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Tuesday, 25 October 2016

How to make a red wool coat, a Minerva Crafts Blogger Network post


Please note that this blog post is aimed at beginners, and is suitable for anybody who has never made a coat before. Please use this post in conjunction with the pattern instructions. A McCall's pattern

I actually made this coat a year ago and wear it a lot. This is the new photo above, and last year's below. Please tell me I haven't aged!!!

If you want to make a more tailored coat then take a look at one of my previous blog posts   HOW TO MAKE A TAILORED COAT

We have all been so busy being Mrs Christmas,and as if that was not enough, I guess we will be heading off to the shops for the sales. Think again before you go looking for a new coat though. Instead curl up with a glass of wine and look at fabrics on .Minerva Crafts
Making your own coat is not as hard as you might think and you can personalise it just for you. Why go through all that pushing and trying on in cramped cubicles  when you can have a bespoke coat at a fraction of the cost without even leaving your lovely warm home?

Let's start with the list of what you will need to make a coat just like mine. Just click on each link to go straight to the Minerva web site.
I am not going to wash my coat, it will be dry cleaned as necessary so some items are chosen with that in mind. If you intend washing your coat you must first of all wash the fabric and ensure that all the other notions are washable

  • The pattern is Mccalls 7058
  • The fabric is washable wool heavy coat weight fabric in RED I used just less than 2.5 metres for six 12/14
  • The lining is Polyester Habotai in GOLD 2metres will be enough
  • The interfacing is a woven iron on in natural INTERFACING
  • I made my own shoulder pads in the traditional way, they make the garment unsuitable for washing. A great alternative which I recommend you use is  this product,  SET IN SLEEVE SHOULDER PADS
  • I chose these beautiful marble effect BUTTONS
  • You will also need thread in red and gold, I like Coats thread, please don't use a cheap thread Coats thread
  • You will also need some BEES WAX to strengthen your thread when sewing on the buttons and of course a new machine needle suitable for heavy weight fabrics.

Your first job is to shrink the fabric. For this you need a bowl of water, a linen pressing cloth and a cotton pressing cloth. Wet the linen cloth and wring it out. Place it over the fabric and cover with the dry cotton cloth. Press, don't slide, the iron until the linen cloth is dry.repeat over the whole of the fabric and leave to dry. Please, never ever press wool without using a pressing cloth, it will mark.

  You cannot make a coat without trying it on! So, cut out the pattern pieces following the cutting instructions on the pattern. Stay stitch the neckline! This is very important, never hang a heavy garment either on a mannequin, a hanger or indeed yourself without doing this step.why? The weight of the fabric will pull the neckline out of shape if you don't!
Tack  the main pieces together and try on. This is what the coat will look like without shoulder pads (above)

These are my tailors shoulder pads tucked in place. By the way I always cut the side seams an inch wider when making a coat as it gives me room for adjustment if necessary. When you are transferring your pattern markings to your fabric with tailors chalk just mark the original seam line as well.

 And this is what the shoulder line looks like with the shoulder pads in place, notice the difference? I feel that structured garments like a coat really do look and hang much better with shoulder pads in.

Stitch the side back to the back and the front sides to the front pieces. Join the shoulder seams.
Press the seams open carefully on the wrong side using your pressing cloth

Stitch the darts in the sleeves, join the sleeve seam and press using a sleeve board. My sleeve board is pictured here together with a sleeve roll, both of which are essential pieces of pressing equipment.
You can insert the sleeves at this stage, following the instructions on the pattern sheet. If you run a couple of rows of gathering threads inside your sleeve seam allowance around the sleeve head you will be able to gently pull the ends to slightly gather the sleeve top. This will make fitting the sleeve into the armhole easy. Dont worry, be patient,  it will go in smoothly I promise.

Attach your interfacing to the front facing and the under collar pieces.  Protect your ironing board with a piece of cloth and use your damp pressing cloth, pressing the iron on to the fabric, do not slide the iron. Transfer your pattern markings to the interfacing with an air erasable pen.

Now put your lining together, just as you did the coat body, but don't put the sleeves in, you can make them up,  but set them aside for now, they will be stitched in by hand later.
To make the inside look even prettier then use this trick with home made or purchased covered piping.

A nice touch is to insert some covered piping cord between the interfacing and the lining. A dear friend gave me a piece of Japanese silk, and as the coat will not be going anywhere near my washing machine it is fine to use a fabric like silk here.
Cut strips about 1.5" wide and fold in half with the piping cord in the middle. Stitch along the edge next to the piping using an ordinary zipper foot.

Then all you do is sandwich it between the lining and the facing, stitching close to the piping cord with your zipper foot again
I have used this on a previous Minerva blog post HOW I MADE MY PINK LINED JACKET so take a look at that post too.

Press all the seams open carefully, this is what your lining now looks like.

By the way, when you stitched the pockets into the side seams I always do a double row of machine stitches and this is one occasion where I do not trim the seam allowance too much. This helps to avoid holes in pockets!

Once you have stitched all the seams on the coat including the shoulder seams it is time to think about the collar.
You will notice that the under-collar is cut in two sections on the bias and that it needs interfacing. A tailor would pad stitch this entire section, but please do not worry, I am not going to ask you to do that! The interfacing we chose is stable enough to give the collar shape. You will also notice that the under collar is slightly smaller than the upper collar, again this is for a reason, it is so that you can press the seam so that it is slightly underneath the collar which gives a lovely finish.

Once you have made the collar, stitch it to the already stay stitched neckline matching all pattern markings. That is the secret really , you must transfer all pattern markings to your fabric every time, that way you will know exactly where each piece goes. I prefer good old tailors tacks, but on a thick fabric which will be lined I forgive you if you want to use an erasable pen or tailors chalk, although I never would use them on finer fabrics.

The shoulder pads should be placed at the end of the seam allowance where you stitched the sleeve into the armhole. This makes the sleeve sit nicely. Position it and pin in place in the centre, fold it back on itself and loosely tack it to the shoulder seam. We will catch more of it place later when we come to sew the sleeve lining in

Once the sleeves, collar and shoulder pads are in place you can sew the lining in.
Make sure that you place right sides together and that the collar is sandwiched between the lining and the main fabric. Pin around the neckline first and then down the sides. Machine carefully from the bottom of one side at the point where the hem allowance is marked, around the neckline and down the other side to where the hem is marked. You need to turn the machine with the needle down at the points so that you get crisp even corners.
Layer the seam allowances all round to get rid of some bulk, trim the corners and cut triangles out of the curved edges (clip the curves ) so that it folds the right way out neatly. If you were making a tailored coat you would invisibly catch stitch all the facings down so that they always stay in place.
Turn right sides out and press using your pressing cloth and making sure that the seams are slightly to the inside of the coat.

Now I like to tack all around the coat edges, including the hem which I have just turned up and pinned.

Loosely stitch the lining to the coat around the armhole with a simple running stitch, catching the shoulder pads very loosely, you do not want to pull your thread at all tight or it will pull them out of shape.

Pin your sleeve lining in place all the way round, first pressing the seam allowance under, then slip stitch the sleeve lining to the garment neatly with small invisible stitches.

Catch stitch or herringbone stitch your coat hem, making suture that no stitches show on the right side. Do this by catching just one thread of the fabric with your needle.
Turn up the lining hem so that it is only just short of the coat hem, push it up slightly so that it is very loose and does not pull the coat out of shape. Make sure that it is not so long that it shows on the right side though. Once it is pressed you will find that it sits nicely.
Finish the sleeve edges in the same way, trying the coat on to get the correct length for you.

Now come the buttonholes.Do not be worried by them. Take a piece of your fabric and put some of your interfacing inside it.  Practise and practise sewing buttonholes on this scrap, sewing them to the size of your button,until you are happy. Dont be afraid to refer to your sewing machine manual - I do, frequently.
Once you are happy,  mark the position of your buttonholes, take a deep breath, and stitch the first one. I always start at the bottom where it is less noticeable.
Do not, I repeat, do not use a seam ripper to cut your buttonholes. Just don't,  I have seen many garments ruined by a slip of the hand.
Use pined scissors or one of these buttonhole cutters, I find it quite satisfying being let loose with a hammer, but again, do take care

Now it comes to pressing. A mistake many people make is to press the collar flat. Please don't.  You need a seam roll to press anything which does not want to be flat over. Simply place the collar over the seam roll, cover with your pressing cloth and press with a seam not move the collar at all until that bit you have just pressed has cooled.then move onto the next bit.
Do this at the lapel too.

Put your seam roll inside the sleeve and press that not press over the cut edge of the hem though, or it will leave an impression on the right side

This is the front with the buttons sewn on with waxed button thread. I pressed it lightly to start but it is now in need of its final press.

The belt is easy to make, just stitch the long ends together leaving a gap to turn it the right way out, trim the corners and turn right way out pushing the corners out with a point turner, slip stitch the opening closed and press.

  I have not done any top stitching, instead I relied on careful pressing and under-stitching to hold everything in place but you can do some if you like. It is your coat and you must finish it in a way which pleases you.
This is a lovely coat pattern. It can be slipped on over a dress to go out in he evening left unbuttoned.
It can be worn buttoned for a smart look when going out shopping in the day time

New photo

And it looks great with a tartan scarf -  Mine is a Dress Gordon the colours look great with the red coat.
I have tried to make this as simple as possible and I believe that it is achievable for any level of sewing expertise. It is good to stretch ourselves sometimes.
The secret to making a coat is simple. Transfer all pattern markings to the fabric, layer and trim all seams to reduce bulk,  press frequently and most of all enjoy making and wearing your unique coat!
Happy sewing

By the way, I thought about it and added top stitching to the coat and the belt, and I am very pleased with the result.

Angela x

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