Once you get sewing things like coats and jeans, they become a little addictive!
I finished my new Eden Coat ( pattern by Tilly and the Buttons) last weekend and, I have to say, I'm a little smitten with it. I've wanted to sew myself a red coat for a long time; it's iconic, bright and fun. When Tilly released the Eden pattern in the spring I knew it was the perfect pattern for the coat of my dreams, so I had a copy printed and then it sat there for 6 months while I plucked up the courage to make it. Looking back I should have started much earlier- it wasn't nearly as difficult as you might think!
Tilly and the Buttons patterns include really clear step by step instructions, with photos to guide you though making each garment. They are designed to build the confidence of even the most inexperienced sewer (though I still wouldn't recommend starting with a coat!). I've used our bright red cotton twill fabric, which we also have in maroon and teal, and a striped cotton jersey for the lining.
The thing with coats is that there are a LOT of steps. You have to set aside a fair bit of time to cut out and sew one and it can be daunting if you've not sewn many garments before. What you really need for coat making is patience and perseverance. I spent about two hours just cutting out the fabric for my coat. All in all, I'd say it took me around 12-14 hours to sew it up, but that was broken down into a few 2-3 hour sewing sessions after the little one had gone to sleep. As I say, it's an involved make. I do think though, that because you put in so much time and effort in to your coat, you are so proud of yourself when it's finished, even if there are a few mistakes!
"What you really need for coat making is patience and perseverance."
I cut and made a size 5, without adjustments, in the jacket version. I have a 38" bust, and my coat fits well with a nice thick jumper underneath. I used our cotton twill for the outer shell and a cotton jersey for the lining. All the way through I was second guessing using jersey for the lining. Traditionally, sleeves are lined with a slippery fabric, like a satin, to help get it over jumpers. I did get away with it on this coat, but if it hadn’t worked, I'd have replaced them with a navy satin and just used the striped jersey for the cuffs. As the jersey is working just fine, I get to enjoy the warmth jersey provides that satin wouldn't.
The sleeves we're a fine length on me, I didn't make any adjustments. I'm quite short, 5'2", and I turned up the sleeves by about 2" to reveal the lining fabric and to break up the red. If you're taller than 5'5", or have long limbs, there is a shorten/lengthen line on the pattern piece to help you make the adjustment. If you measure your arm length (from the nape of your neck as it's a raglan design), remembering to include the two 5/8" / 1.5cm seam allowances you can judge how much you want to adjust the sleeve length by.
I found adding the final fastenings to be the scariest bit of the whole project. It's just typical that this is the final step and the point where you feel it could all go wrong right at the end. I used Prym anorak press on snaps to fasten the front, the pockets and the back storm flaps, going for a contrast black finish. I practiced first on some scraps. You need to use the anorak snaps because of the thickness of the fabric, so they don't easily fall out during use.
"Just take your time measuring carefully and marking where you want them to go."
Also because of the thickness of the layers of fabric, you need to make holes first. I tried using the hole tool that comes with the snaps (you use a hammer and a little punch to pierce the fabric) but I found it quite difficult and it took a lot of effort to make even a small hole. Luckily I have access to a leather punch in the studio, which made much lighter work of the job. After a bit of practice my confidence in putting in the snaps was much better. Just take your time measuring carefully and marking where you want them to go.
The part of the coat I was most unsure of was the hood as I hadn't made one before. But it was a lot simpler than I expected it to be! Even with the centre panel and lining. It came together quite simply, fitting together like a puzzle. When I'd finished it (but before attaching it to the coat) I popped it on my head for a while! I was so proud of it. While it may be a new technique for you, don't be afraid of this process, take your time with it and you'll see it's not very different to other sewing projects, like bags.
"It came together quite simply, fitting together like a puzzle."
So, the elephant in the room, the coat lining. I get the feeling that this is the part of the project that is most intimidating for a lot of you. I say fear not! If you have ever made a lined dress, then you will find it's not too dissimilar. The instructions are really good for this step, and you are guided through how to put the lining and the shell of the coat together, then pull the whole thing right sides out through a hole in the sleeve lining- it's super clever, though it can make the mind boggle a little to begin with.
Photo Credit - Tilly and the Buttons
My next challenge with this coat, as it's not quite finished, it to waterproof the fabric. I haven't taped the seams, though I would think about flat felling them next time for added strength and a professional finish. If you're using water proof fabric, it's worth adding tape to the seams to make sure they don't leak. You can buy this tape from Pennine Outdoor Fabrics. I'm planning on using a waterproofing spray on the outside of my coat, to provide an extra layer of protection.
All in all I am so happy with this make and I am totally going to be making myself another coat, as soon as possible. I'd quite like another go at the Eden coat, but I do wonder how many duffel coats I really need. We've got a fair few coat patterns in stock, with some beautiful coating fabrics, twills and waterproof laminates to make them from. Have a read of my last blog post with some of my favourite suggestions - I'm going to have to choose one to do while I'm still buzzing from this make!
Thanks for reading!