I love it when the independent pattern companies release a new pattern! I also love sneak peaks and I was lucky to get one at the latest from Sewaholic, the Robson Coat, before most of you
The Robson Coat pattern features everything you’d hope for on a trench coat, including front and back storm flaps, epaulettes, top-stitching, tie belt and sleeve tabs. It’s unlined to make it easier to sew, as well as easier to press the finished coat.
I was selected for pattern testing by Tasia and I was SUPER excited about this coat. As soon as I saw the line drawing I knew it was the perfect opportunity for redemption from the Gok Coat of Doom and rushed out to find the perfect fabric.
And I found it! But I have to say, I don’t think I have ever squeezed a pattern out of quite so little fabric!
Standing in The Fabric Warehouse with a 150cm wide bolt of wool under my arm and converting Tasia’s rough yardage (this is pattern testing) gave me 3.4 meters…I hrmmed, that’s a lot of fabric!
I wondered aloud to my confidant, the sales assistant, at the cutting counter. I said, “maybe I’ll just get 3.2m…it is based on the larger sizes and I am cutting a 12…”, Miss Confidant said, “If it was me, I’d just get 3 meters…” we discussed it further and I went with 3 meters. This fabric wasn’t cheap ($32/m) but I knew this coat was going to be luxe so I wasn’t too bothered, confidant in Tasia’s pattern drafting, in my head this coat was going to FABULOUS!
As you can see from the description the coat is unlined which makes it more beginner friendly.
I do just want to say: don’t be scared of linings! In their most simple form all you’re really doing is sewing a duplicate and sticking them together. Linings can be super fun, a secret (or not so secret) hidden touch to your garment. However, I can see exactly what Tasia was thinking as she drafted this pattern. Not only can linings scare newbies off of a pattern, they can also almost double your sewing time and a coat with this many pieces is already going to be a longer project than most.
So, for the Robson coat, you neaten your internal seams by binding them with bias tape which still gives you an excellent opportunity to embellish the internals. I can see a patterned outer with solid coloured bias bound seams or the opposite, and we haven’t even talked about contrast top stitching yet! The fabric (and thread) world is your oyster so don’t be afraid to experiment!
Me? Well I decided to take it a step further. I bought a solid coloured cotton in bright blue for my bias binding and then I grabbed that ridiculous ikat-esqe printed cotton.
Ridiculous in a good way.
You see, in Wellington, it gets cold. We don’t get snow (well, not usually!) but the wind, wow! It will freeze your bones from the inside out! The wool I bought is warm, but I already have a few warm jackets and cardis, I wanted warmer but I had absolutely no intention of drafting a lining pattern so I thought underlining would be a brilliant cheat.
I am a sucker for punishment, I can’t remember how many meters of bias I made but after I got to the sleeves I discovered it wasn’t enough and I had to make even more! (EDIT: I just checked and I made about 12.5 meters of bias, wow!) But, I am glad I made my own, I have never seen pre-made bias in the perfect colour at the shops! So has this project cured me of my bias addiction? Not likely!
So much bias!
So, back to the shell fabric story: When I got home I cursed the stingy 20cm I’d left behind at the shop, because that was by how much my last pattern piece was over hanging the edge after a quick pin-and-check.
It was my own fault, I gave the final call for the scissors. Luckily I always pin every piece and check before I start cutting, that way if I am short on fabric I get a second chance to re-work the cutting layout. In this case, working with 3 meters of fabric, I had to pin a few pieces to my wool and then roll it up and pin some more…so I started unrolling and thinking…
…if I move the sleeves around…if took off all the little pieces…if I could just get all the long pieces on, maybe I can get away with just buying that extra 20cm for the small bits…
My saviour in the end was a combination of re-working the cutting layout and elimination. I decided to cut the underside of the back and shoulder flaps out of my underlining (I bought extra, because any leftover of that ridiculousness is becoming a skirt someday), it would be a cute little secret pop of colour that might give a sneaky show as I move or they get caught in the
breeze wind and also help counter the extra fabric thickness.
Hey it was my jacket, I was just hoping Tasia would appreciate my creativity!
All-in-all I cut the following pieces out of my underlining fabric:
- 2 – Back x2
- 3 - Side x2
- 4 – Top Sleeve x2
- 5 - Under Sleeve x2
- 6 – Back Flap x1
- 7 – Front Flap x2
Then I basically stitched up the pattern as per the instructions, treating my shell fabric piece and it’s matching underling piece as if they were joined wrong sides together as a single piece. You should really baste them to each other but…well…I might not have done that
Time constraints meant I do not have any more progress shots and since it was summer, the trying ons were quick and clammy! In fact I only survived because I have this bad habit of sewing in my underwear…don’t lie, you do it too! So I knew straight away this coat was going to be a winner against the winter winds!
Ok, enough words? Agreed! Here it is:
I decided to make a proper belt for my coat, something about the tie belt coupled with the thicker fabric of my coat made me feel like I was in a bathrobe.
You can make your own belt too, just cut one angled end off of the belt piece, then you just need a buckle and some eyelets. It’s fun because you get to use a hammer.
I also used 1 inch buttons for the front of my coat, and 3/4 inch everywhere else – I just preferred the proportion of the bigger button on the front.
I will say (and Tasia has said) that this pattern really should be made from a much lighter weight fabric than what I chose to work with. My wool was probably already pushing the boundaries and adding the underling, well, let’s just say it didn’t make it any easier! There were times when I questioned if I’d get it finished and wondered what the heck was I thinking but I got there in the end and I am super happy with the result.
Click an image to view the rest of the gallery:
Thinking about making this coat in a thicker fabric too? I have some I-am-not-an-expert tips.
The Curious Kiwi’s tips for sewing in the thick:
- Make a test swatch – I did a test seam with two pieces of shell fabric underlined, then I sewed my bias tape to the seam, folded it over and top stitched it, just like the real coat. I also tested my interfacing and before I started my button holes. Use scraps of your fabric and double it up to simulate how thick the real seam will be to see how it goes. This is your chance to fiddle with the tensions to find the perfect stitch.
L to R: Top-stitching a full seam, interfacing test and a button hole
L to R: Full seam test (inside), and cut button hole
- Let the machine eat the fabric at its own pace. Sometimes you do need to gently help it but you also need to remember to let the feed dogs do their own thing.
- Most of us know that loosening the tension also helps your machine sew through multiple thick layers, but so does lengthening your stitch.
- Use a brand new needle, nice and sharp!
- Use your appliqué foot, it is clear so you can see through it and the split is off-centre, that stops the edge of your bias from folding up into it as you sew.
Appliqué foot on the left, regular foot on the right
Thank you Tasia for another amazing addition to your pattern range and for the opportunity to test it for you.
I wish I could do this for a living!
Pattern - Sewaholic Patterns Robson Coat 1301 (testing phase), size 12
Fabric – Shell: 70% wool, 30% Viscose. Underlining: 96% Cotton, 4% Lycra/Spdx - The Fabric Warehouse, Wellington. 100% cotton poplin for the bias – Spotlight Ngauranga
Other notions - Belt buckle & eyelets from Made Marion, Wellington. Buttons (1″ & 3/4″ plastic 4-hole) from Pete’s Emporium, Porirua. 2 x 150M spools Mettler thread, col. 0580 from The Fabric Warehouse, Wellington
Photos - Nerdy Husband at Wilton Bush, Wellington
Something a bit Nerdy:
Has this ever happened to you? Almost at the end of the project and: eep! Thread spool starting to show through.
This was my view as I was about to start top stitching the belt – my last bit of sewing – oh and one button that I had to cut off and re-attach – kind of sewed that puppy right through the pocket lining, oops! Anyway, when I see the thread running out for some reason it makes me sew faster, as if I can out-sew the quickly disappearing thread. Do you do that too?
This is all I had left by the time I was 100% finished
The Nitty Gritty:
I read lots of blogs and I love hearing stories about how an item was made from thrift store fabric for $2…or the fabric was a gift so the total make cost was $0. I don’t have stories like that but even I’ve managed to make a silk blouse for $10 and another for $20, I mean: SILK!
Sometimes sewing is a cheaper option, sometimes it is not.
That said, I don’t sew to save money. Sewing is my creative outlet, it’s fun, it mentally balances my life and it’s also a great way to make new friends who don’t roll their eyes as you veer off towards the fabric sale sign when walking down Willis Street.
So you are probably guessing that I am about to tell you: this coat wasn’t a “cheap” make.
Total for fabric, buttons and thread? About NZD$160.00
But it’s all about how you look at it - check this out:
I spotted the coat on the left in the window at David Lawrence on Lambton Quay last Wednesday, mostly due to the colour, but they also have the coat on the right, which is pretty much the same style as mine. Both are made from 90% wool/5% cashmere/5% nylon and lined in 55% polyester/45% viscose.
Want to guess how much either of the DL coats above will set you back? NZD$560 each- yep, that’s FIVE HUNDRED AND SIXTY DOLLARS!
My coat’s looking pretty darn cheap now huh?
Oh but I should say that the DL coats are on special right now, NZD$450. I still don’t think the term “bargain” is applicable, but I guess that’s , umm, less?
And The Curious Kiwi still wins
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