Sometimes when I make something for myself the garment starts with a pattern I like, or I have an occasion where I need something to wear. This started with the fabric, quite some time ago. John visits me occasionally with a van full of high quality suiting and coating fabrics. I spied some orange wool in his van and decided it needed to live with me. I had no specific plan at the time but loved the colour and weight. Time passed....
So this winter I found myself thinking I would love a really smart winter coat, something to wear when I wanted to feel dressed up, but warm and cosy, I had the coat fabric but what pattern should I use? This is where it gets tricky. I only had that fabric, and I had had it for so long there was no way I could get more. I ended up using a pattern from an Italian pattern company called Marfy. The pattens they make are really stylish, and are really only suitable for experienced dressmakers, as there are no instructions, not even a picture with the pattern (the one I have I downloaded from their site), however they do look fabulous when made, so well worth the effort.
The pattern needed a faux fur trim and happily I had a length in my fabric stash that worked really well with the wool, so I chose a fancy lining and was all set to go.
The first task was the toile (a mock up). Please forgive the interesting pattern, I used an old duvet cover! It's an important stage of any garment, as it means both fit, and style, can be checked before committing to the chosen fabric. It's much easier to correct fitting problems before cutting the garment out! Luckily there was nothing I needed to change, so on with cutting out the lovely fabrics.
The next stage was applying interfacing to the pieces that needed it. Because of the lack of instructions this is very much down to experience, both in the type and placement. I like to use interfacings from English Couture Company for many things and on this occasion used their coat weight fusible, as it supports the fabric but doesn't make it feel stiff or heavy.
Torso and patch pockets
Now the exciting part, assembling my new coat. I started by sewing the seams of the "skirt" section together and then making the patch packets. I did not want to have top stitching on this garment so I chose to use a method where the lining is sewn to the pocket piece, then the lining and facing of the pocket is machined in place. Seam allowances are pressed inwards, and then the pocket is folded down over the lining and hand stitched. I assembled the bodice of the coat and attached the skirt section, now complete with pockets.
Once assembled (with suitable interfacing at the top of the sleeve) they were inserted with a sleeve head, to help give a soft rounded shape.
There is quite a bit of fabric eased into the sleeve head, but careful work allows a lot of fabric to sit in that curve without any gathering, which is necessary to allow free movement and no restriction.
The fur trim on the collar meant this had to be handled very carefully. No pressing with a steam iron or the fur would have, at the very least, flattened, but possibly melted. However it does need to lie flat. I solved this by carefully hand stitching underneath the collar, from the right side in a matching thread , so the seam allowance was held flat but the loft of the fabric meant the stitches were invisible.
Faux fur trim
The trim had to be hand sewn after the hem had been finished. In a fit of enthusiasm I decided the cuffs should also have trim, a choice I'm glad I made but one which needed the rest of the trim in place, so I could see if it worked, and what proportions were needed. Then I cleaned up lots of fur fibers from my sewing room!
A coat like this really has to be lined. Lining serves many functions, it adds a layer of insulation, trapping air between layers, it covers all the internal workings of the coat, giving a nicer finish, and very importantly it makes the garment easier to wear, allowing it to slip on easily. Inspired by menswear I decided to add inside pockets.
Of course, as I was making the design choices, the double welt pockets are large enough for a smart phone.
After installing the lining, my coat was really taking shape, so I started to attachmy chosn fastenings. The Marfy pattern had a fabric loop design which I felt would be too bulky for the coat weight wool. So I purchased metal clasps- disaster! No matter what, I could not get them to look right on my lovely new coat. They always looked lopsided. So it was time for a rethink, and I decided a dark, chestnut brown button was a better choice. After a little sampling I decided a bound buttonhole was more in keeping with the style than a regular one. Ideally these should have been done before the lining and facing were sewn to the coat, but a little careful unpicking meant I could get the right results.