The semi-tailored coat.I wanted to make a coat which would be smart and structured and last well. I immediately thought back to my days at college studying Tailoring and actually tried on a few of the garments I still have and noticed that after over 30 years they still look like new. They are timeless and hard wearing and that is what I wanted to achieve with this coat.
I think that you will agree that this coat fits the bill perfectly. It is a classic shape, it fits well, the colour suits me and I will be able to wear it for almost any occasion.
So, what pattern did I choose? Firstly the pattern is by Kwik Fit and it has princess seams, a high neckline , button front and a vented back. If you want to make the shorter version you will relieve yourself of the need to sew a vent in the back, although it is honestly not difficult.
This is a wool blend coating which is a very reasonable price. Also choose any sateen or satin though to contrast or match your coat fabric
I was just going to use it for facings but there was enough for the pocket linings and to line the front and back. The sleeves were lined in an remnant of ordinary lining fabric in pink. It is quite acceptable to do this, in fact if your main lining is not very silky you will find that an acetate or silk sleeve lining makes it easier to get the garment on and off.
You need an iron on woven interfacing
I cannot hope to show you how to properly tailor a garment in a blog post, it takes years to master the craft fully, but I will give you some hints and tips to supplement the pattern instructions so that you can make a semi-tailored coat.
What is tailoring? We think of men's suits don't we. But tailoring is the umbrella term used to describe the specialist stitches , methods and fabrics used to construct, or engineer a garment made to last. The horse hair interfacings and the pad stitches are used to put shape into the fabric which will last forever. This is all usually done by hand. If you are interested in learning a bit more do let me know.
You will be pleased to know that we are not going to invisibly hand stitch horse hair onto all the fabric pieces or do prick stitch on the collar, but we are going to use a different interfacing to what you normally use. And there will be a bit of hand sewing.
First of all shrink your fabric - very important - and then using a dry iron press iron-on woven interfacing ( link) onto all the front pieces including the side front which the pattern doesn't do. Also cut some strips an inch wider than your hem and press them above the fold line so that when the hem is turned up you will be able to herringbone stitch the hem without it showing on the right side and it will also add structure to the hem.
Also reinforce the shoulders and back neck either with cut off strips of your interfacing or with seam tape. The pocket line also needs taping.
A quick tip for sewing the seams the correct width is to measure the seam allowance 5/8" from the needle and put some tape onto the machine as a guide.
Go ahead and make up the garment according to the excellent pattern instructions.
The trick is to press every seam as you go, and I do mean press, don't slide the iron. Each time you lift the iron press down with the heel of your hand if you don't have specialist equipment. This will flatten the seam. It is also a good idea to loosely catch the seams to the interfacing to keep them open and flat.
This is the back with the side fronts stitched in place. When you turn the pockets to the inside push the seam slightly to the inside so that the lining does not show. Do this on the front seams too. We are looking for a clean edge with no facings showing on the right side.
This is the outer shell of the coat with the buttonholes marked with tailors tacks
You need a good quality tailors shoulder pad ( link) which needs to sit right at the edge of the sleeve seam . Tack it loosely in place along the shoulder seam and the sleeve edge. Use matching thread as these stitches are permanent.
Make up the lining exactly as you did the coat, pressing the seams as you go. For a nice touch you could insert piping between the lining and the facing. Do pre- shrink it if you want to add this step.
Test often to make sure that the lining fits the garment. Tip, linings are better off loose so cut the side seams and centre back a little wider than the pattern .
The lining will now last longer as it will not have any strain on it. Form a tiny pleat at the centre back to accommodate the extra fabric and stitch it closed for about an inch from the neckline
Follow the pattern instructions folding the extension towards the left back ( working from the inside) , but don't stitch the vent down yet.
Turn the hem up and slip stitch or herringbone stitch it onto the interfacing. Make sure that nothing shows on the right side. Press the edge of the hem using a pressing cloth. Turn a 5/8" hem on the right extension and press.
Pull the lining down to cover the vent and you will see what goes where quite easily. The left lining extension will need cutting away but don't do it until you feel confident. When you are happy, pin the lining to the vents turning the seam allowance in and cutting the left side lining as necessary. The lining should never be tight, it is perfectly normal to have to accommodate a bit of extra ease.
Invisibly hand sew the lining to the vent opening
Then pin the hem up, pushing it upwards slightly to form a tiny pleat all around the edge.
You should end up with something like this, even up the edges of the lining and then hand sew the lining to the hem invisibly. Keep pressing and trying on.
Finish the sleeves now , inserting the lining by hand .
Do a practice buttonhole first on spare interfaced fabric and cut it open to make sure that your button fits through the hole. Please whatever you do use scissors never a seam ripper - that's a disaster waiting to happen. The coat is thick at this point so if necessary carefully snip through a layer at a time and tidy it up once you have finished.
Go ahead and sew the buttonholes whilst your confidence is there. Stitch on the buttons with waxed thread , button thread if you have it. I use fray check when I have finished to make extra sure that the button does not come off.
I also have a little box where I keep spare buttons and a small piece of fabric for everything i make in case repairs are needed, so a spare button went into my box.