Coats for Christmas

coat 5
Longline jacket Burdastyle 101 May 2017

Sometimes you have to have early Christmas presents.  Those are the sort whose usefulness will be reduced if you have to wait for Christmas Day to receive them.  Definitely the case with coats!

Daughter No 1 spotted the long line blazer in the May 2017 issue of Burdastyle and immediately put it on her list of things for me to sew.  We just needed the right fabric – same old story.  So the project languished with all the others I desperately want to get on with, but am held back on.  The arrival of Autumn heralded a change round of fabric boxes, summer stuff into the back reaches of the cupboard, winter weights rediscovered.  And in that box was a 2.5m length of grey wool with a darker windowpane woven through it.  I’d bought it from Croft Mill Fabrics 2-3 years ago and never got round to turning it into the “perfect jacket”.

coat 8.jpeg

But it could be the “perfect coat”.  The blazer in the May Burda was made with crepe, soft and draping.  But this was no heavyweight coating fabric – I thought we could gamble.  As luck would have it, Daughter No 1 rather likes grey and gave her seal of approval to it’s use for her coat immediately.  I also had a lovely dark blue satin lining in the stash (bought for the grey wool) that proved enough for the coat.

coat 2.jpeg

A few adjustments were necessary, she didn’t like the slits in the side seams of the original coat pattern, so these were omitted, and she wanted less volume in the back.  I took the centre back seam in a total of 3cm at the waist, and 1cm on each side of the back panel where it joined the side panel.  This gives more shape to the coat, and eliminates the need for a belt, or half-belt as in the original design. I made small adjustments to the seams where the inseam pockets were to be inserted to that they’d be more invisible and have less bulk at the seam.

Collage tay coat

I pinned the checks of the windowpane together in a 20cm grid to ensure nothing moved around and to make sure the pattern would be easier to line up afterwards.  I drew lines on the pattern pieces to make sure I was laying everything out exactly and that the patterns would match.  It took some time, but was definitely worth it in the end.  I chose the speed tailoring route rather than traditional, time was of the essense here, and while I know you get a fabulous look with traditional tailoring,  I think you can get just as good a finish if you use speed tailoring correctly.

coat 9.jpeg

All in all, it took 5 days from starting to cut until the coat was finshed.  I took my time, no rushing, and I’m dead chuffed with the result.  My second coat was to be a very different one, but there was a little change of plan after the first one was seen…

coat 10.jpeg

Originally Daughter No 2 was looking at a more slouchy fit coat, dropped shoulders, slight cocoon shape.  I’d already got the wool, 3m of the most beautifuly soft lambswool from Fabworks Online. And the colour?  Most appropriately named “Autumn Maple”.  It’s gorgeous!!  On a flying visit home from Uni, she spotted the grey coat hanging in a wardrobe, tried it on and fell in love.  Thank heavens it didn’t quite fit her properly or I’d have been looking to make another for Daughter No1!!

Collage am coat

So I needed to trace the bigger size of the first coat, lengthen the sleeve by 4cm and make the same alterations in the back, and to the pockets, as I’d made first time around.  This fabric is a coating fabric, so I made the upper collar a little bigger that the first one to accommodate the turn of cloth, as well as the revers and remaining centre front.  (Tip, when making coats and jackets, always make the upper pieces bigger, never trim the under pieces smaller).

coat 1

Again, taking 5 days and working carefully with my interfacings, organza cloth and clapper, I think I managed to turn out a lovely looking coat!  I love the lining fabric which she chose from Fancy Silk Store.  The gold spots pick up on the orange of the coat and just shine.  I chose a dark bronze snap for the closure and attached it with nice neat buttonhole stitch.  I was tempted to use a brown or dark thread for this, but the orange makes it look like a star, and that I like.

View this post on Instagram

I love a good hidden in-seam pocket. #burdastyle #coat #inseampocket

A post shared by Anne W (@compulsive_seamstress) on

coat 6.jpeg

Both girls love their new coats, and the different fabrics and colours are enough that they don’t look like they’re wearing the same thing when they’re together.  At least, I hope not!!  They look amazing, and warm and cosy, which is the most important job of a coat.

coat 4.jpeg

Now there’s still the matter of a certain coat for Mr W…  It might have to wait for next year.  There are plans afoot for trousers, more sweaters and some self drafted goodies for Daughter No1’s boyfriend.  If they get going before I have a “suitable” lining for the famous coat, they will be done first! 🙂

Rise Above This

Ok, so the 2 for 1 jacket finally has a name!  Sometimes you just need some space and good music to get the ball really rolling.  And I have to confess to having a most bizzar collection of tunes.  The one that got my steam up was Seether’s, Rise Above This.  Does anyone else listen to music while they sew?  I cannot work when it’s quiet.  So here is the rest of the jacket.  I must also confess that I sort of lost track of taking photos as I got more and more into the making up process!  Oops!  I will be better next time, promise!

I had left of the last time at the shoulder stage, ready for the collar. The under collar is cut on the bias in two pieces, and is slightly smaller than the top collar.  If you have a pattern that uses the same pattern piece for both, trace it off and put a seamline down the centre back of the under-collar and change the grainline to bias.  Add between 2.5 and 5mm on the outside edges of the upper-collar to allow for turn of cloth.  Do not be tempted to just make the under-collar smaller.  I interfaced the under collar with weft insertion on the bias, then sewed the two together at the centre back.  To ensure a good stand, I use a fusible canvas on the under collar.  This is cut without seam allowance, on the bias.  The upper collar gets a lighter interfacing, I used the fine sheer, but if you find your collar is not keeping shape, you could reinforce with some fusible canvas.

Under collar showing interfacing, already applied to jacket neckline

I clip the neck edge of the jacket at approx. 1.5cm intervals to the stay stitch line and then pin the collar on from the centre out – from the jacket side, not the collar side.  the clipping helps to open out the curve and allows for easing.  When you sew the under-collar on, start and stop exactly on the podmark for the collar attachment on the neckline.  Next pin the upper collar to the under collar, taking care to line up the outside edges.  Because you have cut the upper larger than the lower you will have to ease the extra in.  Pin parallel to your edge, instead of perpendicular as this will help to avoid catching tucks.  Then snip the neckline edge of the facing and sew the upper collar to the facing.  There will be a teeny tiny gap at the junction of the collars and the revers.  This you hand hand-stitch closed.  Layer your collar and neckline seams and press them open over a ham.

Upper and under-collars in place, seams trimmed and pressed open

Now we come to the part where I got carried away with the making and forgot to take pictures!  With the collar done you can sew up the side seams of the jacket and do the sleeves.  The sleeve heads should be interfaced with a crescent shape, 10cm deep at the centre.  You can’t see all of this so clearly on my sleeves because I inserted a contrast pleat panel.

One piece sleeve with contrast pleat back showing interfacing on sleeve-head

And that was my run of photos!!  I will take some of the next jacket I do, from the sleeve stage onwards, promise!!  Basically from here on the sleeve seams need to be joined, and the gathering stitch on the head.  Now for jackets you can follow the normal 2 rows of gathering stitch, or try something different.  I do one line of gathering, 2cm from the edge of the fabric.  I ease the fullness along this line, making sure there is no actual gathering, no tucking or puckering.  What I am after is for the sleeve head to form the sort of shape it will have when in the armhole.  When the shape is right, I pin it into the armhole from the sleeve side.  Once the sleeve is in, I use an interfaced bias cut strip, about 5cm wide of jacket fabric and fold in half lengthways.  Then this is sew into the sleeve head to support the cap.

I was going to try to continue without pictures, but I don’t think it is working!!

Here is the finished garment!

The finished jacket.

It was a rather windy day to take photos, I kept getting hair in my eyes, or my mouth!  there are more pictures on Burdastyle, until I pop more on this blog, but they will be in their own post.

And I promise to take a better photographic record the next time! 😀

2 for 1 jacket update

While I was “away” making curtains and doing alterations and making nice things for other people, this project was burning a hole in the back of my mind!  Now the new year is here, the kids are back at school and making for others has quietened down a bit, I can finally get cracking again.  I decided to track the progress of this jacket, to show the internal workings of speed tailoring a jacket.

First things first, if you have a wool or wool blend fabric, you need to prepare it.  During the making the fabric will be subject to a lot of heat and steam, and it will inevitably shrink.  There are different ways of going about this.  Usually I cut a  10x10cm piece, zigzag or overlock the edges and pop into a basin of warm water.  If the water doesn’t get absorbed, there is a coating on the fabric, and it will need to be dry cleaned.  If water is absorbed, pop it in the washing machine on a cool, woolens or handwash cycle.  Then check it, has it shrunk?  Has the finish/feel of the fabric changed?  Has the colour run?  If the answer is yes to any of these, dry clean only!  For preparation you will need to steam this fabric.  If not, you can wash it.  Now some fabrics can be shoved in the machine, and others need a different approach.  (Most of the wool I buy gets the machine wash.)

I have a cashmere that is definitely not going in the machine.   I dampened down 2 double flat sheets (you could use old duvet covers) and sandwiched the wool between them.  I rolled the whole lot up like a Swiss Roll and left for the damp to get through the wool.  Then opened it up and draped over a balustrade/handrail.  If you have to use the washline, first cover the wire with a towel, and if possible, drape over two lines, not just one.  Leave to dry, then dry iron to remove creases.  Iron on the wrong side, and check for any imperfections.  Mark these so you can avoid the area when laying out the pattern pieces.

It really is worth taking time when preparing wool for a jacket.  The fabric is rarely cheap, and considering the amount of time you will take to put the item together, it will be pretty soul-destroying to have it go wrong.

Your next job is the interfacing.  I use a speed tailoring jacket pack that I get from Gill Arnold.  On this particular wool I have used her Weft insertion on the jacket shell and the fine sheer fusible on the facings.  I have also used some iron on canvas, and some non-iron canvas.  I interfaced the “T-zone” and all the hem edges with the weft insertion.  This covers all the areas of the jacket that are put under strain or will be sat on and crinkled!  Then I made up the fronts and back.

The next step was to apply a fusible cotton tape to the front seam, this prevents stretching on the front seam.  It is applied about 5mm in from the fabric edge and if you have a curve at the bottom, you will need to snip into it to take the corner.  Once that was done, I made the canvas chest pieces.  This is done to plump out the hollow in the chest that women have just below the shoulder.  You will need the non-iron canvas and some weft insertion for this part, and each pattern needs a different shape chest piece.

The pieces are cut on the bias.  The weft insertion interfacing is a different size to the canvas.  It is 1cm larger on the armhole side, and 2.5cm larger on the neckline side.  Fuse the canvas to the weft insertion, taking care not to attach the overlapping interfacing to anything.  Trim the top corners, cut a box 1×2.5cm and 2.5×2.5cm.  Place the chest piece on the jacket front with the armhole side on the edge of the fabric and fuse the overlapping interfacing to the jacket on both sides.

Preparing the canvas chest piece
Chest piece fused in place
Taped breakline

Next fuse cotton tape to the breakline of the rever.  This helps the rever to fall in the right place, and to stay there!  There is no need for padstitching the create the fall. Now staystitch the neckline on the facings, jacket front and back.

Once that is done, pin on the facing.  The facing is between 2.5mm and 5mm bigger/wider than the front on the rever up to the breakpoint only.  This is to accommodate the turn of cloth.  You don’t want to see the seamline or any of the fabric from the front rever peaking out.  The fabric needs to be manipulated carefully so you don’t get any puckering, pinch the excess at the corner and pin the “blister”.

Sew the front facing on from the podmark for the collar join to the hem.  Snip the seam allowance at an angle at the breakpoint and layer the seams.  Trim both of the seam allowances down by 5mm.  Then trim the seam allowance of the front facing by a further 5mm.  The rever needs to be trimmed too, but trim the front by a further 5mm, and not the facing.  Press the seams open and then  flat.  Ensure you roll the fabric when steaming so there is no seamline showing.

layered seams
Seam layering on front and facing front

Now for the shoulder seams.  Pin the canvas away from the shoulder line and pin the fronts to the back.  Stitch and press open over a sleeve roll.  Remove the pins from the canvas and let it extend past the seamline onto the back.  Turn the right way round and put your hand under the shoulder seam.  Pin along the seamline, going through all the jacket layers as well as the canvas.  Turn to the inside and pin the back seam allowance to the canvas.  remove the pins from the outside and then stitch the canvas to the seam allowance, close to the shoulder seam line.

Canvas pinned back, shoulder seam sewn and pressed open
Canvas extended over back seam allowance and pinned from right side
Canvas stitched to seam allowance, close to original seamline

So that’s the body of the jacket, ready for the collar and then the sleeves.  Happy sewing until next time!