My name is Claire and I’m a coat-o-holic. I love sewing coats, because I like a challenge, I like tailoring and I even like top stitching and this coat was going to push my skills and test my patience. I drew my inspiration from Anne Hathaway looking rather fetching in this Mustard Trench and since then I couldn’t stop thinking about it.
For my 30th birthday last year I was kindly gifted vouchers for Sew Me Sunshine, (thank you to David and Rose and Grace and Martin) and once I’d spotted this Robert Kaufman Mustard Cotton Twill I knew I wanted to make a Trench Coat. It was set to be a coat to take me into my 4th decade. I procrastinated before I cut into the fabric, firstly because I had such high hopes of this project looking good, (which is nonsense really) plus I needed a big chunk of time and space to get started on it.
I decided for the Named Isla Trench Coat because of all the classic trench coat features, I liked the cape and the top stitching and I knew I wanted the longer length. It was my first time making a Named Pattern after months of lusting over their aesthetic online. Plus the patterns are drafted for a 5’8” woman. Hooray!
The Pattern has a lot of pieces, so I decided to try out Patternsy for the first time, a service that prints A0 sewing PDFs. The pieces are still overlaid, so I had to trace the overlapping pieces. I made a rookie error and only sent away the shell pattern pieces to be printed, so I had to stick together the lining PDF by hand. I was 3/4 of the way through sticking together the PDF when I realised it was actually the shell pieces I was sticking together…big sigh…deep breathe…I just printed out the lining pieces this time and stuck it together again and traced it. This project definitely tested my patience.
Next, I made a toile to check the fit and construction of the welt pockets. I cut a size 40 and the fit was fine. I was worried about it being too tight around my arms but it was fine with room enough for wooly jumper. I made the welt pockets after watching a tutorial on YouTube I got my head around the construction. They turned out fine. To be extra diligent I made the collar and the cape to check construction.
[PHOTO Of WELT POCKETS TOILE. }
I was then ready to cut out the fabric, it used 5.5m of the shell as it was only 115cm wide so I laid all the pieces out on the length of out flat for the shell. I marked on the buttonholes and welt pockets with tailors tacks as my fabric pen kept disappearing into the fabric. This shell requires a lot of interfacing, it took me a whole day and even after 30 seconds under the iron, I still found pieces of it coming unstuck whilst I was sewing it. I’d never really considered interfacing before, aside from weight but this brand didn’t seem like great quality. But it does give the collar the structure in needed. So i’m on the hunt for some better quality interfacing, if anyone had any recommendations?
I wish I’d used a fabric pen or tailors chalk better suited to my fabric as it was hard to cut the opening for the welt pocket with the tailors tack. My welt pockets turned out terribly, because the pockets were interfaced with heavy interfacing, the fabric was my much bulkier than the toile when I was turning them out, so they are far from perfect. I managed to hide a multitude of sins with the iron, (thank you steam) but they still show drag lines, I was gutted to be honest, especially as the toile looked so much neater, but it’s a lesson to use a similar weight fabric and interfacing even for a toile. But to be honest, once my hands are in you can’t really tell, that’s what I keep telling myself anyway.
From here the construction was straight forward. The instructions are sparse compared to the hand holding of Tilly and the Buttons patterns and Sew Over It patterns I’m used to it. But all the steps are there. This was an intermediate pattern after all and certainly tested my skills.
I really like the details of the top stitching, for my first row of topstitching I did use a topstitching thread, but my sewing machine does seem to eat this thread and get tangled, so instead I used a Guttermann thread and and it was well matched for my fabric.
I was searching for a puppytooths cotton lining for this coat, but after a lot of scrolling online and no luck, I went to Aberkhan in Manchester and bought a cotton with yellow flex in it for the body lining and black satin for the sleeves making it easy to slip on and off. I like the flash of colour on the inside.
I finished the coat with classic key hole button holes, which was a task beyond my work horse, but basic sewing machine. So I went along to Sew Creative in Altrincham to use th Husquvanah Sewing Machines with an automated buttonholes. Finally I used plan black buttons, which is maybe a bit boring, I tried a trench coat on in Jiigsaw about 10 years ago and it had the most beautiful eclectic collection of buttons down both sides, but black buttons pop against the yellow shell.
Well, as soon as I finished this coat, a heat wave spread across the UK and it finally stopped raining, so i’ll take that as a success. To make this coat Manchester proof, I sprayed it with a showerproof spray. In hindsight I should have washed the fabric first with a waterproof fabric, but honestly, I didn’t even think of it until it was finished. I expect it to be showerproof with an umbrella, but not downpour proof, perhaps a Closet Case Kelly Anorak in deadstock barbour fabric might be better for the wet, wellies and dog walk days.
I learnt so much during this project, it reinforced that by taking on challenging projects, you learn more, so just go for it, the finished garment is far from perfect, but I love wearing it, I made it, it’s one of a kind and it will put a spring in my step when I wear it in the rain.
All for now
Claire and co