I sewed a coat! I sewed a coat.
Ok - now that I have expressed my excitement, let's get into the details.
When Kayla reached out for a special project, I wasn't sure if I could actually do it. Sewing a coat was one of those things that I had always thought I would do someday but never really knew how to start. The best advice I have? Just start. You can do it, too! I have been sewing for 9 years and I've made some really cool things, but never a coat until this!
I perused lots and lots of coat patterns and probably annoyed Kayla and Kamali with questions on which one to choose, but it was a big decision! Ultimately I ended up choosing the Lagan Coat from Itch to Stitch. The Lagan looks very tailored and polished. A perfect addition to my work wardrobe. It is very close to a coat I've owned in the past and loved to pieces so I was inspired to recreate it. I also was excited to choose a pattern by ITS as Kennis has amazing drafting and very professional patterns. I knew I could trust her instructions to help me through my first coat-making process to create something beautiful. Once I picked the pattern I used a lovely, thick herringbone wool from Surge Fabrics and paired it with a fuschia satin lining that feels durable and luxurious.
I started sewing this on September 19th and finished sewing on the buttons on September 27th. I was a vacation bound powerhouse on a deadline. (That's pretty much the only way to motivate me.) To give some context, the Lagan Coat is 45 pieces, almost all of which have to be interfaced. I timed my interfacing (as one should) to make sure I was pressing it for the correct amount of time: Turn on stopwatch, press interfacing with iron, wait 30 seconds, turn off the stopwatch, lift the iron. When I finished interfacing all the pieces, my stopwatch showed exactly one hour! Cutting alone took about 3 hours. Maybe that's slower than others, but I wanted to be very precise and I was handling heavy material and a lot of yardage. I did use a projector to cut, so I was able to save time by not having to print and tape the PDF together. (If you choose this pattern I recommend you get it printed A0 - it would be well over 100 pages to assemble if you choose to use letter paper.
Once this was printed, cut, and interfaced, it was honestly just a time investment. Typically I am a "sew to get it done" type of person. I do enjoy sewing but I don't usually choose slow projects. I want to sew because I am excited to create and finish something. It was nice to take a step back and just watch the process! Sewing the Lagan forced me to slow down. I sewed lots of straight lines and lots of pressing and then lots more straight lines as I added top stitching to practically every piece.
My job required me to spend the week in another city so I bought my trusty Janome with me and she kept me company the whole week while we practiced our straight stitch. I sewed every night that week and made great progress. I excitedly sent pics from my dark hotel room to my husband every night before bed. The coat kept growing! The hardest part for me was probably the sleeves. When you make your own coat (because you certainly should!) Please securely mark ALL the markings. I was without a projector, and without the pattern pieces, trying to identify the sleeve markings and where they aligned to the bodice. It was a mini nightmare trying to find what went where. The herringbone wool that I used changes colors frequently which makes the fabric begin to "fray" when the pieces encounter lots of friction. This made it even more difficult to find the notches I had cut. If I were to do it again, I would make sure to mark all the notches with safety pins or markers. Lesson learned.
Once the sleeves were attached, my next challenge was putting in the lining. I was so intimidated! I thought it was going to be a slippery mess and I would lose a lot of the success I had been having. The weight of the satin was really nice. This step was a lot easier than I had anticipated. The lining went in without struggle and is probably my favorite part of the coat. (Especially the pleat in the back!) The inside looks so nice, clean, and professional. I even sent a picture to my mom of where the lining attached to the coat. I never thought I would be able to create something that clean! Major props to the instructions for the Lagan, it made this part easy.
As I approached the final steps, I was pushing myself to finish around 10pm after work. I was exhausted. (This is my advice to past me, put the coat down.) I sewed the sleeve lining to the sleeve main and spent over an hour hand stitching the lining to the main. Excitedly, just before midnight, I turned my project right side out to admire my almost finished coat only to find that I had sewn the lining incorrectly and the arms were all twisted. I was crushed and could have cried but instead I went to bed. The next morning I spent an hour unstitching all the work from the previous night and sewed it together correctly. Oops!
This project had a lot of hand stitching. In all, I spent about 3 hours hand stitching, excluding my mistake from the previous night. The bottom of the lining and the sleeve openings all had to be hand stitched - I found it relaxing and I was able to catch up on some podcasts while I stitched at night.
My final challenge was the buttonholes. I've never been stellar at making buttonholes but they've always turned out ok with my auto buttonholer. I went to add the buttonholes and realized that my buttons were too big for the buttonhole foot! I thought I would have to sew them by hand which is something that I haven't done before nor did I have time to complete before leaving for vacation. I was a little worried but with a quick google search and help from Kayla, I discovered that you can use the auto buttonholer manually. This sounds a little backwards but hear me out. All I had to do was put my button on the coat and mark each end to determine the length of the buttonhole needed. Once I determined the length needed, I put a clear foot on my machine, I pulled down the buttonhole lever, I set the coat on the machine, and started to sew. When I reached the end of the button length, I pushed the leaver and it started to come back to me! The auto buttonholer tells the machine when to move forward or backward with a gentle push from the lever. Without the typical buttonholer foot, you can manually push the lever when needed and the machine does all the work! The hardest part was making sure the wool was flat enough so it didn't accidentally trigger the lever. (This happened more than 2 times until I figured it out!) If you ever have a button larger than your auto buttonholer foot, you can still make it work!
All in all this process was incredibly rewarding and I still can't believe I made a coat! I really can't believe it. I've wanted to make this for a long time and I have to say this is certainly the most challenging project I've taken on and completed to date. The thickness of the wool and satin made this intimidating project much easier. I love the herringbone design and the pop of bright fuschia for the lining. Big thanks to Kayla and Surge for challenging me and supplying high quality fabrics to help me create something beautiful. I hope seeing all these gorgeous wools and satins inspires you to create your own masterpiece!
My final touch was a KATM label, also from Surge ;)