This is probably one of the fastest finish to photos I’ve ever had. I finished this last Wednesday (literally, I was finishing up the lining by hand in the hotel room that night because I wanted to wear it the next day), got photos over the weekend and you get to see it today!
The pattern is the Charm Patterns Swing Coat which is a Patreon exclusive pattern. I’ve been a patreon of Charm Patterns since the start because I love the style and quality patterns Gertie puts out. I don’t make all of them, but I knew the minute this pattern was released that I had to make this one. I had planned to make it earlier this year, but life happens.
I actually did start the muslin back in May. I did two — one in size 4 and one in size 6. I measure at a size 6, but ended up doing my Lamour dress (not yet posted) in a size 4 so given how roomy this jacket is, I thought I might want the smaller size. My friend Sonia helped me with the fitting of my size 4 because we both decided that one looked better on me. I adjusted my pattern and made a whole new size 4 muslin and it was snug. Too snug. I mean, it fit really well, but for a jacket that you need to move in and that was going to have interlining for warmth, it was too fitted. So I did the same adjustments to my size 6 muslin, made a new muslin and it felt great. So that’s what I went with.
So what adjustments did I make? From a fitting perspective, I made a few changes:
- I brought in the neck by about 3/8”. Not sure if I have a particularly narrow neck, but it didn’t hug my neck the way it did in the photos. Once I had all the layers in, it did hug in a bit more and I probably would have been fine, but I get cold so I’m happy to have it snug.
- I tucked in about 1/2” at the back of the neck (kinda like how you’d do a swayback adjustment but at the base of the neck), graded out to nothing at the side. The fabric was pooling back there and this gave me a much smoother fit. I might have been able to take out a bit more actually, but because it’s wool it ultimately formed to my back nicely.
- I cut in about 1/4” on the armhole between the top notch and the double notch on the back of the armhole on both the sleeve head and the back bodice. I just had too much fabric back there. I actually sewed it with the normal seam to make sure it wasn’t just on my muslin — it wasn’t — and then I went over the lines I’d marked. I’ve transferred this to my pattern so the next one should just fit.
As it turned out, waiting to make this coat worked out. I’m currently enrolled in the Tailoring class at the Cañada College Fashion Department. I have learned an incredible amount — and the class isn’t even over! Had I made this coat before this class, I know it wouldn’t have turned out nearly as well. But I’ve been able to apply so much of what I’ve learned about interfacing and pockets and fit and linings and buttonholes and more. Now I have a coat that I adore. But more importantly, I have a set of skills that I can continue to apply and use in everything I make.
What else is special about this coat? For the fabric, I used a plaid wool flannel from Mood fabrics. This was lovely fabric (that I pre-washed, yeah, yeah, I know, wool and all that. I don’t care. I pre-wash everything because I hate the chemicals of dry-cleaning so I’d rather know up front before I put in the effort to make a garment if I’m going to be able to wash it. Better to throw away the money on the fabric than the tons of hours making the garment when I’m too afraid to wear it because it might get dirty). Anyhow, I interfaced the front and back bodice pieces because I wanted it to have a bit more heft than it did.
And then we had to match the plaids. This was my first time doing this and, oof, this was a lot of work. Super stressful. And you don’t even know if it’s going to work until you start sewing the pieces together. Granted, next time it won’t be so stressful since now I know it works. The hardest part was matching the shoulder seams. You can see the lines in the pattern above that I used to line things up. Based on copious internet searches (I found this article particularly helpful), I matched the lines where they met minus the seam allowance, rather than just at the notches. Doing it at the actual garment seam — similar to when doing flat pattern adjustments — is key.
In the end, all my meticulousness paid off and I love how it looks. When I see how the plaids match, it makes me so happy. Some of the seams still needed to be re-sewn a couple of times to ensure they lined up properly although once I remembered my walking foot that helped quite a bit. Walking feet are really amazing and I need to remember their utility more often.
But yeah, check out that back seam above. Mmmm, such nice matching. Even on the cuffs.
Another detail that I was super proud of was the pockets. The pattern calls for patch pockets, but I wasn’t a fan for this coat. I felt this one needed something a bit less casual. Every time we learned a new pocket in class — bound buttonhole pocket, then inside welt, then outside welt — I changed my mind about what I wanted because they’re all pretty cool (remember what I said about learning so much fun stuff in this class?). But now I’m pretty settled on outside welt pockets being my favorites. I first did a test to make sure that the welt would line up where I wanted. Above you can see I was trying to get the white center line to match up with the orange lines above and below which it does pretty well.
And then it was time to apply the actual welts to my front pieces. I wanted them to have a little something extra so I put them on the bias and lined up the diamond with where it would have been in the pattern. So it kinda keeps the same flow, but also pops. Since the crossover part isn’t a perfect square, the two pockets are also mirrors of one another. It’s subtle, but I know and it makes me happy.
For buttonhole, I did a bound button hole. I did the bound buttonhole using the technique I learned in class which in my opinion is way easier and much more foolproof for getting the exact size and shape than the one in the pattern or any other I’ve seen around although the one in the pattern is simpler to explain if you’ve never done one. You definitely need to be guided through the technique I used, but once you know it, you’ll never look back.
I also practiced the buttonhole a couple of times, doing it both on the bias and on the grain for the lips. I hated the way it looked on the bias so I’m really glad I tested it.
I wasn’t confident enough about matching plaids on the buttonhole, so I went with all pink, centering the lip fabric on one of the pink squares. Honestly, I’m not sure I would have wanted to match plaids. I like the way the pink works, but also stands on its own.
The coat is lined with a polyester charmeuse from Amazon/Fabric.com which is interlined with cotton flannel from Joann’s. I was originally going to do it with two layers of cotton flannel, but fortunately my teacher said something in class because it would have made my seams super bulky and really one layer was enough, especially since I’ll mostly wear it in California.
And the last little item that I did for myself was that I made the back neck facing out of cotton flannel as well in a coordinating color as well (also a cotton flannel solid from Joann’s). Wool tends to make me itch, especially around my neck. With this little patch, it’s sooo much more comfortable for me. Features like this are why I love sewing for myself.
And one more fun tidbit. While I was in NYC, I got to go to the Showstoppers Costume exhibit where I could ogle a ton of costumes from various Broadway shows up close. You’re not allowed to touch, but I could get as close as I wanted otherwise and it was so cool to see the details and construction. I took tons of photos for reference and inspiration, but I would probably go back weekly if I lived in New York.
Everyone who lives up north knows that, in the absence of a zipper, the warmth of a coat is directly related to the number of buttons. Needs more buttons. (Unless you only intend to wear it in zones 8, 9 or 10) (and you’re a hibiscus)
Well, I do plan to wear it mostly in zone 10 so by your measure, I should be okay, but I have thought about adding a hidden snap so it stays a bit more closed.
Rachel, I love your coat in so many ways:
the plaid matching on this beautiful wool,
the over-sized cuffs and rather large welt pockets cut on the bias,
the way you did inner construction to give the warmth needed for your trip to NY,
the idea of putting cotton flannel for the back neck facing,
the beautiful bound buttonholes with lips on straight grain,
that everything is pre-shrunk,
the excellent fit,
AND thank you for mentioning Canada College Tailoring class! You make us proud!
Thank you so much, Ronda! As an expert in the field, your compliments mean the world to me. I’m happy to know that I’m doing justice to your teachings!