I’ve always been pretty over-ambitious. When I caught the sewing bug, I thought, well let’s get started on overhauling my entire wardrobe. When I got pregnant, I started scheming to sew all my own maternity clothes. Coats, jeans, lingerie, I could do it all. Sometimes this overconfidence worked out terribly. Like, hmm, let’s say I don’t quite have a fully me-made wardrobe yet (although in the few years that I’ve been sewing, I’ve learned to cut myself some slack). Sometimes it works out okay, like when I sewed my first coat pretty early into my self-taught sewing journey.
I was so proud of my first coat, a Cascade duffle coat by Grainline Studio that fit my nine-month-belly and beyond. I had made it in a very cheap wool/poly (heavy on the poly) blend that I got for 1 euro per meter at a shop that was going out of business. It was meant to be a low-stakes, “What have I got to lose?” first version of a coat, to get me through my biggest waistline and prepare me for my second, real coat.
Cut to two years later. The coat is too big and the wool is pilling. I’m reminded every time I put it on that I skipped the toggles and badly screwed up the zipper shield. Plus, it doesn’t keep the wind out (even though I interlined it). Time to finally get around to that new coat!
I started planning this last September when I spotted some luscious grey cashmere wool at a fabric store specializing in designer deadstock. I bought the fancy interfacing (from the UK because I haven’t found good interfacing in Belgium yet?!) and a Craftsy class on tailoring to make sure I would do it right. An exhaustive pattern search to find the dream coat led me to the Named Gaia coat pattern.
And all of this is to say, that coat isn’t finished yet. I’m an Obliger at heart and powered by deadlines, so February’s Sew My Style challenge, the Rumana coat from By Hand London, was the kick-in-the-pants I needed to finally replace my maternity coat with a stylish (and warm!) coat.
The fabric is an 80/20 wool/poly blend from Stoffen.nl. I bought 3.5m, and the project nearly ended there after it was delivered to the wrong house and both Bpost and the vendor were terribly unhelpful.
I cut out the US10/UK14 with no alterations. I’m 5’8″ and was smitten with the idea of a long, sweeping coat, so I had no qualms about the length. I referenced the finished measurements and felt like I could get away without any fit adjustments. You could probably squeak out the same size from 3 meters (as long as your fabric doesn’t have a directional print or nap), as I still have a solid scrap piece. I’m thinking a mini-skirt (Shauni’s recent make is inspiring!) would be lovely.
I followed the instructions pretty closely for the interfacing, but added an extra piece of heavier interfacing on the lapel, and a small strip to follow the roll line. I didn’t follow any particular techniques in making this decision, but I think I absorbed some bits and pieces from that Craftsy lesson.
I hand-embroidered a marigold design on the front facings. This was my first time doing embroidery and it was really enjoyable! I also stitched my initials into the back neck facing and added a hanging loop and little buttons on the inside to stabilize the big buttons.
If I could do this over, I would’ve picked a different lining. Don’t get me wrong; it’s beautiful! One side is a shocking pink with fine white pinstripes, and the reverse is stripes in variating widths in navy, white, pink and orange. This mystery fabric cost me A LOT (from same designer fabric store), but the weft is honestly made of hopes and dreams, because it quickly disintegrated in reality. After much internal struggle and Instagram Story polls, I decided to power through, interface all seam allowances (and darts) and give an offering to the Sewing Gods. In the photos below, you can see the threads just fainting away from the fabric, it just can’t bear to hold on as a unified piece.
And here’s the moment where I’m ‘birthing’ the coat through the opening in the hem, you can see how I made use of every.goddamn.scrap. of interfacing to strengthen my seams.
I had some hiccups with the construction and required a lot of Googling to get through. I don’t say this as a negative though; I’m not a very experienced coat-maker. There’s not much about making a coat that hasn’t already been covered in a clear, illustrated/photographed/video-taped tutorial somewhere else on the internet, so use it to your advantage!
I’ve mostly shunned my Cascade since finishing my Rumana, though I am missing the coverage I get from the duffle coat; not having a hood or full closure over my legs/hips has made biking to work even less enjoyable, but I suppose that’s the price of fashion!.
Definitely the toughest parts were:
– Deciding on materials and parting with so much money on quality fabric
– Taping together and cutting out 96 pages of non-layered PDFs (why isn’t everybody making PDF patterns layered yet?!)
– Cutting all the fabric
– Interfacing all the fabric
– To a much lesser extent, the construction of the vent and lining, and the hemming process were also difficult, but came together way more quickly than all of the above-listed steps.
(Very glad this shoddy hem job is locked away inside the lining, hidden forever.)
Sensing a theme? Prepping the coat was WAY more difficult than sewing the coat itself. Plus, wool is L-O-V-E-L-Y to sew. Zero seam ripping with the sleeves, collar, etc. Everything just eased in beautifully and without puckers.
A couple more full-length shots for the full effect.
Parting thoughts? I love how it turned out! I might not make another one, at least not for a while, because my coat pattern stash overflows with other great designs and I should really finish up the Gaia. In the meantime, I’m going to enjoy waltzing around like someone who’s chic and put-together and maybe not hoarding crackers and small toys and wadded up tissues in her pockets.