donkey and totally wrong.
It was like a sewing version of the MC Escher stairs, where you think you’re going the right way then all of a sudden you’re downside up and much confused.
I still don’t even know how we did it in the end. The husband faffed about for a while, then gave me the sleeve (very precisely and carefully) and told me to sew it how it was. My god was it awkward as arse – every centimetre or so you had to shimmy the fabric round so you could sew the next bit – it wasn’t like sewing a cuff in the normal way. Unbelievably, it appeared to work. I took the picture below in the hope that it would help me when I made the next one… the lining and sleeve are wrong sides out (and the sleeve has been pulled from the inside to the outside through the hole in the sleeve lining) but you sew them right sides together. I’m not even going to bother trying to get my head around it to explain it – if you’re making this coat, you’re on your own buddy. Soz. This picture is all I’m giving ya.
There is a seam that runs along the very bottom of the jacket, where the outside meets a hem facing. I’m not used to having a seam here, usually I would fold the bottom of the coat upwards to make the hem. I definitely should have understitched, to stop the inside facing rolling out, but by the time I realised this it was too late. No way was I going fiddling with pulling the whole coat inside out through those damn holes in the sleeves again. Instead I had to (grudgingly) topstitch along the bottom edge to keep everything in place. Much like Spanx pants for facings, if you will. I had topstitched the lapels anyway (I couldn’t resist) so I just continued this all the way down, round the back of the coat and up the other side. It flutes out just a touch, because of this (or because of the thick lining, im not sure) which is annoying but at least I know for next time to get the understitching in while I can.
Even thought my coat is amazeballs, have a few niggles with RDC patterns – first being that you HAVE to trace as all the pieces are printed on one massive piece of white paper, all overlapping each other. Which I guess is sort-of a blessing in disguise… because I suppose we really should trace rather than cut in to our beloved originals. And they don’t include seam allowances either, so you have to add your own. LONG. The standard that they recommend is 1cm, but my tracing wheel starts at 1.5 so that’s what I add. To further complicate matters, they recommend different allowances for different pieces – I didn’t read the cutting chart properly (but to be fair, there’s so much of it – tl;dr) and I added seam allowances to the pocket facings which I shouldn’t have done. When it came to sewing the pockets I realised something was amiss and then had to go back and trim them down.
Top Tip: tick off each template number as you cut it, as this will avoid the living hell that is stopping halfway through sewing to haul out the tracing paper and scissors AGAIN when you thought you’d seen the back of it.
If you add something different from the 1cm seam allowance, just make a mental note as you’re reading the instructions to replace all instances of ‘sew at 1cm’ with ‘sew at 1.5cm’ or whatever you’ve added. Or go through the instructions before you start sewing, and manually write it in – this is my preference, as it’s more idiot-proof.
You’re instructed to cut the back piece as two separate halves, and then join with a seam down the middle. The seam was a perfect straight line though so I didn’t see the point in cutting two and making extra work with pattern matching – I just trimmed the seam allowance off the pattern piece on that side and cut one piece on the fold. Simples.
The coat looks REALLY big on me from the back, but I have to remember that’s how its *meant* to be. I’m just not used to stuff that’s loose.
I’m pretty proud of my welt pockets. It’s the first time I’ve done them on a coat like this, and it’s ultra-nerve-wracking cutting slits into your fabric to install them. Especially when you’re not totally sure what you’re doing. But they are pretty on point, I must say. I did consider using the reverse of the fabric for the welts, for a bit of contrast, but in the end I went with the right side. No regrets.
After the success of the welts, I restored balance by hashing up the collar. I cut two separate pieces for the upper collar instead of one on the fold. Damn that cutting chart. I didn’t have enough fabric to cut another complete piece, so instead I cut another half and tried my best to pattern match with one of the halves I’d already cut… it’s ok, it gets hidden by my hair anyways so I’ve made my peace with it. But I’ve now written on the pattern template CUT ONE ON FOLD in massive letters so that I don’t forget for next time.
I deliberated for ages over what lining to use, and for a long while before starting this coat I had settled on the idea of a plain red lining – a cherry red, to match the shade in the zig zag pattern. But I couldn’t seem to find the exact shade that I wanted, and it’s always hard buying online when you have a particular shade in mind because you’ll almost always be disappointed – because, well, those pesky “variable monitor colours” that ruin everyone’s lives. Then, as does usually happen when I make something, a vision of it working as part of a complete outfit came into my head – and it revolved around my hot pink bobble hat that a friend made for me. I then saw… something – I can’t remember whether it was a photo on Instagram or an article in Sew Today, or even something completely different – that had a quilted lining. As it was pretty cold at the time, a quilted lining seemed like a damn good idea for a coat. And – ding ding ding – a hot pink one could be found on eBay. YAS. TAKE MY MONEY.
The lining has a layer of wadding on the back, so it’s slightly thicker than you’d expect. I’ve never worked with a quilted lining before, but it wasn’t really any different to working with a ‘normal’ lining fabric. In fact, it was much easier than having a slippery satin going all over the place!
I can tell you that the lining is DEFINITELY warm. When the London commuter trains have the heaters blaring (which is all the time when it’s warm, and never when it’s cold and you actually need it) this coat is an absolute sweat fest. It’s like being wrapped in a duvet. I feel like I could wear it to Antarctica and still be toasty. It does however give the coat a bit of a thicker look – so I do resemble the Michelin man a touch, but I’m cool with that because I’m SO WARM.
My new thing is adding piping into coat lining/facing seams – I do love me a good bit of piping and it looks all profesh and grown up. Double win. I faffed for ages over what colour to use – I had some ready-made piping in pink kicking around, but it blended too much with the lining. And you know I don’t do subtle. Then I went through every colour in the coat one by one, trying to decide which one would look best… I never really settled on one. Then an idea hit me – I had some really crazy satin bias tape in my Box o’ Bias that I never quite manage to find a use for – it’s proper lairy and doesn’t really go with anything, and although I really like it in its own right it has never found its place on a garment. It’s the problem child of the stash. So I set to work making my own piping with cord that I got from Minerva Crafts – I originally bought the cord for my Jolaine Shirt (also by RDC) which I haven’t yet got round to making, so will have to replenish stocks when that time rolls around. It’s on my #MakeNine so it’ll defo be this year – fo sho.
I made this piping using my invisible zip foot, but recently when I was looking for a quilting guide arm amongst all my bits and bobs, I found a piping foot! A PROPER PIPING FOOT. Yay! I’ll use that in future, and it’ll probably make the whole process 100 times easier and quicker.
So after I bought a couple of metres of the lining, I went further down the pink rabbit hole and started thinking about a pair of pink platform trainers I’d seen a while back on YRU Shoes. They have the most amazing shoes on their site – BUT they are in the US and shipping to the UK is prettttty hefty. Even with their Black Friday 40% off sale, Business Cat could not approve this transaction based on the current state of the bank account.
And then a pair of Converse shoes sprang to mind – the husbeast got them for me a while back, from the Converse sample sale which was held just around the corner from his office. Shoes were all £10 or less per pair (BARG!) and I sent him with instructions to buy pretty things in my size. He knows what I like so I trust him… and the boy did good. He came back with the pink shiny-shiny shoes you see here, plus one other pair. This saved me from spending an obscene amount on the YRU shoes, and anyway I’m hoping I can pick up a pair in real life when we go to the States later this year and avoid extortionate shipping fees (and of course the good ol’ VAT import charge).
And yes, they’re not only pink, but holographic and shiny-shiny too. Booyakasha.
The coat coordinates awesomely with my bright pink hat that a friend knitted for me – it’s her own self drafted pattern but it’s knitted in Crazy Sexy Wool from Wool and The Gang if you’re wanting some for yourself, (shade Hot Punk Pink, natch). I feel like a scarf from the same wool is on the cards, purely to be worn as a set with this coat and hat… I might add it to the to-do list. It’d be pretty quick to knit as the wool is so chunky, so it could be a project for the workday commute. Or even a lunch break project, as let’s be real nobody actually wants to go outside in London when it’s January and ‘feels like -4’.
This coat is a little bit of a deviation from my usual colour scheme… it’s much lighter than I would generally go for. There’s even some WHITE on it. WHITE, people. And PASTELS. Arrrgh, what has become of me. It does however take me back to my teenage years, when I would wear hippy clothes in a full rainbow of colours. Perhaps it’s my fabric destiny. I definitely would have bought this when I was younger, if I saw it in a shop. Either way, the bottom line is: I LOVE IT 😀 😀 😀
Coming up next week on the Wanderstitch blog… a Q&A with all of your questions! If you missed getting your question in, it’s not too late – let me know what it is in the comments below! Sewing questions, blog questions, social media questions… don’t be shy! 🙂 Subscribe below to make sure you don’t miss out!
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