Friday, 3 February 2017

Red Coat: Tutorials and Resources

Thank you all for such generous and encouraging comments on my red coat - it was wonderful to read such positive feedback! As promised, this next post will focus on the tutorials, supplies and resources that I found so helpful whilst making the coat.

If you're thinking of trying the pattern (McCalls 7058) then I'd highly recommend you read Manju's excellent review. I picked up some really useful tips from her blog post, including the idea of adding a flannel underlining for extra warmth. To attach the underlining, I followed Manju's method of machining the flannel to the pattern pieces with a half inch seam allowance, then trimming back as far as I could down to the stitching line. I also removed the flannel from the hem allowance before hemming to reduce bulk.

Flannel underlining trimmed back to stitching line
For interfacing I used Washable Supersoft interfacing from English Couture, which is a perfect weight for the wool. I also purchased my sleeve heads from English Couture and inserted them using this method by Poppy Kettle. If you want to make your own sleeve heads, the tutorial also shows you how. I'd never used sleeve heads before and the result is subtle, but definitely worth it.

Sleeve without sleeve head

Sleeve with sleeve head
The dimpled, slightly collapsed look of the sleeves is now supported well and takes on a more rounded, tailored look.

Underlined, interfaced and with sleeve heads added. 
Once all the laborious work of underlining, interfacing, pressing etc had been done, it was time to add the lining. The instructions have you attach the lining around the facing and collar by machine, then hand sew the sleeves hems and coat hems, but I was keen to machine everything. This was partly laziness, but also because I find linings that are machined in place tend to be more robust than hand sewn ones, however neatly and carefully you sew them. If you're thinking of bagging a lining, then I'd highly recommend the following tutorials. Between the two of them they really do cover everything you can think of:

How to Bag a Jacket Lining on the Grainline blog
Bagging a Coat Lining which is part of the Clare Coat Sewalong on Closet Case Files


The basic technique on the Grainline blog is very straight forward and that's essentially what I did to bag the lining. The Clare Coat sew along post also has some excellent additional tips which I used to ensure as professional a finish as I could. For example, the traditional method of turning the coat the right way round is to pull it through a gap in one of the sleeve seams. A woollen coat, completely underlined in flannel, with interfacing and lining is thick and unwieldy and the thought of trying to turn the entire thing out through such a tiny gap filled me with horror. Heather's tip was to leave a generous gap in the lining hem instead, then catch stitch it closed at the end. This made far more sense to me and the whole process was a lot easier as a result. To help anchor the lining to the coat, I added a threadchain to the underarm seam to link them together. I used the Susan Khalje tutorial for the threadchain as recommended in the Clare Coat tutorial and it worked a treat.


I'd originally planned to use giant snaps as closures, but had a last minute disaster change of heart and had to use buttons instead. I actually spent two hours sewing all the snaps into position before deciding they didn't look right (sigh). It was annoying, but I'd invested so much time and effort into making this coat I figured an extra week's delay wasn't going to make much difference. The problem was that my interfaced and underlined coat edges wouldn't even fit underneath my buttonhole foot, so there was no way I could even contemplate sewing buttonholes unless I made them by hand. Er no, I decided to pay a visit to D M Buttons in Soho to have some professionally made instead.


I'd read about the company on a few sewing blogs, but never actually used them myself. The whole process couldn't have been easier: I left my coat with owner David and went to get my hair cut, when I returned an hour or so later, my coat had six perfect buttonholes! They looked so much more professional than anything I could have produced on my own machine. I didn't need to do much prep either, just marked the buttonhole positions on the right side of the fabric beforehand and brought along one of my buttons for reference. And the best bit? The price - just £4.00 for six! I'm never making my own buttonholes again!


One final thing I should mention is my new Tailor's Clapper, which I found invaluable during the pressing process. My wool was quite hefty and really not interested in lying flat along the seam lines. After a lengthy session at the ironing board, using the clapper and a LOT of steam, those seams were as flat as pancakes. If you're unsure about using a clapper, watch this short video from Did You Make That. Before your very eyes you'll see a springy, unruly piece of crepe being magically flattened into submission by a steam iron and a lump of wood!


I know some of you were interested to see how much this coat actually cost me to make. It wasn't cheap by any stretch of the imagination, but infinitely cheaper than a comparable RTW coat made with designer Italian wool! Thread, vintage buttons and sleeve heads were all from my stash, so I'm not including them in the cost. 

Pattern: McCall's 7058  £8.75
Main coat fabric: two metres of red Italian wool twill from Fabric Godmother:  £52.00
Lining fabric: two metres of steel blue lining fabric from Ditto Fabrics: £8.00
Interfacing: one metre of Washable Supersoft Interfacing from English Couture: £6.75
Interlining: two metres of pyjama flannel from eBay: £6.80

Finishing Touches 
Six buttonholes made by DM Buttons: £4.00
Professional press at dry cleaners: £8.00
TOTAL   £94.30

I'm delighted with the final coat (pictures of me prancing around in it can be seen here!) and pleased I took the time to finish everything properly. What I also found really heartening was the fact that so many wonderful free resources were there to help me at the click of a mouse. So I'd just like to say an enormous THANK YOU to all the generous sewing bloggers and authors mentioned in this post for sharing their knowledge. Believe me, it's very much appreciated! x

28 comments:

  1. Love this coat Jane. I have just finished the Clare Coat and I found Heather's sewalong on the Closet Case Files website so helpful that I didn't event really follow the pattern instructions!! Bagging out the lining and attaching the sleeves the way she instructs is so easy!! I have never heard of anyone sewing buttonholes for you so thanks for the heads up as my machine also doesn't cope with buttonholes well if the fabric is too bulky (sobs in despair!!). Love your blog and your finished coat is amazing!!!! xxx

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    1. Thank you. Yes, I agree, the Clare coat sewalong posts are so well written and helpful, and attaching the sleeves to the lining by her method is magic! x

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  2. This is smashing! A fantastic colour and it and you look fabulous!

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  3. Having someone else make your buttonholes is seriously the cheapest thrill going!

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    1. Isn't it just?! I was on a high the whole way home! x

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  4. Absolutely lovely red coat Jane.It fits you perfectly.I made a similar
    princess line style years ago a classic Butterick,I also went to DM buttons in Soho.Where did you get your coat pressed? The one piece collar of my coat never seems to want to turn down and lay flat.
    Your lovely blog convinces me to make a new one for next winter. Like
    you I will avoid the press studs they do not always give a very neat
    closure.

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    1. I used press studs on a casual boiled wool coat I made a couple of years ago and they were fine but they just didn't work on this style so well. I just took the coat to my local dry cleaners and asked them to press it. I've done it a few times now and they always manage to get the seams much flatter than I can, even with a clapper! x

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  5. Jane, it's just wonderful. I'm planning on making my first coat this year and you've given me such confidence.

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    1. Oh I'm so pleased to hear that, good luck with your coat! x

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  6. thats fantastic, thanks also for so many useful links. I have never bag lined anything (except for bags and waistcoat) and normally hand finish lining a coat, may actually try it this time! adore your coat, and it goes to show what good value sewing is especially with your beautifully thought out detailing

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    1. I've had mixed success with bagging linings in the past but this time everything worked out perfectly, it really was like magic! And thank you! x

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  7. Looks awesome Jane and totally like a £100 plus coat. And I bet its better made than anything you'd buy in Top shop, French Connection or other such places too where you can easily spend upwards of £150 and more! I made a very simple unlined, buttonless (hook and eye jobby) a couple of years ago and that was challenging enough, but your red coat looks so technical and professional. Hats off to you. I love it! Xx

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  8. This is a beautiful coat and looks so good on you. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and experience, I am learning so much. I didn't know you could have buttonholes professionally made, what a good idea.

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  9. It is great and I experienced many of the same feelings after making my own coat. I spent so long making it bit by bit, it felt like a real accomplishment. I get a lot of compliments and I am sure you will too. That button hole thing is amazing!!! £4? Jo x

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    1. I loved your coat Jo, it really was an accomplishment! And yes, they were only £4!! x

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  10. Such beautiful coat, Jane. Finished to perfection! And what a genius idea to get it professionally pressed by the dry cleaner. Duly noted! xxx

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    1. Thank you love! And yes, I've made good use of my dry cleaners for pressing things over the years, those seams come out so flat! x

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  11. The coat looks very professional, the attention to detail was definitely worth it. This is a really helpful tutorial and the links to other resources are great. Getting the buttonholes professionally made and pressing at the dry cleaners - genius!! Thanks for taking the time to write and post this. X

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    1. You're very welcome, thank you! x

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  12. wow wow wow this is impressive! I've sewed a lot of things, but never a fully lined coat that looks so professional! Thanks for sharing- you have totally inspired me!
    -Stefanie

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    1. Aw so pleased to hear that, thanks Stefanie! x

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  13. Love your coat and thanks for identifying the resources you used; just brilliant!

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    1. Oh good, hopefully they'll be useful! x

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  14. How perfect that I am seeing this gorgeous coat on Valentine's Day! Love it, love the tutorials and am envious of those buttonholes.

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    1. Thanks Jane! My next project is a simple shirt but I'm still going to get the buttonholes professionally made, I'm spoilt for life! x

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