I finished my coat last Sunday (!!!) to, well, no fanfare. Sewing projects are like that to me – I hoot and holler when a pile of fabric finally starts to look like a garment, but sewing on the final button never feels like the party it should. What I did feel was a huge sense of accomplishment and a burning desire to wear it immediately.
My coat took over two months and took many twists and turns so I’m a little unsure of where to start. Maybe starting with the fabric makes the most sense. I first spotted it in the summer at Nancy’s Sewing Basket. I texted pictures of it to my sister, I cradled it in my arms and carried it around the shop, and then I wistfully put it back on the shelf. It’s a gorgeous wool, a little loosely woven, with a geometric/lattice motif. I knew I wanted to make a coat, but I didn’t even have a pattern yet.
Enter Yona. Named Clothing contacted me to see if I’d be interested in one trying one of their patterns. I initially said no, that I was too busy with all of my planned sewing, which included a winter coat. While I’ve always been intrigued by their designs, I tend to stick with $5.99 sale Vogues; I love 1-2 designs per collection, I’m familiar with the fit, notations and instructions, and, well, the price is right.
I ended up cruising their site on a slow day at work and found Yona. I had overlooked the pattern until I saw the line drawings – it was my dream coat. (I pride myself on being able to see beyond styling and fabric choice, but wow, the fringe and contrast lapel facings really fooled me!) I’d also heard they draft for taller, broader-shouldered figures, so I went ahead with it after making sure our expectations were the same: I would muslin the pattern, but if the muslin didn’t work there was no expectation I would sew a finished coat. This post is by no means intended to be a straight product review, for two reasons: 1, I altered the pattern quite a bit and completely disregarded the instructions because I wanted to construct my coat using traditional tailoring techniques (my guess is that the instructions would be closer to RTW tailoring) and 2, I think it’s tough to review something objectively you received for free. Andrea has an awesome post on this topic.
Anyhoodles, here’s my disclosure! I received this pattern for free from Named Clothing in exchange for trying the pattern.
The design changes I made were as follows:
- 1″ wider lapels and collar
- 1″ wider front overlap & adjusted roll line
- 3″ longer width
- Combined collar stand and collar since I would be hand-tailoring it
- Button closure instead of a wrap
- Welt pockets
Oh, the welt pockets… I had every intention of using the patch pockets included in the pattern. I generally prefer welt pockets but my head was already exploding with all of the steps in the coat and I had happily resigned myself to patch pockets. I waited until I’d sewn the shell to the lining so I could try the coat on. And guess what? the extra inch in the overlap crowded them out; welt pockets it was. I spent two days stewing and making best friends with Claire Schaeffer’s welt pocket instructions in Couture Sewing Techniques. Cutting into a coat front that you’ve underlined, interfaced, tailored, taped and catch-stitched is not for the faint of heart.
Fit-wise, the design was pretty close for me and the changes were what I might have expected: small bust adjustment, broad/square shoulder adjustment and some futzing wit the back arm scye. All these were made very interesting by the simple fact this coat has raglan sleeves. There is significantly less information available for fitting raglans! There’s still somethin’ happening at the back raglan seams, but hey – I have a full range of motion in a coat, for the first time in my life.
I cut out my coat and started sewing before I’d translated all of my design and fit changes to the facings and lining. I had to, or I would have lost the will to make this coat. Still, I was cursing my past self when it came to the lining, and frantically paging through my Joseph-Armstrong textbook where I once again encountered the dearth of information about raglan coats! Whatever I did – and I really could not tell you what it was – turned out fine.
I constructed most of this coat using the “custom” or traditional tailoring methods from Tailoring: Sewing the Perfect Jacket, with one exception – I machine-sewed most of the lining to the front and neck facings. Even though the hems are sewn in by hand, I just couldn’t imagine hand-sewing in my fantastically slippery, heavy lining all the way around. Next time, maybe.
And that anti-climactic finishing step: the buttonhole. I don’t care for bound buttonholes for some reason, so I attempted the hand-worked variety. I found that a couple of days’ practice got me to a buttonhole that was totally fine – it wouldn’t win prizes but it also wouldn’t catch my eye when I was wearing the coat and make me regret not practicing more.
I could go on and on about what this coat asked, nay, demanded of me, but I’ll be sharing a brain-dump post later this week with detailed lists of resources I used and my order of operations for construction… so I remember what I did…
About halfway through the coat, I started getting fantasies about other sewing projects: blouses, jeans, quilts, anything and everything. I thought I’d be blowing through quick projects at this point but now that I’ve finished, I haven’t done much other than clean up my sewing space and muslin a blouse. After a two-month project, I guess there’s no rush!