Friday, 20 January 2012

I made a winter coat


I actually made this coat in October, but somehow it's taken me nearly three months to photograph it. It's based on a coat that I bought from Jigsaw Junior several years ago (that's one of the perks of being only 5ft1). The original coat is made from a cotton drill and it's one of my favourite garments, but it's never been especially warm, and so is more suited for Spring and Autumn wear. For the last few years I've longed for a warmer winter version and, finally, here it is.


It has a small funnel collar, princess seams back and front and a double breasted fastening. It only took an afternoon to draft the pattern, as I followed the dimensions of my beloved Jigsaw coat very closely, then a day and an evening to make the coat and around two months to finish hemming the lining...how can a person lose their momentum like that?


I quibbled over what to line it with, and in the end decided to steer clear of my usual sartorial conservatism and went for a bright cornflower blue.


Here it is on Miss Evangeline - I think she wears it well. And, unlike me, she does not have to be photographed without her head for fear of revealing what very strange expressions she wears upon her chops, due to her having only a faceless stump.


To me, making a coat feels similar to learning free-motion quilting. It's been an elephant in my sewing room that I've wished to surmount (yes, there's a possibility I could end up in the loft with my head through the ceiling if we think about that too literally). I'm not sure it's possible to get rid of the elephant in its entirety, for it's always there with new challenges - and I love that - I love that one can never really master sewing, because there's always some area left in which I feel incompetant or which needs retreading in different ways (both making a coat and free-motion quilting both very definitely still needing retreading).


There's every chance that I may go around inappropriately flashing my coat lining at people now. Once you've added in a colour like that, the temptation is to wear it inside out, rather than to appreciate that a part of its loveliness comes in the not-quite-enough glimpses of it, or just knowing it's there when no one else does. But you know now too!


In retrospect, the thing that I wish that I'd done differently was to make this coat in black wool suiting, instead of navy. Almost as soon as I'd finished it (but unrelated to the finishing of it; I'm not intentionally contrary) I suddenly only wished to wear black,with a few bits of grey around the edges. In more flighty moments I've considered piling it into the washing machine with a box of black Dylon...but as this coat is dry-clean only I've refrained.



On the subject of dye and colour. I tend to re-dye my black jeans every few months (as you can see...they are ready for this). Despite washing them insideout, at 30 degrees and with non-biological detergent they still seem to lose their colour. However, this morning a link to an article showed up in my Twitter feed in which Jean Touitou (founder of APC jeans) recommends washing jeans in Woolite Extra Dark to retain the colour. Do you use this? Can it be found in England?

Wishing you a wonderful weekend. Our own will be a contrast of digging mud by day and going to a party by night. I love it when a Friday holds the promise of a weekend of good things.

Florence x

40 comments:

  1. It's so lovely! Well done! I can imagine it would also look chic with a Liberty lining....mmmmmm

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  2. Wow... that is one beautiful coat.. and it looks lovely on you or Miss Evangeline! The blue lining is stunning. Maybe you should just make another one in black...... :)x

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  3. The coat is gorgeous, beautifully finished. I'm in awe of your dressmaking skills. Can you come and live at my house and teach me? x

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  4. That is so impressive!! Well done :)
    Joelle
    xoxo

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  5. Gosh - you are so clever. What a great coat. x

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  6. It looks utterly professional. A coat is a challenge I have yet to face

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  7. It's gorgeous, well done for getting it finished, the lining is perfect. Have a fun weekend x

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  8. It's beautiful and I love the lining. x

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  9. Coat is just lovely, Florence. Yes, Woolite for dark fabric is available and very good - think I bought my last bottle in Sainsburys.

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  10. Absolutely gorgeous :) love the colour and style.

    Bee happy x
    Have a delicious day!

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  11. I wash my dark jeans with Retayne. It works well to keep them dark. It is a colour fixitive.

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  12. The coat is wonderful...you'll just have to make another in black!

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  13. I absolutely love your coat - and the lining is scrummy. I am in total awe of how you draft patterns, i keep looking for a pattern cutting course but alas to no avail where i live. I plow through books also but somehow am always too fearful to actually try incase it goes horribly wrong.
    Enjoy your muddy weekend by day - we had one of those last weekend on the south downs (gorgeous) x

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  14. I've been waiting for this post, and I'm not disappointed! What a gorgeous coat, Florence! And now I'm hoping that a free-motion-quilted overcoat for an elephant will be one of your 2012 projects...

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  15. Love the coat, love the lining.

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  16. Your coat looks fantastic, love the lining! I doubt I'll ever build up the courage to make a coat, never mind draft the pattern for it too.

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  17. Beautiful...I love the navy and the bright lining....your photos are so artistic, great lighting and the negative space on the right is amazing! I've never made a coat...you are inspiring!!!

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  18. That's a fantastic coat! Don't dye it, just make another one in black with more eye-catching lining. You've done the hard work of drafting the pattern.
    It also takes me an inordinate amount of time to hem things, don't know why that is!

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  19. Gorgeous coat!! How satisfying to get it done and looking so great!

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  20. Check to see whether your detergent has 'optical brighteners' in it. It doesn't matter whether it's bio or non-bio, but the optical brighteners are essentially bleaching agents that make your whites look whiter, and your black jeans too. Almost all of them do, I use Surf Bio liquid from Sainsbury's if that helps. You'll notice the difference.

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  22. It's lovely! And the nice thing is, with a gray and black wardrobe, a navy coat acts as a pop of bright color. :-)

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  23. That's amazing Florence! A coat is surely the biggest dressmaking challenge of all and you have done such a great job. I love it! Want a cherry red version myself as I feel the need for colour! x

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  24. I'm in absolute awe of anyone who can make their own coat!! It looks simply beautiful.

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  25. Homebird - in some ways I think that basing the pattern on something you already own and love is the easiest way to start. You need a good understanding of darts etc as obviously you'll need to draft these in to your flat pattern, but Cal Patch's book would be enough to give you a grounding in that - although I'm guessing if you're looking for a pattern cutting course you already probably have quite a bit of dressmaking knowledge. I'd delve into your own wardrobe and learn from that in the absence of a course.

    Nina...keep your eyes peeled - I've just taken a commission from London Zoo.

    Jennifer - thank you so much - I've just checked and my non-bio does contain brighteners! I will buy more wisely in future and will thank you (in my head) next time I'm at Sainsburys.

    Thank you so much for all your very lovely comments - I'm so flattered you like my coat! x

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  26. Ooooh, that's gorgeous! I want to make a coat now (I'll need to increase my sewing skills to the power of 100 first) but as Pipany said, in cherry red :o)

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  27. Such a stunning coat Florence and I just adore contrast linings. It is so beautifully made too. I have had the fabric for a coat for a while now. I'm just scared to cut into the fabric - it is silk tweed I fell in love with it in Berwick Street last year. I kept saying I needed a Miss Evangeline - now I have one I have no excuse, only no courage either.

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  28. Nykie D - oh no, please don't keep mentioning it! The moment I saw that comment I felt all wanty for a red coat. Not enough hours in the day!

    Catherine - Silk tweed, that sounds wonderful. Take courage in your hands, but first make a toile! x

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  29. Ooh, that's really lovely!

    I often fall at the last hurdle when making something; the finishing off frequently seems the hardest part.

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  30. you are so unbelievably talented, Florence! What a beautiful, beautiful coat. I actually prefer it in navy (not that I've seen the black) but I love the smartness but feminineness of navy. Enjoy ;-) x

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  31. Aren't you clever! I think it is just perfect!
    My problem is that I will try to make anything without a thought, but when it comes to making a second...I'm scared! I am longing to make another Negroni, but can't muster the courage!

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  32. Amazing! Gosh I would so love to be able to do something like that... a simple skirt is currently a bit beyond me though! Gorgeous though :)

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  33. I love e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g. about your coat! Drafting my own pattern is not something I have attempted, I find the very idea daunting......

    Also dying your black jeans black again - REVELATION :0

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  34. What a great coat. I finished mine this weekend after taking a whole month to do it. Hope to take pictures tomorrow.

    Regarding jeans and setting color in general, I have recently learned that you can set the color by soaking your garment in water and vinegar. You let it sit through the night and the color won't run. I did it on some denim I bought and it was amazing.

    As for woolite, you should find it in shops http://www.britstore.co.uk/HomeCare-Laundry-Woolite/c542_796_231/p13651/Woolite-Concentrated-Liquid-for-Mixed-Darks-20-Washes-750ml/product_info.html?osCsid=dq32coiav9ifqn0ta5kora2fm7

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  35. Terrific coat well done!! When I make coats, or indeed anything that needs lining I always try to use contrast lining as it's just a lovely lift to one's spirits when you wear it, that's of course when the fabric is thick enough not to need a matching colour.

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Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a message - it's always really lovely to hear from people.

I now tend to reply within the comments section, so please do check back if you've asked a question or wish to chat.

Florence x