Hello all, hope you’re having a lovely summer!
This month I bring you yet another tale of a project that strayed from its original plan, but turned out all right in the end! This project was originally going to be a Named Clothing Isla Trench Coat for my sister. It looks like a lovely pattern, and I’d seen some great versions on ‘sewcial' media, so I decided to try it out. I ordered this heavy weight Cotton Drill Fabric, these Black Buttons in two sizes (which I ended up not using), and this gorgeous Check Lining Fabric which I thought would work nicely against the wine-coloured outer fabric. I couldn’t wait to get started…
.. And then I opened up the pattern. Now, I was aware that the pattern would need to be traced, and seam allowances added by hand. What I hadn’t anticipated was the weird nesting of pattern pieces randomly overlaying each other, and what I’m pretty sure was at least one pattern piece on which the line pattern for my size was incorrect compared to the others, further complicating matters. I tried doing all the tracing over several sessions, but honestly, I gave up. It literally gave me a headache.
(Side note: I understand that the more recent Named Clothing releases now include seam allowances and aren’t nested like this. I love their style, so would be tempted to try one of those. Please don’t let my whinging put you off!)
Around the same time, I think I saw a post on Instagram about this being the ‘year of the sleeve’, and it must have sowed a seed because I started to think about statement sleeves, and whether they could work with a trench coat. I doodled and dreamed, and gradually settled on the idea of a very simple, minimalist duster coat rather than a trench coat, with big statement sleeves.
I decided to use a pattern from my stash - Vogue Pattern 1467- obviously heavily modified!
I’d made a cropped trench using this pattern as my starting point, which I love and get lots of use from, and more importantly which my sister had tried on, so I knew would work for her, too. I wanted this to be a surprise so I had to do it without any fittings.
I made a number of modifications to a fresh trace of the pattern before getting started:
- I lengthened the body pattern pieces and changed the neckline on the front and front facing pieces, ignoring the collar and collar stand as I was going for more of an open neckline;
- I ignored the little triangle ‘feature’ at the centre back neckline and just extended the centre back seam up to keep it simple;
- I drafted a long vent for the centre back hem;
- I chopped the sleeve pieces off at elbow length, and drafted a rectangle to use for the gathered cuffs forming the ‘bell’ of the bell sleeves. I think I had the width of the rectangle be just under 2x the width of the sleeve opening; and
- I drafted big patch pockets to sit at the hip! I’ve wanted to have a go at big hip pockets for ages.
Construction was pretty quick and easy. Because the fabric felt quite sturdy and I didn’t have a collar or band to worry about, there wasn’t much interfacing to do. I used a fusible stay tape around the neckline and front edges and interfaced the front facing. Annoyingly, I forgot to draft a separate lining pattern for the back, so I constructed the lining without a pleat at centre back. It’s an open, loose coat though so hopefully shouldn’t be under too much strain at centre back.
The cotton isn’t waterproof like the kind of treated cotton you might use for a proper trench coat project, but it is a heavy-weight cotton with a firm texture that still manages to have a nice drape, and the colour has a subtle richness to it in person that I like, and that reminded me of the kind of berry-toned lipstick my sister swears by.
The lining was really easy to work with, pressed well, and as a taffeta lining it has a nice bit of ‘weight’ to it that made it easy to cut and sew, but still feels lovely to wear. It’s definitely well suited to this type of coat - in fact, as soon as I saw it, I thought I was a nice nod to a certain classic checked trench coat lining, as well as a beautiful pop of contrast. 
The sleeves are probably the most interesting part of the coat, but were easy to sew. I hand-stitched the lining sleeve around the top of the cuff, capturing the cuff seam allowance and giving it a clean finish inside. Well, relatively clean, if you ignore my dodgy hand-stitching!
I bound the hem edge of the sleeve cuff with black satin bias binding.
I loved the look of the bias binding strip so much that I decided to add some to the top of the pockets. By the time I was done, I had just enough binding left to add to one edge of the front of the coat while attaching the shell to the facing/lining unit. I had intended for that to be the right edge, since convention dictates that ladies clothes button right over left, but I actually managed to attach it to the wrong side while the whole thing was inside out, and so now, somewhat randomly, it’s the left edge that has the ‘design feature’. Oops. My mum noticed right away, but then she sews.. my sister’s not bothered. Win!
The finished coat got the thumbs up from my sister, who kindly sent me a few pictures to share with you:
Until next time..!
Michelle