Monday, January 11, 2010

New Coat Directions

Coat projects are difficult to time. The ideal month for making a new winter coat would be August, according to internet sewing wisdom. August?! The coat spirit does not move me during hot weather. Plus, there's a lot happening in the garden in August and I am generally just barely (or just barely not) keeping up with the harvest.

Then the fall moves in and I get energized about long sleeved tops and sweaters. Then the sudden realization that Christmas is rapidly approaching dawns. Before you can say Bob's your uncle, it's early January and then, well, does it make more sense to sew a winter coat or a spring one?

This kind of thinking leads to beautiful cashmere coating languishing in the fabric stash for year after year.

I have been making a brave effort to break this cycle. I traced the cute short coat from the 5-2009 Ottobre Woman magazine.

And then, pulling out all the stops, I made a muslin in a heavier weight upholstery fabric to approximate the hand of the wool I planned to use. I know I should have taken pictures, because it's not fair not to share, but I couldn't make myself do it. The style looked simply awful on me. The muslin and the carefully traced pattern went straight into the trash.

Next up, Jalie 2680, a recent pattern purchase from

So far, so good. Being newly out of tracing paper, I tried something different. On PatternReview, there has been discussion of using "soil separator" cloth for tracing. This utilitarian-sounding item can reportedly be found at hardware stores. I had something in the garden shed that is probably similar: floating row cover. This material is a very lightweight, very strong, white non-woven polyester intended to protect plants from frost and insects. It's inexpensive considering the size, easy to see through for tracing and, I know from using it in the garden, durable.

Preliminary results are encouraging! The material will not wrinkle. This property should be a good thing when folding it up and putting it into an envelope for storage. The downside is that it also doesn't crease, say, when you want to take a tuck in your pattern for making an alteration. Every fold that you would like to have stay folded will need to be taped thoroughly or sewn.

Yes, sewn. The material is easy to sew. I tested it out with a long stitch length (the 4 setting on my vintage machine, its longest) and a very loose upper tension (1). The stitches come out easily with just a tug and then you cannot even see where they were. Could this be a combination tracing tissue/muslin material? Well, I sewed up my tracing this morning and tried it on. True fitting will have to wait until I'm dressed and ready with the digital camera on a tripod, but I am very excited about the possibility of a material that allows me to tissue fit without all the pins.

I traced a combination of sizes R, S and T. R at the shoulder and neck in front, S at the shoulder and neck in back, tapering in front to S at the waist, tapering to T the hip on front and back pieces. Pattern adjustments so far include: reduce length of front and back yokes by 1/2" and corresponding adjustment to front facing, forward shoulder adjustment of 3/8" and corresponding adjustment to back facing, reduce sleeve cap length by 1/2", reduce lower sleeve pattern piece length by 1".

The length and sleeve length look good. I'll have more to go on once I've taken some self-timer photos.

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