OK, this is the last blog post this week, I will need to recover from blog burnout- & you dear people will need a bit of space from badger overload! But it’s worth it, well I think so.
This is a coat. This is possibly the most complex thing I have ever sewn. This is absolutely the most expensive thing I’ve ever sewn. And it feels “designer”. It’s princess seamed and very girly with the most amazing flounce collar which cascades around your neck as you wear it.
I’ve never sewn Lolita patterns before & had no experience or expectations when I was invited to become a tester. I think I said “yes” without engaging my brain & considering the challenges. “Yes, I’d love to test a coat pattern”, I thought, “I need to make myself a coat this winter”. But coats mean tailoring don’t they? And that’s potentially scary (more on that later) PLUS the fear factor that comes with sewing expensive fabrics….would I need to find lots of cushions to hide behind? I also had some other sewing deadlines that I hadn’t factored in, so one of my weeks got me sewing like a demon, all evenings after work, up much later than usual, just to get to a certain milestone. I think since then I’ve needed a bit of a wind down & have been sewing less intensively!
And now I can tell you all about it.
I never thought that I had bitten off more than I could chew…until I look back that is! Thank goodness for my gung-ho spirit that saw me through. And thank Lolita for the well explained and detailed instructions. Weeks after I finished making this coat my abiding memory is of how impressed I was with the pattern design, the process of construction and the instructions. I was guided through tailoring without realising it! I should qualify that the form of tailoring used is accessible and with minimal hand stitching- practically everything is completed by machine, which suits my approach to sewing hands down. (Maybe this means that it is not traditional tailoring, no pad stitching in sight…). I learnt many new techniques and have achieved a level of finish that I am exceedingly pleased with.
Every time I look at my inseam pockets I swoon. The approach for lining the coat (it is “bagged” ) & then securing it so that it doesn’t droop below hemlines is genius.
I have already mentioned that the piecing of the patterns is just so accurate I marvelled at each step in the construction process as the coat began to take shape & as it continued to fit. Yes, I did make a toile. Out of scraps of calico & polycotton. This indicated that my first sizing was in fact too small for a winter coat. But the fit people! It was immaculate. I could not believe my eyes to see the shoulders & upper back snugly neat with the correct amount of taper to the waist before flaring out over the hips. I’d be tempted to make this up as a lighter weight frock coat in some medium weight cotton… . I needed to make barely any adjustments, once I had settled on the size I wanted to make up to allow for layering underneath (living in the UK this kind of coat would never be out of doors without a number of woollens in betwixt it & one’s goosebumps). Opting to make a size bigger did cause me serious paralysis: I knew I needed to go up a size (or two) but how many sizes? Would I need to make any adjustments? I took the lazy coward’s way out & used my lining as another toile to estimate fit before cutting out my posh wool.
So let’s talk about the fabric. I have had this teal wool melton in my drawer, for a couple of years, wrapped up to hopefully foil any intrepid moths. It’s beautiful & everything you imagine it to feel like: soft, felty, & a dreamy colour. I would have bought it with a discount during a sale, that much I know. I bought it from my local fabric shop. This in fact saved my day. Even though I bought it a few years ago, when “oh horror of horrors”, I discovered after cutting out & starting to sew my coat that I’d only cut two collar pieces (rather large collar pieces, remember) when I actually needed four, I shuffled along to my fabric shop & described my fix. Not only did they remember the wool melton, but they stocked it …just not in teal. I had to make a design decision.
I plumped for black & contrived it to look “deliberate” by the addition of …wait for it….black velvet ric rac! I got it in again folks. Sewed like piping around the edge of the collar. Even though I used the black as the undercollar, because of the flounces it shows through to add interest. This was the first time that I used hair canvas as well (blimey that was expensive from my local shop!) – to give the collar some shape & structure. And the floral lining? It was some kind of shiny poly satin that I’d bought at the Rag Market last time. Love it!
What else do you want to know? There is one bound button hole and I used Karen’s brilliant bound buttonhole e-book (this wasn’t because the Lolita instructions were deficient but because Lolita instructions relied on silk organza which I couldn’t get my hands on quickly enough. Karen’s bound buttonholes do not need organza. Just saying).
I did get some silk organza eventually as I learnt this was needed for pressing the heck out of the seams – it absorbs the heat without scorching the wool apparently, but it is also transparent enough that makes it easy to see what you’re doing. One thing I want to do is to go back & keep on pressing the seams – I still feel there’s more pressing needed.
I think that’s it for the construction. What about the wearing? Well it feels like a special dressy coat, it is the only coat that hangs in my hall on a coat hanger. The pictures you see of me wearing it were taken on a shopping trip to the wonderful Bradford-on-Avon, a few stops down the railway line from Bath. There’s something slightly vintage feeling in the design with its big collar. And I wore it out last night with my party dress, when I went out into town for Christmas cocktails with my friend. Special!
Have a good weekend everyone!!