Friday, July 12, 2013

COATS : The Lilac Shawl Collar Coat

So you know I'm sewing two coats at the same time, right? A black one with a cape collar, and a lilac one with a shawl collar.  I'm calling it efficient insanity, cause really, who apart from me is silly enough to sew two COATS at the same time!!! 

After I sorted out the pocket issue, I kept sewing until I got to the point where the construction of each coat was different.  Then I decided to focus on one coat at a time.  Anyone who knows me well would know that the obvious choice was the lilac one!  So on my next weekday sewing day I went at it.

First job was to sew the collar on.  I was pretty excited about this bit because it was really going to be my first indication of the shape of the collar.

I got so excited at this point that I posted this photo to my Facebook page!!!

And this just made me want to get the coat finished, so I got on with the sleeves.

Now, the pattern instructions have you put in the sleeve piece, then put on the cuffs.  I think thats silly, because when your are doing the fiddly job of the cuff, you have to deal with all the fabric the coat is made from.  Instead, what I do is put the sleeves together THEN attach the sleeve to the coat body.

With this coat however, due to the large collar and the pocket detail, I decided that heavy cuffs would be too much, so I just finished the cuffs with a facing to allow my to neatly attach the lining.

Once that bit was sewn together, I sewed both sleeves into the coat.  Set in sleeves used to scare the pants off me, but not any more!  Especially in fabric like this - the wool compresses so much easier when you gather it and its near impossible to get it wrong!

I even matched the underarm sleeves (not that anyone will see them!)

Then I attached the facing, which forms the top of the collar and the back side of the buttonholes.  Pinning it on is always an interesting job.  I prefer to do it whilst its on my headless helper but you don't have to.

I always make sure to match the buttonhole windows with the buttonholes before I pin the seam, just to make sure that they end up in the right place.

Then came time to work out the hem length.  I always get a bit worried at this point because if you get this bit wrong you can make the coat too short.....  So I went into my wardrobe and got out the longest (not by much) of my lilac dresses to put on my headless helper.  You can see it in the photo above.  This helped me make the decision to take 4 inches off the length of the coat.  I marked it up, took a deep breath, and cut.

Then I turned it all the right way out and did some pressing, and put it back on my headless helper.

After I took these photos I started work on the hem.  I was going to be turning it up 1.5 inches, and I didn't want a raw edge, and I didn't want to fold the wool over due to the thickness, so I had a look at a couple of my vintage coats to see what they did.

And this is my interpretation of what they did:

I sewed a piece of bias tape to the edge of the wool and then turned the hem.  You will see that it doesn't sit totally flat - this is because the folded bit is actually longer than where I've folded it too.  Luckily with wool, it shrinks up with steam, so pressing it with a good shot of steam sorted out this minor issue (it wasn't much of an issue because its a fairly narrow hem).  I'm now using catch stitch between the top of the bias tape and the wool to secure the hem.  This takes time, but I'm working on it!

So thats where the lilac coat is at.  To finish it, I have to :
  • Finish the hem
  • Sew in some shoulder pads
  • Sew in the lining
  • Sew on the buttons
  • and, no doubt, some miscellaneous hand sewing.
And since I've got two days to sew this weekend, I'm aiming to get BOTH COATS FINISHED!!!!

This means a photoshoot post next week - yay!!!

Wish me luck!



  1. I love the texture of this fabric. This is going to be beautiful!

    1. Thanks honey! I bought this fabric from for $9.98/yd - a steal! Its a wool blend and its ribbed, and I really love the texture too. It does have a bit of a 'found in the back of a barn' smell about it, but that will come out!

  2. SO CLOSE! Its gorgeous!
    I do my hems like that for most garments. Unless its a slippery PITA fabric and I do a narrow hem for those. Gotta love the bias tape!

    1. Bias tape is awesome! Which reminds me - I really should use the bias tape maker I was given for Christmas...

  3. You are going to have the best coat in town! And then another to rival it!

  4. Gorgeous! good job :)

  5. it is looking absolutely amazing! only needs you in it to make it really sing. cant wait to see. makes me wnat ot run home to my machine to finish the three portrait blouses i'm working on but...every time i try to get to them i sigh and go "ugh!!!"