I finished! I finally finished! It’s so surreal after months of working on this (and having the fabric for well over a year)! My tailored wool coat based on McCall’s 5717 was finished a few days after the official first day of spring, but winter decided to hang around so that I could wear it. This is the first time in my entire life I’m grateful that it’s still cold. And where better to celebrate than at one of New York City’s greatest gems: the one and only Lincoln Center.
I call this coat “Sabrina” because, after watching a ton of movies during this coat project, I remember attaching the flap pockets to the coat during Audrey Hepburn’s Sabrina. And she’s classy, which is what I was aiming for here. So…there you go, a name was born!
To see all posts in this tailored coat series, please click here. Otherwise, the curtain’s up so let’s get on with the show! Oh, and please pardon the photograph-heavy post – I’m just completely over the moon about how this coat turned out and the fact that it’s actually done.
So, here I am at Lincoln Center, as happy as I can possibly be now that my coat is finally a functioning piece in my wardrobe. Is there really anything that beats seeing your hard work hanging there in your closet alongside the rest of your clothes/coats? Well, besides actually wearing it around town, that is! I will try to control the exclamation points for the rest of this post, but I can’t promise.
As you may remember this is a modified version of McCall’s 5717, view C. I nixed the ruffle at the hem and instead elongated and widened the skirt pieces to just below knee length. Funny, but when I had the coat on the dress form there were a number of folds in the back skirt. In the photo above you can see that this disappears! Perhaps when I turned the hem up 2″ it changed the drape or perhaps I fill out the skirt differently than the dress form. To be honest, it worked out for the best – I like the look AND it’s much less fussy sitting down on the subway (especially when someone could easily sit on extra fabric!).
By the way, I had originally put hair canvas at the hem, but I found that it completely messed with the beautiful drape of this fabric. Though I really didn’t want to have to undo a week’s worth of evening cutting/hand-sewing/etc. I didn’t come this far to go half way, no siree! Knit fusible interfacing proved to be a much better match for the fashion fabric. Phew.
I really love how the lapels just stay in place thanks to the pad-stitching that I did. Even when you flap it with your hand it falls right back into place. And the collar stand holds its stance as it should, which is pretty exciting, I must say.
The finished coat is a size 10 at the bust and a size 12 at the waist/hips. Several inches were added at the hemline to allow for walking ease, and I’m happy to report that after a few subway rides and even a couple of bus rides, I’ve been able to walk, sit, and skedaddle comfortably.
Oh! And speaking of which, I’m so glad I kept the front flap pockets in; in the three days that I’ve worn this coat I’ve found them quite handy for holding my phone. The square pocket is much more suitable for it then the in-seam ones, and the flap closure provides extra security, I find. Doing this also leaves the in-seam pockets open for keeping my hands toasty. Win-win!
Travertine (the stone behind me) makes for a very clean background in which to see this coat, does it not? Since the pattern didn’t come with loops, I used instructions in the ever-so-helpful Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Sewing. Seriously, that book is amazing! FYI, what I keep calling loops are referred to as “belt carriers” in the book, which actually seems to be the correct way of saying it.
I’m so incredibly relieved that I went with this black flannel-backed satin lining instead of the hot pink I had originally bought. Yikes, I would’ve been sooo bummed with that one! I love that black goes with everything and is a much better complement to the fashion fabric. I tend to like my linings to fall into the background rather than make a statement, though I dare say this one has a nice presence with its shiny self.
The lining was completely hand-stitched (except for the center back and princess seams). I attached the lining to the facing and collar with short invisible stitches, though I first pinned and then basted the lining in place to make sure everything was smooth. Boy, that took a lot longer than anticipated! It was really relaxing though, especially as I was working through episodes of Frasier at the same time.
The lining hem is also attached with invisible stitches and features a jump pleat that provides extra lining fabric at the bottom for ease. The sleeve lining was attached to the main lining with fell-stitches; Tailoring said to wax the thread and double it up for extra strength, which makes sense considering that this area receives a lot of stress. It felt really good covering up all the innards of the coat after seeing them exposed for such a long time!
The center back pleat on the coat was formed by first basting the pleat shut and then pressing the fabric to create the pleat. Then I was able to try my hand at the feather-stitch seen above! I remember first seeing it in Tailoring and really looking forward to trying it. I’d recommend practicing first on some lining scrap; if you’re like me, it took several tries to get it looking like it did in the book. I used a thick thread (not quite as thick as top-stitching thread), which was recommended.
I also decided to add a hanging loop. Since the pattern didn’t come with one and I wasn’t sure exactly how I should go about it, I ended up using the pattern piece from the Minoru Jacket by Sewaholic Patterns. Hey, it helps to have a healthy pattern stash even if you don’t get around to sewing them up right away, isn’t it?! The in-seam pockets are from the Beignet Skirt by Colette Patterns.
I used four of these anchor buttons that I bought on Etsy. My original inspiration was my grandfather’s World War II U.S. Navy pea coat – turns out there are tons of these buttons for sale. I really love the subtle detail they bring to the coat. They’re not obvious, but they have a nice story.
The buttons are attached with the same thick thread that I used for the feather-stitch. (I went with bound buttonholes, which I talk about more here.) I decided to form an anchor shape with the thread to mirror the button anchor – it wasn’t until later that I realized the thread itself looks like rope! On the other side of the facing, I attached plain black buttons so that the thread isn’t putting stress on the fabric each time I button the coat.
Just a quick shot of my me-made dress inside the lobby of the Metropolitan Opera House (Moonstruck, anyone?!). When I first made this Vogue 8379 wrap dress, the oncoming hurricane prevented me from going outside to photograph it. I thought it would be nice to show you what it looks like in better light!
I’m actually working on a purple/blue version of this dress next. An easy project to follow a complex, time-consuming one.
For the record, materials used were:
- Italian herringbone wool, 4 yards (Gorgeous Fabrics)
- Flannel-backed satin lining, 1.5 yards (B & J Fabrics, 525 Seventh Avenue, NYC)
- Black cotton batiste for the back stay, .5 yards (also B & J)
- Black U.S. Navy anchor buttons, 4 (Etsy)
- Sleeve heads (Steinlauf and Stoller, 239 W. 39th Street, NYC)
- Shoulder pads (thrifted)
- Hair canvas interfacing (A Fashionable Stitch)
- Knit fusible interfacing for the facing, upper collar, and sleeve and skirt hems (in my stash from Joann. Note to self: keep this stuff around!)
[Update: Read my review of the McCall's 5717 pattern on PatternReview!]
And, finally, over a year ago I bought McCall’s Sewing Book (published 1963) from the Strand Book Store just for the heck of it. I couldn’t resist the period writing (“…ill-fitting clothes lower [the homemaker's] morale and make her less able to cope with everyday trials.”). Anyway, I like this opening quote from the chapter on “Tailoring Talk”:
One of the biggest events in the life of a seamstress is the day she appears in a beautifully tailored suit or coat of her own making. She has a perfect right to be proud. Tailoring is not a hard task, but it is an exacting one. It takes time and attention to detail to tailor well, but the extra effort is rewarded by the overwhelming sense of pride one takes in turning out a truly high quality garment.
Well, I’d feel a little egotistical if I admitted this was “beautifully tailored” or a “truly high quality garment” but I loved the part about being proud and feeling like this was one of the biggest events in my sewing life. Not to be dramatic or anything. This whole process has just been amazing; I learned a ton and had a lot of fun doing it, despite the amount of hours and head-scratching involved. Certainly a great way to start out 2013!
Where to go from here? A dress for spring, you say? Why, I like the way you think. Have a good one, readers!