“Did you see the November mailer?” my manager asked when I got to work one day last fall. Of course not—it had just arrived a day or two ago at the store, and usually only the managers see them much ahead of time. “There’s a project you need to do.”
When a pattern is featured in a mailer, we get the option of doing extra projects for them to hang during that sale. YAY! And guess which pattern it was—McCall’s 7256, which I’ve been drooling over ever since it shocked the blogosphere last summer with its resemblance to the Lolita Patterns Spearmint coat. Which is somewhat fair—the collar is very similar. The other details are pretty darn different, though, and really there are only so many different designs any of us are willing to wear. The McCall’s pattern has some really different skirt options that I love. On the flip side, everyone raved about the instructions and the tailoring that went into a Lolita. McCall`s 7256? Not so much. I`ll get into that in a little bit.
Anyway, with the gauntlet thrown down, the angst set in. Project budgets are limited and coating fabric is expensive. I wandered the aisles of coating, wistfully petting the meltons and boiled wools while I calculated the price of 3.7m of the fabric and came up, again and again, on the sad fact that even the cheapest polyester-acrylic coating, with nary a hint of wool, was beyond my project budget. Suiting fabric it was.
I settled on some menswear suiting in a navy-bordering-on-black that went well with this random satin print I liked for the lining (again, once I accepted that the flannel-backed Kasha lining was out of budget as well. Oh, Kasha, how I shall mourn thee…) I looked for a lace for trim, but couldn’t really come up with anything without breaking the already straining budget.
Once I had pattern and fabric at home, of course, I had to confront one very particular fact: this very fun coat pattern is, first and foremost, a McCall`s coat pattern. A McCall`s coat pattern is basically a dress pattern with extra ease. This didn`t bother me so much when I made M6800, as I was making a pared-down, jean-jacket version anyway. But for M7256, I really wanted something with a lot of menswear detailing, and that means tailoring. I am, I guess, a bit of a tailoring snob, which is odd because I`m pretty lazy and it`s not like I`m an expert at it. But on reading through the pattern as written—blerg. No facings, a one piece sleeve, lining (in the bodice only) to be cut from the same pieces as the shell. The only interfacing called for is to reinforce the buttonholes on the skirt. Not even some simple inseam pockets (not that those will be hard to add, but why skip them? And why would you not line a skirt with that crazy high-low hem? (It turns out there are very good reasons, by the way.)
Fortunately, the power of the Internet was with me. Sherry`s RTW Tailoring Sewalong is back online (how lost and forlorn I felt without it), which goes over all the steps of making your own lining and interfacing pattern pieces, and all the other little bits that make a coat or jacket more than just a baggy dress. Obviously there are many, many ways to tailor, but I think Sherry`s sewalong is both supremely comprehensive on the pattern-tweaking side (invaluable!) and has methods that are a great balance of being effective without being crazy time-consuming. Which is not to say that I don`t love me some pad-stitching, but it`s not going to happen for a project that has to hang in less than two weeks.
- Petite bodice c. 1″ (This turned out to be WAY too much. Should’ve just raised under the arm instead.)
- Square shoulder
- Swayback adjustment (on bodice only, front and back waist.
- Lengthen sleeve. (I would’ve liked a two-piece sleeve much better.
Changes to make to the pattern:
- Draft facings for front and back neck.
- Draft lining pieces for bodice and sleeves; add pleat at CB and extra length at underarm.
- Draft undercollar pattern piece? (I the end I just trimmed the undercollar to make it smaller. However, since the undercollar is the part that shows at certain points in the ruffle, this partly backfired.
- Add inseam pockets.
- Blockfuse front (should’ve done entire bodice)
- add back stay to back
- Construct flat shoulder pads from
hair canvasbatting & knit interfacing.
- sleeve heads
- waist stay
- interface sleeve hems
All of that tailoring and it was still pretty minimal. The jacket is soft and floppy. The sleeves are the worst, although rolled up and scrunchy they are ok.
I did like how the shoulder pads turned out—I layered a bit of cotton batting with knit interfacing top and bottom, and fused them together, then shaped with steam and let cool.
I discovered why they didn’t suggest you line the skirt, by the way. That’s a hairsbreadth away from being a full double-circle skirt. I’ll let that sink in for a second. Now imagine how many places the bias is going to drop. Can you imagine it? Good, because I can’t. And it’s super-full so it’s pretty much impossible to figure out what part of the high-low skirt “matches” with what part of the high-low lining, not to mention how the two fabrics drop in dramatically different ways. It was ridiculous. I don’t exactly regret lining the skirt, because I love it, but there’s a reason there aren’t any closeups.
I added sleeve heads, too.
The biggest issue, though, is that somehow in my modifications the front bodice wound up REALLY short. Like, empire-waist short. This is one of the reasons I’ve been more cautious about shortening McCall’s patterns since then (which has also caused issues in the other direction). Obviously a muslin would’ve been helpful, but that’s not really an option for shop projects. Combined with the general floppiness it doesn’t make me love the jacket.
On the other hand, it looks pretty damn cute in the pictures and I get lots of compliments when I do wear it, so I guess it’s not as bad as it feels—and I certainly don’t mind an empire waist jacket when that’s my plan.
It’s still an AWFUL lot of ruffles, though.