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! 


Self drafted pencil skirt

I recently stated that I hoped pattern drafting would feature more this year. Well, there's nothing like starting as you mean to go on! Here's my first completely self drafted item. I drafted my cocktail dress on a course but this was completed without any guidance from a teacher. 

Self drafted pencil skirt 2.jpg

I decided to start simply and tackle the pencil skirt that I wanted to create from the leftover fabric from my jewel jacket. Buoyed by the strong support for it, I pulled out Metric Pattern Cutting by Winifred Aldrich to create my skirt block. I was given the book about six months ago but it's the first time I've really looked at it. I've seen this book referenced quite a lot recently and it seems a good one to start your pattern drafting journey. 

The block was quite quick to create. I think it took me about 90 minutes with a quick toile to check the fit. Thankfully it fitted very well and I didn't need to make any alterations. 

Self drafted pencil skirt 3.jpg

This pattern is a very simple one. It is essentially the block with a waistband and a vent. Keeping it simple was a good idea as it not only led to a quick win, therefore boosting my drafting confidence, but also gave me the classic style pencil skirt for the office that I had been wanting. I adore the shape of pencil skirts but struggled with RTW ones as fabric pools around my narrow hips. It feels great to have a one that fits very well. 

Self drafted pencil skirt 5.jpg

The waistband was easy to draft. I traced off the top 5cm from the front and back blocks with the darts closed, creating three pieces that join together. Tracing from the top of the block ensured that the skirt sat at my natural waistline. Adding the vent to the shell was also fairly simple. 

I extended the hem line of the back block out by about 3cm and then drew a line up to where I wanted the vent to stop, allowing for a 45 degree line to join them. 

Self drafted pencil skirt.jpg

I wanted to try a new technique and decided to create a lined vent. I used this tutorial by Sunni to draft the lining. I didn't get this quite right as there is some bulk at the top of the vent. It doesn't add strain to the seam line and I can sit comfortably so I'm not too bothered. I worried about using an invisible zip as I thought the fabric might be too thick but it has worked ok.

Self drafted pencil skirt 4.jpg

While it isn't perfect, I love this skirt. This is mainly because it fits so well. It is also extremely comfortable when I'm sitting which is a major bonus. The one thing I would change is my choice of lining fabric which I picked up at the Fancy Silk Store in Birmingham. While it is soft, has a good drape and is quite easy to handle, it is also incredibly static and sticks to my tights a little thus moving the vent into an odd shape at times. Annoying as static is, it won't stop me wearing this skirt and I suspect it will be in rotation fairly frequently but I will need to find some more tops to wear with it - it's a wardrobe orphan at the moment. I'll have to make sure I prioritise the tops over the other skirt ideas that are circulating in my mind now.