Making the Swing Coat (part 2)

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(This is the second and final part of “Making the Swing Coat” Part 1 can be read here.)

This brought up the problem with the pattern. It is unlined. I dislike unlined jackets as they don’t hang as well, wear as well, or go on and off as well. So how do we line a jacket that gets its shape from having some of the seams reversed (so they don’t show) and that gets its lapels from turning fabric back so the wrong side shows?

These two issues, especially the lapel one, don’t matter if you use a fully reversible fabric like fleece. My chosen fabric, besides having a large repeat and a clear one way direction, could not be folded back at the lapels as the wrong side would show.

So I lined this unlined jacket. One of the pattern variations allowed you to make the lower sleeve, lapels, and lower garment back in a separate fabric. I used this feature to make the lining. I dug around through the stash and found a lightweight white silky piece that was a) large enough and b) the same weight and drape as the fashion fabric. I wanted a white lining as it helped emphasize the colors of the somewhat sheer fashion fabric, rather than diluting or muddying them.

making swing coat

Close-up of swing coat’s collar to show the lining.

I traced all the pattern pieces, choosing to make the shorter version of the jacket. Since this was to be a light weight jacket, I didn’t need fabric down past my knees. I made the lapels, the lower sleeves, and the back hem in the fashion fabric and sewed the jacket together, changing only the direction of the seam at the center back lapel, i.e., I sewed the fabric right sides together versus wrong sides together as with a lining, I wouldn’t have that seam showing, ever.

I made the lapels in the fashion fabric so that when they are turned back they match the outer shell of the jacket. I chose to make the lower back hem and lower sleeve hems the same as the fashion fabric so if I turned back the cuff or the garment moved in the wind, you saw the fashion fabric and not the lining.

After making the lining — and finishing every one of the seams so that pesky, slippery fabric didn’t unravel at the first opportunity, plus sewing them down — I made the outer shell of the fashion fabric. This went much quicker as it didn’t require piecing and I knew exactly how it went together. I made a neck loop for hanging the jacket on a hook, and added my cranberry neck tag. I finished all the interior seams in the outer shell, sewing them down. Yes, this gives me visible seams on the jacket. It also ensures that the seams stay flat without ironing.

I sewed the jacket to the lining, right sides together, all the way around, leaving an opening at the bottom hem to turn it right side out. I did not sew the sleeve hems together as then the jacket couldn’t be turned right side out. After turning the jacket right side out, I pressed the entire thing again, getting a crisp edge. Three rows of top stitching finished the edge nicely, helping the layers to hold their shape. I pressed in the hems at the sleeves, then hand sewed them together with a blanket stitch. The sleeve hems got three rows of top stitching as well.

To ensure the jacket held together and hangs well, I sewed the lapel seams together (all three inches of it), stitching in the ditch, and I hand-basted and then sewed the shoulder seams together, stitching in the ditch. I couldn’t line it up perfectly, so sometimes the inside seam on the lining at the armscye — the armhole, the fabric edge to which the sleeve is sewn — wanders a bit but the exterior is fine.

The jacket hangs and flows very well, and it stays in position over my chest fairly well. To ensure it stays where it belongs, I made a small sweater clip. I bought a packet of alligator sweater clips at Joann’s, and made the connecter with blue grosgrain ribbon and three coordinating buttons. This is just enough of a closure to force the jacket to behave, even if it’s windy.

making swing coat

This sweater clip was made using alligator sweater clips, blue grosgrain ribbon and three coordinating buttons.

All together, this cost me a clear $15: ten for the pattern and five for the packet of alligator sweater clips. I have a few clips left over so I can make another closure if I need to. The fashion fabric was bought years ago and I’m not sure where the lining came from. It’s another leftover from some other project or it was given to me. I always take free fabric, no matter what it looks like. If I can’t use it, I pass it along to someone else. I had to do a lot of overcasting to finish the interior seam margins so I used up all my bobbins of shades of blue. Finishing seams is a great way to empty out half full bobbins.

swing coat finished

The finished swing jacket

This jacket took much less time to put together than the ivory coat required. It didn’t need nearly as much hand sewing, just basting and the blanket stitch at the sleeve hems. There is no trim and no closures, other than the sweater clip I made. I’m not sure if I’ll make it again for me, but both my friend and my daughter have asked for swing jackets of their own. We’ll see.

I know I was the only person at Arts on Chocolate wearing something like this. Bill and I were among the very few vendors who weren’t dressed to clean out the garage, in old jeans and ratty t-shirts advertising someone elses arts and crafts. I will wear this jacket to all our future summer time events and it will, I hope, help potential customers to remember me when they see me.

Next Week: Making Attractive Nightwear