Tuesday, November 23, 2010
My light green wool cashmere coat from two years ago has officially bitten the dust. One of the closures is broken (again) and the coating is sort of disintegrating in places, not to mention it's so dirty I don't think it will ever be right again. My purple jacket for Turkey went so well that I was inspired to jump right into Vogue 8307. The purple jacket works for low 60s to low 50s. This should cover from the high-50s down to the upper-40s (around 8-13 Celcius). I have yet another coat planned to cover the mid-40s to around freezing. And below that we pull out the Inauguration Coat, which carries me down to as cold as it ever gets in DC (low 20s/around -7 C). It seems a bit ridiculous to have so many coats, but I am always wishing I had a different one for each 10 degree variation because wearing a not-quite-right for the temperature coat is so uncomfortable!
This coat is almost entirely from The Carol Collection. Included in the collection were two yards of 60" wide Kelly green Pendleton wool with the Pendleton remnants tag still on. So fun! The pattern calls for 2.5 yards of 60" wide fabric, so I cut the undercollar and front facing from a darker green wool, also from The Carol Collection.
The lining is a polyester charmeuse in a great print from, you guessed it, The Carol Collection. The lining is very thin and the wool is a medium weight, so I added a little more warmth with a layer of the Vera Wang silk/rayon slipper satin from Fabric.com at $1.95/yd. I treated the lining and underlining as one, with the matte side of the slipper satin to the lining and the shiny side facing the fabric fabric so the lining wouldn't catch on the coat in wearing. I didn't have enough to interline the front, but I'm hoping the quadruple layer of wool (wool-faced and double breasted, with heavy interfacing) will be adequate.
The problem with kelly green wool is that once you see it as a billiard table, you can't unsee it. It is the exact same color. The photos of the coat are not exactly true to life color. Trust me, it's the same. It is a very crisp wool with little drape. That made it awesome for the collar, which sits beautifully, but the rest of the coat looks very wrinkly in wearing--not because it *is* wrinkled, but because any movement I make causes a crease rather than a drape.
The coat as drafted has no pockets. Insanity. I added in-seam pockets between the front and side front at the high hip level. When I made a princess seam coat and added pockets in the past, this was the perfect location. On this double-breasted coat, however, I wish I'd put the pockets in the side seam. The pockets overlap each other and putting gloves in them makes the belly area very puffy. The Armani original has side seam pockets--should have looked at it before making the coat! The front pocket piece is cut of lining to reduce bulk and interlined for warmth.
To keep the pocket line from stretching out when I walk with my hands in my pockets, I reinforced both the front and side front pieces with ribbon along the pocket attachment line. By the way, am I the only one who didn't know that you could run ribbon through that slot on the foot? I recently got a new serger and that was a feature in the manual. I noticed that my regular SM foot has a similar slot and voila! Sooooo much easier than running the ribbon under the foot and trying to make sure it gets caught in the seam, which is what I've been doing all these years.
In addition to the ribbon, I also interfaced the interlining of the pocket along the joining edge. As with all pockets, I sewed it to the front/side front with a 3/8" seam, rather than a full 5/8" seam. That way, the pocket rolls to the inside when the seam above and below are sewn at 5/8" and it gives a nice, clean profile.
I added five inches of length to View A, tapering in the hip a bit where it begins to flare. I love the way the ladylike full-skirted coat looks on either people, but at my height I would feel like one of the flying monkeys from the Wizard of Oz in a full-skirted coat (even though it was the guards, not the monkeys, with the long coats, somehow I associate it with the monkeys). Because of the stiffness of the wool, even though I'd narrowed the width the final hem stuck straight out like a clown's frock coat in the back. I ended up taking in another 3 inches in the center back and side back seams and now the hem sits flat instead of flaring out.
I found the back a bit boring--the front is dramatic with the collar sweep and the double breast with huge buttons and the back didn't match that drama. So I opened out the seams and added a back half-belt. I like this little touch for a coat; it adds a little visual interest to the back with truly minimal effort and doesn't affect the wearability or usefulness of the garment. I brought the contrast darker green wool fabric (my "design detail" forced by not-quite-enough fabric) into the underside of the belt as well as the collar. Actually, I think this "design detail" works quite well. The darker wool on the underside adds depth to the collar, half belt, and lapels by increasing the natural shadow that would be formed by these dimensional elements.
The buttons for this coat were an issue unto themselves. I normally just use whatever I have in stash, but the best thing I had for this coat were more of the wood inlay buttons I used on my purple jacket. I was really not liking them, so I decided that I would splurge on fancy buttons on my trip to NYC. When I hit on the idea of black buttons, I started liking the coat much more. I found the perfect buttons at Botani. At $6.75 each they were way more than I'd ever paid for buttons before, but since the rest of the coat cost me about $5 in thread, interfacing, and interlining I figured it was worth it. I sewed the buttons on in the hotel room. When I wore the coat that night the top button popped off as I buttoned it for the first time. I was surprised I'd done such a poor job sewing it on. It was only later that I realized the shank had snapped off the button!!! So much for that.
It was actually a blessing in disguise--although I *loved* the look of the jeweled buttons, it was nearly impossible to pull the button loops over the jagged edges of the buttons and it made the coat too hard to wear. So I went to G Street and found much more sensible smooth-edged round buttons in a deep pearled green that match very well but still give a tiny bit of drama because of their size.
Also on the closure issue, I made a beautiful covered snap to hold the underlap lapel in place. Alas, the covering makes the snap very difficult to snap and it instantly pops open once you do manage to snap it.
The construction on this coat was smooth and, dare I say, easy. I started it on the Saturday before I was leaving for NYC on Thursday. I told myself there was no way I would finish it on time for the trip so I took it slow, just sort of poking along. But by poking along for maybe 3 or 4 hours each on Saturday and Sunday and then an hour each night after work it was nearly done by Wednesday night.
I fudged the hem (always the worst part of any coat project) and brought it along but, alas, was not able to get exciting outdoor photos in the City because of the button issue. So you're stuck with my boring indoor photos, as usual.
The pattern is well drafted. Love that the undercollar is separately drafted from the upper collar--slightly smaller and on a different grain for great turn of cloth. Everything fit together well, although the back sleevecap had more ease than necessary.
Before making it I paid attention on the streets to see that a dramatic collar is still in style for coats and there are still plenty out there. Although this pattern is four years old (and the Armani model over 5 years old) it has staying power. If you're looking for a high drama coat without a lot of drama sewing it, check out this pattern.
All photos are here and the pattern review is here.