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Ladies and Gentlemen – I think we have a coat.

done Like all great projects, when it’s done, there’s a little bit of a feeling of let down. So, let’s go through the details to review:
Pattern: Vogue 8626
“Lined coats A, B, C in two lengths, A-line, with or without collar, close-fitting with princess seams, back pleats, long sleeves with elbow dart and topstitching trim. C: stand-up collar. A: length is above mid-knee. B, C: length is mid-knee.”

Did the coat look like the art work on the front of the envelope? (does the finished garment EVER look like the art work on the front of the envelope?) In a general sense, yes, but I made two major changes: I wanted more flare, so I widened each piece below the waist. And I lengthened the coat because I’m going to be wearing it to walk to work … in Upstate New York. Also, because of the spongy nature of the fabric, I eliminated the pockets in the front and I’m not sorry I did that.

What changes did I make to the construction: All pieces of the fabric were fused with lightweight interfacing. I interfaced the fronts of the coat with hair canvas with an extra bias layer in the shoulders and across the yoke in the back. I interlined the entire coat (including the center 70% of the sleeves) with a light weight 100% wool flannel that I ran through the hottest water in my washer to shrink it. I put a large pocket in the lining of the coat. I eliminated the center seams in the back.

What changes would I make if I make this again? Well, I really like this coat – it comes with various cup sizes in the bust, which is really a great help in terms of getting it to fit correctly. I can see making this again in lighter weight fabrics. The changes I would make would be, first and foremost, that I would cut off the ‘facing’ on the front. It’s not big enough, so I didn’t really have enough to work with in terms of putting in the back buttonholes for the bound buttonholes in the front. I’d then draft a whole new facing for it and I’d also draft a back neck facing as well. Although I really like the basketweave wool that I used, it has a spongy texture that really does not take advantage of the pleats in the back. This design really requires a much lighter fabric – probably a heavy flannel would work but that would not make for a very warm coat.

Now, let’s get down to where the brass tacks meet the road: Did I save money by doing this? I’m going to stick out my neck here and say, “Yes” and here is why.
1) The inputs (without charging anything for my time) came to about $60.00. Could I have gone to a retailer and bought a coat for $60.00? Yes, with some looking, I could probably have found a coat. Would it have been 100% wool? No. Would it have had a wool interlining and heavy flannelized satin coat lining with an interior pocket? No. Would it have fit ME? (this is an unfair question to pose since I’m short and stumpy, and have short arms – the sleeves on even petite sized clothing is usually 2 inches too long on me) The answer continues to be “No”. Even if I could have found a coat for $60.00, I’d have had to either do alterations on it or taken it to a tailor to do alterations on it to make the sleeves fit me.
2) As I have discussed before, RTW coats, even the nicest I could afford to buy, are made badly, do not fit, and usually have sleazy, cheap acetate linings that shred out..sometimes in less than a year’s wearing. Since a lining is very much ‘the business end’ of a coat, once a lining goes, you must replace the lining. This raises the ‘lifetime wearing cost’ of a garment tremendously if you have to take it to a tailor to do this. Yes, I have the skills to replace a lining in a coat, but why should I have to invest my time and money to make up for the manufacturer cheapening the goods like this? Buying a coat and then having to invest in a new lining a year later is false economy. The difference in the cost between regular lining and heavy duty lining was about $2.00 a yard and the heavier lining will keep me warmer and will last for years.
3) One of the reasons linings shred out so quickly is that the manufacturing process usually works this way in terms of the lining: They make the body minus the sleeves. A separate operation makes the sleeves. The lining body is inserted into the coat (usually by bagging) and then the sleeve lining is inserted into the sleeves at the hem end; the lining is flipped and pulled through the outer sleeve and after the sleeve itself is inserted into the body of the coat, the seam allowance of the sleeve lining is folded under and slip stitched over the armscye seam. The number of coats that I’ve owned where this operation has resulted in total lining seam failure has been…almost 100%. Although a lot of the issue is the failure on the part of acetate as a fiber, the technique used in putting in the linings speeds up the shredding and tearing at this area of the coat. I made the lining complete – with the lining sleeves inserted in the body of the lining. And then I inserted the lining into the coat by hand, invisibly stitching it to the seam where the collar meets the coat (because there was no back facing) and down each side of the front facings. I also stitched it through the shoulder seams and the shoulder pads to connect it there and at the sleeve hems and at the bottom hem. I did not fasten it to the armscyes since that is the point of failure.

And how do I stitch ‘invisibly’?putinlining Once I have the lining pinned into the body of the coat (and I use various ‘landmarks’ to do this to make things like the side seams, the armscye, the yoke in the back the center of the neck and so on to line up. I also put a pleat or fold into the lining at the center back/center neck), I start at the center of the back of the neck and stitch where the edge of the lining meets the edge of the body material. I put the needle into the exact spot where the thread came out with the stitch before. I’m also holding my hand underneath the body of the coat in that spot and make sure that the needles doesn’t come out to the surface of the outer fabric. So, I go in one direction from the center neck out to one edge of the front. Then I go back to the center neck and stitch out to the edge of the other front. Then, I go back to where the folded lining edge meets the facing (and making sure I have a little bit of play in the lining fabric here – if you make the lining tight, you’ll just rip it out when you wear the coat) and stitch down from that upper edge down toward the bottom edge. Then I go back to the other front and do the same – again, I always start at the top and work to the outside; then I start at the outside edges and work down. Sometimes this is awkward but you want to always go in the same directions and since the last act for this will be taking up the bottom hem and then attaching the lining to that, you will want all the stitching lines and pressure to go down in that direction. The last task then is to take up the bottom hem of the outside fabric (if you have not done this already), steam press that down and stitch that down (usually done with a cross-hatch across the edge and into the body of the coat – also done invisibly). Then, leave the coat to hand overnight and then take up the hem. Again, I like to leave about 1/2 inch of play in the lining when I stitch it to the bottom hem so that it is not too tight when I put the coat on.

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4 Comments

  1. lsaspacey says:

    Congrats, it looks great! So in all, how long did it take from that first coat you tried to this finished one?

  2. htwollin says:

    The first post about choosing the right pattern was 9/19. The one where I decided to throw in the towel on the first one was 10/29. So, from that standpoint, it took me six weeks, but I was not working on it all the time – I was mostly working on it on weekends, really.

  3. Carolyn says:

    What a wonderful new coat you’ve made for yourself! I love the changes you made to make it yours and I’m sure you will get some good wear out of it this year!

  4. WolfSong says:

    I’ve been following the posts you’ve made about creating this coat, and am so happy so get to see the finished product. It looks fabulous! That is a coat to wear with pride.

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