Yippee! My Abbey coat is finished in perfect time for the start of autumn and I'm just delighted with the final result, even if I say so myself.
I made view B from Jamie Christina's Abbey Coat pattern (without flounce). Jamie Christina has a straight forward, clear way of explaining steps in a pattern that really appeals to me. There are plenty of explanatory diagrams and at the end of the process I felt like I understood the mechanics of making a coat. The pattern doesn't contain any specific tailoring techniques, but is an excellent base from which to add your own if you're feeling brave. The only additional technique I used was to make bound buttonholes.
Perhaps it's another lucky fluke but the cut of this coat just happens to be a perfect match for my shape. I cut out a size 10 and didn't make one single change to the pattern. There isn't one measurement on this coat that doesn't fit me perfectly. Yes, I'm sure some of it is luck, but I also think it's a very well cut and designed pattern. Can you tell I love it yet?!
As a side note, I'm quite aware that with the shorter, jacket style, this coat looks very similar to my first attempt at a jacket from last year. The similarities are only skin deep though - the Abbey coat is a much more superior coat in so many different ways. For starters, I worked from a proper coat pattern this time, rather than trying to teach myself from a book, and this made a world of difference. The book I originally used - Built by Wendy Coats and Jackets - is a useful guide, but you do flounder in the dark a bit by comparison. For instance for last year's attempt, the lining was cut from the same pattern pieces as the jacket. There was no extra ease built in for stretching and actually getting the thing on and off. Consequently, the couple of times I wore it, it rode up at the back, making me look like a hunchback. This time round, there was a pleat built into the back lining piece and one along the bottom edge to allow for wearing ease. It makes all the difference!
|Admire my lining|
As for the construction, it started swimmingly then went a bit downhill towards the end. I did all the boring, preparation work over the summer: making a muslin, cutting out the coat and lining pieces, interfacing everything, overlocking the lining pieces and making the bound buttonholes. Because of this, the bare bones of the coat only actually took me about a day to sew together. A couple of the final stages were VERY time consuming though - such as opening up the back of the bound buttonholes. I found it a much more nerve wracking stage than actually making the buttonholes, and even with reading glasses on, I found it very difficult to see what I was doing. The final straw was when I realised I'd completely buggered up on the maths when measuring my buttonholes, which meant my chosen buttons wouldn't fit...gah! After a deep breath I simply found some teal coloured vintage buttons from my stash that did fit the buttonholes. It's no biggy, but it was disappointing not being able to use the coat buttons I'd bought especially.
I made two other changes to the pattern/construction. The binding on the cuffs is supposed to be made from your coat fabric. Because of the thickness of the wool, there was no way that was ever going to happen, so I used some vintage binding from my stash instead. It was still a fiddle attaching it, which you need to be prepared for if you're using the pattern. The pattern also calls for two buttonholes on each cuff. I was too lazy to make bound buttonholes and as the cuffs are very thick, it would have been nigh on impossible to make machine buttonholes either. My way, which is the 'Handmade Jane lazy arse way', was to sew the buttons through all thicknesses. Happily the cuffs are quite generous, which means I can get my hands through the arms easily.
One final piece of advice I would offer if you're thinking of making this coat, or indeed any coat, is to choose your coat fabric carefully. I fell in love with my thick wool, but it does add a lot of bulk to seams and makes it difficult to get them perfectly flat. I probably spent as long at the ironing board, trying to steam the living hell out of my seams as I did at the sewing machine. In the end I took it to the dry cleaners in desperation. One professional press later and my seams were flatter than I could ever have got them. Probably the best £3.50 I've spent in my dressmaking life!
|Isn't the collar the prettiest shape?|
Making a coat takes a lot out of you, both in time and energy. The whole process seemed to take over my life for a while, and I'll be honest, I did feel a bit of an emotional wreck by the end of it. But it's my pride and joy and I'm going to love wearing it this autumn. I must give a special thank you to Karen from Did you Make That? for shining a light onto the murky area of bound buttonholes. Without her and her excellent tutoring, there woud be no buttonholes on this coat, bound or otherwise!
In other news, I had the pleasure of being part of Scruffy Badger's knicker-making gang in Bath yesterday. You can read a fine account of it on Winnie's blog here. I do have some pictures to show you, but they've had to take second fiddle to my Abbey coat for now. I WILL show you my knickers in my next post though. I promise! x