This jacket is Vogue 8346 which was my final project for the tailoring class I took virtually this semester at the Cañada College fashion department. This was an amazing class and I learned oodles. So many new techniques that I will continue to use for coats and other apparel. But buckle up because this is a rather long post as I go into detail about the choices I made during construction. Mostly lots of photos, but also plenty of thoughts on whether I’d make the same choices again.
First let’s discuss fitting as that was the first step before I did anything else. This was my muslin. You can see there are some issues with my left arm. One of the changes that I made was to pinch in the princess seam right at the armpit. This is a common fitting fix for me. But this meant my matching dots on the front didn’t match up any more.
After cutting out a new arm pieces and letting it hang as it wanted rather than forcing it to match dots that didn’t really apply any more, you can see I got those draglines to disappear.
Other changes from the original pattern included shortening the waist by 1 inch (typical of me) and grading ever so slightly out at the waist. I made a size 10. Next time I don’t think I’d grade out at all, just keep it a straight size 10 unless I was going to interline it. But this is comfortable. I also shortened the sleeve length by about 1.5 inches. I’m happy with the length for this jacket but for the next one, I’d put back at least 1/2 inch, maybe a full inch.
For non-fitting alterations, I changed the pockets from in-seam (which I consider useless on a jacket like this since they’re just asking to have things fall out when you sit down) to welt pockets. More on pockets later. I made two of the buttons actual buttons with buttonholes which is different from the pattern which calls for buttons on top, but snaps for the actual closure.
Next up is fabric. My outer fabric is a wool flannel from Renaissance Fabrics. The lining is a poly satin from Califabrics. Both were just lovely and I would use them again in an instant. The wool flannel was a bit lighter in weight than I ultimately decided I wanted so I did interface everything except the sleeves (and I kinda wished I’d interfaced those, too). I just like the weight of the fabric a bit more when it’s interfaced. But it’s actually perfect for California winters.
I tested a number of interfacing weights on some scraps of fabric. I didn’t end up doing any interfacing on the lining, but I ended up using all three weights on the wool at various points.
The heaviest weight is on the front and collar. The lightest weight is on the front facing. And the medium weight is on everything else. In the second image above you see the fabric folded over. I was testing how multiple layers would feel and in some cases it was super stiff. This is why I ended up doing the lightest weight (which is still medium as far as interfacings go) for the facing because otherwise, it would be been very bulky.
Next up were the pockets. My original thought was to have a button up pocket (I really hate having things fall out of my pockets, if you couldn’t tell). I did a test for class and while it’s a fun pocket (that one actually has a bound buttonhole for the button), I thought it would be too busy for my coat, so I ended up just dong a plain welt pocket. However, the design for the pocket bag was directly from this sample and the reason I did this sample at the 45 degree angle so that I had already practiced by the time I got to my real jacket.
I actually did the welt pockets for this one before my pink coat but then ended up pausing construction on this jacket so I could do the pink coat. It was good that I did these first because the pink ones were a bit more challenging with lining patterns up so I already had the practice from these.
I made 3 welts and then picked the two that were the most square. You can see where I drew out where the pockets would go on the interfacing and yes, I did interface again to make sure I had it interfaced along the bias since these were sitting at a 45 degree angle. My pocket bags go a bit at a diagonal so to ensure the pocket bag fabric was on grain, I cut each side separately and sewed them separately.
The welts themselves were hand tacked down. The first image also gives a little insight into the interfacing.
Around this time I also sewed up the lining because I didn’t want to change my thread color again later. Saving time wherever I can 😀
Next up were buttons. I just love these buttons. They add a bit of sparkle without being too much.
An interesting note about these buttons: the rhinestones are held in by a toothy channel as rhinestones often are. Once the buttons were actually on the jacket and I was taking it on and off, I noticed that it was catching a bit on the wool of the buttonhole. This concerned me because I didn’t want those buttonholes to wear down. I could undo the lining and replace them if I needed to, but it would be annoying. So I used a technique from my dance costumes where I covered the rhinestones with clear nail polish. It took about 5 coats, but it did cover them and smoothed out the teeth so now it doesn’t catch any more!
Above was my practice buttonhole to make sure that the button would actually fit through it. It did, so I was good to go.
I used a basting stitch to mark where the buttonholes were could go — over 1/8 inch from the marked point to account for the button itself since this pattern doesn’t actually have buttonholes. Then it was just normal bound buttonholes. I had some “issues” with the bottom one the first time I tried it. For whatever reason, the buttonhole lips kept being uneven in various ways. I finally gave it a rest and when I came back the next day, no problem. Sometimes you just need to sleep on it. The next images show the finished buttonholes with their basting stitches and with the marking stitches removed. The final image is actually the backs of the buttonholes.
Now it was actually time to get things together. I started with the bodice. The pattern directions have you put the collar on next, but I’m glad I went with my instinct and put the sleeves on because I spent a fair bit of time getting the sleeves and sleeve heads to a point where it made me happy.
Of course, this time it was the other sleeve that gave me issues, not the one I had issues with during the muslin fitting. I probably had to baste it in about 5 times before I got it to the point I was happy with it. It’s still got the gathering stitches in above, but you can see where I got it to.
Next it was the sleeve heads. Initially I used a strip of batting (first photo), but I didn’t love how that looked. It had too much of an edge at the sleeve. I removed that and went with the method describe in our textbook to add an actual cap. This looked much smoother. I trimmed away the excess and hand stitched in the shoulder pads.
I’ve got decent shoulders so I don’t need shoulder pads from a body shaping standpoint. However, I learned in tailoring class that shoulder pads add structure to the coat and also prolong its life since it has more support. Mine are light, just enough for support, but it really does make a difference.
The collar was very straight forward. Lots of seam grading since I had four layers of interfaced wool there, but otherwise, no issue. Understitched on the collar and the facing and then it was time for hand sewing. All the hand sewing. Hand sewing isn’t my favorite, but I don’t hate it as much as I used to.
I used tailor’s chainstitches to hold the sleeves in place. I did two for each sleeve, one at the shoulder and one under the armpit.
I also used some small tacks to keep the collar down and in place at that those nice corners where it meets the front. No photo of those though, sorry.
The hem was a fair bit of hand sewing. I had to steam the hem quite a bit to get the fullness of the flared skirt in but the wool steamed nicely and I didn’t even need to add a gathering stitch. And then I had to hand sew the lining down to the hem. This applied to the sleeves, too. But it did turn out so nicely.
Finally, the last step was the buttons. I ended up actually sewing all the buttons more than once. The first time, they were too high so they caused the hem to be uneven and the non-functional ones didn’t line up properly with the functional ones.
The other issue I had was the non-functional buttons were floppy. These buttons have a large shank. This is great for the functional ones since it means I don’t have to add a thread shank, but it means the non-functional ones flop down. Thanks to a costumer friend’s suggestion, I fixed this by gluing a little pad of leftover wool flannel to the bottom back of those buttons. It props them up, and since it’s the same fabric as the coat, even if you catch a glimpse of the coat from the side, you’re unlikely to notice it.
But I’m glad I spent the time fixing all the buttons because it was so worth it. In the end, it looks great and the coat hangs properly.
So that’s about it though that was a fair bit. This was many, many hours worth of work. I didn’t keep track of it, but I would say easily upwards of 50-60 hours.
I’ve already been wearing this jacket out and about and I would say it’s my new favorite coat, but it’s tied with the pink coat. Both will get plenty of wear. And like the pink coat, I pre-washed my fabrics (yes, even the wool), so I can enjoy wearing the coat and not constantly worry about getting something on it. One of many reasons why I love sewing for myself.