This coat has been a little while in the making, but it is finally finished. It’s not perfect, but I’m still really pleased with the result. It’s my first tailored coat. I realise that I probably set the bar a little too high for myself, by cutting my tailoring teeth on a self-drafted, Dior knock-off. Surely it would have been easier to stick with a more conventially cut, tried and true blazer for my first attempt? That would have made sense. But there isn’t always a lot of sense in the House of Iles.
A couple of months ago, I spotted an amazing, wine-coloured coat on Pinterest. A little bit of research lead me to the discovery that it was Pre-Fall 2012 Dior. But that was as much as I could find on it. I love the dropped shoulder style and those shoulder seam pleats. I love that it has the structure and style of a coat, but could also pass for a dress.
My first challenge was in finding a suitable pattern. I failed. In the end, I realised that I would be hacking so hard at any pattern I found, that I would be better off drafting the whole thing myself. I’m reasonably happy with how the bodice turned out. I think the armscye and sleeves could both be larger for the more oversized, unfitted look that you see on the model above. I’m also not entirely happy with the skirt. It just needs a bit more fabric to fill it out more. I did two muslins before I was happy to proceed with my special fabric and took photos along the way. But nothing compares to analysing photos of a properly finished item and comparing it side by side to the picture of inspiration, as I’m doing right now. Perhaps I’m a bit of a perfectionist too.
I had a lot of trouble finding the perfect fabric for this coat. I searched extensively online and had no luck in finding a decent wool coating in wine. Eventually, I found a wool and cashmere blend from Fabrics & Fabrics, a new to me store in NY. Their service was wonderful and I think the price was very competitive too. The fabric is gorgeous as you would expect from a cashmere blend. It has a lovely, luxurious surface and the most vibrant colour.
My cashmere wasn’t that heavy for a coating, so I decided to block fuse it all (except the sleeves) for a little extra weight and structure. I used ProWEFT Supreme Medium fusible interfacing from Fashion Sewing Supply. It’s an interfacing specifically made for tailoring and is said to mimic the softness of hand-stitching. I’m sold! It is a beautiful interfacing with a lovely soft hand, and it gave the innards of my coat the perfect structure to display those outer pleats as I liked. I took care to cut my interfacing a little smaller than the pattern pieces to avoid having it cover the seam allowances. I have Cashmerette to thank for this. I was following along with her coat-making posts just as I was getting ready to sew mine. If it weren’t for her brainstorming the problem of her princess seam ripples, I probably would have gone through all that heartache myself. So I kept the seam allowances interfacing free, and there were no ripples in my coat.
I was also planning on fusing hair canvas (yeah, fusible hair canvas!) to parts of the bodice, on top of my block fusing, for extra structure. Well, the truth is that I did actually cut and fuse my precious hair canvas, but it gave the coat far too stiff a look and the pleats didn’t fall nicely. I hyperventilated a little and then decided to peel it all off. To deal with the rough and sticky residue left behind from the hair canvas, I decided to cover the original interfacing with some extra lightweight interfacing that I would normally use for knits and sheers. This added the perfect little bit of extra support to the bodice and it also covered the residue from the hair canvas disaster. It meant I could now attach my beautiful Caroline Herrera silk twill lining. Do you want the demure peak at my lining?
I attached the body of the lining as one and the sleeves separately. I then hand-stitched the sleeve linings at the sleeve-cap. Because the design of this coat wasn’t of a traditional coat shape, I found myself with decisions to make at so many steps along the way. Initially, I wasn’t quite sure about the way the sleeves were hanging, so I added a soft sleeve head to each of the sleeve caps. I also toyed with shoulder pads, but decided against them in the end.
To keep the coat fastened, I used high-energy magnets that I encased in fabric before hand-stitching them to the inside of the coat facings. I placed one at the top of the bodice and one at the bottom.
My intention has always been to cinch in this coat with a black belt, albeit a thicker one than what I had available for the photos. I can overlap the front of the coat left side over right, or the other way around. This is probably to my detriment though, since I somehow manage to always fasten it up the wrong way. Maybe I was left-handed in another life. This is how the coat looks without a belt.
I learnt a lot through making this coat, which in my books is a big win, no matter how the coat turned out in the end. I’m pretty happy with the end result. My only regret is that this has now filled my coat needs for the season and I simply can’t justify making any more. I’m just going to have to Pin and dream away the rest of the Winter.