Well, it's been a long time coming but I'm pleased to announce that my vintage raincoat is now finished. THANK GOD! This coat has been a true test of my powers of perseverance and let me tell you, they were well and truly tested.
I started thinking about making a raincoat back in October in this post, and was lucky enough to find a pattern that was exactly what I was looking for (vintage Simplicity 5928). On this occasion it was Amy of Sylkotwist who came to my rescue, very generously gifting me the pattern. Thanks Amy, you're a doll! The pattern is from 1973 and although the instructions are clear, there is a presumption that the user has a good deal of dressmaking knowledge and experience (which was probably standard in those days to be fair). They're also pretty sparse, so it's lucky I decided to embark on this project a few years into my sewing life - if I'd tried to decipher them as a newbie I'd have given up within the hour.
I don't want to bore you to death with a catalogue of disasters but there were two bits of the coat construction that just didn't work. The coat originally came with two piece sleeves which gave it a lovely elegant, tailored look. Sadly, they weren't to be - despite six (six!!) tries, and me mercilessly slicing off quite a bit of ease, I just couldn't get the sleeves to fit in the armholes. I still can't work out why this was, but I'm not going to dwell on it. I ended up ordering extra fabric and drafting one piece sleeves. They set in like a dream and although they don't have the tailored look of the original sleeves, they're absolutely fine. The other part of the construction that I had to totally improvise was the lining. The lining itself sewed together perfectly, there just wasn't enough ease in it when it was joined to the coat. In fact the bottom of the coat looked just like a puffball skirt, which wasn't really the look I was going for.
My only solution at this late stage was to let the lining hang free at the hem like a skirt lining (it's attached to the facings and neckline in the usual way.)
This seems to work fine and it actually makes the coat a bit less restrictive to wear. I covered the raw edge of the coat hem with bias binding as this would ordinarily have been concealed inside the lining.
Right, that's my whingeing over, let's be positive folks, everything else about this coat is PERFECT. It's exactly what I wanted in a raincoat and I love the look of it, I think it's very me! There are lots of details about the pattern that I really love: the collar shape, the princess seams, the slight flared, flouncy bits around the bottom of the coat and the concealed seam pockets. The pockets are positioned just a bit too far down for my stumpy arms (ahem), but I can reach them which is the main thing!
|I can just reach those pesky pockets!|
I used a waterproof coated micro fibre fabric which I haven't had the chance to test in any real rain yet, but this is the UK, so I won't have to wait long. The lining is a gorgeous red floral fabric that I found stuffed at the bottom of a box on a stall on Portobello market. There wasn't enough to cut sleeve pieces from it so the sleeves are cut from a plain red lining fabric which turned out really well. I like knowing that beneath my functional navy raincoat, I can thrill passers by with a subtle flash of red floral fabulousness!
I utilised Scruffy Badger's excellent tips for working with this fabric (you don't need a teflon needle to work with this fabric, use weights when cutting it out and use a longer stitch length). The only tip I blatantly disregarded was the one about pins. Her advice was to use hair grips to hold seams together and not to use pins. Well, I heeded this advice for about five seconds and then lost the will to live - soz Winnie! I discovered that pins don't leave a mark on the fabric, even unpicking actual stitching from six sleeve attempts didn't cause a problem. Yes, there were stitch marks on the inside of the fabric, but absolutely nothing was visible on the right side of the coat and any rogue unpicking marks are all hidden by the lining anyway. Once I'd finished the coat I sent it to the dry cleaners for a professional press, which gave all the seams and hems a nice, crisp look.
I'm pleased with myself for gritting my teeth and finishing this coat, as it's one of the few items of clothing I've made that I actually need! Next up is a dress pattern I've fallen for hard - I bet you can guess which one it is! x