I can finally wear this!

Progress on my next lot of projects has slowed a little while I wait for fabric to arrive but the postman has promised a delivery on Tuesday. So while I eagerly await the coming of Tuesday, the first signs of Spring have arrived with sunshine for three days! I had been waiting for this moment so I could leave my winter coat at home and begin to wear the an item that is my best sewing project to date and the one I am most proud of - my Lady Grey coat. 

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Last year I decided I wanted to push my sewing skills a little further and a coat seemed the perfect item. I wanted something that was a bit like a statement coat and I fell in love with the Lady Grey at first sight. I began this in September and had real trouble finding any wool in our local fabric shops (there aren’t that many around Oxford) so I ordered some swatches from Truro Fabrics. A beautiful teal arrived and I knew that was the colour I wanted but disaster struck when I hit the checkout button and it just disappeared. Turns out the shop was updating it website and that particular fabric had sold out. I was so disappointed but luckily I had decided on a backup. Yes, it is pink and herringbone. Although it is my second choice, I do love it. 

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I followed the wonderful tutorials from Gertie to construct this. I used the tailoring techniques she details. Unfortunately I don’t have many photos as thoughts about blogging were not in my mind at that point. However, I did find this one which shows part of the process of tailoring the front. The hair canvas is in place and stitched to the wool with a permanent uneven basting stitch. The rows are two inches apart. I didn’t have any stay tape so I went with some left over bias binding for the roll line. If you squint, you can just about make out the even stitches. I’m disappointed I don’t have pictures of the pad stitching I did for the lapels and the collar. Pad stitching keeps shape in the fabric and it is all done by hand. A series of lines are drawn over the section to be pad stitched and the stitches go diagonally in one direction for the first line and then the other way for the next, creating a chevron look. You also need to keep whichever line you are stitching rolled over your fingers to keep the shape - this is really important otherwise everything turns out flat. This is a simpler said than done! Once you have completed that you need to steam the roll lines A LOT and leave it rolled over a folded towel until it is dry and set in shape. I hope this makes sense but if not, pop across to here where Gertie explains it brilliantly! 

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I also made bound button holes for the first time. They are reasonably tricky but they are something I want to perfect as I love them a lot. 

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Start to finish took about 8 weeks as the tailoring sections took me a while. However, the hardest part was the lining. Before I go into the difficulties, take a look at what I chose. This coat absolutely screams for an interesting lining and who was I to disobey? The pockets are made from the same material. 

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I had major trouble getting this to fit in the sleeves and also hang neatly towards the hem. It was just too short. When I stitched it in the sleeves the result was a scrunched look because there was too much tension with the lining. I had to let it out and move it down an inch. It still isn’t perfect and you can see a slight scrunch when I wear it but it isn’t anywhere near as bad as it was. By the hem, it became very apparent when I stitched in the ditch along the seams that the lining was just too short. I wanted to keep the lining close to the coat so it wouldn’t get in my way when putting it on but I was left with a six inch(!) gap in places. By this point I had put too much time and effort in to be defeated so I bought a wide pale pink ribbon and stitched it about an inch from the bottom to cover up any of the hair canvas and seams that could be seen. You can see it in the photo above. 

If I was to make this again I would lengthen the sleeves. I love three quarter length sleeves but not for outdoor items. A coat needs to have full length sleeves I’ve discovered. However, I did get the gorgeous grey cashmere gloves for Christmas that work perfectly and they are so warm! 

I’m really proud of this item and now the weather has warmed up a little I will be wearing it more often. I wore it yesterday on a Easter Egg Hunt at Basildon Park and loved it. Don’t you think it works well with lambs ears?! 

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Happy Easter everyone, I’m off for a walk to show off my coat again.