WIP: a self-drafted coat

Over the past five or so weeks, I've been working on a new longer term project. The sewing course I signed up for allows you to take any project you like and steadily work through it. I chose to draft a coat which will see me through the changing seasons - the time when it's too warm for a full winter coat and too cool for a trench coat. The inspiration came from Ted Baker's Keyla coat which is a short wrap coat made from a cashmere-blend and outside of my budget! The shape is very similar to my current winter coat which I adore. The wrap over centre front combined with the high standing collar keeps out all the draughts. There is little definition in the body and it relies on the belt to provide some shape. It feels amazing to wear so a shorter version entering my wardrobe was almost an inevitability. 

Original inspiration.  Source

Original inspiration. Source

The pattern was drafted using my standard block and the measurements of my winter coat. As a result, the design is a mix of my winter coat and the Keyla. From the Keyla, we included the darts on the side front panels, the two piece sleeve and a very similar length. The shape of the front flaps and the style of the collar at the back are from my winter coat. The toile fitted perfectly across the shoulders and waist. The length of the coat and the sleeves were also spot on. However, one change was needed at the side front. We added a centimetre or so towards the top to prevent the sleeve from pulling the side front panels therefore stopping any drag lines and allowing fuller movement. 

Self drafted coat outer front.jpg
Self drafted coat outer high neckline.jpg

For the outer fabric, I chose a coating fabric from the new John Lewis in Oxford. It is a polyester-viscose mix which feels lovely to touch and is rather heavy. At the time of buying colour options included navy, dusty pink, light blue and black. In a rare move, I chose the black for a classic look and to ensure it will go with everything in my wardrobe.

Self drafted coat outer collar detail.jpg

This mix slides through my sewing machine with ease. Unfortunately this where its good characteristics for construction ends. It can fray pretty badly so every raw edge will have been through the overlocker. It has a very springy nature which means it needs a lot of attention around the seams to get them to lie flat. This is made worse by the fact that it is an absolute bitch to press - the mere sight of the iron will leaving a lasting mark on it, even through a press cloth. Steaming then finger pressing the seams open wouldn't keep them in place. In the end, I secured them to the body with the help of catch stitching. I'm fond of hand sewing but with the number of seams combined with the colour black I soon began to get a little frustrated. I'm blaming this extra mile for me stitching up and securing the side seams while forgetting there were pockets to add... 

Self drafted coat outer back.jpg

Despite it's aversion to the iron, I was able to add interfacing to the collar stand and to the front flaps. To give the collar more strength to stand upright, I used a study fusible canvas. As the front flaps need to be able to fold effortlessly I opted for a lighter fusible fleece type domette. It works perfectly with the outer fabric and gives just enough support. 

Self drafted coat inside front.jpg

Thankfully, the order of construction has been pretty easy to figure out. Broadly, the front and front sides were pieced together first followed by the back and back sides. They were stitched together at the side seams and at the shoulders. The collar stand was added to the back neckline. To create the flaps, the centre back seam was stitched before being added along the front seams and the back neckline. I carefully marked the pivot point at the back neckline to ensure a smooth line at the point where the stand meets the shoulder line. This point was then carefully clipped to allow the seam allowance to lie flat. I then set the sleeves. The inside flaps were stitched to the front facing before being added to the outer shell of the coat.

Self drafted coat inside shoulder detail.jpg

So far, so good and it fits very well. When trying it on, I realised that the sleeves will need some extra support and I plan to add sleeve heads. I also need to work out how I want to do up the coat before tackling the difficult task of getting all the outer seam lines to lay smooth and flat for top stitching. I'm currently debating between buttons or magnets. Has anyone ever used magnets in a make before? If so, any tips?

I'm now off to start working on the lining. I'm still a little annoyed about missing out the pockets and the thought of unpicking the seams or adding belt loops are not ones that I currently cherish! 


Bringing a bit of order

Every now and then I have this overwhelming desire to cleanse the flat. I get this feeling when I have been somewhere for a while or I feel that we have too much stuff for the space we have. I go through practically everything and very little is safe. It is time consuming but therapeutic! Very little is safe? Yep, and this includes everything sewing related, from fabric and notions to books and patterns. 

In fact, this is probably what prompted the latest round as I'm slightly lazy in putting these items away as I use them so much. The biggest problem I had was with patterns. I trace my patterns as I will often have to grade between sizes and I also like the idea of keeping the originals in tact. So I set aside 30 minutes and went from this

Sewing pattern organisation.JPG

to this

Sewing pattern organisation 2.jpg

Previously my traced patterns were rolled up, took up a lot of room and looked unsightly. I decided to carefully fold the pieces and store them with the original pattern in medium food bags. Each are labelled with the pattern name and company. They are then organised by type of garment. That's as organised as I''m going to get!

How do you store your patterns?