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

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I thought revealing the coat would make me stop procrastinating on the construction post, but meh. I’m a horrible procrastinator.

Just a note, you may see some repeat pictures from the previous post like the header picture and there are a lot of pictures from instagram in here, because I used it to document my progress with the hashtag #sewprettyinpinkmakesacoat. There are also pictures that I took along the way and didn’t share until now.

You can read about my muslin and fitting changes in pt. 1 of this series.

Construction:

Constructing a coat is process of patience. I did a huge amount of research and read and read and then read some more. I found two blogs to be extremely useful:

  1. Cashmerette’s Top Tips for Sewing your First Coat entry: A great link list and resource list. Although I didn’t have everything on the list, it gave me great insight into the process. It’s a fabulous source and I highly recommend it.
  2. Gertie’s Vlogs on V8346 construction: Although I didn’t watch every video, I found the ones I did watch to be very useful. Unfortunately, the instructions for V8346 are not the super greatest imho. Gertie’s vlogs are a great resource if you plan on tackling this pattern.

I referred to both of these blogs frequently during the process.

My fabric was thrifted herringbone wool for the main fabric, wool boucle contrast, fake leather accents on the upper collar and elbow patches, and polar fleece for the pockets and lining.

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I interfaced all the wool pieces, drafted a back stay with hair canvas as per Gertie’s instructions, and cut the hair canvas on the bias for reinforcing the shoulder seams (Gertie has a vlog on this). The thread I used for the entire coat until I ran out was heavy duty Gutermann’s heavy duty thread. I was a little scared to use it on my machine as I had heard of others having issues with this type of thread getting caught in their machine and killing it. Luckily, Jane Eyre handled it really well (after I got the tension right that is). The thread difference meant having to up the tension like crazy.

Originally, I had a different plan for the sleeves that involved a style like the larger picture below.

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I made this in microsoft paint to ask a friend what to do. If the pleather I had was not as stiff and thick, this design may have worked, but sadly the large cuff was unmovable and really unflattering I didn’t even sew it to the shoulder. I tried it on before and was really unhappy with it. The next day, I visited the Toronto Fashion District (the place where dreams are made) and was on the hunt for a fabric that matched the wine colour in the herringbone. My friend, Selina, the same friend who I created the picture for and ask advice from on a regular basis (read: daily basis as we work together) spotted the most gorgeous wool boucle. In the store next door, we had found a wool that matched the brown colour in the herringbone and I was about to buy it. Selina convinced me to go next door and I am glad I listened! It’s really just the perfect fabric for it!

I decided to not create a cuff at all out of the stiff pleather and just draft elbow patches. Hahah, draft. More like, awkwardly freehand cutting ovals out of the pleather pieces that were the cuffs. Anyway, it worked…sort of.

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I had to sew on the pleather patches while the coat was flat and unhemmed. I tried my best. I did, but they sit below the elbow sadly. 😦 There is no going back, but if I decide to make elbow patches like this again I will incorporate that into the muslin. That’s what I should have done, but I didn’t think about it and then they were on the coat. Sigh!

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You can see they don’t quite hit the elbow here:

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The other frustrating thing about these f—— patches was that I sewed up one and it was horrible. The pleather is vinyl and unfortunately I do not own a teflon foot so it didn’t go well. The second time I sewed the elbow patch, I used masking tape on the top and it worked much better, but the masking tape is still there in spots (in spots I can see, but you might not unless you sniff my elbow and that’s weird, dude, weird). Also, it wasn’t completely perfect to use that as there is a stretch in the pleather and well… there are bumps. I don’t hate the patches and will live with the flaws. They were just horrible to sew and are not perfect.

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I forgot to mention I used a new tailor’s ham I got for Christmas from my mom to press the curved princess seams! It made such a difference in the seam and made it sit perfectly. I highly recommend getting one of these, especially for curved seams. Originally I had asked for it, because bra making really requires being able to press the seam on a curved surface, but I can see how useful this will be for many projects.

For the facing, I had to sew a little piece on the top of each facing to make the full piece and cut it in a different direction.

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I had a shortage of fabric and didn’t get enough of the contrast wool boucle to cut the facings from that, because it was $22 a yard! Which is probably a great price, but I was low on money due to Christmas purchases.  You can see the seam at the top next to the pin where I joined the two pieces, if you look closely. Since it was the facing and no one would see it, I didn’t cut it to pattern match, but it worked out and looks entirely intentional.

The lining installation went really well. You basically sew along the collar and facing with all of the layers right sides together for a really beautiful finish.

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The thread did snag a few times in the pleather section. I used a leather needle for this part and heavier needles for the whole coat; I also changed (read: broke) my needle twice… I was very impressed with Jane Eyre doing all of that in spite of some breakage from the thread snagging.

When Jane Eyre snags the thread, it makes a horrible noise like Rochester just revealed his wife in the attic and I think it’s dead. But it always comes back to life, as Jane Eyre is very strong-willed, and sews like a dream after I rethread and clean out the threads. Make sure you clean your machine a lot when you are sewing with wool. There was a ton of lint. Every time the thread snagged, I opened up the machine and cleaned it out and it was always like a lint trap in there. So much lint from wool and heavy duty thread!

Once I sewed the lining, I didn’t hem the coat right away, because I was planning on doing buttons. I am not sure if it was the buttons I chose or the whole look, but it just didn’t look right. I still have to add some hooks or snaps to the inside to make sure the coat stays closed. I decided to not put buttons on the coat and make a belt out of the pleather, which promptly got thrown out. The pleather was doing a weird thing where it was filling with air and making a puffed belt in spite of top-stitching! Have you ever heard of that?! I tossed that shit out so fast and grabbed a belt from my closet that I never use. I made belt loops that I bar tacked to the side seams above the pockets. Then I hand sewed the hem and the lining to the hem and admired my finished coat. YAY!!!

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Look how happy I am!

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This is the weird thing that happens when you go for your favourite stance (hands on the hips, an Andie-classic stance) and your camera clicks the picture. It sort of looks like I am doing a move from Hip Hop Abs where you pump the floor…. Oh Shaun T…

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Yes, I’ve done many of these videos. It’s a ridiculous, but fun exercise and Shaun T. is ridiculous but fun. I used to do them three days after work for a couple of years and had rock hard abs under my fleshy layers. Ha! But I do miss those days…

Notes:

  1. Once I put the finished coat on, I immediately went for the pockets and was disappointed to see that, because of the FBA, they were too far back. Future versions will have welt pockets that are in the side panel of the princess seam.
  2. Another note about the pockets: The hip length version is drafted so the bottom of the pockets is basically reaching to the bottom of the hem. This seems so poorly designed, especially when the lining reaches just above the hem. I basically had to sew the bottom of the pocket into the hem to hide it. There is a half inch taken out of the bottom curve of the pocket. It’s like they drafted the pockets for the longer versions and never tested the hip-length version for that.
  3. The instructions are oddly detailed in some areas and not at all in others. Like hemming the lining or the pleat at the back of the coat. Luckily, I had Gertie’s vlogs to help, but as a coat-making virgin, it was tough going purely on the instructions.
  4. Sewing with fake leather is horrible and I won’t do it again without a teflon foot for my machine. I’ve sewn with leather before and, if it weren’t for the need to have this coat weatherproof, I would have made the details with real leather. I imagine there are huge differences in quality of pleather, but this one was really not good. I have a bit left and kind of want to toss it completely. I’ve never done that with fabric before. I have scraps that I don’t throw away, but this stuff just made me angry. I won’t say never again, but I will say that next time I do it will be with much better quality stuff.
  5. Keep your iron far far far away from pleather! I had a few spots that are slightly melted when I pressed the seems. It was three inches away and slightly melted it. Ugh, I hate pleather.
  6. Clean your machine when sewing with wool coating! There will be tons of lint and your machine will be a lot happier if you clean it out at the end of each sewing session or if the thread snags. Lint it bad for your machine. Check out this tutorial on cleaning your machine.

New Review Section

I don’t often talk about ratings or reviews in this blog, but I’ve decided to add a rating system to the first time I post about a particular pattern. I find it to be a useful summary of the pattern for those who don’t want to read every little detail, especially for long entries like this one. A TL:DR (Too Long: Didn’t Read) review for those with short attention spans, like me! (Oooh shiny!) I’ve also added tags so you can look at all the patterns with the same rating (e.g., 5 stars). Of course, this is the first and only one tagged like that, but all future first-time sewed patterns will have the rating tag on it. I may go back and tag past patterns for this, but not put in the TL:DR section, because wooooooooork. Tell me what you think about this new system.

TL:DR Review

  • Pattern: Vogue 8346
  • Pros: Gorgeous princess seams and a flattering flare at the waist for a lovely shape and lots of length options. I really love this pattern a lot.
  • Cons: There is a huge, crazy, enormous amount of ease in the pattern. I needed it for the bulk of this coat with the fleece lining, but be aware of it and muslin any future variations, too: thinner fabric means you want a tighter fit to your coat, since the seams are meant to hug your curves. Instructions could be better (Gertie’s video tutorials on this coat are much better than the instructions included with the pattern); welt pockets would be much better than in-seam pockets in my opinion. The pattern is marked as easy so welt pockets would have been outside of this, but future versions will have them. Also, for the hip-length version, the pockets end where the hem ends on the coat. I don’t like the design for that.
  • Make again?: Absolutely! With self-drafted welt pockets, though! I’m actually considering making it out of a blue satin brocade I have in my stash for a really fitted fancy knee-length jacket… I can’t get this idea out of my mind, which generally means it will happen.
  • Rating: pink-star-black-md pink-star-black-mdpink-star-black-mdpink-star-black-mdwhite-star-black-md4/5 stars

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

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

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7 thoughts on “Sew Pretty in Pink Makes a Coat, pt. 3: Construction, notes, and review

  1. Great to read about all the construction details. I really do like the coat, and you wouldn’t be making a coat if you didn’t break a few needles. I have used aluminum foil on my standard foot for sewing leather/pleather and it works pretty well. That brocade is pretty fancy, and it screams Andie. I say go for it!!

    • Aluminum foil is brilliant! Far less sticky than masking tape. Hehe, it does scream Andie. I’ve actually had it in my stash the longest. My mom bought for me in 2008 when I got my first sewing machine. 🙂

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

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