Make 23 – 18th Century Style Greatcoat
- Pattern – Butterick ‘History’ B6609
- Material – Avocado green Corduroy and Khaki green Cotton
- Interfacing – Sew-in Interfacing
- Buttons – 22mm and 25mm Brass effect buttons
Thursday 26th July
Rehearsal tonight and I’d much rather be getting on with sorting my coat out as it’s going to be a little bit more complex than I originally thought!
The plan was basically to use the Butterick Pattern (above), and I was going to tweak a couple of bits to make it look more like the correct period – late 18th Century around the time of the French Revolution. The collar and shoulders are obviously not right and the cuffs need adjusting.
I searched on-line for a period pattern and found the following:
Unfortunately I really don’t think that I have the time to draft this from scratch – so I’m going to have to make do with what I have and re-draft pattern pieces as necessary. Looking at the line art for the Butterick pattern, the back is not dissimilar to the period pattern above.
In fact, the front of the coat isn’t dissimilar either with the exception of the collar and the fact it looks a little narrower. The biggest difference is the traditional pattern has 1 piece which wraps from the front, under the arm to the back section and the Butterick has 2 pieces.
Looking at the picture on the pattern envelope however, I don’t think that the ‘flare’ of the bottom of the coat is going to be an issue. If it looks a little narrow, I can always widen the inserts at the back and angle the side seams a little more.
The front lapels need a bit of adjusting as they look far too big, (but that’s just a slight adjustment to centre front and possibly the neck) . As far as I recall, the pattern has a collar stand, so I can just adjust the top line of this so it’s slightly higher at the nape of the neck – without the collar it should stand up anyway – it will of course be interfaced.
The biggest concern is the sleeves and cuffs – I have long(-ish) arms and generally have to lengthen arms on anything I make, so I will probably have to fully re-draft the arms on this. The shoulder point is standing proud (which I don’t want) and this is created by lots of gathering across the sleeve head. I need to reduce this, alter the arm scye and check the shoulder length. The arms on this pattern are standard straight arms, however, the period arms are curved.
Sew, I need to re-draft the sleeves fully, (top and bottom as this is a 2 piece sleeve) – adding in a curve for a more period feel. (Good job I like a challenge eh???!) I can then draft a more period cuff. Fortunately I also have a Pirate pattern in my stash and should be able to call on that for inspiration and also look at the cuffs.
Yes, the cuffs are FAR too big in this pattern, but it’s a starting point – it also looks to me that the arms are curved, so I can use those as a basic template for the new sleeves.
Those of you who have looked at the full blog will remember that I’ve made a ‘SteamGoth’ type of outfit, this also has cuffs, so I can refer back to that for further inspiration; if I recall the arms on that are also slightly curved…..
I will of course post progress as it happens – wish me luck!
Saturday 28th July
It’s been a long old day today – but there is progress on the period coat! I’m not doing a sew-a-long on this one as I’m adjusting and re-drafting it as I go (converting from a Victorian style coat to a coat with more of a Georgian feel to it).
I have however been asked to do a tutorial on Welt Pockets, so please watch this space – there is some information below, but I’ll write a proper tutorial once the coat is finished.
I may have told you that I had already cut out my pattern pieces – but where they have been sitting in the pattern envelope they are often a bit crumpled with significant fold lines on them.
It has been mentioned in various groups that I belong to and also on the Great British Sewing Bee that to ensure your pieces fit, you should iron your patterns….. no, you didn’t hear me wrong!
Now, I’ve not ironed my tissue before, but because this is probably the biggest project that I’ve done to date, I thought that I’d better make sure that there are no kinks in my pieces before cutting, especially as they are almost 5′ long!
I used the same iron that I use for ironing on interfacing (just it case something went wrong) with steam turned off (no water in the iron) and at a relatively low temperature and tried this on a scrap piece of the tissue left over from cutting out the pattern. After a bit of trial and error I found that I could set the iron almost as hot as for cotton, as long as I kept the iron moving.
You should be able to see a significant improvement in the pattern piece, yes it’s not perfect; so I ironed each piece a couple of times more to really try and remove the creases and it has made a big difference to the laying out – less smoothing of the pattern piece etc. I would however warn you all to beware of the static! The tissue started sticking to itself, the wall, anything it could basically!
Once I’d sorted all this out, I did something that I don’t usually do with my pattern pieces, I pinned them on my mannequin to see the basic shape of the garment and how it fitted together….
Of course you will only be able to see one side of the garment, but at least I could see how the pieces fitted together – this also allowed me to check the collar stand and the front overlays to see how they worked. The coat that I’m trying to create only has a stand collar, and the overlap at the front is less than this one (saving me a bit of material!).
The collar stand pinned in place shows me that the stand collar I have in mind is going to work, but the overlay is far too much. In the second photo you can see that I’ve reduced this by half and it looks far better.
What about seam allowance? Yes, if I take the standard 1.5cm seam allowance, then the overlap will be too small, but I’m going to compensate by reducing the seam allowance at this front edge to around 6mm. Why am I doing it this way instead of just folding and keeping the same seam allowance? Simply because if I reduce by half I have a nice guideline (the CF marking line) to fold my edge to – which I then ironed flat.
Notice that I’ve also reduced this overlap on the facing pattern piece so that it matches and I’ve also marked the notches on the new front edge. (In the last photo you can see the CF line that I’ve folded to and the notch that I’ve matched to.
I’ve read through the instructions and after sewing the front to the side I’m going to have to construct the pockets, so now is as good a time as any to redraft the pocket flap and the collar stand.
The Pocket flap is square and I’ve decided I want something a bit more period, ok, so it might not be quite appropriate for this coat, but the pocket flap style is in the right period for the coat that I’m making and I prefer the look. I’ve also decided to deepen the pocket flap (I’m pretty sure I used 1″ (2.5cm)) as I want to be sure that the curves show nicely (they are about 1cm deep).
I’m also taking the time to re-draft the collar stand – the ends are curved and the period collars are squarer; so I’ve squared off the rounded ends (having kept the front slope in) and again I’ve increased the depth. This is because I’m working from a collar stand which is usually quite narrow and I want a proper stand collar. (I’ve allowed for the seam allowance in this.) I’ve also put a slight incline in from the back of the collar to the front, so that the collar at the nape of the neck is slightly higher than at the chin.
Next thing to do is to cut the fabric.
I’m not cutting the lining yet (except for the pockets which are created very early in the construction) and I’m not cutting the sleeves (as I have to fully re-draft theses as well.) My fabric is slightly narrower at 112cm wide than the recommended 115cm – however, because I’ve reduced the width of some of the pieces, this allows me to have much better pattern placement on my fabric resulting in less waste.
The front facing and the pleat extension – laid out on doubled fabric from which I’ve already cut the 2 back pieces. (The back is slightly curved so instead of being cut on the fold, it’s cut in 2 pieces – this brings the coat in slightly at the waist giving it a better line).
I must admit at this point that I’ve cheated slightly…… yes, I know that’s not the proper way to do things, but it has made construction that much quicker – I wouldn’t be nearly as far along if I hadn’t.
So how did I cheat…..?
Well, I cut the fabric and the sew-in interfacing as stated, but the first step was supposed to be invisibly stitching the interfacing to the fabric at the seam allowances and trimming, which got me thinking…….. if I’m invisibly stitching at the seam allowance and trimming, why cant I just sew along the seam allowance through both pieces of fabric and the interfacing and trim afterwards??? So, that’s what I’ve done. Yes, for proper tailoring this is not the right process, but it’s worked for me. I’ve had to ensure that I’ve cut everything the same and pinned exactly, but so far there is no down-side that I can see. This is after all a costume and I’m sure this shortcut isn’t going to affect it that much – if it does I’ll let you all know. (After screaming … A LOT!)
Right – now my first proper step is to attach the side backs to the front pieces (which nicely catches the interfacing) and is done in the twinkling of an eye (well, almost, but you catch my meaning!)
The next step is to attach the pocket – which is a welt pocket with a flap. I’ve had a lot of people ask me about Welt Pockets (after seeing the images of these ones which I posted in the sewing group first – sorry!), and although there is some detail below, I’ll get around to writing a tutorial on them soon.
Ok, so we should mark the pocket placement on the pieces that we’ve just sewn together – personally I tend to mark as I go rather than after cutting out, but do whatever works for you (I still haven’t bought those Frixion pens…. add to ‘to do’ list….).
In this case however, there was a very good reason. The pocket placement on the pattern is for a Victorian pocket and these were located (well, in this pattern anyway) quite high up on the body – around the rib cage. (Slightly higher than jacket pocket height). Now, I know I’ve got a short body, but even for me, that’s far too high. I don’t think this is the right placement for the period coat that I’m making either, so I’m moving the pockets down the coat to where they make sense for me (with my long arms!)
In this case that means an 8″ (approx 20 cm) movement down the coat! I also have to remember the placement around the body – the pocket is currently located right across the side seam – however, if I keep the pocket in the same place on the side seam it’s going to move towards the back of the coat (this is because the front pattern piece is more of a triangle than a rectangle; so I also need to move the placement forwards on the coat. Hopefully the image below will help to explain….
The arrows are all the same length – so assuming the pattern has the pocket placement correct from the front edge of the coat, then we need to keep that distance the same. If we simply move the pocket down the seam (red pocket) it is too far round towards the back of the coat, so we move it down and forwards at the same time (green pocket) so it works in relation to where my arm is!
Once the pocket placement is marked, we need to reinforce the corners where the pocket will be. This will help to prevent fabric tear beyond the stitching line as we are going to make a ‘hole’ in the fabric for the pocket.
I’ve marked up my pocket on the inside of the coat, and now I stitch along the marked lines towards the corners, pivoting the fabric with the needle in the very corner as marked.
Here is the inside and the outside of the coat with the reinforcement stitching in place. (Note, I haven’t yet pulled the loose threads to the inside of the coat and tied off.)
Normally I would tie off as I go, but I was concentrating a lot on this to get it right as the instructions were a bit sketchy! I did eventually tie these threads off, but it was a lot later than I should (slapped wrists!).
The next step is to stitch the welt itself, wrong side to wrong side, starting at the folded edge basting all the way around. The welt is basically a square or rectangular piece of fabric; for this coat it is going to create a nice top edge to the pocket.
For those of you who don’t know, basting is putting a long running stitch in to hold two pieces of fabric together to prevent them moving when you sew it properly. Most basting stitches are removed later on, however, I don’t always remove them – especially if they don’t show – I tie them off and leave them. You can hand baste or machine baste – I machine basted here – set my stitch length to the maximum (4). Don’t forget to re-set this afterwards!
Once basted (at the seam allowance stitch line (1.5cm)), we have to trim the seam allowance to a ‘scant’ 1cm. All this means is that you cut off the excess raw edge so the from the raw edge to the stitch line it 1cm (or barely 1cm – scant means ‘barely’ so if you cut off a bit too much, don’t worry.)
The welt is then basted to the front of the coat along the bottom line of the pocket – align the basting along the welt with the reinforcing stitches that you have just put in, pin securely and then (using the longest stitch length) baste along the stitch line that you have sewn in your welt.
You can see the two lines of basting above running over each other; towards the top of the picture you can see the reinforcing stitches.
Notice that the welt has been cut crossgrain on the fabric – it’s easy to see as the lines of the corduroy run at 90 degrees (ish!) to the lines of the main coat.
You can see below what the inside should look like, with the basting line following the line of reinforcing stitches.
Next step is to construct the pocket flaps – these have interfacing in them, so I’ve done the same, stitched the interfacing at the same time as the fabric and trimmed almost to the stitch line. I’ve then trimmed the corners and clipped the curves and turned the pocket flaps the right way out. Press the flaps and then top stitch near the edge for that professional finish.
Baste along the raw edge, and again trim the seam allowance to a ‘scant’ 1cm. The flap is now going to be attached to the top of the pocket.
Align the basting on the pocket flap with the reinforcing stitches on the coat (just like you did for the welt and then baste along the same basting line on the flap, as in the above image.
The welt will eventually point up and the flap will eventually point down. The raw edges will all be turned to the inside and pressed flat.
Now we come to the tricky bit!
Take one of your four pocket pieces cut from lining material and mark the pocket slit on it. This is then aligned over the outside of the coat – over the welt and flap and pinned firmly in position. The top and bottom lines and then stitched (directly over all the other basting stitches) to secure the lining to the pocket line.
(NB. I followed the instructions here, normally I would expect to stitch fully round the pocket line.)
This needs to be taken slowly as you are sewing through quite a few layers of cloth and your stitch lines could go a bit wonky (as mine have). The next bit is a little scary as you have to slash through the lining and the main body of the coat, being careful not to catch the welt or the flap. It is essential that you snip to the corners creating a little triangle of fabric at each end (inside and out).
All of your fabric is now pushed through the ‘letterbox’ you have just cut to the wrong side of the coat; with the exception of the pocket flap which will just end up pointing down on the right side of the coat. Press both sides.
The outside of the coat, (pocket flap in it’s correct place and also lifted up to show detail of welt):
You can clearly see the pressing mark where I’ve pressed the pocket flap down.
We need to finish off the inside of the pocket, on the very edge of the pocket, fold back the lining and you should see your little triangles – these should be stitched down (attaching to the end of the welt)
I tend to stitch from the front as well to ensure that the edges of the welt are secured to the edge of the pocket. If there are any small gaps at the corners, I pop in a few hand stitches to ensure that everything is secure. Below you can see the finished pockets in the coat so far….
Once this is done, we attach the other side of the pocket (a second lining piece) to the first lining piece – only stitching the two lining pieces together – be very careful not to catch the coat or pocket, then press. This bit is quite tricky as you have the bulk of the coat to deal with whilst trying to stitch the two bits of lining together!
The two back pieces are then stitched together but only as far as the big circle – i.e. this is stitching the back down to where the vent begins. The very back of the coat (below the waist) is left open, but because of the fullness of the coat it operates just like a vent in a jacket or skirt.
The back is then attached to the two fronts (with the pockets), but we are stitching only as far as the little circles this time (we will be adding the pleat extensions in here), but from the little circles down to the hem.
The instructions tell us to baste along the fold line. Now, you can do this if you like, but I’ve omitted this step as I will have to remove the basting later and although I’m a bit OCD, I’m also quite lazy and I can’t see the point in putting in basting that I’m going to remove later. There is probably a very good reason for it, and if I come a cropper, I’ll let you know!
In the above photo you can see the back seams – the one running down the CB (centre back) which is slightly curved to the vent opening (where the fabric sticks out).
The side back seam (to the left of the image) is curved (like a princess seam) and matches an internal curve to an external curve. This requires patience and care when stitching to ensure it’s right. You can clip one side to help the ease – I prefer not to unless I’m really struggling as I don’t want to clip too far or risk ripping the fabric.
You can see where this seam ends as the line goes darker and is roughly in line with the top of the vent.
Once the seams were sewn, I pressed them open – paying particular attention and care to the curved seam to ensure it laid flat. I didn’t actually snip the seam allowance at all on either side, however, I did put in the ‘stay stitching‘ recommended in the instructions.
Stay Stitching is where you run a line of stitches (inside the seam allowance) along the edge of a pattern piece to prevent it stretching. This is usually along neck lines or sleeves where there is a potential for the fabric to stretch when you are trying to match internal and external curves.
The pleat extensions (with interfacing) and then stitched in between the back and sides. They are stitched from the hem to the point on both sides – don’t try to pivot and the top and stitch back down one side, this will pucker the top point and the coat won’t hang right. These seams are NOT PRESSED, inside and outside views below.
Next step was to join the front to the back at the shoulders – again I was catching the interfacing on the front pieces, so had to ensure that everything matched correctly before sewing. Pin, pin and pin again.
Time to stop! It’s been a long day sewing, but I’m VERY happy with where I am.
Collar and sleeves next, but here is where I’ve got to…
Monday 30th July
I had intended to do a lot more today, but I’ve just been bogged down in re-drafting the sleeves. I had intended to do this yesterday when I attached the collar to the coat, but I had a really REALLY bad headache and just couldn’t concentrate! The Collar went on like a dream though…
I won’t bore you with all the details of re-drafting the sleeve, but suffice to say I ended up with the 4th version of the upper sleeve and the 2nd version of the lower sleeve. This is as well as lengthening the sleeve to match my long arms.
Above the first and 2nd drafts and the 2nd Toile of the sleeve – on that one I’d reduced the sleeve head too much and everything puckered around the sleeve hole. Two tips though:
- Pin your Toile at the seam allowance pinning along the stitch line – this gives you a much better feel of how the sleeve will look when properly attached
- If there is no-one else in the house and you need to know by how much to extend your sleeves, pop the jacket (with sleeve toile) on and draw on your arm!
Left hand mark is where the sleeve should end – right hand mark is where the sleeve currently ends (bent elbow of course!) Once I’ve taken the jacket off, I can measure this distance and add to my pattern pieces!
I’m pretty good at preserving fabric now. I had enough to make the sleeves with spare, but I wanted to ensure that I had enough to make a second set of sleeves should my final drafts be wrong. I managed to cut both sets of upper and lower sleeves from a 70cm long piece of fabric only 112cm wide. I first cut my upper sleeve only folding the fabric just beyond the widest part of the sleeve, this left me just enough to fold in half and cut the lower sleeves.
When stitching the arms together you need to pin the fabric very carefully because it ‘walks’. I mean that because the Corduroy has a pile, you can’t just slide one piece over the other as you would with a cotton or polyester, the fabric pile gets ruffled up and moves the pieces back to where they were. The best option is to lift one piece fully off the other and ‘place’ it – easier said than done…
Pinning at an angle also helps prevent the fabric moving whilst stitching.
Once the sleeve are together, we need to insert them into the jacket/coat. I haven’t found a particularly easy way to do this yet, I just know what works for me. I have the wrong side of the main coat out and put the sleeve in the arm hole. I then pin the right sides together matching up all the notches and points first.
I fold the sleeve material out and over the main fabric of the armhole – see the picture below, it helps to explain it better than words….
The right sides are together and I’m sort of folding the fabric back over itself – the sleeve fabric is usually slightly gathered over the sleeve head and normally you would put in a gathering stitch – I haven’t bothered, I’ve lined up my notches and done the rest by eye, moving from the bottom of the arm scye to the sleeve head.
Pin, pin and ping again, and then when you think you have too many pins, pin some more! We don’t won’t any puckers, so its’s important to take this stitching slowly and steadily.
I’m using my magnetic seam guide for this, I need to be as precise as possible. The fabric that is uppermost is the inside of the sleeve – I find that when stitching it helps to keep a steady tension on your main coat fabric – easing the sleeve across the top.
Once the sleeve is stitched in, press the seam allowance towards the body of the coat away from the sleeve. (I’ve notched this to allow for easy pressing and to stop the armhole from being too tight, but be careful not to snip into your stitch lines.)
There are a couple of button options in these photos, but I’m now now sure I’m going to use either…..
Sunday 5th August
It’s been an odd sort of week/weekend – I was working Monday/Tuesday, then off to help out with the local Rep, which I thought would finish on Friday, but actually carried on until today!
Back at work tomorrow, with Rep Tues/Weds/Thurs work on Friday and off to visit relatives on Saturday – collapse in a little heap on Sunday!
Well, in the gaps (so to speak) I’ve managed to get all of my lining cut out and I’ve sewn most of it together this evening – in this intolerable heat! (I won’t tell you how I’ve been keeping cool, but thank goodness no-one knocked on the door!)
The new buttons that I’d ordered arrived and they are soooo much better than the silver ones that I had planned to use:
I’ve got some more buttons on order as well (plain and rounded, but in 2 sizes), so I will try those before I make any final decision, but these look to be just about right!
I now need to finis off my lining (attach the sleeves and front facings), hem, bag out and then do the cuffs….oh, bother! I’d forgotten the cuffs – more to draft…….
Well, at least the lining is more or less done. Now the pattern said not to put the inverted pleats in and to stitch straight down those seams…….
Well, if you know me by now, you will know that I DID put the inverted pleats in the lining, I think it will give the coat a better ‘flow’ at the back – if it doesn’t work I can always remove them later. Unlike a lot of lined garments, the lining is not attached to the main coat at the hem (apart from a couple of french tacks at the side seams – I will show you how I did this as it’s a completely new technique to me!)
Here is the lining so far…..
You can see that the lining doesn’t meet at the front, this is because the front facings are the same material as the main coat (corduroy) so these are attached after the sleeves are inserted and after the lining is hemmed.
In the back view you can see the centre back vent and the two inverted pleats.
Monday 13th August
Firstly apologies that it’s been over a week since I last blogged – it’s been a bit manic and I’ve not had the time to document any progress on the coat. I’m rectifying that now, and I hope that this mega post will make up for the silence.
I’m going to break this down into days as this progress took a while!
In my last post I’d put some of the lining together, so we’ll start from there…
Tuesday 7th August
The buttons that I’d ordered from China arrived and it made the button choice far more difficult for the finished coat. The metal buttons are lovely, but only one size and didn’t look quite right on the back of the coat either side of the vent.
The new buttons (although plastic) are in two sizes and work better on the back of the coat:
You can see on the front of the coat, that either of the buttons look nice and it’s almost impossible to tell which are the metal ones and which are the plastic ones! (Plastic are the plain ones at the bottom) The plain buttons of the larger size however do look much better on the back of the coat.
After much debate and asking the sewing group for suggestions it came down to the larger buttons look better on the back of the coat, so the plain ones on the front would be the better match.
Wednesday 8th August
Today I finally finished the lining – I inserted the sleeves and added the facings on to the front – sadly I didn’t take photos, but there you go….
Here is the inside back of the coat, you can see the inserted reverse pleat sections (the ones with interfacing and the basic construction of the coat.
You may notice that I cut my notches outwards – i.e. not into the seam allowance – I prefer this method – it makes lining up easier and helps me get a better result.
Next step is to attach the lining – basically the right side of the lining is pinned to the right side of the main coat and stitched around the edge – from the hem, up one side of the front opening, round the collar, and back down the other side of the front opening back to the hem.
The only difficulty presented here is the sheer volume of fabric that you have to manipulate whilst trying not to pull through the machine!
You may see that I’m using my magnetic seam guide here – this helps me maintain a nice even 5/8″ (1.5cm) seam whilst sewing. I did reduce this on the front of the coat as I’d already reduced the overlap – I took my seam allowance down to 1/4″ (6mm).
I think I’ve posted this before, but here is my sewing space:
It’s not very big, difficult to keep tidy and most of the time I have to have the table leaf tucked away!
I digress, here is the coat with the lining attached:
This is of course inside out! First picture shows the outside of the coat – you can clearly see the pockets – the second image is with the front of the coat opened out – you can see the facings (interfaced) on the edge of the coat and the lining inside.
The coat is then turned the right way out, and here are a couple of pictures to show how the lining sits:
First image shows the front of the coat open – you can see the facings on the left edge of the image and how the lining attaches to the collar – the second image gives a better view of how the lining looks within the coat.
I think I got the lining colour pretty much perfect, it compliments the Avocado corduroy beautifully.
Friday 10th August
First thing to do today is to stitch the lining to the vent at the back of the coat. I have only stitched the lining to the front edges and collar so far, the back vent is still open.
CAUTION: Make sure you follow the pattern exactly and stitch only to the marked dots/point. If you don’t your vent won’t sit flat and you will have to un-pick (like I did).
I also was a bit slapdash when turning the corner on the vent and my seam allowance wasn’t even – this really caused an issue with ‘bunching’ of the lining. I thought I could get away with it and slip stitched the inner vent and edge-stitched the outer vent – but it looked awful! (No images – too embarrassed!)
I un-picked the whole lot – and started again (but not before I’d put a small hole in the lining – in the seam allowance fortunately!)
I was far more careful this time and didn’t stitch as far – preferring to hand stitch any gaps rather than have bunching. Once this was completed, I hand stitched both the inner and outer vent tops to get a better finish.
Unfortunately the vent was still a bit ugly – so I thought I might create a ‘button band’ – not strictly the right period, but it covers a multitude of sins, – here’s a pic of a piece of fabric pinned in place to simulate the button band.
Whilst I was waiting for the opinions of a couple of sewing friends on the band, I decided to get on with the cuffs.
You may recall that I re-drafted the sleeves. so I measured the cuff ends of the newly drafted sleeve pattern pieces to give me the length of my cuff edge. Bearing in mind that the sleeve is a 2 part sleeve I then had to remove 2 x seam allowance of 5/8″ (1.5cm) otherwise my cuff would be too long – a single pattern piece has 2 seam allowances – 1 each side, therefore 2 pattern pieces have 4 seam allowances 🙂
The cuff pattern piece that came with the pattern was square and a little too short, so I re-drafted a pattern piece that was longer and shaped to make it more in keeping with the period.
The wider end of the new cuff will be the end not attached to the sleeve, but it will be folded back on itself to lie along the sleeve – the following pics show the cuffs attached
The cuff ends have only been pinned and you can see where they have been folded back on themselves.
The cuffs have also been cut across the grain of the fabric so that the corduroy lines run around the arm instead of continuing down the arm like the sleeve grain. The part of the cuff you can see is approximately 2/3 of the total length of the cuff – the rest goes to make up the rest of the arm length. You could cut your sleeves so that the join is right on the wrist, but I personally prefer it this way.
Saturday 11th August
After hearing back from my sewing buddies and still being un-happy with the vent on the coat, I decided that I would create a button band for the back of the coat.
Basically this is just a rectangle of fabric (interfaced of course as it’s going to have button holes), which is then folded and stitched, turned right side out and added to the back of the coat.
To make this neat, I stitched the long open edge from each side, leaving the middle open, then pressed the seam open (ensuring the seam was in the middle of the fabric) and then stitched both short ends closed.
Here is my stitched button band:
Next thing to do is to trim the corners and turn this the right side out though the gap we left, so that it looks like this:
Now we just slip-stitch the gap closed, press, turn over and we have our button band. (Note: the distance between the button positions was measured and additional was allowed so that the buttons would not overlap the button band and for seam allowance)
Once the button holes have been stitched and the buttons sewn onto the back of the coat we can attach the button band:
Yes, I did use the same fabric, and yes, I did cut on the grain, so why does my button band look a different colour?
It’s because I’ve got the nap of the fabric running in a different direction. I may have mentioned that the character I’m playing is a bit of a ‘wide boy’ so I didn’t want the coat to look brand new. To achieve a ‘worn’ effect, I deliberately cut the fabric to that the nap of the corduroy is running up the fabric from bottom to top. (i.e. if you run your hand up the coat, it will feel smooth and silky, if you run your hand down the coat, it will feel rougher). By doing this, the fibres wont all lay flat and the light will refract at different angles from the fibres giving the colour differentiation.
However, for the button band, I’ve got the nap running the other way, it’s running down the fabric, so the nap lies flatter, this gives a lighter, flatter colour.
If I had cut the coat with the nap the other way, it would have looked like the button band, lighter and cleaner and less ‘interesting’. If you are working with napped fabrics, make sure you play with the orientation of the nap to give you the result you want.
Sunday 12th August
Not a lot of time today, so I simply turned up the hem of the main coat, pressed and edge stitched. Then I turned down the raw edge of the hem, pressed and edge stitched this also to give me a nice pressed hem.
The Corduroy is quite heavy and the hem was falling, so I have also added some tacking stitches every 2-3 inches to hold the hem in place. These stitches are basically blind stitches (so into the interfacing or the back side of the fabric), which are knotted – you cant see them, but they do their job.
Monday 13th August
Finishing touches – well, sort of, I still have a few French tacks to put in to keep the hem of the lining in place (close to the hem of the coat).
The Sleeve lining has been stitched into place on the inside of the cuffs to hold it in place and make it appear a seamless construction:
The cuffs were top stitched as was the collar, partly to prevent ‘movement’ of the material but also to help give a far more professional finish.
Both sides of the front opening of the coat were also top stitched – this was done from hem to collar. When I reached the curve of the collar I started reducing the depth of the top stitching so that the top stitching ended at the edge of the stand collar, rather than ending 1/4″ or so in from the edge; again this gives a far more professional and ‘finished’ look.
Button holes were added to both sides of the cuffs, and buttons added to the sleeves to finish off the arms:
The front of the coat was measured and button holes added in the left front side, buttons were then added to the right front side and also to the left front side in alignment with the button holes. This is fairly classic for this period.
You should also be able to see the top stitching in the above picture; and, if you look closely you can see where I’ve curved the top stitching around the neckline.
This is a very large coat, so I thought I’d lay it out on the floor to show you the amount of material used in it. Just for reference, it drapes beautifully and ‘moves’ nicely.
A different view showing how the skirt will ‘move’ when the coat is worn:
Saturday 18th August
The coat is Finally Finished!!!
I had a busy Saturday morning as I had to do a bit of running around and tidying (!) but I finally got around to putting the French Tacks in the coat.
What are French Tacks?
Basically they are a way to anchor a loose lining to the main fabric to prevent it twisting.
There are various methods for French tacks and you can find these by searching on-line:
- Chain Stitch (hand crochet method)
- Blanket (or Buttonhole) stitch
- Tear-away Machine Stitch
- Overlocked stitch
However, as the coat material is quite heavy, I’m going to use Blanket (Buttonhole) stitch as it’s a slightly more robust method for securing the lining. (Personally I think the finished stitch looks better too!)
Di Kendall has a great blog post about Button hole stitch which can be found here.
Thread a needle and tie both loose ends giving you a double thread strand (ensure you have enough thread as you will use quite a bit!). Take a small stitch in your seam allowance close to the hem of your main fabric and then another small stitch to secure it. Now take a small stitch in your seam allowance close to the hem in you lining material – leaving 1/2″ – 1″ of thread between the lining and main fabric take another small stitch to secure it. You will now have a small length of thread between the lining and main fabric – continue to take stitches in the main fabric and lining, leaving the length of thread in between until you have 8-10 lengths of thread.
Now we basically create a blanket (buttonhole) stitch around the loose threads to bind them. Pass the needle behind the bunch of threads you have just created and then over the thread tail from the needle – pull this tight around the bunch of threads (which creates a knot) making sure you have tightened this close to the fabric. Repeat the process, tying each knot against the previous knot you have created until you reach the other piece of fabric (in this case the lining) take a couple of stitches to secure and tie off.
This is a completed French Tack – you can see the knots all neatly aligned on the left hand side of the tack. I repeated this 3 times, to hold the side seams and inverted pleats together.