Its been a busy week of sewing and I am pleased to say that I have finally finished the top half of my coat. It has been an easy pattern to follow, the instructions are not difficult at all but I felt that they weren't thorough enough, at least not for the sturdy winter coat that I wanted to make. The interfacing was the main factor. The collar was only interfaced through the front section of lining which forms the very front of the coat and the top of the collar when bent over and I didn't believe it would be enough to create a solid collar. I also thought it was weird to interface the lining but maybe it is a normal thing to do, I have just never seen this before. I had also minimally changed the pattern to make the collar out of self fabric instead of part of the lining and so I had a slightly different fabric layout to deal with. I made a couple of changes on this pattern that I think has made the coat better and stronger than before.
The first change I made was to pad stitch the under collar which I understand is a couture finishing technique and a totally new skill for me to learn. I had bought some horse hair sew-in interfacing for a previous project and I thought it was the perfect opportunity to use it. I didn't really have any idea how to do it but I found a few different websites that provided some useful insight, mainly Gertie's blog from a few years ago when she was doing a sew-along for the Colette Patterns Lady Grey coat - you can find the how to here. Basically pad stitching horse hair interfacing on to the item not only provides the garment with strength and stability but it also helps to shape the garment. I used Gertie's tutorial and followed her lead by marking out 1/2 inch rows on the collar and 1/4 inch rows on the collar stand. I also marked out where I wanted to sew. With pad stitching you don't sew into the seam allowances but you can see from my picture that I just cut out a whole piece of horse hair according to the size of my collar pattern piece - I then marked the seam allowance with basting stitches. The most important thing is to mark the roll of the collar as this is where you use different widths of stitches, the smaller stitches marking where the roll occurs and down through the collar stand and the larger stitches on the main part of the collar. This picture shows the roll line in blue. I hope you can make it out.
The stitching as you can see is not perfect, some is much better than others, but I felt as though I was getting just a little bit better as I went along and I actually wouldn't hesitate to use the technique again. It was a little time consuming but what was interesting is that the item started to take some shape as I was working it and you could see how the collar would bend and sit on the coat. The final part of the process when I had finished the pad stitching was to cut away the seam allowance and take away the basting stitches. I put the item on my dummy then wet it and steamed it (not pressing it) with an iron to give it shape. I then left it overnight to dry ready for the next bit in the process.
In the meantime I added a lightweight bondaweb interfacing to the top collar section and front of the coat as this is the part of the garment that will be moved around a lot and pulled by endlessly wrapping and tying the coat on to the body so I wanted to give it extra support. It doesn't change the flexibility of it too much or add too much bulk but it fixes the fabric well.
When it was time to sew the lining to the outer shell I also did a line of understitching under the collar. This wasn't in the pattern instructions but I felt it was necessary to stop the collar moving and showing its underside and it works well. I know you aren't meant to understitch on an outer part of the garment but it isn't noticeable and it helps the collar to look more professional. It doesn't matter about the weight of the fabric more than the way it
will move when it is on and I don't want the collar rolling over.
Every change I am making is minimal but to add structure, strength and
durability to the garment. To be honest I am not sure why but there is no understitching in this garment at all and I think in places it is really necessary - I can see when the lining and the skirt are sewn together if the lining isn't understitched its going to roll out. I guess I will find out whether that's true soon enough!
I am getting so excited about finishing this project and will be on to the skirt of the coat tomorrow. I am beginning to think I will look like a wrapped up sweet in this coat though!! Come back soon to see my progress!