Sunday, February 1, 2015

The Next Time I Go a-Spyin' Trench Coat

I recently completed this tailored, wool trench made of a dusty blue-green felted wool, and lined with a paisley silk print.

I worked on it for over six months as time and inclination allowed. Some weeks it would sit on the form and I'd just move a pin as I walked past it.  Sometimes I'd get stumped on, say, learning what a sleeve head is and why it is a beautiful thing. 

But its done, and I love it. I put a lot into this garment so here is a little about the process.

Some time in 2010 I saw this 2011 Gucci Pre-Fall jacket and I thought it looked just splendid. Needing a real challenge to learn more about tailoring and construction, I started pulling together the pieces. 

Here's a mood board I created for the Gucci look using McCall's 5525 for the jacket, a vintage Vogue Paris Original by Givenchy 2391 for the pants, and Butterick 5084 for a top.  So far, I've only made the tailored jacket, but I figure that I'll whip up some brown velveteen pants at some point.  Mom (the bargain hunter) just happens to have a length of beautiful, dusty blue-green, felted wool, so I was on my way.

I chose this McCall's Pattern 5525 because it was closest to what I was going for. After making several modifications to make it slimmer and more tailored, I am pleased with the results. 

Making the Muslin

I knew I was going to modify the pattern and try some tailoring techniques, so I made a muslin first. Good thing, too. Even so, I ended up pinning and basting the fashion fabric version several times. I learned that if my fashion fabric is heavier than the muslin, its even more important to fit the muslin perfectly. 

There are several places in this pattern where you are expected to sew through multiple layers of fabric, which is impractical with a heavier fabric. With the sleeve and waist belt loops, I turned the fabric under at the edges and stitched on top. In the collar, I used iron-on interfacing and trimmed it to the very edge of the seam so that it wasn't included in the fold when turned inside out, keeping the edges from being unwieldy. Also, I had to make 2 or 3 versions of the shoulder and collar epaulettes before getting them perfectly symmetrical. 


This pattern is a little bulky and I wanted a more tailored fit, so I ended up adding a half an inch in the bust area at the front/side seam, and taking away up to half an inch on the three back seams. When fitting the sleeves, I shrunk the fabric at the ease on top, then fitted the sleeves, leaving about half an inch of fabric at the top of the sleeve. I have broad shoulders, so didn't need padding. The thickness of the multiple layers at the top of the shoulder provided enough thickness to set off the top of the sleeve. 

Once the sleeve was sewn in, it became evident that the sleeve cap needed to be crafted, so I departed from the pattern again and referred to a couple of tailoring books. I can't recall if the collar points and lapels were meant to be interfaced, but they should be if you want it to be crisp. Also, I thought the tied belt looked a little sloppy, so opted for a belt buckle instead. 

This is the first garment I've sewn using my new pressing clapper and I credit it with the crisp, flat edges and corners, esp. on seams with 2 or more layers. I'm a total convert to the pressing clapper. 
I certainly recommend using the marks for where buttons and buttonholes go as a starting point before trying it on and placing them 

Much of this is an excerpt out of my review of the pattern and garment on  I also wrote about it on, but now realize that platform is really more for people who are making and selling their own patterns, and who pose for pictures looking down.

I hope you enjoy this trench. Next time I will be sure to take pictures during the process, esp. when I get stuck and end up learning something new. 

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