Sunday, 3 January 2016

the duffle coat, at last

I have been looking forward to writing this post for ages. Be warned, it is long and not all is new. I have finished my duffle coat. I have finished my duffle coat (I needed to repeat that). It was a mad rush to get it all done before the end of the course and I nearly managed. But lets start from the beginning (saving you going back in time finding relevant posts). When I signed up for coat course at the Stitchery I had no idea this sewing adventure would be so all-consuming that I did little else, I even dreamt of sewing it some nights. The pattern we used is the Cascade Duffle coat by Grainline Studio pictured below.


Cascade Duffle Coat, Grainline Studio 
The pattern didn't quite cover my butt size and I had to adapt it to fit. This also included a full bust adjustment. I made a first toile, which fitted reasonably well but it was not perfect. Slashing the front of the toile vertically over the middle of my boobs made a big difference. A further full bust adjustment was required. You may now think that my bust is monumental but it is not, I can see my toes no problem. The sleeves were a good fit but I had to narrow the shoulder, which in turn made the sleeves fit less well. A sleeve adjustment was required. The two bust adjustments also increased the overall width and I had to make adjustments to that also, to avoid a potato sack effect. The hood was a good fit. I also sewed the bottom and middle pieces as one rather than two as shown on the diagram. The pattern was probably drafted as the shorter jacket, with the coat being an 'afterthought'. 

Whilst working away on the toiles and patterns, I agonised over my choice of fabric, then the style of the toggles. I must have ordered at least 20 fabric samples, mostly Harris Tweed but also some boiled wool. I bought this beautiful dark blue Harris Tweed and a grey herringbone flannel for the lining. I decided not to interline the coat. 


It was not easy to see which side was the right side of the fabric. Only the white stitching gave an indication. I guess it didn't matter then but I tried to always keep the same side as the right side.

It was quite a memorable moment when I finally cut the actual fabric! I had to make further minor adjustments to the outer coat. You may notice the chalk marks here and there, these are now gone. There were still some baggy areas under my arms for example, and the side needed further shaping. We also added a small shoulder pad to give the shoulder a bit more shape. It was sloping a little without and adding it made a great difference.


You may notice the chalk marks here and there, these are now gone. I am quite pleased with how well the zip facing line up. It was a bit fiddly, so many layers.


I just love the hood, it is super cosy. It is a good fit and doesn't blow off my head in the wind

The pockets are lined and cosy and big enough for my wallet, phone and keys. 

I might choose thicker cord and thinner leather in a second version but I do like the contrasting colours. I just love the wooden toggles. Sewing on those toggles was a bit of a faff and involved lots of sticky tape, an ultra glide foot and some foul language.  You can also see the matching zip. I was quite pleased with that. It was sheer luck.


This photo prompted me to get my bi-annual hair cut. The shoulder pads are not sewn in yet and you can see how the shoulder is sloping a little. The white stitches were temporary easing stitches. You can also see the top stitching where top and bottom of the coat are joined.


The final fitting and adjustments involved lots of pins and lots of help. It is not easy to do this yourself, unless you have a clothes dummy that more or less has your shape. You can see tiny flecks of sticky tape on the leather bits. It took ages to scrape it all off. I might not sew right over the tape next time.

I also had to make corresponding adjustments to the lining, but we did a lot of the adjustments on the body rather than on the pattern. Inserting the lining was quite time consuming. The pattern suggests a 'bagged' method which involved sewing the lining in completely and then turn it out. This meant to pull the whole coat through the small gap left in the sleeve lining. We used a more traditional method of inserting the lining instead. We sewed in the body of the lining along the sides and the top and turned it out. We then put the coat onto a clothes dummy to align the lining and the outer coat in the arm and shoulder area. You can see that the shoulder needed narrowing on the photo below. The lining sleeves were sewed in by machine at the cuffs but the setting in was done by hand, after making adjustments and basting them in in the correct place. It seemed to take forever!

Here you can see the small shoulder pad. You can also see how the lining was basted onto the outer layer. The excess fabric was then trimmed off to match the outer fabric.

The last step was to hand stitch the lining to the hemline. Did you now that the lining needs to be a little bigger to avoid it feeling tight? I didn't and nearly cut some off the lining length...  I really enjoyed the hand stitching, it was therapeutic. 

This is not actually where exactly the lining was stitched to the outer coat, the stitching is about one centimetre under the the lining edge shown. It falls to roughly were it is pinned. 

It was a challenging project and has brought me to the edge of sanity a few times. I am not sure I would have been able to sew the coat without guidance and lots of 'handholding'. Cassandra, our teacher is an amazing woman, she is super talented and her patience is as vast as an ocean. We didn't just sew the coat but we also learned different techniques, and learned about different possibilities, for example different pocket types, and different ways of doing things. I am more confident setting in sleeves and have learned a variety of nearly invisible hand stitches. My understanding of the sewing process from pattern to garment has vastly improved, as has my understanding and accepting of my body.

The Cascade pattern instructions were good but not great. There is a sew along on the Grainline Studio website which shows more detail and which helped a lot but it was really Cassandra who helped the most.

Sewing with many layers of thick wool is challenging. I used a walking foot to make it easier. Sometimes it was almost impossible to shoogle the layers under the presser foot. My sewing machine is full of blue lint and probably needs a service... or at the very least a good hoover. 

And now, I expect you want to see some photos of the completed coat


This photo was taken in the studio with proper lighting. The blue is not quite true.


This photo was taken on my upper landing, with the camera perched on the bannister. The lighting is a bit random.

The hood is a good fit. It stays on in blustery weather. I can spot a dog hear on the left side. 

I chose this photo to show you that my hair is less messy now. Do you like the painting in the background? A friend of mine painted it, it is a Moroccan harbour scene. 

For good measure, here a photo with my Dr Evil grin. My acne rosacea works well with this grin. 

What next? I think I might pick up the knitting needles for a change. I will of course continue to sew and I am planning to take a master fitting class in April. In the meantime, I will start to explore my new overlocker and maybe make a t-shirt or two. I also fancy this dress. It is designed for curvy women with big boobs. 

If you live in Glasgow, or nearby, check out the other courses at the Stitchery.

Thank you so much for your encouraging comments along this sewing journey! 

I am linking up with Jennifer's Winter Project Link Party. Do pop over and have a look at all the creativity that is ever-present in blog land. Jennifer's own hens foot blanket is fabulous, you must go and see it. 


Have a wonderful week wherever you are! xx

39 comments:

  1. you are such a clever munchkin! I would be super proud of your efforts - you have done a superb job! Love the colour too.

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  2. It's a lovely coat Christina! My, to think of all the long hours you put into creating it is amazing. The wool is so special, too. I miss wearing wool coats as its so warm here in southern California. I hope your New Year is off to a great start , Pat

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  3. Wow! Clever, clever, clever. I'm honestly so impressed, what a beautiful job you've made of it. And how lovely to have a coat tailored to you. Nicely done Christina. CJ xx

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  4. It's amazing and beautiful. How wonderful to have a coat that properly fits. Enjoy wearing it!

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  5. Great coat, Christina! Love the hood! Well done for persevering, it sounds very hard work, but so worth the effort! I made a wool jacket when I was at school but I didn't line it (did wear it too!). Having read your write up I d love to have a go again - one day. Enjoy wearing it! Barbara xx

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  6. I am in awe of that coat and your perserverance. It looks fabulous. I think it is a very good idea to take a class to make a project like that. Where I live there is a dearth of sewing classes. The Stitchery sounds like another great thing in Glasgow. I visited in august for the first time and fell in love with Glasgow!

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  7. That's amazing! I can't even sew a button back on to an item of clothing properly so I'm impressed that you've made a whole coat!

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  8. That coat is amazing and I am in awe of your sewing skills. I am a wreck at sewing and find I can't even sew a straight line. You look just perfect in it, great choice of fabric, great sewing and great fit!!!
    Hugs,
    Meredith

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  9. You should be so proud to wear this beautiful coat! You really have inspired me to sew something again. I miss pretty fabric and the process of turning it into what you imagine :-)

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  10. Wow, it's absolutely fabulous, you are so clever. It sounds like you enjoyed the process of learning lots of new skills whilst making your coat which will, I'm sure, come in very handy in the future (when you embark on your next coat!). Well done.

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  11. Wow. Amazing. Who would've thought one could make their own coat? I love the toggles and the hood. Well done - it was definitely worth all the hard work you put into it!!

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  12. It is an absolute triumph! The coat is gorgeous, it looks so warm and snug, but it's also flattering and it really suits you. Plus it's practical, so I think you've sewn the perfect garment really. You look really happy in it, as you should be. I really want a duffle coat now, although I think I'll be looking in the shops not making my own. xx

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  14. Wow Christina - amazing and beautiful and how clever are you to make it. I appreciate how much of an investment in fabric and time you have put into this but truly it is just perfect and it suits you and is so wearable and practical. A bespoke Harris tweed duffle coat - wow again and well done to you.

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  15. Well done Christina. I felt so proud reading this post and you made me laugh too! All the best on your sewing adventures in 2016!

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  16. Fabulous! That would cost a fortune to buy, a Harris Tweed made to measure coat. I love your choices of fabric and look forward to seeing what you make next. xx

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  17. Oh Christina you clever old thing you! It's fabulous! Love the colours and the fabric, well everything really, sock knitter extraordinaire and duffle coat maker. There is no end to your talents :)

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  18. What an incredible coat, you slaved on it, but it looks incredibly expensive. You should be very proud of yourself.

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  19. Christina, what a great job it is amazing. I love everything about it, I am a great fan of Harris Tweed and the colour is stunning. PERFECTION!!!!

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  20. Hey Christina,
    I'm adding my hearty congratulations too! I just admire your tenacity and talent. Even with the help you've had, you kept at it. I'm sure the foul language helped too ;)The end result is a bloody triumph. Love the colour. I used to have a duffle coat when I was at Uni. I wish I still had it now....
    Leanne xx

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  21. Wow, what a great coat! The pattern sounds as if it should come with a medal to attach to finished coat to shout 'Yay! I made this!' to passers by! Bravo, lady! xx

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  22. Wow Christina - it is very impressive that you made your own winter coat - and it fits and looks very nice! That was a huge project - now I hope you have plenty of cold and blustery weather so that you can show it off!

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  23. That is really amazing! I love duffle coats (have done ever since childhood) but I would never think of making one. Wear your coat (if it ever gets cold enough!) with pride x

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  24. Wow...what an achievement..I would have given up at the pattern stage! It really looks professional. How can you follow that! Barbara X

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  25. It is FANTASTIC and looks fabulous on you!!! You should be so proud and so pleased with all of your work and the finished coat!!! I know that you will love wearing it! Well done!! xx

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  26. Wow, that's brilliant. Well done. I'm seriously impressed. What's next? A complicated evening dress? A suit? Or are you having a rest now?! Love the painting behind you in the pics too. Sam x

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  27. Cristina, you have done a wonderful job with this coat! It looks wonderful and love the color.
    :-)

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  28. I am so super-impressed! What an amazing achievement, to sew, and fit, and alter such a complex garment. I really don't think I could have seen it through. Love the colour you selected, it really suits you X

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  29. what a fantastic achievement and you looks gorgeous in it x

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  30. I'm in utter awe of your fantastic achievement!! It's brilliant!! Love the colour!! xxx

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  31. Wow! That´s wonderful! And the colour...
    Thank´s for your visit be me.
    Have a nice day,
    Jitka

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  32. Your duffle coat is perfect, Christina! I've really enjoyed your blog posts about making it, and have the greatest admiration for you for attempting such a challenging sewing project. You are an inspiration!

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  33. It's a fantastic duffle coat and you made it yourself! Congratulations!! I love all the little details and the hood is just perfect. Well done for persevering, I'm sure you've learned so much from this. Once again, a very well done to you! X

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  34. Wow, Christina! Your coat is just beautiful. You did such a good job with it! I loved reading about the process of making the coat. You're funny too! Monumental bust...I laughed out loud. I'd have to make the same adjustments but I don't think mine is monumental either, just kind of...broad. Ha. Thank you for joining in with my link party. I hope you're having a good week.

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  35. Your coat is amazing and it looks fabulous on you - how clever are you!! Thank you for the new word I've learned from your post, I think it's my new favourite - "shoogle" when one is trying to shove fabric and such into the sewing machine.

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  36. It looks fabulous Christina and really does suit you.

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  37. Christina, your coat is pleasure to view and I hope you enjoy wearing it for years to come. Seeing the various stages you went through reminded me of what my mom went through over 40 years ago when she made a winter coat for me! Cheers for you! xx

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  38. It look so beautiful on you!I love the color!I have always wanted one of these! Thanks for writing about it!

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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