Sewing Coats (part 4)

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(This is the fourth and final part of Teresa’s posts about the ivory coat. Here’s part one, part two, and part three.)

So back to the lining. Once I sewed in the lining at the sleeve heads and the neckline, I was able to determine exactly how much I had to trim off the bottom to make the hem and the sleeve hems as well. Yes, this was awkward too, working with most of the finished garment to get the lining hem right. It was at this point that I made the lining tabs and a neck loop as well. Once the lining had been hemmed (by machine) with the tabs in place, I finished hand sewing it to the facing seams, hand sewed the outer shell hem, pressed it again, then hand sewed down the facing seam.

Making Coats, showing the collar and neck loop and scarlet tag

I made the lining tabs and a neck loop. (Click to embiggen.)

The collar was next. I very carefully measured and marked so I would have some hope that the trim I attached would match the trim on the garment when I sewed on the collar. And it did! On one side. I was off by an inch on the other side, so I ripped off the collar part of the way, ripped off the trim (both lines), resewed the trim, and finished attaching the collar. It looks much better with the trim matching up nicely. My attachment of the neck hanging loop was completely concealed by the collar seam.

I also always sew in a cranberry red tab of seam binding in every garment, to mark the inside back of a garment and to show I made it. This coat is no exception. I suppose that someday I will order “real” tags for this purpose. Seam binding works quite well to mark the center back inside seam of any garment. I normally use cranberry red, unless it will show from the outside. Then I use a coordinating color. Home sewn pull-on pants, skirts, and shorts can sometimes be difficult to tell back from front so this serves as a marker.

"It was time to attach the hooks and eyes."

“It was time to attach the hooks and eyes.”

With the collar done, it was time to attach the hooks and eyes. As I noted earlier, I chose hooks and eyes since the front of this pattern butted together. No closure of any kind is given on the pattern. I think this is a real failing, particularly for us full-figured gals. No, and I mean no, jacket or coat is going to hang nicely down across my chest and stay put without coercion. They have to be forced into submission via buttons, frogs, zippers, hooks & eyes, sweater grippers, whatever you choose. If I don’t do this, well! The girls insist on being put on display and the entire world can play “guess my bra size.”

So hooks and eyes fit the bill nicely. I used seven of them. They were the single most expensive part of the garment and the only item I bought specifically for this coat. Up until now, I’d spent about $17 on materials for this coat, and much of that was left over from another project.

To lay out the hooks and eyes so the garment would stay closed took some thought. There were no markings on the original pattern. So I sewed on the first one, at the top, just below the collar. I put the coat on and had my husband mark where the next hook should go, right across my bust. I was trying to avoid that awful pull and gap and I succeeded. I sewed on this hook and eye next, then got out my Expando-Flex button hole marker. I put in a hook & eye mid-way between the top and the bust point. That gave me the exact measurement for the spacing for all the others. I marked and sewed on four more hooks & eyes, tried on the coat, and decided I didn’t need any more.

Since these hooks & eyes are so prominent, I was very careful with my hand sewing. I used a button-hole stitch, following the directions in Threads Magazine, issue 117. They look very nice. As you can imagine, I got better and faster at it as I went along. The first hook took the longest to sew and the last one the shortest amount of time. Practice really does make perfect as the last two hooks & eyes look better too. I always sewed the hooks on first, and then corrected the exact placement of each eye as I went along.

So for this coat, I spent just under $30 total. It took hours and hours of my time. Was it worth it? Sure! I got a well-fitting unique coat that I could never have afforded to pay retail for. It shows off my skills and no one can ever claim, “I have one just like it.” Like any hobby, sewing will use time. But it doesn’t have to cost you big bucks as well, as I hope this shows. I really improved my skills and I learned a lot about construction, inserting linings, and making the most of what I had on hand. This was also an exercise in patience. But you probably figured that out awhile ago.

I like the coat so much that I’ve already decided to make it again. I have a beautiful, hunter green tablecloth that I also got at the Goodwill bargain bin (75 cents!) on the same trip as the ivory shower curtain. It has an overall tapestry design of tone on tone leaves that should look very nice, especially when I overlay it with miles of narrow black rick-rack. This coat will be lined (if I can find it) with gold or yellow flannel back satin and an interlining of fine lightweight flannel (which I already have) for extra warmth. I’ll use a zipper for the closure so I won’t have an opening running down the front. This will make the coat more functional for colder weather and it should work easily with the existing pattern.

I like and want a high-contrast lining so I may actually buy lining material specifically for this coat. I’ll have to buy a zipper as well, maybe a fancy one. I don’t know yet. Even so, this coat will cost far, far less than a comparable one would. Just like my ivory squares coat, it will be unique.

Next Week: Making the Swing Coat