Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Bubble Coat Mega Post

I finished my wool coat today!

I started working on it in earnest last Wednesday.  I took lots of pictures and meant to do progress posts as I worked, but it ended up being a busy week . . .  so I'm lumping them all in one huge mega-post today.

This is the coat I've been wanting to make for over a year:  "Bubble Coat with Front Ruffles" from Burda magazine 12/2011.  I fell in love with it after coming across Kokuryu's beautiful coat on the BurdaStyle website and vowed to make my own.  By the time I discovered it, the issue in question was out of print, so I had to hunt one down on eBay - mine came all the way from Israel.


As you can see, the original has a satin ruffle/flounce at the front.  I really considered making one on my coat, but in the end the fabric I bought had a more masculine feel so I decided to leave it off.  My fabric came from Fashion Fabrics Club - yet another drug website the Mad Housewife introduced me to.  Over the summer they had all their wool coatings on sale for $10 a yard, so I bought 3 yards of a grey/cream herringbone with orange stripes running through.  I really only needed 2 yards for the coat, but wanted to give myself some leeway.  I didn't mess up though, so now I have enough left over for a matching hat or a skirt.


Because this is a "magazine" pattern, that meant tracing from the nested sheet.  I know a lot of you would rather have ALL your teeth pulled with no anesthetic than to trace a pattern like this, but it's really not that bad.  The thing that held me up most was lack of good light.  There are a few tricks that help:  see those colored numbers across the top?  They correspond with the pattern pieces so you know where to look.  I was tracing the red pattern pieces from this sheet.  So for example - look at the red number 4 along the top, then just scan down the sheet until you see another red 4 - that is the outline of pattern piece 4 for my pattern!

Another thing I find really helpful is the picture of all the pattern pieces that's given in the instructions under the line drawing of the garment:


This little box shows where to look for your pattern pieces, what color the lines are, and what the lines look like for each size.   You can see that I checked off each piece as I traced it (except for piece 6, which was the last one I traced).  The seams are also numbered, which is really helpful as these seam numbers are referenced in the instructions.

The instructions themselves are a little off-putting for me, but not for the normal reason.  The print is so tiny it's hard for me to read!!   But I've found a way around that:  on the Burda website, for any pattern that is available as a download, you can download just the instructions for free.  I did that and then printed them off.  Ahhh, much better!!


Aside from lack of light to trace my pattern, the thing that held me up most with this project was trying to decide what to use for interlining.  I waffled for a long time between expensive lambswool and cheap cotton flannel.  In the end I decided to go with the flannel for a few reasons:  the cost obviously.  But also, I found that not having all my materials on hand was keeping me from even starting, so rather than try to figure out exactly how much I needed and then make an online order, I just got on with it and headed over to JoAnn's for some flannel.  I also hit up my local fabric shop (Vogue) for some rayon bemberg for the lining.

The construction of this coat was actually pretty simple, but the whole process was as time-consuming as you'd think.  First cut out the outer fabric, then cut out the same pieces from flannel, then cut out the lining pieces.  THEN - hand baste all the interlining pieces to the outer pieces.  After all that, I finally got to sew a seam!  Here's an in-progress shot where you can see the interlining basted to the outer.


And here's that same corner from the front.  I'm proud to say I'm getting pretty good at these!  Good thing, because this pattern has a lot of them!


After each seam was sewn, I unpicked the basting stitches and trimmed back the interlining using my duckbill scissors.  Oddly, I didn't mind doing any of this.  I like hand-stitching, and I was in a headspace where I just wanted to take my time with this project.  I don't always feel that way, but this time I did!


The hem allowances get interfaced, so I used the 1.25" fusible knit interfacing I got from A Fashionable stitch.  Having a strip already cut made it so easy!  Sewing the hems was easy too - with wool this thick, I didn't have to be super careful about picking up just one thread (like I did on my cotton sateen coats), so I was able to zoom right along.

The coat has in-seam pockets.  The front of the pocket bag is lining fabric, and the back is outer.  For setting in the pockets, I ignored the instructions and did it the Sewaholic way.  The pattern instructions wanted me  to sew up the pocket, sew the side seam above and below the pocket opening and then set in the pocket.  Whaaaaa?  I have never seen pocket instructions like that before!  Tasia's way is so much better!



The pattern calls for the coat to close with large snaps, and I wanted to keep that feature.  But after looking at a couple of my RTW coats, I decided I'd like the snaps to be fabric-covered, so I asked Google how to do that.  I finished these up this morning and took lots of pictures for you guys - it's very easy to do, although a little time consuming. 

You start out with a circle of lining fabric twice the diameter of your snap.  My snaps measured 1.125" across, so I cut circles 2.25" in diameter.  For the "male" side, cut a tiny hole in the center and then force it over the post.



Then use a running stitch to gather the fabric around the back of the snap:



Once my fabric circle was closed, I went back through the gathers all the way around with my needle a couple more times to secure it, then brought my needle to the edge so I could sew it on my coat.


I had marked my snap placement with tailor's tacks:


It was my first time using them, but it won't be my last!  I'd always thought it would be fussy to make them, but I think it might actually be easier than using chalk. 

Here's a close-up of a finished snap couple.  You do the "female" part the same as the male, but without cutting a hole.  When you snap it closed, the fabric on the female part stretches to accomodate the post.


I'm really happy with how finished the snaps look.  I'll definitely be doing this again in the future.


As I said, the coat is lined in rayon bemberg.  I am REALLY late to the bemberg party - this was my first time using it!  I love it though - it feels so much more luxurious than the cheap linings I usually buy.  Lesson learned!


The pattern included the piece for the front and back neck facings, but forgot to mention that when you construct the lining, you need to remove the excess fabric from the lining piece at the neckline.  I figured it out though.  The pattern also does not ask you to do any clipping or understitching, but I did both.  These Burda patterns assume you've been sewing and know that you need to do those things.

The lining is attached with jump hems at the bottom and sleeve edges.  Like I did on my cotton coats, to keep things neater, I enclosed the raw edge of the facing with a Hong Kong finish.


And finally, here are the pictures of the finished coat. 


On the hanger, it looks like the facing is holding up the hem.  But on my body, there is some "take up" caused by my (modest) boobs, so it does hang straight!

There are some really nice style lines across the shoulders:


And at the center back:


On the front there is a pieced "bib:"


I added this lovely vintage brooch I have, which matches perfectly in color!


The shape of this coat is very interesting.  It's extremely pegged at the knee:


Honestly, I'm not sure how much I love it on my body.  I like it, don't get me wrong.  But I think it's a difficult shape to wear.  Of course, given that it has no collar and three quarter sleeves, the wear time for this one is limited anyway.  It does look pretty great left open, which has the added bonus of showing off my fancy fabric-covered snaps.

However, I'm very proud of my workmanship on this coat.  I took my time and made sure to do things right.  I didn't rush through any of the steps, and when I felt tired, I stopped working.  I learned a bunch of new techniques.

And I learned that there's no great mystery to sewing a coat.  It's pretty much the same as sewing anything else - just thicker.  But my trusty walking foot helped me out with that.  I used it throughout and I'm glad I did.

I've already made a hat to go with this coat.  Actually, the hat got made first!  And I'm currently working on another infinity scarf in light grey to wear along with it.  All that's left is some elbow-length gloves.  I'm pondering some ideas for that . . .

54 comments:

  1. Beautiful! The covered snaps are so clever, love them. And isn't Bemberg great? I'm a huge fan of the stuff.

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    1. Thanks, Marrie! Oh yes, the bemberg is Sooooo nice. A lesson to me not to be so cheap - it really elevates the feeling of quality in the whole garment!

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  2. Wow well done this looks really professional! I'm just about to start sewing my first winter coat and if it looks anywhere near as good as this I'll be delighted!
    www.cashmerette.blogspot.com

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    1. Thank you so much, Jenny! I'm proud of the work I did on this, and just as proud that I didn't allow myself to hurry through like I often do. Good luck on your coat project!

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  3. This is so gorgeous!!!!! The fabric covered snaps are awesome so I'm really going to have to give them a try! The extra time you took for the finishing touches were well worth it as this jacket looks flawless. Can't wait to see some photos of it on!

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    1. Thank you! I am really loving the covered snaps. And although it does take more time, I found it easier to sew on to the coat. I always have a hard time working my needle through those holes on the snap - here I didn't even use them! Just sewed into the fabric covering, and went around each snap twice to make it nice and strong.

      Will try to model some photos soon - I'm nowhere near camera-ready today, LOL!

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  4. So beautifully made - just lovely :)

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  5. Awesome! I love the retro feel of this coat, I've always wanted one like this, along with a swing coat. I have a thing for opposites, I guess.

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    1. Thanks, Lisa! I've been wanting a "real" cocoon coat, because I've been watching Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries on Netflix - the clothes! If you haven't seen it you should check it out - you'd love the costuming!

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  6. So lovely. I'm always wowed by your techniques! I covet your sewing smarts :) it's a really interesting shape! I can see you wearing it well though!

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    1. Thank you, Jo! No pressure there! LOL!

      It is an interesting shape. I thought it would be more Poiret-like, but it's really a reverse A-line . . . those wacky Europeans!

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    2. I could see it's not quite a Poiret cocoon shape (which I love, btw), but couldn't quite figure out what was different. A reverse A-line? - iintrguing!
      -- stashdragon

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    3. "intriguing". . . clumsy typing fingers.

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  7. Like everyone else said - this coat is absolutely gorgeous (inside and out)! I've never sewn snaps so I really have to try this sometime. I can't wait to see this put together with the hat, scarf, and gloves - it will be amazing!

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    1. Thank you, Shar! Do give the snaps a try - I think it looks so elegant. A couple hours after I posted this, I remembered I had a vintage Vera scarf that has these exact colors! I put it with the coat and it looks awesome, so it will fill in until I get the warm scarf done.

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  8. That is seriously gorgeous. This isn't a style I could wear well in a zillion years, but I'm sure it's going to look great on you.

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  9. Beautiful! I want to see the hat!!!

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    1. Thanks, Rhonda! I'm getting there, one technique at a time!

      The hat is the same watch cap I made in the fall only in orange. I never took a picture of the finished hat! I will make sure to include it in the outfit photos though.

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  10. Oh. My. Gosh!!!!!

    Gail this is absolutely fabulous! The fabric and the snaps and the shape...it's a work of art!!

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  11. What a beautiful coat. I can't wait to see how it looks on! Your workmanship looks impeccable.

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    1. Thank you, Morgan! Looking forward to seeing yours soon!

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  12. This is gorgeous Gail. I've had my eye on this pattern (without the frills) for ages, and almost downloaded it a couple of weeks ago. I went with another Burdastyle coat instead, but am now debating my decision.

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    1. Thanks, Sam! How funny that you had the same coat in mind! I have several Burda envelope coat patterns, and of course I subscribe to the magazine. I seem to really like their outerwear!

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  13. Beautiful beautiful beautiful!! I love everything about this coat- the shape is amazing and all your finishing looks so perfect. I planned to cover the giant snaps I used on a recent coat but had so much trouble finding a fabric that complimented the blue/green/grey of my coating I ended up painting mine with enamel model paint! The snaps are great to use aren't they- no buttonholes! :)
    I think this would look so beautiful with some long leather gloves and I love your vintage brooch too!

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    1. Thank you, Ami! That's high praise, since you're the Coat Master!

      I have been on the lookout for some long leather gloves in charcoal grey for the last month - I've only found one pair and they were ridiculously expensive! I definitely need some sort of long glove for this coat, so I'm going to try to make some.

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  14. What a beautiful coat! Love all your tips (I've bookmarked the page) and so glad you like tailor's tacks too.

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    1. Thank you, Dottie! I feel like a dunce for not trying tailor's tacks sooner - they're so quick and easy!

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  15. wow gail, this is gorgeous! a coat is a good thing to enjoy the process while sewing. can't wait to see this on, all the details look flawless!

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    1. Thank you, Lisa! You're right - I think a coat says "long haul - take it slowly" more than other types of projects. Somehow knowing from the get-go that it's going to take a while helps me slow down and just enjoy it!

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  16. Wow, your coat looks amazing! Have you worn it yet? I really admire your seam matching skills! Just perfect. And that brooch fits perfectly - style and color-wise! I think it is a good idea to make gloves to get some more wear out of the coat. I also have a coat with short sleeves (bought) and I hardly wear it. So I am really interested, if you will find and make some long gloves :)

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    1. Thank you, Daniela! I have not worn it yet, as I didn't leave the house yesterday, LOL! And today I'm home too, cooking away . . However, we have some events coming up in the next couple weeks and I'm hoping to wear it then. Can't seem to make myself get gussied up just to run to the grocery store!

      Also, I have to admit that I paid no attention to pattern matching, I just got REALLY lucky! This fabric was so forgiving!

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  17. This is so lovely! It's a really special piece! Can't wait to see it on you!

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    1. Thanks, Sonja! So now you're not the only one with a blanket-y coat!

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  18. Gail, you are a brilliant seamstress, you know that? I'm hoping some of it rubs off on me next week, seriously. You make it all sounds so easy peasy, and I'm left with my mouth open at your amazing skill, especially after my last make ended up in the garbage bin! This coat looks so well executed. I’m looking forward to seeing it on you.

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    1. Awww, thank you! Do you know what though? This fabric was a lot easier to work with than the slippery one you used last week! I want to make everything in wool now - it is SO easy to sew!

      I tend to do a lot of reflecting while I sew, and I'm always aware of how everything I've done previously influences what I'm working on at the moment. As I did things like cut away the interlining at the seam allowances, I'd think about the Craftsy class where I learned to do that, and about how I didn't know that before and now I do. I think the cumulative nature of learning sewing is really interesting and important for me - it all keeps building, and over time the results get better and better.

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  19. What a super cute coat! I live the herringbone vibe and those bits of color in it. The snaps are very neat. Haven't seen those before.

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    1. Thanks, Stef! I love grey and orange together, and when I saw this fabric I knew it was perfect.

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  20. I can't believe it only took you a week to make this - that's a hell of a lot of work in such a short space of time! It looks fab and your brooch matches perfectly. Just need photos of you wearing it now...!

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    1. I actually only worked on it for four of those days - it's a pretty simple design, but all the cutting and basting added on a lot of time! The weather has warmed back up a little, so I plan on wearing it and photographing it this week.

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  21. I absolutely love that fabric. It couldn't be better and it really goes perfectly with that pattern! I can't wait to see it on, it looks so good on the hanger already!

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    1. I love it too - I'm so glad I found and bought this fabric. You can never be quite sure what you're going to get when you order online, but this one ended up being a winner!

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  22. Your coat is beautiful Gail! It's so well made! I really like the idea of using plain cotton flannel for interlining and think I might have to borrow this for whenI make my coat.

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    1. Thanks, Debbie! I think the flannel ended up being the right choice for this coat. It's quite a bit heavier than lambswool (weight-wise), but the wool outer was a little on the thin side, so the flannel added a nice heft that was missing otherwise. That said, now that I've gotten my feet wet a little with coat-making, I won't be as afraid to spend the money on lambswool in the future!

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  23. Sensational! You knocked it out of the park with this one: fabric, shape, and finishing - not to mention the brooch. Now get those elbow-length gloves, with just a bit of "crumple" at the wrists. Suede, or smooth leather?
    -- stashdragon

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    1. Thanks, Gretchen! I ended up finding several pairs of leather gloves on Amazon (of course! Should have thought of that before!) which will be delivered over the next week if I'm lucky. All smooth leather, which wears better for me.

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  24. This looks like the most stunning coat, made with such care. It just looks amazing. I love the shape and can't wait to see you wear it!

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  25. I don't know how I've missed this coat. It's amazing, so beautiful and done with such precision and skills, the post left me utterly stunned. The selection of the fabrics and the matching brooch are marvelous!

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    1. I don't know how you missed it either - this post is like a tome, LOL!

      Thank you so much for these lovely compliments!

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  26. beautiful! looks so much better when you remove that front ruffle..

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    1. Thank you! I do like the ruffle, but with a more feminine fabric - this one reads quite masculine, IMO.

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