I made a coat – I still can’t quite believe it. It’s the Clare Coat by Closet Case patterns. This has taken about two months to gradually do. Not that I’ve been busy making it that whole time – it’s been snatching small half hours and occasional hours here and there when I could, especially if there’s been a bit I could do by hand while watching the telly or actually being mildly sociable with my family. The autumn term at school seems to be a crazy time with halloween and nativity and panto and so on, plus my choir concert and my friend’s choir too. Busy times.
That said, I’ve definitely taken my time on this and gone back over things when I’ve messed up, so that I can get it as neat as I possibly can. I’m not the neatest dressmaker in the world, but I wanted to up my game.
When Sarah’s bricks and mortar shop Like Sew Amazing opened in January of this year, I had already made the decision to buy this mustard yellow wool coating (from seeing it online). It’s no longer in stock but there are some beautiful choices of other colours in at the moment. This mustard yellow just glows and beams and looks so so stunning when I wear it now.
I would have loved to have been able to take some photos wearing this during the stunning colours of autumn – we have amazing places in Bristol where I could have taken it. But it just wasn’t going to be possible with everything I had going on.
So the story behind why I made this is that I chanced upon an old post by Lauren Guthrie from Guthrie Ghani and Sewing Bee fame. She made a pink version and instead of using poppers tucked away, which is the usual View B, she had decided to go visible and put big wooden buttons on and make bound buttonholes. I instantly fell in love with this style – I found it at least a year and a half ago, and it’s been my dream make for the whole time since. She looked utterly beautiful in hers. 😍😍😍
I started by following the main instructions – I occasionally referred to the closet case blog sewalong, which was also handy, but in the end, I started to make my own decisions – some worked, some not so much.
The main adjustment I needed to do was to give me more room across my back, and then lengthen the sleeves. The latter is an easy adjustment but then giving more room across the back is a new one on me. I’ve found this issue with every coat I’ve ever bought.
So the Closet Case blog offers advice that I needed to do a broad back adjustment. Fast forward to now that it’s made and I might have been a little nervous and not given myself quite enough of an adjustment. But it’s definitely better than it was.
I had fun losing needles! I definitely think there’s still a tiny shard stuck in one of the joins. But I don’t even know which join now, so hopefully I won’t set off any scanners at airport security! 😂😆🤭
Next up was the bound buttonholes. Mamma mia these were some work! This, hands down, took the vast majority of the time. They’re not a quick undertaking. Do practice on your scraps first. At least a couple of times.
I also recommend if you’re not sure, watching a few YouTube video tutorials, to see how it turns through. I’m a very visual learner, so sometimes reading a blog doesn’t click for me. I watched several different videos, just to be sure. But basically you sew the welt tab on the front of the coat, check the rectangle is a nice one and in line as you would expect. Then you cut an X shape inside the rectangle, and push the welt fabric through to the back, creating a little letterbox.
Lots of steam pressing is needed next, so a clapper is essential as wool won’t want to be pressed directly. Then you turn the welt fabric back on itself to make the lips. Clip them in place and check from the front that they show through neatly, before sewing them in properly.
It’s a really good idea to sew the lips shut too – it keeps together and in place while you sew the back together. This one I made was slightly diagonal, but it was my first attempt on the coat proper.
I kept deliberating about whether to fit the facing first, so that I could line up where the buttonhole was going to come through at the back, or whether to stick to the instructions and fit the facing later. I chose to fit the facing first – this wasn’t the best choice. Most of the buttonholes were fine but the one right up at the top was SO so fiddly to try and sew, once the facing was in the way. If you’re thinking of doing this yourself, do the front bound buttonholes and then fit the facing and make the matching buttonhole behind. It will work, as you can feel where the front buttonhole is anyway and it will make more sense. I procrastinated over this facing decision for so long that the autumn came and went. I could have cracked on with it without this decision to make.
For the facing back buttonhole, I used a thinner cotton for the welt fabric and just pulled it through to make an open letterbox. No need to make any more lips for back as you’ll see the front ones through the gap. Hand-stitching was my preferred way to pull the facing letterbox in to meet the main buttonhole. Like I said earlier, I could do this while watching the telly or chatting to sewing club ladies, so it felt like a more relaxed part of the process than the main buttonholes themselves. I recommend a leather hand stitching needle and a thimble. Your fingers will thank you for it! 😂
I can’t say my buttonholes are all perfectly neat. Some got recut and slightly moved position so there could possibly be some fraying off some tiny bits in the fold of the letterbox, which are slightly exposed raw edges. I’ll just keep a close eye on those and take good care of them.
But I got there in the end. After doing those, the rest seemed much more easy. I did have to sit a while with the instructions and read through getting the stitching right for the bagging out – where I would be sewing around the coat, and more importantly where I wouldn’t. The corners where the lining meets the bottom of the facing felt kinda confusing at first. But I read on through the instructions and it’s mentioned again later. Have a go at pinning it and turning it over a bit. You’ll find it fits together. I can’t describe it very well, sorry. 🙏🏼 I sewed the lining in, left a gap and pulled it through and it just popped into place.
It was a strangely exciting and empowering feeling actually, bagging it out. I was thinking about it today – I went into this project genuinely not thinking I would finish it. Isn’t that silly?! But I really had this belief in the back of my mind that I would royally cock up somewhere along the line. I know the buttonholes are a little iffy, but I’ve actually finished this dang thing! I took some photos for Instagram and noticed the coat was pulling a bit here and there, so I re-positioned the buttons again and that’s helped enormously. If you need to, enlist a friend to help poke a piece of chalk through each buttonhole, as you wear it.
Now that it’s sewn up – slip stitiched the lining gap and attached some labels – I actually have an honest-to-goodness bonafide actual me-made blimmin coat! Yeah baby!