As with all the patterns in the book, there are fabric different options sewn up and photographed in The Essential Collection. This is not my usual shape so I wanted to try it out with something relatively inexpensive so I chose a cotton feel neoprene which is a soft, double sided fabric with contrasting greys on each side and a spongy, springy feel. It's comparable to a thick scuba or a very soft neoprene. The Textile Centre has a few options for this- colours, textures- and the quality is v good at a low price. I haven't sewn with fabric like this before- here are a few steps I took:
- Cut out flat, chalk outline around pattern on reverse of fabric
- Used rotary cutter to cut out as clean edges are important- raw edge seams are a feature and the edges of the coat are unhemmed
- Sz 90 Ballpoint or Universal needle. I used both and both worked
- Walking foot. This is bulky fabric, I used my Janome and the Acufeed foot.
- Low foot pressure. I used 3 out of 7 (7 is highest pressure)
- Long stitch length. 2.7mm for seams, 2.8 for top stitching
- No pressing needed
- Consider the reverse of your fabric as with this style option there reverse side is a feature e.g. the lapel, and will show. There are instructions for a lined coat with a more conventional double layer lapel
- Many edges are raw. I changed this for the top of the pocket as I thought this might get a little bashed about so I used a jersey binding using this viscose binding from Eternal Maker. although the light grey is sold out I think.
- The coat sizing is one of the mixed-size patterns in the book that span two sizes. I used size 1/2 which is size 32-34" bust. I am 33" Bust, 27 1/2" waist, 36" hip.
- The pattern pieces are for a jacket and there are easy instructions to lengthen those pieces for a coat
These are relatively easy to do if you are sizing down as the construction is simple. As the seams are visible on the outside and are trimmed down to 3mm, plus seams are hard to unpick as the stitches sink into fabric increasing size would be tricky. I found the sizing generous and although it is an oversized garment. These are the reductions I made:
- From the side seams, underarms to waist- tapered in by ¾" at waist
- From hips to hem- tapered in bt 1 ½" at the hem
- Armscye- this seam is on the inside. removed ⅜" around the seam tapering to join original seam line at underarm.
- Sleeve- it's a two part sleeve and I found it especially big at the back so I reduced that seam by ⅜" tapering into the armscye
- The sleeves were long so I folded them back- the contrast of the reverse fabric ties in with the lapels
Frances recommends using sewn-in large press studs as fasteners on neoprene rather than buttons/buttonholes as they tend to stretch out of shape. They need careful sewing as the stitching is visible and the press studs are a feature as well as a practicality. I follow @sewbrooke on Instagram She is a freelance seamstress and costumer so a highly skilled maker and she's chatty and helpful too. One of her top tips on a post a while ago was a clever way to secure your thread on fabrics when you want to avoid a knot:
Use a double thread but instead of threading the loop through the eye, instead thread the ends through the needle eye and have the loop at the end of the doubled thread - do not tie a knot! Push your needle through the fabric to create a small stitch but do not pull the end loop through; instead pass the needle through the loop and gently pull. Your thread is now attached. You can then sew your snap or button. Once sewn on you will cut the thread so you cannot repeat the same technique with the same thread so I used 18" length of thread to sew on each part of the snap.
A nice effect of this fabric was the dimples the fabric makes under the tension of the hand stitches.
It's a soft and easy wear. I did feel a little self conscious going out in what seems like quite a grown up style but it's so comfortable and easy to wear I've found myself putting it on for all my dog walking this week as the weather is dry but a little breezy. Hmm, sounds like a great transitional piece for Spring as the fashionistas say. I did add a new wooden badge pin, Maker from Grace's beautiful Beyond Measure shop. I've been destashing lots of things recently so this was a little treat. Made by Arrow Mountain, See the full range of motifs here. I've more planned from France's book...