A Whole Lotta Coat

The Amazing Coat of Doooooom

In a way, this is the garment that started it all. More than a year ago, now, I was facing down another Canadian winter realizing, sadly, that my erstwhile-winter-coat (really more of a fall weight) was not going to get me through more than one more brutal season. And the kinds of winter coats I like—long and elegant and warm—are hard to find, dastardly expensive, and never have long enough sleeves.

So a kernel was planted in my brain.

It took a long time to germinate. I had candidacy exams last fall, which constitutes the most intensive and brutal academic hazing I’ve yet encountered. I couldn’t really contemplate anything that fall; I woke up, got the kids off to school, and sat in bed and read, researched, and wrote. All day. For months. Finally in early December the final (oral) part of the exams was finished, and I had just enough time to inhale, explain to my kids’ teachers why they were both acting out in school (can we say stress at home?), and get ready for Christmas.

Around the same time as the coat-kernel was planted, the idea of making the girls some coats had also been sown, as I had some burlap-weight curtain material that I couldn’t imagine actually wearing myself. So after Christmas, I took myself off to Fabricland, in search of little girls’ coat patterns, and found this one. Keeping in mind at this point, the only lined garment I’d ever made was a vest.

The girls’ coats became the ones blogged here and here and I moved on to other things, but the dream of a winter coat percolated ever in the background. I was absolutely delighted when Elizabeth decided to revive the Trench Coat Sew-Along in a more relaxed format. Just what I needed, I thought.

A whole lotta skirt!

I won’t bore you with too much more blathering. It’s pretty much all documented here already, probably in triplicate, right up to my button crisis the other week. And there’s the trials of the flipping-out-facings, which haven’t been totally tamed, as I’m sure you can see.

Anyway, last night I finally tackled the dreaded buttonholes of doom. Er, tackled might be a little too strong a word. At present they are hand-finished, but the thread I had (buttonhole thread, but not hand-buttonhole thread) didn’t give good coverage; I may try just zig-zagging over the cut edges. All my sewing incompetence comes roaring to the fore in the face of buttonholes (at least buttonholes I can’t accomplish with my buttonhole function on my sewing machine, anyway. Which is pretty much anything that isn’t a light blouse). Probably I should’ve gone for bound buttonholes, but the chances of me getting (eight! of) them even and matching… well, anyway. I didn’t.

But here it is. Perfect? Not hardly. Well fitting? Well, the sleeves are long enough and it creates

A nice back view, except for the closed eyes.

the illusion that I have a curvaceous figure, which is exciting in a coat. How warm it is remains to be seen—it’s certainly more than adequate for a crisp fall morning like today, but will it get me through -30, -40, -50? There isn’t much ease for stuffing extra sweater layers underneath it (the idea was to render those 2 or 3 extra layers unnecessary, of course. I’m still not sure I’m absolutely in love with the stand collar, especially in grey—not a great colour for me—but it’s interesting and different. Maybe I’ll try the regular lapel version sometime. I like it best with the red accessories—I have a red winter hat, too, that goes well with the scarf, but I couldn’t find it just rooting around this morning.

Obligatory twirly shot

Front shot

Front, no scarf

And here’s a link to the slideshow on Flickr with a few more photos.

Whew! That was exhausting!

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35 Comments

Filed under Sewing, Winter Coat Sewing

35 responses to “A Whole Lotta Coat

  1. Congratulations, it looks great!! Nice fit through the back, I’m impressed. Hey, you may not be able to layer any sweaters under there, but I bet you could fit some ski pants under the lower half! har har har Must feel great to have it finished.

  2. You must be very tall because that is a whole lot of coat, but you wear it so statuesquely! It fits perfectly and the swing in the skirt is beautiful. What excellent work.

    I’m new to your blog so I don’t know if you’ve discussed this but how long have you been sewing?

    • I’m 5′ 7″, which is not overly tall but tall enough that I’m not generally worried about being swamped by my clothes ;).

      I’ve been sewing since I was nine or ten, in a rather haphazard and self-directed manner; I started with barbie clothes and moved on to mostly costume pieces through my teens and early twenties; my mom sewed and was available to help when I asked for it, but mostly I just bulled ahead on my own. Last winter I decided I wanted to be able to sew actual garments that I could wear everyday; I started reading blogs, bought an actual book on sewing, discovered Pattern Review and Burdastyle.com, and I was off. I’ve been a little bit obsessed since then… ;). So while I’ve been sewing a long time, I’m still very new to sewing “well”.

  3. Okay, so it may not be “perfection” in your eyes (but we all judge our own work the harshest IMO) – but that’s a “Whole Lotta Great Coat” there young lady & you should be very proud of what you have achieved ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. That is some gorgeous coat! As a fellow Canadian, I am in complete coat envy! Great job. ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Awesomeness! I don’t see any glaring imperfections in the photos, which means 99.9% of any population you meet in person won’t either. I hope it’s warm enough for winter, because what a great coat.

    As for buttonholes (my arch nemeses), is it possible that you can just Fray-Eeze them all and they’ll hold up? I mean, that depends on how much coverage you actually have with the thread, but I am totally all about the Fray-Eeze when it comes to evil buttonholes.

  6. It is absolutely beautiful! The overall silhouette is great and I really love the stand collar as well. Really nice job.

  7. ali

    Holy crappola! I’m impressed. Gorgeous coat! (you know I love anything that lends curviness) and I love the gray, so classic. In fact, I’m trying to do the Lady Grey in grey (for versatility, since i”ll likely be able to use it all fall/winter) but friends keep inching me towards red.

    Loved reading your SSS lessons — and how did I miss that Kasia? It looks great on you. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • I totally want a red Lady Grey :)… though if I do a wearable version from my muslin I’ll have a grey, too. I spent a long time looking for this fabric—I was thinking of black (because my old coat was black and very versatile), but all the blacks I found were too solid and boring. I wanted something with texture. Or… this. ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. Uta

    Your coat looks great, and it suits you so well! I think the first coat is a real milestone; the next one will feel much easier to make.

  9. I love this coat. The shape, the length, the fabric. You look absolutely gorgeous. My compliments!

  10. aw wow well done, this looks really great.
    winter coats need some germinating time (or at least thats what i told myself for the few years i spent thinking about mine!!!)
    enjoy wearing it now after all your hard work ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. holy moly that is out of this world gorgeous!!!! it looks fantastic with the red scarf and gloves and i’m totally jealous now that your coat is finished and beautiful, while mine is still just an idea (well an idea with a pattern, fabric and lining laying about, mocking me!)

  12. I love it!! the material and the shape are gorgeous. It looks fantastic with the red scarf.

  13. Gorgeous coat and I love the scarf. Your creation too?

  14. kbenco

    The photos look terrific. The coat is a great shape on you, very sophisticated. If you are not 100% happy, that just means you have a perfect excuse to make another coat – whilst lapping up the well deserved compliments for this one.

  15. Great photos, cool coat. I’ll have to go back through the old posts and pick up some tips!

  16. Beautiful coat! Oh my goodness! I’m sure it feels wonderful to be done with and I hope it keeps you super snuggly!

  17. Marie-Christine

    Funny, because lately I’ve been making shorter sleeves to show off the big chunky mittens I’ve been knitting :-). But I understand, I started sewing in earnest myself in part because by the time I was 12 it was impossible to find sleeves (or legs) long enough in France (I’m 5’8″).

    I don’t think it’s possible in Canada to do without lots of layers in the winter. So don’t flog yourself if you have to continue with them. But I’m sure this coat will be better than what you have. The full skirt isn’t necessarily very warm, but it’ll protect you some from the wind because it’s so long. The fitted upper body is good too, and the collar that closes completely, and can be pulled up in case of blizzard, is also a very good thing.

    Next time ๐Ÿ™‚ (I’m sure there’ll be one after you try this, it’s addicting to have something that works for you) you might consider that a nice fulled wool (melton) is best for warmth, as it cuts the wind completely. It doesn’t drape as well as this, you won’t be twirling for photos, but a slightly less full skits would be warmer, even though you can still find a compromise that’ll still give you shape. You can also underline the coat with some flannel, which adds a layer of warmth, and it’s probably still possible to find lining that’s heavy and brushed on the inside, that also helps. Just be sure not to do the thing with interlining in Thinsulate, which melts in dry cleaning fluid..

    • Yeah, a melton would’ve been lovely. Someday when I’m not making coats on a student budget. /sigh. That’s interesting about the thinsulate, I hadn’t heard that.

  18. You did a very good job all things considered. I think it looks very nice on you and it definitely looks nice while twirling. Congrats!

  19. Awesome! Congratulations on your wonderful new winter coat! I love how twirly the bottom part is and it looks really nice with the red accessories. ๐Ÿ™‚

  20. Is it weird that I want to see you posed on a horse with the coat trailing over the horse’s back? Probably…
    I just love the classic look of this coat. Great job!

  21. Joy

    Well done! It’s beautiful and you must feel great having done it. Now, you know, you can sew anything (:

  22. This is so lovely and beautiful! I love the length and the fit is fabulous!

  23. I think the coat looks amazing, Tanit-Isis. Really nice pattern and fit. With the red accessories it looks very stylish.
    I know buttonholes can be a real pain in the ***, especially if the sewing machine isn’t doing what it’s supposed to do. I had the problem with that on my knickerbockers, had to do the main buttonhole four times. I really dread the holes to come on the coat that is due as one of the next projects I start.

  24. What a gorgeous coat. I WANT!
    Love the length and the fit and of course the swingy skirt. So awesome, well done!

  25. /anne...

    I loved this so much I just bought the pattern ๐Ÿ™‚
    If it gets too cold for the coat, how about wrapping a big rectangular shawl/pashmina type thing over your shoulders? It works for me, and you can make one out of fine wool.

    You absolutely should learn to knit if you’re spending hours commuting on public transport – you can still listen to your podcasts, AND it is relaxing! Well, once you’ve figured it out ๐Ÿ™‚

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