Made by Me!

Sunday, 22 November 2015

My New Winter Coat

I wanted a simple one colour winter coat to take me through the season, something I could whip up without much time, without difficult fastenings and that would go with anything in my wardrobe and convey a touch of elegance. I thought about a couple of different patterns before getting hooked on this one - the new Lisette coat pattern which you can get hold of on Oliver and S. The shawl style is very elegant and I could definitely see myself wearing it. My only reservation was that it wasn't a coat made for closing with a belt (and if you did anyway would it still look good or all bunched up...??)  With this in mind I think it would probably have limited use for me.


The second coat is not so far off the Lisette coat design, however this Burda coat has less fabric at the front of the coat and has a belt included - to me its a little more user friendly for cold winters. I first saw this pattern a couple of years ago but it was when Rachel from House of Pinheiro made it up in a shocking pink that I fell in love with it again. Take a look at her version here. I nearly passed up on this coat to start with as I really don't like the way it was styled in this picture but taking a moment to look past the patterned material and the way the model is wearing it you can see the potential of the design.  Its always inspirational to take a peek at how other people sew things up, not only is it useful to gather helpful fit and design information but it can also give you additional ideas for fabric choice and style that you may never have thought about before.


Now whilst I like both of the coats above, maybe I can make of them up next as I have always wanted to be a lady with lots of coats....one for every occasion.....I finally decided to make this Burdastyle one which I kept coming back to again and again. It is a coat of simple construction but it has a really nice basic shape.


I have to say that whilst I generally hate Burda patterns due to their lack of decent instructions I think the quality of their winter coat designs are brilliant. So many to choose from; a style to suit everyone.

Now on to the fabric. The pattern calls for fulled fabrics, knits and fibre fleece. Fulled fabric is a felted wool that has the same appearance on both sides and it looks slightly matted. You can use a blended fabric such as loden which tends to have polyester in it or as I did a 100% boiled wool. I got mine from Dragonfly Fabrics who hold a load of different (and very beautiful) colours. I suggest using their sample service to be sure of the colour you get as they can look a little different next to your skin.

Grey Melange Boiled Wool - Dragonfly Fabrics
Petrol Boiled Wool - Dragonfly Fabrics
I chose grey melange although the Damson was a close second and I have chosen the gorgeous petrol blue for my next coat. I know grey isn't the most exciting of colours and it unintentionally mimics the Burda style one in the picture so perhaps not the most original but it was a real attempt to make something I will wear immediately and that goes with everything - I think I made the right choice. Time for colour on the next one!

 

I have heard a number of things about pre-treating wool. Some fabric shops have told me on more than one occasion that you don't need to pre-treat but so many other websites and fellow sewers have said the opposite. Basically due to wool having the potential to shrink when heat is applied through pressing or cleaning techniques I figured it's better to treat the fabric prior to cutting. You can do one of the following -

- Steaming the wool with a hot wet, ringed out towel in a tumble dryer. Put it on a high heat and stick the wool in the dryer for about 30 minutes. You may want to serge the edges of your wool first. It sound scary but it works!
- Steaming the wool with your iron, hovering above the fabric.
- Washing on a cool machine or hand wash (this is dependant on wool type but you can do this with boiled wool). Obviously if you plan to wash your coat you need to treat it as you plan to clean it in the future.
- Dry cleaning.


I chose to pre-treat by steaming the fabric with my steam iron. A laborious job, but great for getting a free facial! As the fabric came all folded up it not only helped to pre-shrink but also to take out the creases in the fabric. The steam literally melted the creases away before my eyes. You then need to leave the wool out to dry, flat on the floor or in my case the only surface big enough, my bed.


I made a couple of adjustments to the pattern - firstly I added pockets. My first coat, which I made last year, has no pockets - I omitted them mainly because when I tried to add some the wool started to stretch so I decided it best to leave them off. HUGE mistake! Every time I wore it I just wanted to put my hands in my pockets.... SO annoying!! Needless to say it isn't worn so much anymore - that's how important a pocket is on a winter coat! Anyway this time I added side seam pockets big enough for gloved hands and I reinforced the pocket openings with staytape to stop it stretching. I didn't really know about the wonder of using twill or staytape when sewing my last coat and it really would have solved my pocket stretching issues. I considered welt pockets on this coat but I think I made the right decision as the way the coat is wrapped over the body I felt they may not fall flat when wearing it.


The second adjustment I made was to add a lining. I felt a winter coat of just wool would be annoying to take on and off easily due to having no slippery surface to move against, I thought it could be itchy and most importantly not so warm without another layer to insulate. If you want more info on which linings to use on your coat take a look at my post here.

I improvised a little at the cutting out stage. Using the pattern pieces I cut out a second back panel in a satin back crepe and worked out roughly where the coat folded over at the front when on and  cut that width off of the front panels. I always do this type of thing by eye and keeping my fingers crossed and it seems to have worked pretty well so far! When the pieces were sewn together I pinned the lining on to the coat to check that it worked and chopped some excess off of the corners at the top front of the coat. When I was happy I serged the edges to stop them fraying and then hemmed the bottom of the lining. I pinned the lining back on to the coat and just pushed the serged edges under to hide them. I then hand sewed the whole thing in to the coat, securing at the shoulders and armpits. It worked pretty well although for some reason the bottom hem whilst measured perfectly doesn't fall quite evenly so I wish I had hemmed it when on the coat rather than before putting the lining on. But being lazy I cannot be bothered to alter it now and to be honest no-one has noticed yet as its hidden from view!


Another adjustment was to sew the sleeve edges. For some reason the sleeves came way past the end of my wrists by a good two inches. I must have super short arms! But I used the excess length to add a design feature, sewing two lines of stitches around the wrist openings to create lines that emulate the stitch lines down the back and side seams of the coat. This coat has a nice feature which requires flat felled seams to be sewn on the main seams. A flat felled seam - whilst the rather vague instructions don't describe them so well - is when you reduce the seam bulk on one half of the sewn seam allowance by trimming it back and then you take the untrimmed side and bend it over the reduced bulk, folding the larger section over and under the trimmed allowance to conceal it. You then sew the seam closed close to the edge of the folded over allowance. It looks like two parallel lines from the right side. A little detail you see on a lot of expensive coats so it's rather nice to see it on this coat. Also if you don't line this coat a felled seam makes the innards look nice and neat as well. It was a little annoying with this fabric because due to its thickness it was tough to do well. A little cheat with boiled wool, instead of folding the fabric over and under the trimmed seam allowance you can fold it flat, sew as you would with the felled hem a short distance from the seam line and then trim the excess close to the stitches. I honestly couldn't tell the difference and as the fabric doesn't fray it means you can do this easily and it saves tonnes of time! Plus if you put a lining in no-one will ever know!! Shhh!!


Lastly I didn't add a belt made of self fabric as I thought it would easily stretch out and I didn't make one out of leather but utilised an old leather belt I bought eons ago in Accessorise. Looks like hoarding some stuff can come in handy!! I love the shape the belt gives the coat as its quite wide and I think it adds a little bit of class to the coat.


All in all I really love it. I have worn it every day since I finished it last weekend and have received many compliments about it. I think its an easy coat to make, it took about 12 hours including the lining, without it I could have finished it in half the time and been happy with wearing it. I would wholly recommend the coat for beginners as there is nothing too daunting in the design. There are no tricky fastenings and it allows you to make something that looks complicated without needing to break a sweat!

So will you be sewing a winter coat this season? If so what is your pattern of choice?