Monday, 7 December 2015

winter projects december update: the duffle coat

It has been a weekend of extremes. Extreme weather, extreme business, extreme relaxation, joy and annoyance. I shall not bother you with any of it. Rather, I am writing about my winter project, the duffle coat. Notice it has become 'the' duffle coat rather than 'a' duffle coat. I have become quite attached to it, and also quite obsessed with it. 

These past three weeks have been most exiting. The duffle coat has come a long way since I last shared my progress here. There have been a few more hiccups and tantrums but on the whole, it is looking like a coat now and I am optimistic that I will finish before Christmas. 


The duffle coat has been an all consuming project and I have done very little else, my books remain unread, I did barely make any progress on my crochet blanket and the house is a tip. I am not sure if the children realise I am still living in the same house as them. I spent every opportunity that cropped up sewing. Last week I didn't manage to fit in a single evening of sewing due to an abundance of other commitments. My memory is blurred and I can't even remember what kept me so busy (self protecting my own sanity?). I was suffering from withdrawal symptoms, I really was. Fortunately, yesterday was the monthly come-along-and-sew afternoon at the Stitchery and even better, I was free to go. It is nice to sew in company of other like-minded women and we sewed and chatted happily for a full 4 hours. I spent almost the entire time fitting my sleeves. 


Last time I shared my duffle coat journey I had not cut into my beautiful Harris Tweed. It took a little courage, after all it is £40 a metre. But this seems like a long time ago now. I have nearly finished the outer part of the duffle coat. Just last night I sewed the hood on and finished the seams. 




I hope the chalk markings will rub of soon... The sewing wasn't all plain sailing. You would have thought that making two toiles would mean the final sewing of the actual garment would be a breeze and the fit would be perfect. Well, it wasn't. I had to take in the sides and I had to make adjustments to the armholes. I was procrastinating over the sleeves, I thought it would be really difficult to set them in. Once I run out of excuses, I got started and it was not all bad. I had to tweak the fit several times. Luckily our talented teacher, Cassandra, is very handy with pins, she pinned my sleeves into the perfect position. I don't think I could have done it on my own, in front of the mirror. I don't have one of those handy clothes dummies. These don't come in my shape and I have not had time to make one yet. I probably never will. I think it was worth the effort, the fit is good. I am surprised at the amount of fitting that went into this garment, considering that duffle coats are quite boxy and unfitted. The thought of making a fitted coat makes me break out in cold sweat. I will make one though, one day... Back to the sleeves. I have also sewn in the sleeve heads, giving a bit more shape altogether.  The photos are taken before inserting those, the shape and fit are much much better now. 



Below you can see the toggles. These have been a cause of much swearing. I ordered some leather off-cuts on Ebay. I didn't think much about it and it didn't occur to me that saddle leather might be quite thick. It was a struggle to sew the toggles on. I hand stitched the cord in before sewing the leather semi circles on. These I had to be held in place with sticky tape as it is not really possible to baste leather on. I considered glue but I wasn't sure how this would affect the fabric. The leather still shifted during sewing, which of course meant I had to unpick the the stitches and start from scratch, with a new semi circle because the holes of the wonky stitching would be visible in the re-used leather. Only two of the six semi circles went on without problems, the others were stitched at least twice. I ended up sewing through the sticky tape rather than peeling it off as I went around. The stitching is not perfect but has to be good enough. There is still some residual tape stuck around some but I'll peel it off before I finish. 



My last job to finish the lining. I have sewed the main parts together but still have to set in the sleeves and make adjustments to the shape. Hopefully these will be easier. I guess it is less crucial to have a perfect fit but it still has to fit into the outer coat of course. My current nightmare is that for some reason the main coat and lining won't fit together.... Deep breath.


I have added this post to Jennifer's winter linkup party. You can find her own project and many others here. Thank you Jennifer for organising this sharing platform.

If I can wait long enough, I will share the finished duffle coat with you in the January linkup. I probably can't.

Thank you for stopping by and reading my blog. It is nice to see so many comments. It is not always easy to find time to leave a short message, which makes each and every one even more precious. xx

25 comments:

  1. The duffle coat is really taking shape you should be proud of what you have achieved so far, I dont think I would attempt it :-)

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  2. You are really making me want to start a sewing project of my own! Love bright colors for winter coats :-)

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  3. Wow, it's looking brilliant Christina, it really is very impressive. I imagine it's hugely helpful to have a teacher helping you with the tricky bits. I shall look forward to seeing the finished article. You'll have to model it somewhere amazing for us. CJ xx

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  4. It's gorgeous, I'm so impressed.

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  5. You and your duffle coat are a sewing inspiration, Christina!

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  6. OOH I am so excited, it feels like it is my coat! I am sure I have a duffle coat in me - after the 1950s vintage tennis dress pattern I have spotted!!! Sew little time.It is looking truly amazing. Jo x

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  7. Oh my, your coat is stunning! I admire your patience and sewing skills. The wool is so lovely and I love the addition of the toggle buttons.I'm sure you will enjoy wearing this beautiful coat you have created. I wish you lots of free time for sewing l this week :) Pat

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  8. It is looking amazing, I just LOVE it. Harris Tweed is one of my all time favourite fabrics and to have a coat would be like a dream come true. Unfortunately I do not have the skills to make one for myself, maybe one day...sigh!

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  9. Goodness! It's come on so far since you last posted pictures and it's looking fantastic! I remain in awe of your talents - I wouldn't even contemplate buying £40 a metre fabric, never mind cutting it as well! xx

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  10. Hey Christina,
    Oh you are so clever. Seriously. And tenacious too. I cannot wait to see the final fit. Terribly envious of course. I used to have a duffle coat when I was a student. I loved that coat. It was second hand. I wonder what happened to it?
    Leanne xx

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  11. Hi Christina, thank you for joining in with my link party! Wow, your coat is coming along so nicely. The things you're learning how to do! You'll be able to make virtually anything by the time you're done with this coat. You should be so proud of yourself.

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  12. That is so impressive, I'd love to make a coat one day - xx

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  13. Looks fabulous! Clever you xx

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  14. Wow, what a beautiful labour of love, and your fabric is just lovely too... that colour is so pretty. Well done you, I'm tipping my hat to you - looking forward to the big reveal when you're all done. 😊Xx

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  15. Fabulous!!!! It sounds as though you have learned masses and really enjoyed doing it. You will love this coat for many years!! xx

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  16. Can you hurry up and finish I'm just about to land in the UK without a coat, I'm packing light and am bringing my daughters coat to borrow and leave for when she arrives but it's not half as nice as your blue duffle!
    Keep up the lovely stitching!
    Wren x

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  17. The way you speak about your learning experience with your coat takes me back to sewing classes we had in school. I hated sewing at first, and making set-in sleeves is something I remember well! Your coat looks amazing, and for you to take seams apart and fix them up for a better fit is worthy of a medal! You'll have to make a big label for it saying "I MADE THIS" ... and stitch it to the outside ;)
    ~Wendy

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  18. I can't believe you are making a COAT! I am seriously impressed. It looks amazing already and I look forward to seeing the finished thing. How fabulous to have such an absorbing project.

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  19. Wow Christina - this is such a big project! What a great accomplishment - and just in time to be a fantastic Christmas present for yourself.

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  20. Wow! It's looking fabulous and you've come such a long way since your last post about it. It's a gorgeous colour too. I'm sure you'll get many admiring comments once you start wearing it.

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  21. Wow, indeed! I'm in awe of your sewing skills, Christina. It looks amazing already! xx

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  22. In an age when we're sometimes led to believe that we can learn anything and everything from the internet, this proves that often the best way to learn is from a teacher who knows what they're talking about.
    Seriously impressed by this project, which I'm sure is going to look wonderful.

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  23. This coat looks really pretty. That's cool that you're so good at sewing. I tried not once to sew something and it always was a disaster.

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  24. It is going to be fabulous when it is finished and worth the effort. Hope you are feeling suitably proud!

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Thank you for visiting and leaving a comment, I love to hear from you, I really do. I sometimes reply by email but I am not all that reliable... Christina xx