Saturday, October 17, 2015

Coat progress

I am really keen to get going on this coat, and today dawned with nothing in particular to do except to sew!
In the morning, I cut out all the pattern pieces, and then found some scrap fabric that would work for a muslin. It always surprises me how little time a muslin actually takes and it is so worth taking that time, in order to be sure of your fit before cutting into the good stuff.
My muslin showed that the shoulder line was too long on me, so I removed 5/8" from the end and blended that line back into the armscye. This will make the sleeve fit better, which seemed to have a little bit too much ease in it to work well.
I had already shortened the pattern in the upper chest area, and again just above the waist. And removed 2" from the sleeves; yes I have short arms.
I sewed the fronts and backs together, sewed on the under collar, sewed the facings over the collar and set in one sleeve. Up to the full length mirror with shoulder pads in hand. A couple of things were clear right away. I needed more room over the tummy and hip area, and the coat was too short.
So I added 3/8" to the seams of the center front/side front and center back/side back. The side seams were in the right place, which made me decide to add the extra at those inside seams, rather than at the sides. The overall length is easy to fix; simply cut the pattern pieces longer.
All of this was done by 2 pm, so I took the dog out for a walk; it is a gorgeous fall day here. And then back to the drawing board. Yes, there was time to cut the fabric and the lining. And whoa, what did I find in my stash?  The perfect shade of blue Kasha lining so I don't have to use the cream stuff I bought the other day.
Over night I remembered that I had a bolt of this blue Kasha from years ago, when I was teaching outerwear classes for MacPhee Workshops. Kasha lining is satin lining fused to thin flannelette, so you are basically underlining the coat when you use this stuff. It is much warmer than other linings and Canadian seamstresses are quite familiar with it, as our winters are so cold.

So here is the coat all laid out, you can see the lining at the top, that shiny blue stuff. Lovely firm lining that is perfect for this weight of wool coating.

And yesterday, I pulled some tailoring books out of my sewing library and I settled on these two reference books. The Singer Tailoring book is a dream, with lots of beautiful photos to show you just how things should look. The garments are dated, but the techniques haven't changed for what I want to do, so it will be my #1 reference. The Palmer/Pletsch book is an easy read, with some good fitting tips and some shortcuts that may just come in handy.
All of this is now packed up in a box, and the next step is to cut the hair canvas and sew that in by hand. I am looking forward to that peaceful hand stitching. And hair canvas has never disappointed me.
One year I taught a jacket class and one student decided to make herself a winter coat. This was over 20 years ago, and I had only ever used sew-in interfacings. So I recommended that she use hair canvas in her coat and I showed her how to put it in. She later told me that coat was her essential piece of clothing that winter, and she wore it for a long time. She thought the method of all that hand-stitching was a bit tedious to begin with, but she didn't regret it later when the coat continued to look good after months of wearing.
Buttonholes are a concern at this point. I could do bound buttonholes, but don't want to. I want hand-done keyhole buttonholes. But I know that mine are pathetic. Unless I get some practice in and get much better at them, I think I might just take this to a tailor here in town and pay him to make them once the coat is at that point. There are two tailors who could do this; one is Mr. Chung who makes suits for men, and another is a tailor who specializes in military apparel. Perhaps I will ask to see samples of their work before committing to them.

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