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Sewaholic Robson Trench

I can't tell you how excited I am to become a Minerva Maker, and I really wanted my first post to be something special. 
As soon as I saw this beautiful Cotton Twill Fabric in camel, I knew that it was time to finally make my own trench coat. It has been a long time coming: I bought the Robson Pattern as soon as it came out, since 1) who doesn't want a classic trench coat with all the bells and whistles (epaulettes, sleeve tabs, front & back storm flaps) and 2) I adore Sewaholic patterns and every meticulous detail and thought that Tasia has so obviously put into them. But months and years have gone by and the poor envelope has been sat in my drawer, waiting for the right fabric to come along. 
I won't lie - it was a time consuming project. In fact, wedding dress aside, this is the hardest sewing project that I've ever taken on. I did not help myself by making my own mile-long bias binding either. But it was all so worth it, even if it meant that my 8-month old baby spent quite a lot of time in the jumperoo in the last few weeks ;)
This pattern has been well-reviewed (did I mention how late I am to the party?), so I won't repeat what you probably already know. I will say this -- the Robson Coat really is the only pattern that you need if you wanted to make a trench coat. 
The lapels can be worn both ways. I love both looks! 
I made a few minor changes. Firstly, I took out a wedge from the front storm flap pattern, so that they lie flat. Secondly, I inserted 2 "hidden buttons" on the inside rather than 3, simply because I personally hate doing up the inside buttons! I skipped the interfacing for the collar (but interfaced the under collar), and if I were to do it again, I'd also leave off the seam allowances to minimise bulk. In terms of length, I chopped off 3 inches off the coat at the lengthen/shorten line, and 1 inch off the sleeves. I am 5'3, and the length turned out just right. Finally, I used buttons that were 25mm, rather than 20mm. They just felt right. 
A few tips that I wanted to share:
1) Don't be stingy on your machine needles, and don't wait until you have skipped stitches. I went through 4 needles for this project - a "fresh" needle for attaching all the bulk at the collar, another when setting in the sleeves (on a side note, these are the best sleeves I've ever set in!), and a final one for attaching the belt loops. 
2) Mark the positions for belt loops and sleeve tabs with tailor's tacks. The notches that you make will have been bound beautifully by bias tape by the time you need them. 
3) The last step on the buttons - where left and right are referred, the pattern means stage left and right, not when worn. The finished coat has right side overlapping the front, for the avoidance of doubt. 
4) Although making your own bias tape takes forever - and trust me, it was incredibly tedious -- it was worthwhile. I made most in 13mm, as the pattern asked for, but also a couple of metres in 25mm. I used the wider tape to bind the sleeve seams, as it was quite bulky. I also sewed the bias tape on in 2 steps (baste one side before sandwiching), rather than 1.   
5) Stay calm. I will admit that I was quite on edge by the time I got to the buttonholes, as the finish line was so close - yet it could so easily go wrong at the last step! It didn't help that my machine jammed for 2 of them half way through, which resulted me in getting to know my trusted seam ripper even better -- something I did not realise was possible. But patience and perseverance paid off. 
6) You'll want to wear the coat inside out, or flash the inside whilst walking down the street. It is perfectly normal, but do try and resist if you can.  
Topstitching and the sleeve tabs
And there you have it. My first Minerva Maker project! It took hours -but I actually really enjoyed the process (OK, maybe except for those hours spent prewashing, pressing, cutting out, and making the bias tape) and learned so much from the construction. I am 100% pleased with the outcome, which is not something that I say very often! 
Thanks for reading. Alice from Queen of Darts.

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