Self-Drafted Black Coat
Posted on Thursday the 30th March 2017 by Michelle Sews
Hello there! I'm super-excited to be making my #MCBN debut here with a project that I absolutely love, so please excuse me if I go overboard with the exclamation marks in this post! I recently took some pattern-making classes and have challenged myself not to use any Sewing Patterns this year, and instead to try and self-draft all my sewing projects. I spent January and February working on various slopers and toiles, and then decided that I'd jump in head first and try a coat as my first self-drafted garment (as you do!) for my March MCBN project. It was perhaps a bit ambitious, but I thought that if I kept it simple, I could do it. Initially, what I had in mind was a military-style coat - double breasted and trench-like... or perhaps a cape rather than a coat... or perhaps a full skirted princess seamed coat. I really couldn't decide. But when I saw this black cashmere wool blend Coat Fabric I knew I had to put it on my project list. When it arrived and I saw how lovely and drapey it was - lighter in weight than I had imagined, but still with a lot of body - I immediately decided it was going to have a full, swishy skirt. I finalised the pattern pieces, and got straight to work!
Here’s what the finished coat looks like:
And a few work-in-progress shots (apologies for the poor lighting):
In terms of the pattern, the bodice is princess seamed from the shoulder, with minimal ease added to my sloper - about 2 1/2” - and a collarless round neckline. The sleeves have a functional vent, but for now I have just sewn the buttons through as I wanted to take it to have the buttonholes done professionally but haven’t had a chance to do so yet. The skirt is a 3/4 circle skirt with in-seam pockets. I think I succeeded in keeping the design pretty simple! It fastens with two pairs of hooks and eyes at the waist. My original plan was to have hook and eye fastenings all the way from the neckline to the waist, but when I tried it on after sewing the waist hooks, I actually thought I’d prefer the way it opens above the waist. It sits nicely at the centre front if I position it closed, so at some point if I decide I want to put the extra closures in, it will be easy to do and will hold the centre front closed.
If you’re interested in drafting a similar coat from your sloper, there will be something up on my blog in the next week or so, all about the step by step process of drafting all the pattern pieces and how to construct the full garment step by step!
This black Cashmere Wool Coating Fabric: I was pleasantly surprised by how easy it was to sew this fabric up. I used a fresh universal needle, and normal thread, with a slightly wider stitch than I have used for all my other projects. I didn’t do much in the way of pre-shrinking, just gave it a good steam with my iron through a pressing cloth. It was very forgiving fabric, and in the places where I made mistakes and had to rip out stitches, it didn’t retain any needle marks or give me any problems. The only issue I had with it was when it came to hemming - due to a cutting error, I ran out of fabric to do the hem facing that I’d originally planned. Instead, I tried doing a “turn twice and stitch’ hem on it, but it really ruined the drape of the skirt and made it much less fluid. For now, I have just cut the hem cleanly, as it doesn’t fray and has a boiled-wool-like look to the raw hem. I’m happy enough with it for now but am also considering trying either a bias facing or perhaps overlocking, turning once and stitching.
This Vilene Interfacing: I used this interfacing to add structure to the bodice and bodice facings (but not the skirt) of the coat. I interfaced the entire front and side front pieces, and then only the back stay shape on the back pieces, and the sleeve caps and hems. It was the first time I’ve seen interfacing come with instructions - fantastic! They helpfully printed the instructions on the selvedge of the interfacing, so I knew to use a damp pressing cloth and press for 12 seconds. Very helpful indeed! And with those instructions it really did fuse well.
For extra support, I also used a Fusible Stay Tape and some canvas from my stash to stay the armscyes, necklines and the front shoulder seam lines, and to create shoulder plates for the front bodice. I used shoulder pads from my stash too. I didn’t use any form of interlining, and I had thought that I could then use the coat as a spring/autumn lightweight coat rather than a proper winter coat, but it’s actually pretty warm even without interlining! I think I will get a lot of use out of it.
This black polka dot Lining Fabric: Well, how could I resist? It’s a really pretty polka dot lining - the dots are not even/symmetrical, and look like artsy little splodges of flicked paint rather than a more deliberate polka dot pattern. It wasn’t too slippery to work with, although it did fray quite a bit. I used some ivory bias binding that I had in my stash to add a bit of contrast flat piping for visual interest:
These finishing touches:
These Hooks and Eyes were perfect for such a sturdy fabric - much larger than the usual ones I’ve seen/used before, but just as easy to sew into place. I read somewhere that one should use topstitching thread or buttonhole thread for coat hooks so I used this Topstitching Thread to secure them. Because the hooks are at the waistband, I was able to add further support by stitching the facing waistband seam allowance tightly to the coat front waistband seam allowance. They feel pretty sturdy!!
This Cloak Clasp I ordered without being 100% sure that I would use it. If I’m honest, was worried it might look a bit tacky, but when it arrived I was quite pleased with how nice it looks in person and especially against the black wool. I think it really elevates the coat and makes it look much more classy, as a minimalist sort of feature element. I forgot to take a picture of it before attaching it, but it’s basically sewn on just like two buttons, only one button has a loop of chain attached that you then loop over the other button to fasten it.
I also couldn’t resist these sweet little black and gold Clock Buttons. I already had the plain black and gold buttons in my stash, but I thought it would be nice to have ‘feature buttons’ as the last button on each sleeve and they looked like they would go together with the plain buttons quite nicely. I love them!
All in all, I’m really happy with how the coat turned out and I know that I’ll be wearing it as much as possible - with the start of spring, that may mean that it becomes my silver lining on our grey, cold UK days!
That’s it for now.. thanks for reading this far, and happy sewing!