Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Cocoon Coat


I made a coat.*mic drop*. (*Picks mic back up to continue talking about this project*).


So far this winter, like last winter, I've been making do with a 70's retro, fluffy faux-fur jacket that I bought over a decade ago. It keeps my torso toasty, but my bum and thighs bear the brunt of the cold. And seeing as I'm managing to carve out quite a bit of sewing time for myself these days, I thought that now would be a good opportunity to take on a major sewing project. Enter: the coat. 

(image source: Burdastyle)

Pattern:

I spent some time sniffing around on Pinterest for coat inspiration. I realised pretty quickly that what I was interested in was something 1960's-ish in style, with a clean, crisp shape that I would hopefully get several years of wear from, with the all-important bum and thigh coverage. At some point, through a combo of Pinterest and Google, I found a Danish (I think) blogger who had made an amazing lime green/citrus yellow coat that annoyingly I can't seem to find now (I'm sorry, amazing Danish sewing blogger), and this Burdastyle pattern was that she had used. This is another fantastic-looking version that I just found whilst trying in vain once again to find the Danish one. (Forgive the dark spots on the images of my coat on the stand, it had been snowing (!) earlier that day and the coat was a bit wet when I took the photos.)


I loved the interesting seam lines that attach the grown-on sleeves, the simple rounded neckline, concealed fastenings that meant I could avoid making buttonholes, and the overall volume. Sold. 
Now, despite the simplicity of the coat design, I knew this project was going to be a job of work. My first two coat projects (my leopard coat, and blue wool coat) nearly broke me, and I was determined not to hate this experience. So I took my time; I gave myself no particular deadline (it ended up taking about three weeks) and I worked on it along side some other, simpler projects that could be made almost entirely with my overlocker. 

The PDF coat pattern consisted of a whopping 54 pages. It was a little confusing because Burdastyle have lumped a few style variations of the same basic coat into one PDF, so there are some pattern pieces and cutting lines you need to ignore, and a couple of pattern pieces you need to draft from scratch yourself. Then there's the seam allowances to add, what with it being a Burdastyle pattern and all. Man, the instructions were sparse. No step-by-step illustrations or photos with very limited explanations for each step. I would not have liked this to have been my first ever coat project. You can buy an online video via Burdastyle to talk you through the construction, but I resented the idea that I'd bought a pattern that was so lacking in detail that it was necessary to shell out an additional $19.99 for the privilege of being able to use it. I did find watching the 10 minute free taster useful though. Oh, and I may well have missed something, but I found the pattern and instructions lacking entirely when it came to creating the front lining pattern piece.  


There seems to be very few reviews of this pattern online, so I was having to guess where there may be issues. It did appear that this coat comes out BIG. In fact, the finished coat that was being made during the online video can be seen here. The woman that made it makes light of it (probably because she's employed by Burdastyle) but it's clearly come out so massive that she decided to make some changes, like adding waist elastic to bring the volume under control, and to stitch the front edges down like lapels. I find that Burdastyle patterns often come up really large anyway, so I cut out the smallest size included in the pattern, which was a full two sizes smaller than my measurements would have suggested I use. 

As I began to construct the coat, it became clear that the fit was somewhat insane. I tried on the outer shell and showed it to Pat, and ended up laughing so much I nearly wet myself. The sleeves were so large and curved that I looked like a cartoon gorilla. I spent ages pinning out a bit, stitching it, then trying on and repeat, until I got a shape and volume I was happy with. I think I pinched out a good 4cm from the bicep in the end, so that's taking 8cm of circumference from each sleeve. I also brought the side seams around the waist in a touch too. 

Aside from the sizing and reshaping, the the other ways I veered from the pattern was to interface everything (more on that in a bit) and to hand stitch down all (ALL) the seam allowances inside to help them lie flat. 


Fabric:

I've had this gorgeous ex-big-name-designer wool that came from a previous place of employment in my stash for over five years. I ended up using about 2.5m for this project, and I still have about that same amount left. This fabric was destined to be a coat, however I questioned that it was thick enough for this pattern. I had read Marilla Walker's blog post about her beautiful Honetone coat and been really impressed by how the interfacing she'd used kept her outer fabric so smooth. Luckily, she had included a link to where she bought her interfacing, and I followed suit. I fused all my wool pieces, and I'm so glad that I did. After several weeks of daily wear, my coat still holds its shape wonderfully.  


I could have continued to channel Marilla during this coat project and used quilted lining for extra warmth, however I already had this amazing spotty lining from Merchant and Mills in my stash. I bought it a couple of years ago when I visited their bricks and mortar shop in Rye. I rarely buy fabric unless I have a clear idea of which project I'm going to use it for, but I thought this was such a classy and unusual lining that I bought 2m on spec.


Thoughts:

I was aiming to make a simple, practical coat with a retro vibe, however I seem to have made a classy, modern one instead. I'm not sure it's very 'me', but I think I'm going to grow in to it, stylistically speaking. Even my mum nearly walked past me the other day when I was wearing it because she didn't recognise me. Plus, there's something else I've noticed about it. You know how people who know you sew often ask you, 'Did you make that top?' or 'Did you make those trousers?' when they see you? No one has asked if I made this coat. I'm not sure if it's because it looks shop-bought, or because it doesn't look like something I'd make.  


I also must admit that it's not the warmest coat ever made. A quilted lining would have definitely have made it warmer, but it has sufficient volume to layer up underneath and it looks great with the hot pink scarf my mum bought me. Plus, with my chosen lining, I'll be able to wear this coat from October to May (though I hope I don't have to). And yes. I do know that I need to fix the lining that's peeking out from my left sleeve. But did I mention that I made a coat?


Cost:

Pattern: $5.99 (approx. £4.33)
Fabric: free
Interfacing: £18.98 for 2.5m from English Couture (however I used less than 2m)
Lining: approx. £9 for 2m from Merchant and Mills (no longer available)
Press studs: £4.71 from this eBay seller
Total: £37.02

22 comments:

SewRuthie said...

Wow well done, it looks super professional!

Heather said...

This is my idea of the perfect coat, it is beautifully made and you look great in it. I agree with Ruth it looks like MaxMara made it.

MrsC (Maryanne) said...

Fantastic! You made a coat!It is to sewing what a marathon is to running!

Hsin said...

Love love LOVE it! The coat of my dreams! But m gutted to hear it's too big! I'm usually a 38 so there is zero chance of me learning to grade. I'm so green with envy.

Linda said...

Oh! That is fabulous! It really suits you, looking great! And I do love the last photo with your little boy:):)

Martha said...

Oh, my! That is so lovely on you. I love the lines and the fabric and the shape. Everything.

SMP said...

The most beautiful and professional coat I’ve seen sewn all year. Absolutely simply terrific and looks marvellous on you.

Anonymous said...

I love cocoon coats, having made one myself recently. Your coat looks amazing! Beautiful work - you should be really pleased.

Johanna Imhoff said...

This is my favorite cocoon coat I've seen. I hope you end up loving it. I've liked them on other people, but they never look like something I can picture on my body...this makes me want to make one. Except it's already too warm here in Florida. Maybe next season!

Alessa said...

You made a coat! 😊
That's a cool pattern, I really like the seam lines and your coat turned out looking so crisp and professional!
I see how it looks not quite "you", but the shape and colour are so timeless, you'll be able to wear it for years!

Mother of Reinvention said...

What a gorgeous coat and beautifully made up. You look lovely in it, No wonder people think that it is RTW. I love the lining. Pity it is not the warmest but hopefully the weather will get a bit better soon. Xx

Jodi Wade said...

You look great! So chic!
When I saw this on Instagram I didn't recognise you at first, it really does make you look completely different.

Jo said...

It look so great on you. What lovely finishing too. Jo x

Kathryn said...

You look amazing in your new coat Zoe!! It’s very stylish and looks so well made! I’m going to buy some of that interfacing tomorrow as I’ve a coat all cut out & ready to sew but think I’ll take the extra time & effort to interface it after reading this.

Sarah Sparkles said...

Congratulations, Zoe!! What a great coat! I think the sculptural lines suit you perfectly :)

Pamela Tessari said...

Congratulations: you have made a very beautiful and timeless coat and also survived the infamous Burda instructions! The fabric looks luxurious and so well matched to the pattern.

Donna Hensley said...

Very very classy!! Bravo!!

Anonymous said...

Very professional looking! and really timeless. Nice job.

Eirini said...

Your coat looks amazing! I am about to make one and I will follow your idea of interfacing everything. After I made a muslin I feel the pockets are lower than I 'd like - do you think that by shortening the front top piece and lengthening the front bottom piece the proportions of the cocoon shape will be distorted? Any ideas of how to go about it?

Let's Get Sewing said...

This looks amazing! I love it. The buttons match perfectly and the lining is gorgeous.

studyeatsew said...

I couldn't resist searching for the lime green coat - was this the one you were referring to? https://eaosewing.wordpress.com/2014/04/02/foraret-er-landet/

Joomi Lee aka Joo-Mi E said...

I have to agree I was really surprised to find out you made that gray coat.

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