It was such a lovely project. And I had such a hard time finishing it! I started it in the middle of February with my usual determination and joyful inspiration. Did not manage to complete it on the same weekend. And then the day when the Earth stood still came. The war in Europe broke out. I was so devastated and heartbroken that all the pleasures, all the nice activities suddenly became so unimportant. After suffering for a number of days and reading a number of clever mental well-being articles I decided to try to pick myself up and sew a bit. I hoped it could take my thoughts elsewhere. It partly worked, sewing again came to rescue in keeping my mind busy and helping me not to fall into complete desperation. However, this time, even though I am very happy with the final result, I had an immensely hard time to actually feel joy about it. And that’s because this current time is so utterly joyless. Smile is really not too genuine this time, please forgive me for that.
This fabric was meant to turn into a jacket for spring. I had bought a cropped jacket pattern with extremely puffy sleeves and was planning to make it out of some kind of tweed. Then I saw this fabric on my local fabric store Instagram feed and immediately decided to buy it for that intended cropped jacket. However, the more I thought about that jacket design, the more I became convinced that I might not actually be too fond of it. After a careful research of jacket photos on Instagram I finally decided against it and went on to search for some other idea for this nice wool fabric.
And then it clicked. For a long while I had wanted to make Cambria duster by Friday Pattern Company. It was just that I had been unsure about what fabric to choose for it. And so at that moment I realized that this herringbone fabric might actually work very well for duster design. Not waiting any longer I purchased the pattern and cut out paper pattern pieces.
After inspecting the instructions, I had to conclude that instructions were actually not very detailed. Only the main steps were described, however there was nothing about interfacing either pattern pieces or seams. Maybe that’s fair enough – it is an unlined, unstructured duster, so what interfacing, you might think. After multiple jacket projects I would not skip interfacing, ever, even for a duster-like coat. So I ended up planning what I’d like to interface. Ended up interfacing belt, hems, upper collar, back neckline, to hide which I installed a facing of sorts (photo below). The seams that would benefit from being stabilized were interfaced using an interfacing tape: shoulder seams, neckline, lapels edges, side vents, the seam where the collar is attached to the main body of the duster, pocket edges. I find this interfacing approach adding just a bit of structure to seams, and in this case with my rather unstable fabric this was very important.
This duster is of fairly straightforward construction really. It is made of simple blocks that come together like a puzzle. However, since it is unlined, all seams had to be finished with bias tape. This project again demonstrated to me how much bias tape is actually needed to finish all seams of a coat. I had two types of black bias tape, 5 meters of each. I ran out of them in the middle of the project and had to go to the store to buy additional bias tape. In total, per my calculations, I used up some 18 meters of bias tape.
First I made side panels. To complete them I had to make pockets, which I ended up lining. Then wide lapel and collar parts were stitched to side panels. Next was the back piece, and then I connected front and back at shoulder seams. This time sleeves were installed using flat sleeve method. When sleeves were in, I tacked side seams to measure desired length of the duster and check how long the sleeves would be. Everything looked fine. After ripping the tacking I hemmed sleeves making a relatively narrow 3 cm hem. For that I used blind hem stitch and blind hem foot on my sewing machine. It is rather rare that I use it, however in this case, with tweed weave it was a perfect opportunity for that. I’ve made a small reel on Instagram on how to make a nice blind hem stitch – you are welcome to check it out if you are curious. At that point in time my duster looked like this:
That was where I was stopped as there was no bias tape left for me to proceed further. For a brief moment I considered introducing another color of bias tape. That could have probably worked as there were only side seams left to get finished. I ran a poll on Instagram asking whether I should wait and buy additional black bias tape or introduce colorful bias tape and finish the project sooner, and black was voted as more reasonable option with 59% of the votes going for it. And I tended to agree with this view.
When there was again enough of black bias tape in my box, side seam allowances got finished with it and side seams were to get stitched. I also made two belt pieces and sandwiched them into the side seams. Now, as the coat is complete, I’m not so sure I am too fond of those belt pieces coming from side seams. Next time I’ll probably make one long belt and attach belt loops to hold it. This way the gathering of the coat would be distributed around the waist, whereas now, while wearing the coat tied up in front the back is being pulled too much for my liking (what I have in mind you may see in the last picture of the first slideshow). If talking about next times, I would also lengthen sleeves quite a bit next time, so that I could wear them rolled up. Current sleeve length is just regular, meant to wear them in a usual way.
Upon making side seams I contemplated for a brief moment whether or not to leave vents at the side seams. Eventually I decided to go ahead with initial design of this duster and made the vents as intended. Two last bits of work remained: to hem the duster and to tack lapel facing to the coat from inside. Hem was again made using blind hem foot, and then I slip stitched lapel facings by hand. And with that this nice spring coat was complete.
For this coat I needed 3 meters of pure wool tweed in navy and white, I bought it from my local online fabric store. Pattern used here is Cambria duster by Friday Pattern Company, I cut it in size S. Other notions were: small piece of lining for pockets, a bit of lightweight interfacing, quite a bit of interfacing tape, 18 meters of black bias tape, and coordinating thread. This coat cost me 55 Eur. It was made at the end of February, 2022.
I am sure I will happily wear this coat as soon as spring comes. It is of navy color, so should go well with jeans and multiple styles. It is very cozy, light and so pleasant to wear. I like it both ways – with belts tied at the back and with the coat wrapped up. It was a lovely project, it just happened to come at an extremely tough and nerve wrecking time. I am not sure I will sew much in the coming weeks – all my creativity is gone and shrunk into a ball of sorrow. Or perhaps I actually should sew a bit, maybe it would help me stay sane, again, just as it did in the beginning of pandemic. We shall see.
Let it be peace in the world! 💙💛