When I saw my false grand mother, summer 2014, she gave me the model from a magazins from 1972 to make a coat. You see, nothing hard with that, plus that there is one side of explanations going with the pictures. According to my grand mother “this is a very easy coat to sew”. Dixit herself in person, totally sober and everything. She knows that I got my sewing machine 2014 and never used one before, so she may have known what she was telling me. I guessed.
The rest of this post will be long, with a lots of pictures and maybe end -don’t know yet, too much to tell!- with some filosophical conslusions about the cost of clothes nowadays.
When she gave me the modell, my grand mother ordered me to make a toile as it is called, meaning a try in a cheap fabric, in order to see if the size is good and so on. I always thought that it was a step too much and I am usually too in a hurry to make it, but this time I had no choice: she wouldn’t approve my buying of proper fabric if I wouldn’t show her my toile. So I did it!
I found an old sheet and take one week end to make the toile. I needed a lots of hours to understand what the few explanations meant, but at the end, I had something to show my grand mother during my visit at the beginning of november.
After her test, I got a lots of small helps and advices. We even marked which parts should be adjusted. She finally gave me her approval to buy fabric to sew the coat for real. Yeah for me, this was a big step!
When I came back to Sweden, I went to a fabric shop, almost directly from the airport. I don’t like to put projects on wait, I wanted to sew the coat as soon as possible, in order to remember all what my grand mother told me.
In the shop, it took maybe one hour to choose the fabric, the buttons, the color of the hood and so. The woman of the shop was very helpfull though and gave me a lots of advices as well.
when you come home with a bag and about 170 euros of fabric in it, your next stop is to cut avery piece of fabric according to the modell. I was sweating at this time, wondering if everything would be allright. At this point, I was somehow even confident for the size, since the toile fitted me pretty well. So, let’s cut the outter fabric first:
It is very important to mark every piece very well, since you will spend some time -if you’re “fast” like me- with your pieces and without these little marks, no possibilities to put all together.
Then it was time to cut the inner fabric. The sleeves are made in another fabric, more satin like in order to make the coat easier to put on (tips from the fabric shop lady). I have no picture of them while cutting, but you get it I guess.
And finally, it was time to cut the warming part of the coat, something that the fabric shop lady adviced me to take in order to make the coat warmer. I guess she was right, even if I had to think of making the proportions a little bit bigger.
When you arrive at this point, you put everything on a big table, you breathe deeply and think “it will go very well to put together these 39 pieces to make a coat that fits me”. And you breathe again. Slowly and deeply.
The next part consists into putting the warm fabric and the inner fabric together. you sew the white cotton fabric on the back side of the inner fabric. This will help the white fabric not to move later when you have the coat on. I made it a little bit like a cowboy, drawing lines by hand and it worked for me, but someone more accurate would maybe have the lines from the different pieces meeting each others at the sew. Bellow you see the sleeves.
Then I spent some times with some details. I sewed all the pinces on each fabric (back and front, both sides and both inner and outter fabric, plus the pince in the back of the inner fabric, which helps to have movements space when you have the coat on).
Then I reinforced the back of the inner fabric in order to be able to hang the coat later. I used a part of the outter fabric and sewed it strongly on the nice side of the inner fabric.
And here you see a little detail as well:
The next part I attented was to sew the pockets. There was no on the modell, but I measured on another winter coat of mine and sewed these ones. These little pockets took me a long time to sew, this is a lot to fix around if you want the details to be cute.
And then I sewed the pockets on the front of the fabric. Much faster.
One other detail was to sew buttonholes and to assemble the buttonholeparts on the front side of the fabric. This was actually a tricky part and my grand mother and I had to think and reajust the model when we saw how it was turning on the toile. As the end, I was happy with the result, but it took time to think properly.
And I am actually pretty happy of my buttonholes, sewed with the machine, don’t you think they are cute?
As this point, you have to make a big jump, and in the domain of sewing, the big jump is to sew the shoulders. If the shoulders don’t fit (size talking) you will have a hell to fix them. I was lucky, mine did fit from the beginning. Plus that I sewed them by hand with a big red wire, able to take it off and do it again.
Another critical part is to sew the sleeves. I decided from the beginning to sew them by hand, since I know that I have some trouble to controll my machine when it gets to the upper part of the sleeves. I often sew too fast and it makes like a uggly butterfly on the top, which makes it all wrong. By hand, it took much more time, but I was happy with the result, both on the inner fabric and the outter one.
I also sew the hood (but have no picture of it) and at the end, when both the inner fabric, the outter fabric and the hood was assembled, it was time to put all together. This took a couple of hours to have all pined. The fabric was quite thick, so I had to be calm and make things with precision. When I was done with the assembling “uppstairs” of the outter, inner fabric and the hood, it looked like that on the neck:
I had then to assemble the sides and it took also quite a lots of time to pin.
I choose to sew these long sides by hands, for a better result and this avoided me to turn the coat upside down and to make an invisible design. The thickness of the fabric made it impossible in another way somehow.
Then it was time to assemble the sleeves, also a job I did per hand for a better result.
Then, I sewed the buttons, in order to keep the two front sides very correct accorded for the last step. I sewed a button on the wrong side of the fabric as well, in order not to make uggly holes on the outter fabric. I was pretty happy to remember this trick from somewhere I don’t know where, it made the finish much more better.
At last, I finished the down side of the coat, making sure that the inner bafric was a little shorter than the outter fabric.
This is a detail from the sewing of the inner fabric. As you may see, it was a little bit the wild wild west at this part of the coat, but I was able to make an OK finish anyway.
And then, TADA! The result:
- This is a mandatory place to be than to make a toile. Never jump over it if you think you will win some time. If you are like me a newbie, you will make mistakes, and it will feel much more better to make them in the toile than in the expansive fabric.
- To mark the fabric, I used some white schalk. This was working very well for the inner fabric, but it was dissapearing very fast on the outter fabric, which is made of wool. I should have had another kind of marker for this kind of fabric, but it worked at the end.
- When you cut the warm part of the coat (you know this white cotton fabric), you can cut it like 2-3 cm more little than the other pieces. For me this part was always in my way when I assembled the pieces of the inner fabric and I had to cut it afterwards, which was anoying.
- Every time I was trying a new sew technic, I took a piece of fabric in order to try on something that could go wrong and not directly on the right piece of clothe. This saved me some cursing words. Well, a lot actually.
- I ironed pretty much everything every time. This takes time but it gives you a so much better result. A trick is to have a good ironstation close to your sewing machine, in that way, you will not find millions of excuses to jump over the ironing.
- To sew the delicate parts by hand with a red whire helped me a lot. At the beginning, I was thinking that it was unnecessary, but I didn’t want to ruin my expansive fabric by havin a hurry. when the work was done, I was pretty thankfull that I listened to this advice, it saved my nerves and my money.
- If you count the time it took me to sew that, this project was not an economical one. If you want a coat and you are a beginner like me, go to a shop and buy a finished coat. If you want to clean your head from your work every evening during a long time, then, sew a coat (or something else) by yourself. This is a very good therapy and I learnt a lot. I will never complain again by buying expansive clothes, this is really a lots of work. OK, industrial ones may have lean-processes and so, but this is a lots of know-how that is hard to invent yourself. I spent millions of hours on youtube and google, trying to find tips to make the difficult parts, and I am amazed by the number of people willing to explain their skills to others. There is so much information and help to get, incredible!