So we’ve just completed our third week of working from home, and it’s at this point I’m truly, truly thankful that we have a garden. A few rays of warm sunshine does a heck of a lot for the soul, and I can totally understand why people flocked to the UK parks to sunbathe when it was sunny. I also understand that it’s against the lockdown rules, so I wouldn’t have done it myself, but I do get why they did it – I have friends that are living in flats that don’t get much sun (even basement flats, in some cases), and it’s driving them mad.
The one thing that gets me through the rainy, cold and windy winter cycle commutes is the promise of warmer weather to come. I *live* for cycling to work in the fresh air with the summer’s warm sunshine on my skin – it literally charges my soul. At the moment we are going out once a week for a cycle ride, which sort of scratches the itch a bit, but I hope that there’s some summer left at the point we return to office working so I can enjoy the commute I’ve been waiting all year for, before winter rolls on around again.
Speaking of work, the talks of redundancies, furloughs and pay cuts are now happening at both mine and the husbeast’s offices. *Sigh*. It obviously brings much stress and anxiety, thinking about how will we pay our rent and our bills if the worst happens. I try not to think about it, because what’s the point? I can’t change the outcome by worrying about it, what will happen will happen, and when it does we will try and devise the best plan given the circumstances we’ve been dealt. Rosy Pena quoted Theodore Roosevelt in her most recent blog post, and the words really resonated with me:
‘Do what you can, with what you have, where you are’. I know I’ve said before about not buying any new fabric and using up the stash, but now this is in full force. There’s nothing like the fear of losing your job to put a curb on fabric spending, that’s for sure.
Remember last week I said I had an urge to go for a run? Well, I went for that run. I rummaged under the bed for my running kit, and went. Now, even though I used to run a lot and went fairly long distances, I haven’t run in almost a year. Yes, I cycle, but running is a whole different kettle of fish. I planned my route – two miles, to the local bit of greenery and back. I regretted it after about three minutes. Maybe not even that. By the time I got home, twenty minutes later (having been determined to run the whole thing and not walk), I was done. I did not enjoy it as much as I thought I would. The next morning, as I lay there in bed having just opened my eyes but not actually having moved yet, I felt that my back ached. Upon trying to move and get up, my brain suddenly broadcast HOLY SHITBALLS EVERYTHING HURTS PLEASE STOP ALL MOVEMENT ASAP to the rest of my body. Plus, my left knee now clicks when I walk up the stairs 😑 I was ruined for three days from that one short run guys. THREE DAYS. And I didn’t even enjoy the run.
Ima stick to cycling from now on. I pledge my allegiance to the bike and I promise never to betray it again.
But anyway. I’ve got a NEON PINK FUR COAT to show you! (which yes, totes deserves the shouty capitals 🤩)
Yeah, it feels a bit weird to post a fur coat when we’ve had a few days of blazing sunshine, but everything’s a bit wonky donkey atm so 🤷🏻♀️
You know how sometimes you’re just drawn to a fabric? You’re there, wandering around the fabric store, and BAM – you see it. The minute you lock eyes on it, you know that you just have to have it and there’s no way you can go home without it tucked under your arm.
That’s what it was like for me and this fur. I saw it in Mood fabrics, on my very first visit to their store in 2018, tucked up in a corner towards the back. The husbeast very kindly freed it from underneath other fabrics, and I searched for a price tag. Please don’t be something so outrageously unreasonable that I can’t afford you, I thought. I need you. There was no price tag to be found, so I found one of the sales guys to ask them.
I was told that the fur had just been delivered that very same morning – and wasn’t even put out for sale yet – but it was $40 per yard. Eeesh. Pretty spendy. Though justifiable, at a push. I stroked it. It was so soft and fwuffy. SOLD.
I bought two and a half yards of it, because I wasn’t sure of the pattern I wanted to use yet. At this point in my sewing journey, I’d only made one fur coat – so my knowledge and experience of fur patterns was limited. I knew that two and a half yards would cover most jacket patterns, so it seemed a safe bet 🤷🏻♀️
They literally bagged the fur up into a bin liner-slash-sack (Mood branded, obvs) as their normal bags were nowhere near big enough, and when we got it back to our accommodation (carried by the husbeast from 38th street to 57th street, slung over his shoulder like Santa) we discovered that it took up an entire suitcase on it’s own. I’m not even joking guys. Vacuum bags would have been amazeballs, thinking about it, but it didn’t occur to me at the time. Note to self: take ’em, next time. They will be good for yarn too 🧶
We had a particularly cold snap in London that winter, and when I say cold snap what I actually mean is – it was bloody FREEZING. Like, literally. It was so cold that I borrowed the husbeast’s fur coat to wear to work that day. It was during this week that I discovered how comfy and warm it is to wear, even when it’s proper cold. And when I say warm, I mean furnace-like. You’re gonna get your sweat on wearing it, I tell ya (it’s either the fur, or the non-breathable polyester lining… 🤷🏻♀️)
I decided that I needed my own fur coat. It was so cold that I simply couldn’t remain alive outdoors without one. I took stock of the things that I wanted to change from the one I’d made him:
1. Pocket bags needed to be bigger – my phone only just about fit into it, and it was precariously small. There was a very real danger of said phone falling out of the pocket.
2. I definitely needed more room around the bum – perhaps grade up a size for the lower half of the coat.
3. Install an inner tie to keep the inside front from hanging about like a sadsack (in fact, just don’t ignore the instructions that tell you to put one in thinking that you don’t need it.) Which is exactly what I did. Turns out I did need it, after all 🤦🏻♀️
4. Use fur hooks and eyes to close, rather than a button and elastic – and use two rather than just one.
5. Don’t use lining fabric for the pockets – get that nice flannel you’ve been banging on about for ages.
6. Remember to label the sleeve lining and fabric cutting lines so that you DON’T GET THEM MIXED UP. Yep, this happened – but in my defence, the lining cutting line was below the fabric line, and it’s usually the other way around. I blame the husbeast, because he traced the pieces and failed to label the two lines (and let’s ignore the fact that I incorrectly assumed which was which rather than checking 😂)
A small list, but some very important things on there.
The show was now – officially – on the road.
The first thing I did was to get all the traced pattern pieces out from the first time around. I retraced the sleeve, because we narrowed it from the original and it was all folded up and stuck with tape, and made separate pieces for the outer sleeve and sleeve lining, so that there could be NO CONFUSION. NONE WHATSOEVER.
I also retraced the pocket template and made it bigger:
For adding more room around the bum, I cut the back piece on the fold rather than as two separate pieces – the template sort of narrows as it gets towards the hem, so I figured the best way to put some extra room there was to scrap the centre seam and have it the same width the whole way down.
When it came to the pocket bags, I cut two from fur (as I did for the last coat – the fur ones help to camouflage the pockets if the opening gapes a bit) and two from black flannel rather than from lining fabric. I can confirm that it is WAY better to use flannel than flimsy lining fabric – I picked up a metre from Minerva for about £6 and it’ll do me good for pockets for a long while yet.
Cutting fur fabric is an experience, for sure. For starters, you’ve got to convince any animals that have adopted the fabric as their new bed, to remove themselves please and thank you.
Then, once the fabric has been cut you’ve got to be prepared for your floor to look like this:
Yeah. I hope you’ve got a good hoover. It gets EVERYWHERE. It’s easy to hoover the floor, but what do you do with all the fluff that’s stuck to you? You lay on the floor and get the husbeast to hoover you as well. Yep, we actually did this. Twice. Worked pretty well! The dog? Well, she was lying directly beneath the ironing board and had caught a few floaty bits, but wouldn’t accept being hoovered. Don’t blame her 😂
I put a LOT of thought into the lining fabric for this coat. I wanted to use a natural fabric ideally, but I just couldn’t find any in a print I liked. I even started a collection of options on my phone, to see everything together. I really really didn’t want to use a plain lining – black being the clear option here – but I was struggling to find The One. A Spoonflower print caught my eye on Etsy – neon cat heads repeated over and over. The neon colours fitted with the neon pink of the fur, and the cats continued the feline theme… it was my fave out of the options I had so far.
The only problem?
Spoonflower only print on synthetic fabrics. If I wanted the super cool cat heads, I had to have it on polyester satin. Just those two words makes me shudder, because I’ve had some baaaaaad experiences with that in the past. I wrestled with the decision for a while. I looked at my little ‘lining inspiration board’ to see if perhaps one of the nice viscose or silk options jumped out at me.
I had to have the cats, it was the one.
Polyester satin it was to be 😩
When it arrived, I excitedly opened the packet to get my paws on the fabric. My first thought was eeeeeesh it feels horrible. Synthetic, stiff, plastic-y. Only the awesome print was enough to keep me from regretting the decision entirely. Sometimes I don’t bother pre-washing coat lining – because I don’t pre-wash the outer fabric, either, so it feels like a waste of time – but on this occasion, I did. The leaflet that came in the packaged urged people to WASH YO’ FABRIC so I threw it in the washing machine. Man am I glad I did – it came out MUCH softer, and felt nowhere near as horrible as it did when it first arrived. The improvement was massive. I mean sure, it’s still polyester, but it became a whole lot nicer after that wash. The print hadn’t faded, either – the colours were still really vibrant. If it had faded, it was super-slight and not enough for me to notice.
The lining was cut out and we were ready to start making the magic happen ✨
The previous time I made this fur coat, I trimmed the seam allowances (by hand) and then ran them through the overlocker – which the overlocker wasn’t altogether impressed with. This time, I decided to follow the process that I used on the husbeast’s fur jacket that I made recently and hand-stitch the seam allowances open. It distributes the bulk of the seam allowances a bit better than even a little overlocker ridge. Yes, it takes longer and is way more labour intensive, but hey – sew less and sew better, right?
Since I had a pocket bag seam give up on me in one of my previous coats, they now get extra finishing – a regular line of stitching, plus another round of zigzag just to be sure.
A word of wisdom for a first-time-fur-user: buy some of those little plastic clips. You ain’t gonna be getting pins through the fur, and even if you did manage it, the likelihood is that you’ll lose them amongst the pile and further down the road they’re gonna be stabbing you in the arm when you’re out wearing the finished coat.
Use the clips. Trust me.
The satin lining, whilst pretty, frayed like a bastard at the edges which made me even more glad that I didn’t use it for the pocket bags. I toyed between overlocking the edges and french seaming, and in the end went with the French seams. Sure, it might be a bit extra given that the seams are going to be hidden in between the coat and the lining, but I knew that it would prevent fraying – hopefully for a good number of years because that’s how long I plan to wear this bad boy. It ain’t ever going out of fashion in my eyes 👀
I used fur hooks for closure on this version – the previous effort got a single button and elastic loop. The fur hooks are WAY better. I also included the little ribbon tie on the inside, but it’s proper fiddly to do up! From what I can remember, I think they instruct you to sew a tie from lining fabric, but I went delving in the box of odds and ends that I keep just in case and found a bit of strong black ribbon that was perfect 👌🏻
I’m not so impressed with the instructions for slip stitching the lining along the bottom – it’s pretty difficult given the length of the pile. Bagging the lining would be a better option, but you’d need a pretty big-ass hole in the lining seam to turn that whole coat right side out through 🤔
I still can’t quite make sense of the instructions for attaching the lining to the sleeve cuff (because their pictures don’t quite mirror how it looks in real life) but I can’t see how I can end up with what their picture depicts, so I’m just gonna go with my slip stitching method and leave it at that. It’s on the inside anyway, so it’s not like you can see it. If anyone wants to go digging into the cuffs of my coat to criticise my finishing techniques, they can jog on 😂
I’m really happy with the finished coat – the fabric is (obvs) amazing, but it fits well too. The coat is super warm, and when I last wore it into the city a stranger in the street complimented me on how much she liked it 😍 Just seems strange that there aren’t too many modern sewing patterns out there for full fur coats – you have to go vintage, it seems 🤷🏻♀️
But overall, I’m chalking this up as another win! 🙌🏻
I’m steadily putting on weight at around half a pound a week, which I’m trying to turn around (but is also probs not helped by the Easter chocolates I’ve been eating…) We‘ve gone from being relatively fit people that cycled around a hundred miles a week who ate healthily and never got time to watch TV, to people who count a 20-minute walk as their daily exercise and now spend the evenings sitting on the sofa watching the extended versions of Lord Of The Rings and snacking. My hair is fading to some funky colours (my fringe has gone from purple to blue (and I feel like it’s heading towards grey now) but I just can’t bring myself to use up thirty quids worth of hair dye just to have it look fresh sitting at home. Once we get a confirmed date of being able to go back out into the world, I’ll think about it. Until then, I might just wear a hat on my conference calls 😂
The sewing motivation is still somewhat lacking, but I’ve cut out (and finished) a woven La Brea Tee, and I’ve also got the supplies out for my Gucci-inspired bomber jacket. If sequins and bling can’t lure me back, I might just be beyond saving 😱😂
Until next week. Stay safe, guys ✌🏻
On the blog next week – a Linden sweatshirt, including my first adventure into loopback jersey and some new experiences with iron-on stuff 👀 Subscribe below to have the post drop straight into your inbox 🙌🏻