So for everyone who’s enjoying the fabulous sunshine that’s finally reached London this month, I would like to propose that you have me to thank. Because – I made a coat. I MADE A COAT! And now it’s really warm and said coat is kinda redundant.
Except NOT because I love it so much I don’t ever want to stop wearing it, and its very existence could almost make up for another chilly English summer.
I’ve dreamed of making a coat like this for years, ever since owning a similar one from Primark back in 2007. That old version wasn’t even lined, and so I knew I was taking on something rather more substantial when I decided to use a 1960s’ vintage pattern, Simplicity 5148, snaffled on Etsy.
I always find that when embarking on something totally new (using a vintage pattern, making a coat) it’s best to add to the excitement with a totally unnecessary last-minute rush, and set a time frame of something like, um, two days before a friend’s wedding. It really adds to the sense of satisfaction when you’ve been up early hungover and hand-stitching with only hours to go. You’ll even inadvertently do a bit of pre-event dieting in that day when you basically forgot to eat anything because you were too busy trying to understand bound buttonholes.
I did at least buy the main fabric far enough in advance (three days) and only had to pop out during the two-day mad making stint to buy lining and interlining. The outer fabric is a heavyweight cotton from Goldhawk Road, purchased at the end of an amusing exchange in which I’m fairly sure the baby-faced salesman was trying to flirt with me. He told me the fabric was ‘usually £8, but £4 for pretty girls’, whilst standing underneath a £4 price label, and asked me all sorts of personal questions, my favourite being ‘and does your … boyfriend … like pink’? Smooth operator.
The last-minute lining is absolutely gorgeous stuff from Fabrics Galore – it’s a lightweight cotton, beautifully smooth with an almost silky sheen. It was three times the price of the bargainacious outer fabric but worth every penny and I’ve got easily enough left over for a top.
I was spurred on to make the coat by the crazy weather we had been enduring – snow, hail, hour-long electric storms… Weddings invariably involve being outdoors at some stage, and churches aren’t known for their well-heated interiors, but at the same time I couldn’t bring myself to wear a woolly coat on the first day of May. Hence the under/interlining – white brushed cotton which adds a layer of opacity and most importantly warmth. I hand-tacked it to the main pattern pieces, including sleeves, before stitching them as one.
Of course I hadn’t done a muslin, so I really was taking a gamble with the fit. The pattern is for a size 14, bust 34″ – whilst that’s not my bust measurement I was willing to bet it was close enough on a loose-fitting coat such as this and lo and behold, my gamble paid off. The only alterations I made to the fit were to straighten out the top seam of the sleeve, which was more curved than I liked, and to take about 4″ off the length (surprising, given I cut the ‘short’ option for those under 5’3).
The construction was far from complicated, but wasn’t one to be rushed. The major seams are reinforced with seam binding, as with any coat there’s a decent amount of interfacing involved, and the pattern called for both welt pockets and bound buttonholes, processes completely new to me. However, I figured I could probably skip sleep as well as meals if push came to shove, and so ploughed ahead with all these little details.
I used this tutorial from Colette Patterns for my bound buttonholes, and this one from Craftsy for the welt pockets. I decided I wasn’t willing to lose enough sleep to do practice runs, so jumped straight in on the actual garment. Neither of my attempts are perfect, but to my eyes they’re respectable enough to ‘do’ for now. Can anyone advise on how to avoid the puckering of the ‘lips’ of the buttonholes?
Places in which I did cheat – I used fusible interfacing instead of sewn-in, and machined the lining in place, only hand-stitching the bottom hem. Places in which I didn’t cheat – I made my own bias binding to finish the hem of the outer fabric, and used self-covered buttons. So all in all, I didn’t feel I’d skipped any corners unnecessarily here, in spite of the need for speed.
And it was ready on time! I wore it all the way to York on an early Sunday morning train; it kept me warm all day – right up until the champagne took over…
As this is my first use of a vintage pattern (ever), it’s also my first chance to take part in A Stitching Odyssey’s Vintage Pledge. I’ve signed up to make 3 vintage patterns this year in total, including, ahem, the one I’ve already made… #lazybones. Anyway, it’s exciting to be taking part and I’m planning to spend the next few days working on my Big Vintage Sewalong entry in the hopes of taking it on a trip to Italy at the end of the month. In the meantime here’s a sneak peek of the dress I made to go under the coat to complete my wedding outfit… Blog post to follow shortly! x