From a Pile of Pieces to One Almost-There Coat

I’m back with another update on my modified McCall’s 5717 coat (I didn’t mention the pattern in my last post so I’ve cleared that up right outta the gate!). And thank you so much for your comments – it’s nice to hear from you!

Last weekend we had Monday off for Presidents’ Day, so I’d like to think I made our Founding Fathers proud by really hunkering down and getting some sewing done! I’m not sure what either has to do with the other, but, hey, it’s a free country. 😉

You can track my past progress here or continue full speed ahead to see this past week’s journey in photos…


The back stay in black cotton broadcloth.

Well, I’m happy to report that I made some considerable progress! I don’t think I’ve ever logged as many sewing hours as I have these past couple of weeks – this coat has really caught my fascination, t’would seem. Within a matter of hours, I went from having a pile of pieces to one almost-there coat. I think the moment I stopped for the night and put the coat on the dress form was when I was truly able to step back and see my progress. Exciting stuff!

The Back Stay
Above is the back stay in black cotton broadcloth as it now looks on the coat. A back stay is added to help relieve stress on the fashion fabric and broadcloth is one of the recommended fabrics, though you can also go with muslin or hair canvas. I found it easiest to create the back stay by placing the sewn together “coat back” on top of the broadcloth, and tracing from there (as opposed to creating it directly from the pattern pieces). Hard to see here but the bottom edge is pinked so a ridge can’t be seen from the right side.

Tailoring also suggests using stay tape at the shoulders to prevent stretching, which you can’t see here because I’ve since pressed open the shoulder seams.


Attaching the upper collar to the facing pieces.

Tailoring has you sew the upper collar to the facing pieces next, and I applied fusible knit interfacing to all three. I’m glad I took a photo of this part for future reference because figuring out how the pieces went together proved a wee bit tricky!

You might see some portions of the interfacing not completely fused in the photo. Well, I went back afterwards and gave it another press. Sheesh. The book says to fuse the entire piece, including the seam allowances, since knit fusible is lightweight and won’t add bulk. This step is part of the tailoring process (the pattern instructions don’t call for this).


Pad-stitched lapels and under collar are now one!


The under collar stitched to the coat back.

Oh, the happiness when I was able to machine stitch the pieces together and see a coat start to appear. There are a lot of steps before you even get to the machine that it catches you by surprise, or at least it did me.

After looking at some of my books, I’ve noticed that it’s not necessary for the chevrons to connect as you see here, though visually it pleases me. I just need to remember in the future to take long stitches for medium-weight fabric in order for the needed shaping to occur.


Lapels pieced together and pressed.


The collar after being pressed.

These two photos are so gratifying for me! The collar and lapels, attached and pressed. Did you notice my 1950s Rise & Shine Apron hanging in the background?

That Pesky Collar Notch
One part that was particularly tricky was sewing the seams nearest the collar notches (the part where the collar meets the lapels, as seen in the top photo). I did not do this as gracefully as I could have, but it’s my first attempt and there was a lot of fabric so there you have it. The notches were very bulky – even after I had trimmed and graded the seams – so I knew something was up. Sure enough, when I flipped the fabric inside out I noticed that portions of the seam allowances were caught in the stitching (it’s a three-way intersection so trouble could and did occur).

I simply unpicked this area. “Simply” is a deceiving word since it took some time to unpick; more like there was simply no way I was jeopardizing all the hard work I had put into my coat by ripping something out of impatience! I then machine-stitched as close as I could to the notches and hand-stitched the rest to give me the best control. That did the trick!

Oh, the Importance of Pressing
Let me tell you, lots of steam and the clapper are your friends when it comes to taking on thicker fabrics. Holding the clapper down until the fabric cooled definitely took some time, but the result is worth it. I can’t emphasize this enough – press your fabric with care and you will not be disappointed!

Case in point: after sewing the facing pieces to the front, the lapels and collar looked…meh. I rolled the seam lines to the underside and basted the edges with a whip-stitch.


Collar and lapel BEFORE being pressed – bulky!


Collar AFTER being pressed – satisfying!


Using the clapper to turn thick, flimsy edges into thin, sturdy ones.

This last photo really shows how effective the clapper is in getting a nice clean edge. Here we have the front piece with the bound buttonholes; the seam line is unpressed on the left and pressed on the right. You read about this result, but it’s still amazing to see that it actually works! The unpressed portion also reveals a wavy seam line because it doesn’t know where to sit.

The nice thing about this clapper is that it’s also a point presser up top. This came in handy when I was pressing the lapels and the collar, even though they all have rounded edges. There are just some places only the point presser can reach!

Next Up:
Setting in the sleeves. Also, I promise to show the full coat in the next post. I feel like these photos must not be very satisfying without seeing the whole thing, so I apologize for that. The truth? I’ve sewn the side seams and added pockets, but haven’t yet had a chance to press them; I just couldn’t convince myself to show you without pressing first. 🙂


7 thoughts on “From a Pile of Pieces to One Almost-There Coat

  1. This looks awesome! You have done a great job!! I have a clapper and have yet to use it, but this is will change after seeing the before and after pics. I can’t wait to see the next installment….keep up the good work 🙂

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