Sewing Coats (part 3)

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This is the third post in the “A Tale of Two Coats” story. Here’s part one and part two.

I laid out all my pattern pieces, front, front, back and back, on the fabric; I lined them precisely, using the grainlines and the waist and lengthen/shorten lines to match them to the design of the squares better. To do this, get out your trusty yardstick and draw the grainlines to run from the top of the pattern piece to the bottom. Do the same with the line for the waist and hips (if there is one). If the lines on the patterns line up, then you have some hope that the fashion fabric will be obliging and do the same thing when you sew up the garment. It worked pretty well, especially since I had so little fabric to work with.

Sewing the outer shell went faster than the lining as the material was much easier to work with and I’d already learned how everything went together. I had to sew on the facings, just as you normally would on a pattern with separate facings. No problems there. I finished all my inside seams with that sort-of-like-a serger overcasting stitch. The sleeve heads got trimmed first and then overcast. I did NOT sew down these seam margins as I knew that most of them would be corralled by the trim I was going to add to the garment.

I turned up the hem and pressed it into submission so I knew where it was going to go, and did the same thing for the sleeve hems. The bottom hem was too wide when I folded it over, so I gathered it very gently to ease it to fit. More pressing helped persuade it to submit.

Then came the trim. The stars aligned themselves and I had in my stash a huge amount of a purple trim that coordinated both with the lining and with the ivory fashion fabric. I have no idea where this trim came from. I may have bought it on spec years ago at some yard sale or it may have been given to me. Let’s call it 5 dollars as I wouldn’t have paid more than that for it.

I marked up the outer shell, and sewed, slowly, down the trim. I outlined the garment with two lines of trim, mitering corners, and following the front opening and hem and both sleeve hems.

sewing coat

“I also put a diamond pattern on the back of the coat”

, to hold down the center back seam margins, echo the squares within squares design of the fashion fabric, and to add interest to an otherwise vast, empty expanse of ivory.

I made pockets, which I lined with the purple lining, and trimmed out with more of the trim. I thought the diagonal line of the patch pockets worked very well with the squares within squares and with the tiny amount of fabric I had left. I need pockets on all of my coats as where else do I put my gloves? The pockets also help to hold down the front seams where the center front met the side front pieces.

Once I finished cutting out the collars, sleeves, and pockets, I had a handful of scraps left. I might, possibly, have enough scrap fashion fabric left to make a small cloche type hat. Might. There’s plenty of trim left. This is one of the problems with sewing with bits and pieces and re-purposing other fabrics. You never have enough fabric to make it easy.

So, then we attach the lining to the outer shell. I did more hand basting and hand sewing on this coat than I have ever done on any garment. I had to hand sew the lining at the collar and I basted at the facings. I sewed the sleeve heads together working, by hand, up through the sleeve, working between the lining and the outer shell. The joining is invisible, but necessary as it keeps the lining from shifting. It was VERY fussy work; not hard but awkward to do in a very tight, limited access spot. The sleeve heads, the neck seam, and where the lining meets the facing seam are the only structural places where the lining is sewn in. Otherwise, it hangs freely except for the really cool lining tabs I learned from Threads Magazine, issue 176.

Let me stop and put in a plug for Threads Magazine. They are excellent. I started reading it at my local library, bought the back issues when the library did their annual discard the magazines sale, and now I subscribe. I keep all my issues and usually, the answer I need buried somewhere in there. I also buy (second hand of course) sewing books. When it comes to sewing, a picture really is worth a thousand words, so I often keep a book solely for a single, clear, understandable picture.

Next week: the last post about this coat! We’ll attach the collar and hook and eyes, and judge the result.