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I’ve pulled a 1952 coat pattern I want to make up as a raincoat for spring and summer.  But first, as is the practice at Getting Things Sewn, I’m making a wearable test. (I just caught myself thinking “bearable test.” That too.)

What’s a wearable test?  I learned this from Edith, my sewing teacher. It’s what you sew after correcting the pattern from the muslin (you did sew a muslin, didn’t you?) and before you cut into your “good” fabric for the final version.

At Getting Things Sewn, it’s like this:

In the beginning was the pattern.

Then Edith said, “Let there be a muslin.”

And Paula made a muslin.

The muslin. (Not professionally photographed.)

The muslin. (Not professionally photographed. Or styled. Or modeled.)

And Edith said, “The shoulder needs tweaking.  Put in a shoulder pad.  Let’s shorten the sleeve a little but not too much. The pocket size and the fullness of the coat are fine, not too much for your [shrimpy] size.”

And Edith altered the pattern pieces.

And Edith said it was good. Make a wearable test.

And Paula looked through her stash for a suitable wearable test fabric. (That means one she could afford to sacrifice if she messed up badly.)  She chose a mottled brown wool-silk blend she bought a few years back. Yards and yards of it, for peanuts.

And Edith said it was good. But underline it for more body, warmth, and stability.

And then Paula looked through her button stash for five big buttons to go with the mottled brown.

But Edith (and Shelly, who was there, too) said No good.  You will have to shop for buttons.

And Paula said that was good.

And then Edith and Shelly departed.

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The buttons are 1 1/2 inches wide.

And then Paula searched Etsy for buttons. She found some big, coppery-rusty colored buttons just the right size and number for her fabric.  And she e-mailed the link to Edith and Shelly.

And they said the buttons were good.  And so Paula ordered them.

Okay, enough of the third-person narrative.

I’m pretty crazy about this coat.  The big pockets with the big tabs and big buttons, the swing-coat style, the balance between practicality and decorativeness, the relatively simple construction all appeal to me.  It’s a 1950s pattern that’s of its time without being stuck in it. Using my chart, this coat looks to be a good fit for the occasions and activities in my life, my personality, style, and silhouettes that flatter me.

But I’ve been wrong before.  This style, or my rendition, may be a disappointment.  Hence the wearable test.

I’m hopeful, though.  What sewer isn’t?

The mottled brown fabric could look boring. But I found its closest match on the Yellow-Orange card

of my 3-in-1 Color Tool.  Yellow-orange!

The browns in my wool find a match on the Yellow-Orange color card.

The browns in my wool find a match on the Yellow-Orange color card.

One of its complementary color cards is turquoise, which is a great color for me.  I found some beautiful deep turquoise Ambiance rayon lining at Treadle Yard Goods in St. Paul.

Ambiance rayon bemberg lining in a deep turquoise enlivens my brown wool.

Ambiance rayon bemberg lining in a deep turquoise enlivens my brown wool.

This turquoise just brings my fabric to life.

And turquoise also pairs wonderfully with other colors I can wear like tomato red or greenish yellow.  Definitely a reward of sewing your own coat is choosing the lining color–and then planning garments that will look fabulous with the outside and the inside of your coat.  That’s luxury.

For the underlining I bought a cotton-polyester broadcloth.

This past weekend I cut all the fashion fabric and underlining, and underlined all the pieces.

I’m still mulling over interfacings.  Interfacings are not my favorite subject.  Fusible or not? Woven, nonwoven, knit? Soft? Crisp?

I ask myself Edith’s question: “What do you want to accomplish?”  Okay, this coat has more body because of the underlining.  I just want a little more definition in the upper and under collar, pockets, front facings, cuff and hem.  A common sewing mistake is to interface too heavily. I’ll err on the side of lighter rather than heavier weight.

I’ll interface some samples and feel and look at them. Then decide.

I’m making bound buttonholes for this coat, and made a couple of samples this morning.  I used Marta Alto and Pati Palmer’s instructions from both their DVD and book Jackets for Real People. I’ve used their windowpane method before and gotten good results.  But I have to practice first.

Bound buttonhole trial runs. The one on the right is better.

Bound buttonhole trial runs. The one on the right is better.

My first try was too long and too wide, and the lips were uneven.  For my second try I made it a little shorter and narrower. Much better.  It’s difficult to show the different results using this fabric.  The one on the right is better.

Next on my docket are making those big patch pockets with bound-buttonhole tabs, interfacing the front facings, collars, etc., and stitching the main coat pieces together.

Until next time, readers, happy sewing to you.

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