It’s been a while since I last finished a project, and I am glad to be able to share one more make finally, and even better still the winter has just started kicking in, so plenty of time to wear it this season! There were few reasons it took me a while to make this coat. As usual, Christmas time was hectic this year: with all the gifts purchasing, children school plays, horrendous traffic and weather conditions, everyday life had not been simple in December. In addition to that I got involved in two additional projects aside from work, which meant long hours, paperwork being read and reports needing to be written on weekends and so on. All of that led to me being tired big time and left no time to sew. I had cut this coat in mid November, and it was only after Christmas that I managed to complete it. But here it is finally and I couldn’t be happier about my new coat!
I’ve written in few of my previous posts in what kind of climate I live. So essentially we have 3 months of summer and 9 months of cold a year. That cold may be anything from +10 to -25 C. The lowest temperature in winter that I remember was -32 C, and no coat would help in those temperatures. But it’s rare that we’d come to that. Whereas -20 C is something we get every winter, while ordinary temperature in winter here is -5 to -10 C. So still pretty cold. That is why I was so excited about having learnt to make coats!
For terribly low temperatures I have my all-weather-proof polar parka. I have tested it out beyond the arctic circle while watching northern lights in the middle of the night in the middle of the fjord up on the catamaran deck. I’ve spent full days outdoors in it while dog-sledging and snowmobiling. It works perfectly each time, it is a highly functional but not really too beautiful a garment. So for all those other occasions when a bit of beautifulness is wished for, I want to have wool coats to wear. And so I kept on making them until I might have made enough, I think, at least for now! 🙂
It’s all about coats
In the beginning of the year I made an awesome long winter coat that serves me well this winter again. I just love this coat – it’s all about an excellent design and perfect choice of thick wool that makes this coat absolutely perfect. Recently I have made a light casual coat that I absolutely love, too. Initially I thought that due to pretty light wool it would not be very warm, but that’s not the case. I wear it up to few degrees below 0 C temperatures comfortably, provided that I have few layers beneath it, like a woolen jacket, which I’ve made few of, too. These coats are long – I just love long coats, therefore I kept on making them. And so eventually I decided that to supplement my collection I needed a shorter and very warm coat, an interlined coat this time. And that’s what I’ve made here, sort of.
I wanted to make an interlined coat already last year, but then ran out of time. And also did not have interlining. When I bought few coatings on sale before summer, one of them was this hairy wool and alpaca blend in large pattern blocks that I decided to use for my winter coat idea. I actually did not inspect the fabric thoroughly at that point, instead I went on to try and figure out how to interline it. From some time ago there was this proper wool interlining in my stash, but for this pretty thick fabric it was not going to work. So instead I went on to look for other options at my local fabric store. And the option I settled upon was this double sided fabric with batting in between external layers meant for interlined double sided jackets.
The idea to use this fabric instead of lining looked pretty reasonable for me. Few years ago, when I had to travel a lot for work, I’d wear this sort of short jacket beneath a woolen coat – it would make for a warm combo, and I’d take off only the coat while on the plane. This set has seen a lot of planes, trains and metros 🙂
So now I’ve made a 2-in-1 situation with my new coat. Definitely hope that it will be warm just as expected! Well, I no longer will be able to take off only the coat while on the plane 🙂 But now I don’t get to travel often, so no real problem here!
Right at about the time when I was choosing the fabrics, Atelier Jupe issued a new coat pattern that fell just in the right place for my intended project and I purchased it straight away. It is Alex coat pattern, and I very much liked how it worked for my project.
Cutting and interfacing
I took this project on right after finishing my previous coat. When I started inspecting my coating, I grew more and more confused. First, it slowly dawned on me, that this fabric was actually knitted, not woven. The reason this had not crossed my mind before was felt-like finish on the right side of the fabric. It was stretching cross-grain quite a bit, and that made me think further. And then I noticed that if I looked at it laid straight grain ahead, fabric pattern was looking a bit weird – it had prominent horizontal lines, and motives having little triangles had them laying on a side. It was not looking too appealing. I sat on the floor next to the fabric for quite a while thinking what to do.
It is unconventional to cut pattern pieces cross-grain. I have done it for summer garments, but not for coats. Eventually I started realizing that the only option for me was to turn everything perpendicular to straight grain, and thus I started placing my paper pattern blocks on the fabric cross-grain.
Since the fabric was knitted, I knew that it would need to get thoroughly interfaced. I’ve had enough of fabric shrinkage accidents while interfacing the fabric to know better than interfacing cut pattern pieces. So I decided to block interface the fabric. But this sounds easier than it actually was – my task was complicated by the fact that I had to deal with these multiple motifs of the pattern and the idea was to match them all over the place like I usually do. And so my sitting on the floor continued as I was no longer sure if 3 meters of fabric was going to be enough.
Ok, I’m very aware that I keep on explaining the complexity of this project, but it was indeed quite a feat, so just bear with me for just one more moment. I have to explain the design features too in order to complete the story of my thought process. Perhaps it is not quite obvious from finished coat pictures, but actually the front has princess seams and those pockets are not welt pockets at all – they go into the front side sections that are made out of two separate components. So now imagine, that each front has three sections and a pocket welt piece AND all of that needs to come into one thing so that the fabric pattern would not be broken AND they have to match across the front opening as well as with the back pattern motifs across side seams. So that’s the level of complexity that was sinking in while I was sitting on that floor.
I divided the entire piece of fabric into three parts: one for two back pieces, another for all the front and the third was put aside meant for sleeves. I did not cut sleeves then, instead, I wanted to first make the body of the coat and then pattern-match sleeves to it. First two pieces got fully interfaced. It is not easy to interface that large blocks of fabric – I do not own a press, so it has to be done using iron, and it takes ages! After interfacing the fabric, I was glad to conclude that it did not shrink at all. And thus the cutting stage of the process started. Back pieces were cut out of designated first fabric piece, front pieces, front facing and collar pieces were cut out of larger second piece. Each and every pattern piece ended up being pattern-matched to the previous one. Below are three pieces of one front – the part where the scissors are placed is meant for the pocket to get it.
It took me a day to get to the point where the main pattern pieces were cut and ready to get stitched. NOTE: when pattern-matching while cutting it is essential to take all seam allowances into consideration and motif calculation. My task was even further complicated by the irregularity of the fabric pattern. After making this coat successfully, I think I am officially the pro of pattern-matching and can tackle any fabric there is! 🙂
I started by making front side panels and installing pockets. For pocket welts only the right side welt is drafted and the entire inside is supposed to be a piece of lining. I ended up creating a proper welt, i.e. I used the main fabric for the inside of the welt too, and only below it I stitched a lining piece. It was pretty straightforward to make the front pieces, and that’s where the process stopped in November – two fronts hung on the dress form until mid December when I again had time for sewing and was able to continue.
Next, front pieces were attached to back pieces. The back has a vent, so I had to again test my competence in vent making 🙂 A bit worried for the coat to not be too narrow around hips, I ended up stitching side seams at 1 cm seam allowance. Eventually it became clear that it was unnecessary as the coat is a tiny bit too wide for me now, I think.
Then I installed the undercollar, attached front and back facings to the upper collar and these two pieces were joined together to make lapels. I no longer need to check instructions for that – the main thing was to carefully thread-mark collar and lapel pieces and be thorough in following those markings. I’m really glad about how the lapels turned out!
With the main body of the coat done, I proceeded to cut sleeves. That’s where things turned south as I barely had enough fabric in order to nicely match fabric pattern on sleeves. In fact, those sleeves are not ideal – I would have wanted a bit better horizontal matching of the main motifs on the sleeve with the body of the coat, and also I’d have liked a wider vertical motif at the back side of the arm. But I couldn’t pull that off as there was just as much fabric left. I was happy that it was possible to pattern-match both sleeve pieces horizontally and that both sleeves now look exactly the same! 🙂
For a while now I first of all baste sleeves in. When I’ve done that this time, it became apparent that shoulders were too wide for me. First, I cut 1 cm off of each shoulder line to make shoulders more narrow. But when I basted sleeves in again, I noticed a strange sleeve curve at the chest area – it looked as though there was too much fabric around the chest. So on the second attempt I continued cutting 1 cm off grading down to nothing at the front notch of the sleeve setting seam. The third attempt at basting was successful, and so sleeves finally went in. With that the shell of the coat was done and I could try it on – it looked really well on me!
The last large part of the project was to make the lining and install it. This time around I used double sided interlined fabric as lining, and wondered how it would work. Cutting and stitching lining pieces together was pretty easy. However, when I started pressing seams open, I noticed, that ironing was not working all that well on this fabric. In order to reduce the bulk of seams and hopefully to somehow press them flat I ended up cutting the inside batting completely out of seams. It did reduce bulk, however, did not help much in making seams flatter. They are not bad, but left me wishing for more.
The lining was pretty quickly complete. I had to fiddle with the vent quite a bit, especially that I did not remember how to make it, nor the instructions were helpful. So instead I just searched how to make a lined vent on Youtube, and found this video very helpful. I ended up following the method explained in the video step by step and it worked just perfectly! In order to stabilize seams around the vent, I attached interfacing tape to the main seams. None of that was explained in the instructions. However, I find attaching the interfacing tape to seams of most tension crucial. There is a photo in my post on the previous coat showing which seams to interface on the front of the coat.
Setting the lining in was pretty straightforward. I always tack the lining to the facing, it was very important this time as the shell fabric of my lining was extremely slippery. I used walking foot to stitch the lining, but still, the tacking helped to make sure nothing moved or slipped while stitching. It looked intimidating, but there is nothing complex really. (And I’m running out of thread, which is very usual for me at that stage of the coat project!)
After completing all of the internal tacking of innards to ensure comfortable wear of the coat, the last bit of stitching was to finish the hem.
I would really have sweated had I not found that Youtube video that I mentioned before. Now I just proceeded step by step, completed one side of the coat first, then one vent side, then upper part of the vent, then another side of the coat as well as another side of the vent. Eventually there was this small opening left on the left side of the coat hem that I ended up closing by hand.
Finally, all hems were tacked together using the hidden stitch that I have explained in one of my previous posts. And the very last bit was to attach metal snaps to the front of the coat. I ended up attaching two snaps for more comfort instead of one button as recommended in the original design. By attaching the snaps I made sure to complete the center motif of the coat too, and with that my new winter coat was complete!
I am really happy how the coat looks inside. At first I had this doubt if that thick lining would not overwhelm the inside look of the coat. And that has not happened. The coat looks balanced and smart inside out!
For this coat I needed 3 meters of wool blend fabric (70 % wool, 30 % alpaca), I think it is boiled wool really (it’s knitted and feels like felt, so what else can it be?). For the lining I used 1.7 meters of interlined double sided fabric. These fabrics were bought in two different local fabric stores. The pattern used here is Alex coat pattern by Aterlier Jupe with few modifications: shoulders are narrower by 1 cm and side seam allowance was 1 cm instead of 1.5 cm (this was unnecessary, I should have used regular 1.5 cm seam allowance there). Other notions used for this project were: some 2 meters of interfacing, few meters of interfacing tape (straight grain and on bias for curved seams), 2 felt sleeve heads (no shoulder pads were needed for this coat), two 2 cm wide metal snaps, and coordinating thread (Gutermann No. 11). This coat cost me 98 Eur, it was finished in December, 2022.
It has turned out to be a very nice coat! I am glad and also quite a bit proud to have managed with all the fabric pattern matching that was needed for this coat. Otherwise it could have turned into a full blown pattern chaos, and that I really wanted to avoid! It has all the right features to be a comfortable winter garment: nice deep pockets, a vent and wide enough sleeves to accommodate comfortable driving. Probably the only thing I regret is adding those 2 cm of width to it by reducing side seam allowances. Now the coat feels a tiny bit too wide. Granted, I’ve not tried it on with my usual work attire yet – jackets and stuff. I guess, when I wear it on a chunky sweater or a wool blazer, that wideness should hopefully feel less. But let’s see! Meanwhile, I received a nice navy blue alpaca scarf for Christmas that goes ideally with this coat. I am really looking forward to testing it out in the open. It better be really warm as I worked so hard to make it warm!
This was my last project of 2022 and most likely the last coat project for a while. I’ve made enough coats now to last until next autumn. Meanwhile, am planning to turn more to jackets. There are quite a few beautiful wool fabrics in my stash that I can’t wait to use for office attire. And with that I am starting a new year and waiting for it to be hopeful for once!
Happy New Year everyone! 🎉