I made a coat.
I. Made. A. Coat.
I MADE A COAT!
There are more construction details to share, but I feared a mutiny if I didn’t show you the finished item first! After a final, six-hour sewing marathon I added my final stitch to the V8548 coat.
A deadline had hoved into view. I was meeting my sisters and mum at St Pancras International for afternoon tea. My talented sister, Amanda Herbert*, intended to bring her camera. It would have been a crying shame not to get some snaps.
I set to, opening up the rear of the bound buttonholes, sewing on the buttons and snap, adjusting the corners of the hem… Resplendent in my dressing gown, I sewed my way through Saturday Kitchen, Celebrity Big Brother and a musical. I apologise to my neighbours for the language at times. I congratulate my boyfriend on vacating the house. Finally, I threw myself into the shower, slapped some make-up on and ran to the tube station in my coat. (Don’t kid yourself that the interior of a coat can be a bit tardy. The skirt will flick open in a breeze.)
I am really pleased with this coat. The cashmere coating is sooooo soft. I seem to say this a lot, but I think this was my most challenging make to date. I was experimenting with lots of new techniques, but had no teacher by my side. As I’ve already bemoaned, I felt very isolated at times. Thank goodness for the Internet – for blogs, for blog readers, for blog tutorials, for video tutorials. The Readers Digest New Complete Guide to Sewing was also a life saver.
Here are the key online tutorials that helped:
And these were the blog commentators who were able to help with practical tips:
The Hectic Eclectic for suggesting a way of finishing my hem.
Roobeedoo for suggesting a lace trim.
Kay The Sewing Lawyer for pointing out that I’d added calico shoulder stays at the wrong stage in the process.
Others helped via email:
Tracy in Australia, whose pink version of this coat inspired me. She replied to my email enquiring about bound buttonholes. Her advice reminded me that I had a copy of the Reader’s Digest book on my shelf.
Gertie, who was kind enough to respond to an email pleading for help, when she was in the middle of filming her new Craftsy course.
Of course, the key support from the on line community was emotional. My readers. You can do it, Karen! Don’t give up now!
I genuinely felt quite emotional at the end of this make. And stressed. When I described the stress to my family, they frowned. Did I hate the coat now? Had I loathed making it? No, none of those things! This felt like the necessary stress of growing and improving, but still – it IS stressful. This experience taught me that if there’s anything I can do to help prevent others feeling so utterly isolated, I’m there. The experience also made me hungry for more – more knowledge and understanding. I want to be able to make a tailored item without having a nervous breakdown and with improved techniques.
Some particular ‘interesting’ moments that stick in my memory:
- Inserting the pockets too low down. Kidding myself that this didn’t matter. A couple of weeks later, unpicking the pockets and side seams and reinserting them higher up.
- Wrestling with the hem three times.
- Spending an entire day of my Christmas break inserting one sleeve.
- My iron spitting chalky residue over my dry clean only lining. Me re-cutting pieces of the lining and resewing. The iron spitting again. (Tips on cleaning an iron’s innards, anyone?)
- Machine sewing the windows for the rear of the bound button holes, which meant wrestling an entire coat through the sewing machine. To anyone who advised against adding a fifth button hole: I will worship at your feet for ever.
I am going to blog separately about the materials and, crucially, how much this cost me to make. (I’m talking monetary cost, rather than emotional!) I’m also going to blog another couple of method posts. By then, you’ll probably be sick of hearing about this coat.
After that? I’m going to lie down in a darkened room for a month.
I realize I need to amend my opening statement. I didn’t make a coat. WE made a coat! Thank you, everyone. I hope you like what we did.
*It’s worth following Amanda on Facebook. Occasionally, when she has a new technique she wants to try, she’ll advertise her services for free so that she has a model willing to humour her as she experiments. That could be you if you have a new FO you want snapped!