Sew Pretty in Pink Makes a Coat, pt. 1: The Muslin

Do you ever start a project, believe it’s going really well, get really confident, and then slowly get less and less confident as things begin to go terribly wrong and then get more confident when you fix all the fitting issues?

Yeah, that’s what making a coat is like for me so far: an emotional roller coaster. It’s not done yet (not even close), but this is the tale about the muslin and my fabric plan.

I started off so well. My pattern was a match made in heaven with my fabric.

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View A of Vogue 8346 is basically made with the same fabric I picked up at the thrift store for ridiculously cheap.

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As I was looking through my patterns, I saw this and was like: yes, yes, that is my coat, yes, my precious. Originally, I had a few others in mind (check out my Fall Sewing Plans post for more info on that).

Before I go all Gollum on you about the wonderful precious coat that still isn’t made, I will get back to my muslin and my plan.

I have about two and a half yards of the herringbone wool and the pattern called for 3 yards. So, this meant that I had to be careful about cutting the fabric and had to use more contrasting fabric and not worry about pattern matching. I never really pattern match so that last one was not really an issue. Sorry to all you pattern-matching people. I’m a horrible pattern mismatcher.

During a trip to Rochester, NY, for my stepson’s hockey tournament, I picked up 2 yards of a dark brown pleather at Joann fabrics for a steal. There was a major sale that meant I was at the store for two hours waiting to get my fabric cut. I picked up a bunch of other stuff that I will blog about as I get it done. I basically got something like 12 yards of fabric for $50 USD. I left the store three hours later pretty happy.

My plan was to make the sleeves out of the pleather. I also got some burgundy blizzard fleece from Joann’s, which I will be using as the lining. I know you are supposed to use shiny fabric for the lining, but it’s Canada and I want more than two weeks wear out of a coat that I made for myself. Therefore, it has to be warm. Very warm.

In a crazy change of plans, because I kept seeing cute coats with oversized pleather cuffs, I decided to change the full pleather sleeve to an almost half pleather sleeve (more like….3/8 pleather) of course that means that I don’t quite have enough fabric for the front facing, sadly.

My first muslin minus the sleeves started off swimmingly:

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Please ignore the horrible hair. I don’t really care about that as I sew. I’m not June Cleaver. I sew in pajama pants with greasy hair. And then I post pics of myself in muslins with greasy hair, because that’s how I roll.

I did an FBA (Full Bust Adjustment) for the princess seam using Mary from Idle Fancy’s tutorial. Seriously brilliant tutorial. The only issue with the muslin was that it became longer in the front than the back, but that’s fine. That’s just a hemming issue that will work itself out. It fit perfectly and was super flattering. I also had enough ease to accommodate bulky fabrics.

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My piece after the FBA. It looks ridiculous. Are my boobs really that big? Yes, yes, they are.

I cut a size 22 for most pieces, but graded to a 24 on the two bust pieces as well as doing an FBA. I am not sure why I chose to do that, but it worked out perfectly. Why question a stroke of brilliance like that?

I was pretty confident at this stage. I didn’t have the sleeves on, but I was happy with this.

Enter the sleeves. I do a large bicep adjustment. I used T’s sleeve fitting adjustment on the Curvy Sewing Collective page and made three muslins for the sleeves. First time, they were not big enough in the bicep yet. I guess I had miscalculated the amount to add in. I should have done a tissue fitting. I also adjusted the muslin for the large cuff for the pleather accent. Basically, this involved just cutting the sleeve in half and adding in length and then sewing it back together. The second time, I did a tissue fitting and they still weren’t big enough. Also, they were too short for some bizarre reason even though the first ones weren’t and I didn’t make any length variations. Anyway, third time was a charm and they fit perfectly.

Then I remembered this post on Fashionable Stitch about fitting your body. Well, I tried crossing my arms across my bust and holy hell was that shit tighter than a…..I will stop there. It was tight. Take my word for it.

Slashy, slashy with my scissors I went.

Using Sunni’s method, I slashed and then slashed some more in various areas. This was me slashing my second muslin:

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You can see all the cuts in the princess seams there where I needed to add in more and more fabric and the wedge at the center back where I had to remove fabric, because of course you can have narrow shoulders AND a wide back, right?! I think they call that a dowager hump, but I don’t have that problem in other garments! Anyway, three muslins later for the back, I had a complete muslin, yeay!!

More like: UGH! Fitting a coat is definitely a lot more involved than fitting a dress. You have to think of ease and the fact that your fabric will be very different from your muslin and account for the extra bulk. I’ve never had an issue with it being tight across the back with dresses, but with this coat I did. I’m not sure what the difference here was or why I needed to make all these unusual adjustments on the back, but I did. It’s a lot better now.

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TaDa!!!!! Here is the final muslin in all it’s glory with a wonderful bathroom picture. It’s cinches in at the waist, you can spy the line where the pleather cuff is, and it fits my bustybust perfectly with the princess seams all in the perfect places.

I’m pretty stoked about this.

Reader, I cut my coat out:

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A kleenex box is a totally legitimate pattern weight. I swear. You can see all the adjusted pattern pieces with all their weird shapes wedged in here and there. The wool was so easy to cut and the pleather was like cutting through buttah. I didn’t cut out the collar or the front facing yet. The collar will be in pleather and the front facing will likely be in the burgundy fleece, because I do not have enough of the wool for it, sadly. We’ll see how that works out. I also need to draft new lining pieces after all the alterations I made to the coat. I am not sure what to do for those, because all the lining pieces are so different from the outer pieces. For now, I am moving on to cutting out interfacing and fusing the interfacing on the wool, sewing the back up and drafting the back stay out of hair canvas using Gertie’s method (is it weird that I had some hair canvas in my stash?….yes, that is weird, especially when I don’t ever remember buying it at all, but there it was when I was reorganizing my sewing room and I was all…..what?! The fabric fairy, must have been the fabric fairy. Omg, please let there be a fabric fairy), and then sewing the rest of the coat up before I tackle the facing and other things.

If you want more information and tutorials on the wonderful world of coat making, check out Jenny’s list over at Cashmerette. It’s a really great link and I read everything there before starting. I also used Gertie’s sewing of Vogue 8346 for reference.

I have felt pretty good about the whole process even if the muslin took forever and fairly confident that the fit will be good. I do have some hesitations about the lining and the facing, but overall I can’t wait to see it finished. I will definitely not be finishing this coat in time for the end of FESA, though, but it feels good to have a significant start on it.

Other than that, I had a weekend of horrible sewing fails that I will talk about some day in the future (I’d like to have a sewing win with the patterns I tried out before I talk about the fails). I feel like taking comfort in an easy knit pattern that I’ve made before. I think a few more Jenna cardis to make me feel better. 🙂 And then maybe I will make up a Bluegingerdoll Betsy skirt or Violet dress. 😀

There is seriously not enough time for all my sewing plans. I think I need a sewing fairy.

Has anyone else ventured into the wonderful world of coat making?

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22 thoughts on “Sew Pretty in Pink Makes a Coat, pt. 1: The Muslin

  1. Wow! I loved reading your post! I think your coat is going to look amazing. Idle Fancy’s FBA tutorial is awesome isn’t it? I had read many FBA tutorials and didn’t understand really what was going until she put out hers , then it was like Boom! I got it :-). I recently made Peacoat for my hubby and it was fun and frustration in equal measures. I didn’t have horse canvas in my stash Lol but I did just interface both the front and the facing to give it a bit more body. In the end I think wool is very forgiving.

    • I’m glad you liked reading this. 🙂 Oh man, is that tutorial ever amazing. It was the only part of the muslin that fit perfect on first try! 😀 So far making a coat is definitely equal parts fun and frustration for me, too. Isn’t it weird that I had hair canvas in my stash? I think I must have bought it thinking it was something else… I’m so confused. I’m hoping this wool is very very forgiving. 🙂

  2. Wow, that sounds so complicated! I’ve just made a lightweight coat, and I thought I was being flash by underlining it! It looks good though, and your final fabric plans will be awesome. Fleecy lining sounds so cozy…

    • Your coat looks so good! 🙂 I love the print. I think this one is just super complicated because I chose a really fitted pattern so I have to get the fit perfect for it to look good. I think sewing it will go a lot easier now that the fit is perfect. 😀

  3. Dang, girl, you are PERSISTENT! I think I’d have thrown in the towel. I’m frustrated after just ONE muslin of Nettie, which shows I need to make shoulder/sleeve changes too. I’m not frustrated about making another muslin, because I usually have to do at least two, but I’m just frustrated that I don’t know how to diagnose my issue! I’ve kind of always noticed my side seam hangs a little too far back, and that the armsyces on my things are always ever-so-slightly off (gapey in front, tighter in back), so now I think I need to learn real adjustments. I plan on starting with forward shoulder (aka computer shoulder!) and I might have a dowager’s hump too, although I also have a really erect back so maybe the problem corrects itself? And then I think I have a swayback as well. Ugh, fitting is super not fun sometimes!

  4. Hooray for progress on the coat! I really like your fabric and can’t wait to see it all put together with the accents. I’m thinking of starting my first coat soon and I’m a little nervous that I’ll end up in a padded cell before it’s all over! O_o

    • If I can do it, Mads, you can do it like a boss! 🙂 Just remember to take lots of breaks and you won’t need a padded cell. Maybe a straight jacket, but not a padded cell. 😉

  5. You’re doing great!! Fitting IS the MOST FRUSTRATING part of sewing, especially when you’re just beginning the whole process. But it does get so much less frustrating, I promise, once you have a handle on your individual fitting needs AND which method works best for you.

    I have a billion scissors and a couple of pin holder magnet thingies which double as pattern weights when I run out of actual pattern weights. I keep meaning to get to Home Depot for some big washers but never manage to remember to do it when I’m away from the cutting table.

    I came here after seeing your awesome black/mustard Jenna cardi in the Muse gallery. Love it and your Halloween costume!

    • Aww thanks so much! I love the Jenna cardi and that Halloween costume was a big hit. 🙂

      Fitting can be so frustrating. I starting to find it a lot easier as I go along, but the fitting for the coat was a little bit of a curve ball.

      I have used coasters, hammers, my iron, all for pattern weights. It’s pretty funny. I’ve seen other people use fruit. LOL.

  6. Pingback: FESA 2014 round up | Sew Pretty in Pink

    • There is tons to learn, but honestly the best way to do it is to tackle it head on and learn as you go. There is nothing wrong with accepting that things won’t be perfect that first time. 🙂

  7. Just a heads up: blizzard fleece as a lining isn’t such a good idea. It will make it hard to get in and out of the coat and will create way to much bulk. Check out JoAnn’s for coat lining. It isn’t the thickness of the material it is the ability of the material to block the wind that will keep you warm. Great job on the muslin. I have some beautiful spruce green wool fabric in my stash (it’s been there for 3 years) and haven’t been able to choose a pattern let a lone cut into the fabric.

  8. Pingback: Sew Pretty in Pink Makes a Coat, pt.2: The Reveal | Sew Pretty in Pink

  9. Pingback: Sew Pretty in Pink Makes a Coat, pt. 3: Construction, notes, and review | Sew Pretty in Pink

  10. Pingback: Outerwear Challenge: Better super duper late than never | The Monthly Stitch

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