Coat Progress – Sewing Menswear

I’ve been promising Mr W something handmade for years.  It’s usually met with a look of doubt, those shifty eyes that say “yeah, right!”  The first thing I thought I’d make was some shirts, found lovely ex-Paul Smith fabric at some of the sewing shows.  Then he got fussy – “make sure the stripes follow exactly, make sure they join at the cuffs and collar, make sure it doesn’t look homemade….  Well, that last one did it!!  HOMEMADE!?!?!?!

Needless to say, that lovely Paul Smith shirting found its way to making shirts and blouses for myself and the girls instead and he got nothing!  But for a while now I’ve wanted to make him a nice coat, something smart but comfy.  He’s massively allergic to spending money on himself, so wouldn’t ever think of dropping £100 or more on a single item of clothing that only gets worn in one season a year.

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Patternmaking for Menswear by Injoo Kim and Myoungok Kim

I originally thought I’d make a peacoat, but after trying out the Thread Theory Goldstream, we realised the shape didn’t suit him.  So I resorted to drafting one.  I have a couple of menswear drafting books, but the only one that had a good enough looking block and resulting patterns was this one, Patternmaking for Menswear – Classic to Contemporary by Injoo Kim and Myoungok Kim.  I bought it about 2-3 years ago from Foyles at their Charing Cross Store.  (amazon link)  We’d had a day in London, finishing at the book store while we waited for our train home and ended up with quite a pile of lovely books!

Anyway, I’ve looked through it loads of times, but never found the time (or inclination) to use it, until now!  Having made exclusively for females, this book helped to make sure I was measuring all the right places with good photos of where to measure for a man.  The only thing I had a problem with – and it was a major problem, was the unit of measure.  As it’s a US book, it’s all in inches!!  I tried to work that way, but got myself completely muddled.  My ruler might have inches on it, but trying to find 6.3225 inches on my ruler just wasn’t happening!!!  So I threw out that draft, which looked so wrong it wasn’t funny, and converted everything to metric.  I have a chart in my notebook now with all the little bits of inches converted into nice and tidy millimetres.

So, depending on what works easier for you, you might like to convert everything before you start, or maybe you know where to find 6.335 inches on a ruler that shows only 1/8.  The draft, once the measurements were converted, looked much better!  You start with a torso block – I chose the slim fit as we wanted a more fitted garment.  Then that block is converted to a slim fit coat block.  You do the same if you’re wanting a jacket, start with the torso block and convert to a jacket block.  The sleeve blocks are drawn for the correct block.

The original block had a pretty good fit, the sleeves were too long (not sure how I measured that much!) and they needed a bit more room in the bicep area, but otherwise all was good!  The only thing that threw me a little was when you’re told to extend or move a line out 1/4 to 1/2 an inch, or 1/2 to 3/4.  Doesn’t sound like much, but converted to millimetres that’s 3-6mm or 12-19!  That’s a lot of mms!  So I opted for safety and chose the middle.

Drafting the style lines and making the working pattern was next.  We chose the Chesterfield style as the base for this coat, drafting the main body of the coat was straightforward and the instructions pretty clear.  When you get to the lapels, collar and facings though, you start jumping around the book.  The collar and lapels are in the jacket section of the book, facings in the shirt section and pockets are back in the coats!  I have a fair few bits of paper sticking out the top of the book to keep my places!

The first working pattern toile went together really well, I was pleased to note all the pieces went back together properly and all the notches lined up well.  Pretty chuffed with the two piece sleeve too, the head is nice and smooth.  “Client issues” were as follows:

  • Coat too long!
  • Sleeves still too long (how??)
  • Break point just a bit too low
  • Collar fall a little too short
  • lapels just too narrow

So these are my adjustments:

  • Shortened the coat by 32cm so now it’s just above mid-thigh
  • Moved the back vent up so it works properly with the new length.
  • Shortened the sleeve by 3cm, 1.5 above the elbow line and 1.5 below.
  • Lifted the break point by 3cm.
  • Redrafted the lapels 7.5mm wider and the collar 1cm deeper in the fall.

I made these adjustments to the pattern on Saturday and toiled again, adding the pockets, yesterday.  I was lucky enough that Mr W came home before I went to bed and so I was able to get him to try it on again and check.  It all works!  I got the thumbs up!!  The fit is great, he thinks it may be too long still, but any shorter and it’ll be a jacket….  A coat needs to at least keep your bum warm!!

My next task is to draft the facings and lining pieces.  He wants two internal pockets and I know they’ll need to be reinforced, judging by what he does to his jacket pockets.  I want to find him a jazzy, different sort of lining and he’s asked for extra trims on the inside.  So I might dig out my silk box and make reams of bias strips to sandwich into the seam between the facings and lining.

We had a devil of a time finding a suitable fabric that didn’t break my bank, I had thought this fabric from Fabric Godmother would be different enough, but he turned up his nose at the sample.  Evidently it’s “too different”.  Eventually in desperation I got some Melton samples from Fabworks and made him agree that the Classic Onyx Melton would do just fine for his first handmade coat.  If the inside is interesting enough..  (insert eye-roll here)

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Top, Onyx Melton from Fabworks, bottom, Navy Melton from the same, and left, blue and black wool from Fabric Godmother

That’s only part of my coat making adventure that was supposed to take place in September.  If you follow on Instagram, you’ll have see I’ve already finished one coat, and as soon as the person for whom it was made comes to put it on, I’ll to show it all off!  There’s another in progress, only at toile stage at the moment, but hopefully I’ll be able to move it forward this weekend after a fitting.  That’s everyone else’s coats, I haven’t even started on mine!

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Sneek peek of Burda coat 101 05/2017 in grey windowpane wool for Daughter No 1

Anyone else making coats this month??

Author: Anne W

I love fabric, and sewing. And I could do nothing else but sew, all day, every day, if I could!

9 thoughts on “Coat Progress – Sewing Menswear”

  1. Haha! My DH keeps asking for shirts, but he’s not a stripe kind of guy, so I’m safe from all the persnickety points Mr W mentioned. I must say, though, I’d throw up my hands and walk away from a project at the ‘homemade’ comment, too! That’s a bit much!

  2. Bespoke.

    Agree with Tia Dia.
    Your extremely high standards speak for themselves.
    Am so grateful you share them with us on-line.
    I tremendously appreciate and benefit from your knowledge.

  3. Hehe…that’s why my promises of sewing something for my husband has never materialised – if he realises I can sew him something to his exact requirements then the sewing list for him will be endless…

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