I finished this coat this morning and took it out for its maiden voyage this afternoon. It performed admirably. I’m happy with the way it turned out, especially since this was only the first time I’d sewn this pattern.
I’ll eventually post professionally taken photos of the coat itself and of me wearing it as part of an ensemble. In the meantime, here are a few snaps.
Here’s a little wrapup of techniques I used:
- Bound buttonholes. For the front I got very good results using the instructions for the windowpane technique from the Jackets for Real People DVD with Marta Alto. But I disagree with the commonly given advice to simply slash the facing and turn under the fabric to finish the buttonholes. With ravelly fabric, the result would be disastrous. I was happy to turn to a new book in my sewing library, Vintage Couture Tailoring, by Thomas von Nordheim. He recommends using the windowpane technique in the facing, too.
This was labor-intensive, for reasons I could go into if ever anyone wants the blow-by-blow description. I was determined to have sturdy buttonholes on this coat and not fear that the facing fabric would unravel on me. Von Nordheim’s instructions were easy to understand, and I was eventually successful.
- Lining. Vintage patterns often instruct you to hand-sew in the lining when it’s not necessary. I used the machine “quick-lining” technique in the book Jackets for Real People by Marta Alto and Pati Palmer.
- Notched collar. Jackets and coats with notched collars have always been a bugaboo for me. I had excellent results following Jackets for Real People. Marta and Pati instruct you to stitch away from the crucial lapel dot. I understood the reason they have you do that: so that you don’t run the risk of stitching through the dot and creating a pucker. But it was easier in some instances to stitch–with care–toward the dot. This worked fine.
- Interfacings: My fabric was lighter than a coating. On the advice of Edith, my sewing teacher, I underlined all the pieces with a cotton-poly broadcloth. I also used a fusible knit in the fronts and in the upper back and under collar. The effect was more stability but preserving softness. I interfaced the hem with 2-inch bias-cut strips of hair canvas. I’m pretty happy with the interfacing choices.
- Topstitching. The pattern illustration doesn’t show topstitched pockets, but the instructions say to topstitch the pockets to the fronts. The topstitching looked good on the pockets, and it made sense to topstitch the cuffs, fronts and collar as an additional detail and for a little more definition. I wish I’d tried a double thread to make the effect more prominent against the mottled, textured fabric.
- The pattern instructions say to hand-sew the sleeve lining to the cuff. I machine-sewed the lining to the cuff for greater strength, using instructions in Sew, Serge, Press by Jan Saunders (first edition).
- Sleeves. The front sleeve cap is ever so slightly wavy–not the fault of the pattern. The sleeves were easy to sew in.
- Original pattern instructions. I overruled them a lot as being too labor-intensive. This coat adapts very well to contemporary techniques. Again, Jackets for Real People gets my vote as the first source to consult.
I enjoyed wearing my coat this afternoon. It has a generous cut without being overwhelming on me. I love the capacious pockets and the collar I can wear down or turned up just like in the illustration.
What doesn’t work so well is the closure ending barely halfway down the coat, leaving the fronts to flap open in the wind. I’ll probably install an inconspicuous covered hook and eye.
I’ll probably make this coat again. I have a tightly woven double-faced cotton-poly fabric that would probably make a good raincoat. It would be tricky to sew in that I couldn’t conceal stitching mistakes as I did with this coat. I’ll just take precautions and test, test, test: stitch length, tension, easing in the sleeves, etc.
I really felt my technical knowledge and grasp of sewing principles coming together in this coat project. I could tell I wasn’t just following instructions. My fingers felt–smarter. Does that make sense?