How to describe this Fabric…? So, it’s a polyester tweed fabric that’s been coated with this water-resistant floral design. As a result of the coating it has a raincoat/plastic sort of feel to the top layer (and is very reflective of the light), but on the reverse it remains the uncoated tweed. It has a really beautiful weight to it. Having shown this fabric to a few friends now I will say that it seems to be a bit of a marmite fabric. I absolutely love its vintage feel and really unusual look but I was told a couple of times that it would make a lovely curtain (which I’m sure it would) but on the contrast my sister-in-law fell in absolute love with it and I had a hard time trying to stop her stealing it.

My intention was always to make a coat with it, the coating on this fabric means that it lends itself to outerwear. Butterick 6385 is a pattern I knew of (although had never made) as when I first saw it I loved the welt pocket detail and different collar options (so I’d stashed it in my list of patterns I’d like to try). As with all patterns I started with measuring myself against it, and I came out at a size 20 (according to their size chart). I measured the actual pattern and knew it would come up large but I like a coat that I can fit a jumper under so decided to go for it in that size. Now having made it, it most definitely comes up large, I actually think I could have downsized to the 18 and still fit a jumper under it but hindsight is one of those wonderful things and I’d always rather a coat be large than so tight I can’t move my arms.

The pattern is not very fitted at the waist. I like a garment that’s fitted at the waist as it makes me feel slimmer (a personal preference) so the only adjustment I made to the coat was to bring the seams in at the waist on the side seams. The best time to make any adjustments to this pattern is once the outer fabric is sewn together but before you add the lining. Unless you make pretty large adjustments you only need to make them to the outer fabric (not the lining) as a slightly roomy lining makes the coat easier to move in.

The first instruction in the pattern that you will come to is the pockets. Now, you could very easily omit them… but pockets are frankly the best thing ever and more garments should have them so well why would you. They are a little fiddly to do but they are so worth it!

The most important thing to make sure of is that you have cut your notches and sewn your tailors-tacks. They are paramount for lining up the two halves of the pocket and getting the welt flap in the right place. You can see from the pictures that I cut the pocket bags in lining rather than the outer fabric, this was to reduce bulk in the coat. It’s a good thing to do if you’re using an outer fabric that has some weight to it. I overlocked around my pocket bags, I find they take a lot of strain so double stitching them helps them last longer (It’s the only seam finishing I did as the lining makes it unnecessary).

I find that the concept of doing a lining seems to scare people, and quite unnecessarily. The idea is that you are making 2 identical coats (except that the lining doesn’t have the pockets in it) and then at the end just sewing the two together around the front edge before flipping it the right side out. I sewed the two simultaneously, so when the pattern told me to sew the front to the back for example I did this in my outer fabric and then with my lining pieces.

When sewing with a bulky fabric (of any sort really) layering the seams is really important for getting a good finish. This involves trimming the 2 seam allowances to different widths. That and a good press (which on this fabric you must use a pressing cloth for!) will give you a wonderfully clean finish to your sewing.

I chose not to topstitch anything on the coat (other than on the sides of the welt pocket). Now this was for 2 reasons… 1, I didn’t think it would make enough impact on such a busy print to make it worthwhile and 2, I didn’t want to pierce the coating any more than necessary. I referred to it as a water-resistant coating at the beginning (I tested a scrap by pouring water on it in my hand and was actually impressed at how the water didn’t go through it) and as I wanted to preserve as much of that as I could I knew that every needle hole that went through it would diminish how water-resistant it was (on fully water-proof garments the seams are taped after sewing so the water cannot penetrate).

One thing I would add though is that I anticipated that the coating would stick to my presser foot when I sewed it, and was really pleasantly surprised to find that this was not the case at all, it flowed really nicely… so if you did want to topstitch this fabric it would be possible.

As a result of not wanting to topstitch on the fabric I finished the hem with a hand stitched blind hem. You can see from the photo that I stitched the outer fabric hem first. By doing this, the lining doesn’t control the line of the hem (a dangerous job to put the lining in charge of) so you know the line of the coat is going to remain where you want it. After doing this, I then hand sew the lining on top so that the bottom edge of the lining sits at least 1cm above the bottom edge of the outer fabric. (There is a way to turn a coat inside out so you can do this on a machine but the geometry of it makes my brain ache so I find by the time I’ve figured it out I could have hand sewed it in place). I repeat this hem technique on the sleeve hems.

The last detail to finish the coat was the buttons and button-holes. After trying multiple options from my button jars I decided to try self-covered buttons. Initially I thought I may use the reverse of the fabric but after testing one using the right side I just adored how they came out so promptly dropped my other idea. I was really pleasantly surprised as to how well this fabric made the covered buttons as I wasn’t sure how the coating would affect them but actually the coating gives a really amazing plastic looking finish.

I used the button guide (that comes in the pattern) to choose where they were going, marking each buttonhole with a pin before removing the guide from the coat. I’m not going to lie; the buttonholes are not the easiest thing to do on a coat this heavy. Take your time, and keep an eye that the machine is feeding properly as they are going through a lot of bulk (I had to aid the machine in feeding the fabric at times). Please also learn from my mistake and make sure the pocket bag isn’t about to have a buttonhole sewn through it (not something I’m bothered about to fix as it only caught a very small amount of the pocket).

In my opinion (and I know its marmite so you may not agree) this coat is fabulous. I’m a lover of bold garments anyway but particularly when its outerwear. Previous to this I’ve always been the lady in the bright red coat in a sea of black coats on the high-street. I think it adds a real jollity to a grey winter day.