Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Coat Decisions and Indie Patterns

Welcome to 2015.  I've enjoyed the first few days of the new year by reading sewing blog recaps and resolutions.  I won't be joining in either process this time around since I have a hard enough time concentrating on my current project.  I've also been spending more than a few hours watching several of those new Craftsy classes that are relevant to my new coat project.  My two favorites so far are Kenneth King's The Carefree Fly Front Coat and Linda Lee's Underneath It All.  Kenneth King is a wonderful teacher whose careful methodology results in a well-made, long-wearing classic lightweight jacket.  I never knew there are different weights of hair canvas, for one thing, so this class has been useful.  Linda Lee gives excellent advice and tips for using various linings, underlinings, interlinings and interfacings.  No hard and fast rules except to test and use superior materials for a quality result.  She had me considering some new ideas for my coat project.  The Inside Vogue Patterns: Coatmaking Techniques for V9049 is taught by a new-to-me instructor, Steffani Lincecum, a former costumer.  Lovely step by step directions that are educational even if you don't use that particular pattern.  
So after a lot of reading and screen time I finally am working on my coat.  This pattern came out when there was not the avalanche of "indie patterns" now available in the sewing world.  IMNHO, back then there had to be something extra special to get you to shell out the extra money from an indie pattern designer.  Louise Cutting, for examples, has exquisite sewing details in each and every pattern, so explicit that I swear that non-sewing Mr. Lucky could be successful with one of her projects.  In earlier generations of indie patterns, either the designs were tremendously unique and/or the directions were sewing lessons in themselves.  That doesn't seem to be the trend in the indie patterns of today, more's the shame really.  But enough of me bemoaning, here's what I mean about unexpected details.
The Olympia Coat pattern Olympia Coat  was released by Fred Bloebaum ten years ago.  For a very simple coat there are actually a very large number of pattern pieces provided, eighteen altogether.  First, Fred designed a lined coat and includes the separate lining and front facing pieces for both coat options.  
Yes, it is not hard to draft your own lining, once you know how, but look, these lining pieces are quite different because of the all-in-one sleeves and are designed to work with this pattern specifically.  Now that's useful.

Olympia Coat Pattern Pieces
In addition to the two alternative fronts (with a roll line indicated for that petal collar, something you almost never see on any pattern) there are two alternative pockets; a simple angled patch pocket along with its interfacing pattern as well as a slightly more complicated windowpane pocket that includes two pocket parts and its interfacing pattern along with a topstitching template for more assured success.  

Wow, a lot of thought and time to create a pattern that clearly wants you to have a successful outcome and also perhaps learn some sewing tips along the way.  Yes, I am a Fred Bloebaum fan and when she died so young I was truly devastated.  She was a calm, careful teacher and a clever, creative patternmaker.  She's the standard I use to judge indie designers.  
Ok, off my small soapbox. This week I've adjusted the pattern according to the fitting advice from Sarah Veblen.  Number one alteration was to add a side dart for a little more length over my bust area without any additional width needed.  Sarah pinned the dart onto my mockup then said just transfer it as a side dart and add the side seam take up ( 1 1/2 inches total) to the front hem.  
New collar line and side dart to mark on pattern pieces
My next change was a style one on my part.  I didn't like the small petal collar so for this version I just want a raised high collar.  My neck is always cold, one of the reasons I am thrilled that infinity scarves continue to be in style.  I am using a collar (simple enough) from this Burda magazine pattern which fits almost perfectly along my new collar seam line.  I won't be doing that attractive seam detail but it is worth remembering for another project.

Next I selected some truly fun buttons from my recently organized button stash.  I do not remember where these came from but I like their sort of vintage look.  They are 1/4 inch larger than the buttons suggested for the pattern so I will extend the front edge  that same amount to account for their size.  I will use jumbo snaps under these buttons since the buttonholes seem just too large to look neat over time.

I did some snoop shopping at Nordstroms over the holidays and found two coats that I loved.  They both have this stand up collar and one had an inseam buttonhole for that top collar button.  I'll show you that easy way to make a button opening when I actually get to the sewing process.
Now I am deciding on what interfacing or underlining to use with this fabric.  My easiest and most tried and true procedure would be to simply block fuse the entire coat front with a very lightweight fusible knit interfacing.  It will stabilize the fabric just slightly while not really altering the lightweight hand of this medium weight herringbone wool.  

I am considering, however, just underlining the front and back with a thin lightweight cotton, a little heavier than a batiste.  I like the soft hand that the fabric still has draped on my dress form with the cotton and also how it gives the wool a little more "beefiness" without making it bulky or stiff.  Any opinions out there about which one you would do?
Last decision before I start cutting out and marking is what lining fabric to use.  I have plenty of my favorite lining, bemberg rayon for its slippery hand and breathability.  I also have these two silk charmeuses, one heavier red one and the lighter weight burgundy.

I don't have to decide on the lining right away so I will mull it over as the coat starts to take shape later this week.  I have a weekend home alone and am looking forward to putting in some quality sewing time on this project.  Wish me luck and I would love to know your opinion about that interfacing/underlining question.  Hope your sewing projects are keeping you engrossed in good things.


  1. I am enjoying your coat process! I also made this pattern, at least 5 years ago, and I still wear it. Fred was in my sewing group and we were also devastated by her early passing. Enjoy the process!

  2. IMHO, I prefer lightweight interfacing rather than underlining for most projects. I actually like the look better. It's easier and faster to do, but it's not just that I'm a lazy sewer. Your coat fabric is beyond gorgeous.I look forward to reading more about your coat sewing process. I appreciate your detailed and cheerful blog posts. Happy New Year!!

  3. What a beautiful coat pattern -- I'm looking forward to seeing your progress, as well as reading about how you make your in-seam buttonhole. I think if the drape and feel are similar, it would be easier to block fuse rather than hand-baste the cotton, but I tend to hand-baste my underlinings for investment pieces like jackets and coats. I recently block-fused a jacket to try it out and it turned out well, so I'm sure your coat will be wonderful with either method you choose!


Love your comments, opinions, advice and questions. I just ask that we all "play nice."