Wednesday, February 21, 2018

The Details of the Winter Coat

For those that like the details! Last post I showed the final product of my Nanette Lepore knockoff winter coat and discussed a little bit about my process and gave a high level overview. In this post I am sharing the photos I took during construction and giving a little bit more detail.

Loving my new coat!!

***Warning***  A heck of a lot of photos! 26 to be exact!!
If you only want to see the final product and the highlights of the project go to this post: 

Nannette Lepore inspired knock off! A Winter Coat

Step 1: Create a pattern. For this I used my mater darted bodice pattern. Rotated darts into horizontal lines, used the Pamela Vanderlinde Patternmaking for Jacket and Coat Design book to guide me on how and where to expand for wearing ease.
First draft of pattern- I made 4 versions before getting to final coat version.
 Step 2: Lots of muslins. I ended up making 5 muslins. I was okay with doing this because I was in full control of the design. Each step of the way I made changes and depending on how big the changes were sometimes I re-muslined after just 1 big change as in the photo below. This was muslin 2 with some big changes to move to muslin 3. I make sure that I write notes on my muslin in a sharpie so that I can clearly delineate any changes I want. IN this case some changes were for fit of the winter coat but many of them were for design elements. I make a muslin, put it on myself, make any notes, put it on my dress form and then make those changes on the muslin, transfer them to the pattern, do the pattern work and then make another muslin!
Muslin between version 2 and 3. I always get the body portion of the design nailed down and then move to the sleeves last.

Final muslin with sleeve added. 

Showing the sleeve with the zipper slit 
 Once the muslin was perfected. (and BTW I did try the muslin on with a very thick sweater. This way I could make sure that I had the room I wanted for winter in Chicago dress.

Moving on to construction: In the last post I mentioned that I ended up cutting out 80+ pieces of fabric! the Front and back main bodies each have 18 separate pieces of fabric. Each main wool fabric piece was underlines in cotton flannel. Each piece of cotton flannel was hand basted to the accompanying wool piece.
Hand basted cotton flannel attached to the wool fabric.
 After the hand basting, the piece is then treated as a single piece of fabric and the construction of the garment begins. The shoulder darts are cut and pressed open, the flannel is trimmed closer to the seam allowances to reduce bulk. in the areas where there were multiple seams meeting I made sure to leave the seam allowances free. this allowed me to trim and press in any manner that I wanted to reduce bulk.
Construction of back pieces. Underlining trimmed and measures taken to reduce bulk. The horizontal seams are top stitched for design.
After main construction, I then catch stitched down the vertical seams to the underlining only.
Close up of catch stitching of the vertical seams to the underlining.

Photos of the inside and outside of the back.
 With the back completed, I started on the front. Other than the front opening, the other change that I made was to add in-seam pockets. Due to the shaping in that lower horizontal seam I had to cut separate pocket pieces verses cutting the pockets in one piece with the lower and middle piece of main fabric. I cut a facing piece for the front and back of each pocket out of the wool and then the pocket bags were cut out of the lining fabric.I really, really wanted to make sure that the pocket opening was stabilized. I want no chance of the pocket pieces stretching out over time.To do this I used the selvage edge of silk organza plus on both side plus I also used a very narrow piece of twill tape. the pockets look great and so far there has been no gaping!! If I make these again, the only change would be to make them maybe a 1/2 inch wider.
Detail of the external pocket construction
 Once the front and backs were together, I tried it on and pinned it shut along center front to make sure that there were no changes needed before I moved on in construction.
In-progress photo in the mirror.
 At this point I completed the lining. I almost always sew the lining first or midway through. Why? because once I get towards the end of a garment, it annoys the hell out of me if I have to stop and then construct the lining, it sort of puts a stop to my good feeling of being almost done! I know, weird. It works for me and I bet everyone has there own little quirks in their sewing methods!

Look at that plaid matching!!

The biggest challenge in sewing the lining was matching the plaid! I wanted it to look like that the back and front pieces were cut out of one solid piece of fabric and not cut out of 6 separate pieces!
On the facing I was able to eliminate the back shoulder dart by taking a closed wedge across the pattern piece. This helped to reduce bulk! I used an fusible mid weight hair canvas for the facing pieces and this was a perfect amount for stabilization! I also used a modified method of adding a pocket in between the facing and the lining from the book Cool Couture by Kenneth D King. In his method he adds piping. I wanted a very sleek invisible look.
Details of lining, facings and inside pocket.
 Next up was the sleeves... each sleeve has 6 pattern pieces. After I hand basted the flannel underlining to each piece I very carefully labeled and pinned the piece name and description to every piece so I wouldn't screw them up!! I also always make sure to pin my labels to the top of the pieces so I know orientation as well.
Detail of sleeve pieces and flat construction to do the top stitching.
Once the flat pieces were constructed and top stitched I sewed the underarm sleeve and left the opening for the zipper. The sleeve was then carefully steamed and pressed.
Details of the sleeve inside and out prior to sleeve head and zipper insertion.

I used a sleeve head made of tie interfacing cut on the bias to smoothly gather the sleeve head and to provide some support and keep it from collapsing. This eliminates having to baste and gather the thick fabric and you can see how nicely shaped they are after sewing these in and a steam shaping/pressing. 
Details of sleeve head and the shaping the help provide.
 For the zipper I used the selvage edge of silk organza to add some extra stabilization, hand basted the zipper and then sewed it in on the machine using a center zipper application.

Details of the lower sleeve and zipper insertion.
 Next up... bound buttonholes. I always test out my buttonholes on a scrap sandwich of the fabric, lining, facing, interfacing. Whatever the final sandwich of fabric will be, I make sure to test on those exact same fabrics. I do this no matter what type of buttonhole it is and no matter how comfortable I am with the process.

Details of my test welt buttonhole and details of making the actual welts.
 On the coat front I used silk basting thread to trace the CF and the boundaries of the buttonholes. This makes sure that placement is exactly where I want it!.
Details of the tread basting and of the welts sewn on to the front of the coat
 On the inside I used a piece of silk organza to add some extra stabilization to the buttonholes.
Details showing the silk organza , the welts sewn on and the clipping of the fabric to make the opening from the back side.
Once the opening is made the welts are pushed through to the inside and then basted shut with diagonal stitches. Once the welts are securely sewn the basting stitches are removed and you have a beautiful bound buttonhole!
Details of the bound buttonhole process.
 With the buttonholes created, I then set in the sleeves. This needed to be done very carefully so that the horizontal seams on the bodice front and back lined up perfectly with the horizontal seams on the sleeves. To achieve this I pinned and hand basted first and then went to the machine.
Details of the sleeves set-in with the horizontal seams matching almost perfectly!
Next step was sewing in the lining. I used a partial machine/partial hand method. The center front around the neck and back down was done on the machine. The body and sleeve hems were done by hand and the inside buttonholes were hand stitched. 
Details of the inside of the facing side of the buttonholes and the hand stitching of the lining.
 Somehow I totally forgot to take pictures of the collar in progress! The inner collar was underlined in the cotton flannel and the outer collar was interfaced with a fusible to hold its shape. Somehow, where the collar meets at CF the under collar is a little lower. At first I was irritated about this and was going to take it off and re-do it but then after trying it on and pinning it closed as is and pinning it closed as if it was perfectly even, I decided that having the inside collar a little lower was better! It did not tend to rub against my lower chin. SO I actually modified the pattern piece to make this a detail rather than a mistake!!
Details of the collar and the coat front prior to the buttons and collar snap being sewn on.
I have now had this coat in my winter coat rotation for a little over 2 months now and I love it!!
If I were to make it again there are only 2 things that I would change about it. (other than design features or style lines!)

  1. I would make the inseam pockets slightly wider.
  2. I would experiment a little more on the hem finish. This was basically lined to the edge but I feel like this was a little wimpy for this coat.
Other than that I am over the moon and staying nice and warm :)

Once again a picture of my niece and I in Utrecht, Netherlands.
 Happy Sewing!!

On a walk with the Princess yesterday and we had to jump in every puddle!! Reminds me to take joy in the simple things of life!


  1. Beautiful work and I looked at every photo! I was glad to see you attached flannel to wool. I am making a coat and wanted to do it that way, but so many sources say to attach interlining to lining. I'm going to follow your example here. Thank you for posting this.

    1. Thank you Jean! I'm so glad you found it helpful. I learned my underlining technique from Sarah Veblen and it works beautifully! I always attach them to my fashion fabric. Good luck and happy sewing with your coat!


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