I am finally done! Prepare for photo overload – I really like this coat!
Even though Burda didn’t seem to recommend adding a back pleat to the lining I did anyway, from the top of the facing to just below waist level. Sorry, it is a bit hard to see!
This is a traditional style trench coat with shoulder epaulettes, sleeve tabs, and a gun flap.
There’s also a maxi-length version with topstitching:
I used the book Tailoring: The Classic Guide to Sewing the Perfect Jacket as my guide for sewing this jacket. This is a nice book in that it doesn’t push you to one way or another (meaning machine vs hand sewing, or fusibles vs sew-ins) but rather lets you make the choice of which one works best for you and then shows you how to go about your chosen technique.
Here’s a snippet from the book. Doesn’t it make everything seem so simple?
In addition to the book above I also looked at a couple of web tutorials:
- Nameless Tutorials from Fashion Incubator. The Nameless Tutorials pertain to the construction of a lined jacket
- Armani Jacket: The Inside Story article from Threads
I used a heavy 100% cotton calvary twill from Fabric Mart as my muslin fabric. I highly recommend this as muslin fabric for wool coats. It is a much more comparable weight to wool coating than regular muslin fabric is. Every so often you can find it on sale for $5/yard or less, especially in off-beat colors.
My fashion fabric was a wool coating from Fabric Mart. It was described as melton and has a slightly felted surface and twill weave, but it isn’t quite as heavy as most of the wool meltons in my stash. I would describe the color as a medium orchid that is a slightly more pinkish shade of Radiant Orchid, Pantone’s Color of the Year for 2014:
It was really difficult to find a matching thread. My best match was Mettler 958 and I used that for the buttonholes but it was not heavy enough for sewing on my industrial. (I prefer sewing the outside shell of coats on my industrial because it can handle heavy thread.) So for most of the the shell I used Gutermann Mara 30 in 716. It is lighter than I prefer but since there’s no topstitching it didn’t matter that much.
Buttons and Notions
Originally I was going to use the wine “Contempo” buttons from Sawyer Brook:
But when the buttons arrived they didn’t have the blue tint shown in the photo, but rather a more reddish one that didn’t work with my wool. I had a bunch of buttons that were sent free with some Gorgeous Fabrics orders, so I used them instead.
I had major issues getting the keyhole buttonholes to work on my Janome with this thick, slightly shifty fabric (it stretches on the diagonal). Some of them needed to be ripped out 3x before I got an acceptable buttonhole, and they’re still not great quality. (The keyhole is uneven on some of them.) I refuse to let myself get worked up over it though. I think I may need to borrow my mother’s vintage Singer the next time I make a coat with buttons.
I had ordered some silk buttonhole twist thread from Superior Threads and used that to sew the buttons on. It is very strong and you only need a few passes to secure the button.
After seeing a bunch of RTW trenches with sleeves tabs that had buckles instead of buttons, I ended up buying one 2″ black leather covered buckle and two 1″ black leather buckles to match this look. Somehow I lost one of the small buckles, and convinced the cat lost it, ordered 2 more from Cleaner’s Supply. Of course within a couple of hours it showed up :).
Originally I was going to use this fabric I found on Fabric Mart’s website sometime last year. It is quite hefty and feels almost like a flannel backed satin.
But since I wasn’t using the wine buttons anymore I decided to use a heavy black brushed back satin lining from Cleaner’s Supply to match my Gorgeous Fabrics buttons.
Interfacing and Structure
I’ve had great luck with the interfacings from Fashion Sewing Supply. I used the lightweight Pro-Weft for the front (both center and side), armhole edges, collar, belt, and hems. Burda only recommended fusing the center front but Kathleen Fasanella recommends otherwise in her Interfacing: 10 Tips article.
For the front facing, pocket flaps, epaulettes, sleeve tabs, throat latch, and belt I used the Pro-Sheer Elegance from Fashion Sewing Supply.
I used the medium weight Pro-Weft interfacing and applied it to the collar and stand using the technique outlined in “The Lapel Wedge” section of the Armani article. After attaching the collar to the coat I felt like the stand was too floppy, so I ripped it out, recut it, and this time fused Pro-Tailor hair canvas to the inner stand. It really helped support this fabric and give the stand some body. I don’t know if it was a good idea or not to leave the collar interfaced with the Pro-Weft. The softness makes it roll really nice but I also think it could also use a bit more stiffness.
I added a back stay. Back stays are recommended to help prevent stretching across the shoulders and armholes, and for extra support when the coat is on a hanger. My tailoring book recommended muslin or broadcloth. I used muslin. I had a lot of shaping in the back of this coat so I applied it as an underlining rather than as one large piece, not sure if this is correct or not.
To prevent the sleeve cap seam allowance from showing through I added a sleeve head using a 9″x2″ strip of bias cut lambswool from Bergen Tailor Supply. Maybe lambswool is better for suit-weight jackets instead of cold weather coats because it had barely any effect. I ripped it out and used one of the fleece sleeve heads from Cleaner’s Supply instead. I removed the bias cut muslin from it by pulling out the chain stitch thread and slipstitched it to the armhole seam allowance. (I would have machine stitched it except I had run out of bobbin thread at that point!) I thought the result was much better, the heavier fleece was much better at concealing the eased seam allowance and there was noticeable difference that didn’t show with the lambswool.
For the shoulder pads I used some 1/2″ shoulder pads from Sawyer Brook. I tried their tailored 3/4″ pads but they were just too thick and I looked like I was in need of a square shoulder adjustment.
The instructions were rather vague as to recommended size so I was confused about whether the shoulder pad allowance was already drafted into the pattern or not. I was advised by Nancy K that Burda does indeed include a shoulder pad allowance even though they don’t give a specific size, and that a 1/2″ pad usually works. I chose to go with 3/4″ because this is a heavy project and a smaller shoulder pad would be squished from the extra weight.
I added 15″ to the length. I prefer knee-length coats because they give good warmth and coverage but you’re not accidentally catching them in your car door. I also left off the back vent and just sewed it closed. I think this is warmer.
I also replaced the buttoned-on sleeve epaulettes with buckled ones.
I started off with a size 38 and made the following adjustments:
- 3/8″ narrow shoulder adjustment
- Added 3/8″ to front sleeve cap
- 3/8″ broad back adjustment
- Added 4″ to hips; ended up removing 1.25″ at the high/mid hip level
- Added 1.5″ length to sleeves; also added some width by tracing along the size 42 line, especially around the elbow. Some people would say they should be taken in, but since I hate tight sleeves on coats with a passion I left them alone!
- Took in center back seam: 1/4″ just above the armhole, 1.75″ at the waistline, and 1/2″ from the hip all the way down to the hem
- Added a 1/2″ wedge at the center back hem
- Took in the front princess seam 1/2″ at the upper chest
- Lowered the belt loop placement by 1/2″; I must be slightly longer waisted than what Burda drafts for
Unlike Style Arc, Burda does not provide lining pieces. I used both the instructions from Burda and my tailoring book to draft a lining. Not having a back vent definitely simplified things!
I bagged the lining for this coat. I had good intentions about following the Nameless Tutorial on Fashion Incubator (which shows you how to do a 100% machine bagged lining) but then I made a slight cutting error and had to fudge it by hand.
I would definitely make this coat again! I feel like it hasn’t aged since it first appeared in that September 2006 issue. I feel very confident in the fit of this pattern, so next time I could spend more time on perfecting things like the belt loops and epaulettes. I admit I kind of brushed over that because I just wanted to get it done. I had this project sitting around for a month! I’m banking on the vibrant color distracting from some of the slightly questionable construction of some of the details ;).
Know what’s my favorite part about making a coat like this? When I put it on it just falls in place. With RTW I have to shift here, tug there to get it to sit right.
In Other News…
Part of the reason why I finally felt mentally ready to finish this coat is my dad had his surgery on Thursday, and aside from a drop in blood pressure they had to stop to correct it actually went pretty well! He came home Friday evening. While he’s complaining about the “bullet holes” in his torso (aka the 7 laparoscopy incisions) he hasn’t needed any of the pain meds they prescribed.
The doctors said that he does have permanent lung damage from the pneumonia (and probably from the burns he got when he aspirated the contents of his stomach into his lungs during the endoscopy they did back in July), but he should regain 90% lung function. We are so thankful to have him here with us, especially after we came so close to losing him last July.