Coats 101

It is finally time for me to make a coat.

Coats (and jackets) are probably my favorite garments; there’s something very security-blanket-meets-armor about a good coat. And I have been afraid to try making one. So many pieces! So many details! So many notions! Interfacing! Buttons–what?! And what the hell is wiggan? But I’m going to do it. I believe I ranted at length about it in this post, but the direction I am wanting to move in, artistically, (read that with a posh accent), is towards unique, hand-crafted outerwear. An intersection between art and function, spanning both. 

In school, I was allowed to be completely immersed in art for art’s sake; making and experimenting and not worrying about a bottom line any more serious than my letter grade. Post-school, thrown into the (lack of) job market, working in a coffee shop, I became very concerned with commercial uses and marketability– making things I could SELL. Now I feel like I’m coming back to some middle way. I think art students are often underserved on learning marketing, branding and survival, but I also think being passionate about your work is important, and that if you do something that bores you just because you can sell it, both you and your work will ultimately suffer. 


This philosophical moment brought to you by Ponds Cold Cream.


Anyway, coats. And no, I still haven’t finished the purple patchy coat. It’s been the learning-horse, and largely what I learned was that I need to be able to make my garments from scratch and to design them myself from the ground up to get the result I want. So it’s sitting unfinished for the moment, though I plan to finish it at that elusive time we know as “someday.”

So I took a basic coats/jackets class and finally attempted my first coat, from a commercial pattern and everything! Woo!

I bought this pattern, largely because I have a weakness for stand-collars and double-breasted styles:


I bought a gorgeous, but complicated, damask-print canvas fabric. I also, at the urging of awesome-teacher Diana, decided to pipe the seams– a new trick for me, which I love and now I want to pipe everything. Piping for all! Piping on underwear! Piping on the dog!




Progress pockets… and more piping! The lining is a gorgeous orange. I should have matched the lining and piping but the piping was a last-minute decision, so it is red. This is not a mistake, this is a bold artistic choice!Image


I took a few more progress shots but they looked pretty dull so I shan’t include them. Suffice it to say this beast took a while. Matching the print alone took the better part of a day, and then once I put the coat together I realized it needed all sorts of alterations. Next time I will make a muslin for sure– I have learned my lesson!! I took in the sides, sleeves, bust and back, and there are more alterations I will probably add on if I ever make a version of this pattern again. So there are lots of “learning moments” on this coat, (like the hem. That hem and learning to line the thing nearly killed me) but overall, for my first coat ever, I’m pretty pleased. 

Finished coat, with neck unbuttoned. I disagree with this pattern detail, by the way. It leaves a strange gap in between the collar and front facing and if I make it again I think I’ll just join the collar and facing. I’d also extend the other side of the collar so the wrap and are symmetrical, but I like big high collars. It just looks weird to me with the one side longer than the other and hanging open like that.


And buttoned. I like the look of it when closed. I opted for buttons just on the closure, rather than the intended double-row down the front. It just seemed too busy with both rows of buttons, and I rather liked the asymmetry.






Partially open, I like the “lapel” effect but again, that top collar piece bugs me. Oh well. 


Sexy rich orange lining. Next time I will add a back-pleat to the lining– it could use it for ease. 


Action shots!


I took about 4 inches out of the back– it was a pretty shapeless coat at first. 







Thanks to Diana and Better Living Through Sewing for the help and guidance. If you live in the Bay Area and want to sew I highly recommend her classes. Plus, it turns out she went to the same high school in Boulder that I did. Funny ol’ world, innit?




6 thoughts on “Coats 101

  1. I have a few thoughts, so I’ll put them in a numbered list:
    1) That jacket looks great! I agree with you about the single row of buttons. Double breasted always makes me feel a little overwhelmed.
    2) For the collar, I agree that one piece would make more sense. And I have an idea of a relatively easy way to make it so! You could insert piping between the collar and the body of the jacket, and sew it as one piece. This involves SOME surgery, but I think it could be handled in an hour.
    3) Jackets, yes! In fact, I’m planning on making my first-ever waterproof raincoat this year. Still haven’t decided on the fabric (print or solid?!), but I’m 83% sure that I’ll use this pattern: http://www.sewaholicpatterns.com/minoru-jacket/ but I will attach the collar and hood as one piece. There is also a tutorial on waterproofing that you might find interesting: http://sewaholic.net/guest-post-caroline-on-sewing-waterproof-outerwear/
    4) If you haven’t figured out by the blog and Facebook comments, I’m totally enamored of your work and design sense. If you ever have any construction questions, I’d be totally happy to try to help. And I’ll be back in the Bay Area for a while this summer.
    OK, back to sewing.


  2. Pingback: The Dream Coat (yes, THAT Dream) | Rebel Unicorn

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