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
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.
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 . . .