Lifelong leopard print coat
I bought this vintage coat pattern many moons ago from Etsy. It sat inside my file labelled 'Sewing Patterns' for a few moons more, along with at least three other coat patterns I've acquired.
Then one day the sewing planets seemed to fall into alignmnent; it was as if a light on a switchboard next to this pattern and another next to a rusty leopard print fabric in my stash started flashing at the same time indicating the perfect match. So the plan to make this coat seemed to almost come into being without me and suddenly it was action stations.
As this was my chance to make a coat exactly the way I wanted it, I altered the pattern a little, changing the length and sketching out the position for zipped welt pockets.
This all happened so long ago I don't know where those socks are anymore.
You can see clearly in this photo that the leopard print fabric I'm using is actually corduroy, even though it feels more like a sort of super short fur or brushed suede on the outside.
I love vintage sewing pattern instructions. I find them more condensed but more comprehensive than in most modern big-label sewing patterns.
I transferred my markings for the pockets and followed Gertie's excellent video tutorial explaining how to construct a pocket with an exposed zipper.
I added a layer of thick white fusible interfacing all over the coat for extra warmth. I also drafted very big pocket bags!
I actually messed up the sizing of the welt through total maths-brain-fail, so transformed it into a sort of double welt opening. My only regret is that I used white fabric as a facing which shows slightly at the edges. Doh!
As my leopard fabric was quite thin, I bought some microfleece from Plush Addict (bright pink - why not?) to act as a super warm interlining. On the coldest of winter days I wanted to feel like I was safely cocooned inside a Season 4 sleeping bag.
All these layers meant the seams were becoming pretty chunky and the furry corduroy had a tendency to melt when ironed at a high temperature, so I decided to double top stitch all my seams to force them to lie flat.
And for a while, that is as far as I got. The seasons changed, the end of the year arrived and I packed up and moved house with the coat unfinished.
Completing the coat was one of my priorities as soon as we landed in our new flat. If you look carefully here you can see the suggestion that I am sewing the lining in amidst unpacked boxes.
Since I knotted off the final painstaking hand stitch, my coat and I have had a whirlwind romance. We have been to the British seaside together in the middle of windy springtime storms.
We ventured into the sea together, specifically so we could text my Mum and show her that we were in imminent danger of being plucked from the safety of land by lethal currents, though I'm pretty sure had this occurred my coat would have kept me alive. (NB For some reason Blogger is making the sky look really blue in this photo. It is actually a very British wintery grey!)
We have had many a pattern clashing adventure on London's extensive bus network.
We have scaled this city's walls (well, one really small wall that made me feel like I was standing on top of The Shard without a safety harness)
And even stumbled upon one humongous letter of the alphabet, tastefully decorated as if it were the inside of a girl's loo in a nightclub.
I am pretty happy with my coat. It seemed to take an age to make and as usual I tossed aside the notion of a toile long before I even opened the pattern envelope. Looking back, for a project as time consuming and built-to-last as this, making a toile would have been sensible. The darts that extend from the shoulder seam down towards the bust are definitely intended to accommodate a chest much larger than mine and I would have reduced these and moved them further towards the centre if I had experimented with fit first.
I am most happy with the enormous pockets. They are so large I can fit my wallet, keys and phone in one pocket and a book in the other, meaning I am hands free to climb walls/grapple with giant letters of the alphabet.
In fact the pockets are so big each one can comfortably carry a bottle of wine. This is a happy design accident!
I love the pleats at the neck line on the back of the coat.
And I'm pleased with how the collar sits at the front, though it is a bit twisted at the back and I had to hand sew the lower parts of the front lapel down as they were so bulky.
The back yard at my last flat was completely secluded. I guess I'm going to have to get used to taking photos with at least 20 neighbours overlooking my activities, though I am not especially comfortable with that!
Though my coat isn't shop-bought perfect, I foresee us spending many happy rotations of the earth around the sun together. I get so much pleasure from wearing it and am especially satisfied by the extras I added; the microfleece lining and the über deep pockets. I also learned a lot through making it and whenever I next embark on a coat project - hopefully in the far distant future - I will bring these valuable lessons to the project. All-in-all I think that a homemade coat = jacketsfaction guaranteed : )