Monday, February 06, 2006

Trench coat V2449

Started 29th January 2006
10th February - finished! hurrah!

This is a learning project. I am using some not very expensive fabric, and making a lot of mistakes along the way, and then attempting to learn from my mistakes. Since the fabric gets holes in when stitched, I have been mostly leaving the mistakes and then moving on to the next bit of the garment to do it better. There are so many steps to this project, that you get lots of goes at doing things right. Here's a list of the adventures.

Cotton gabardine with some sort of water repellency built in. I tried to pre-wash it, but it wouldn't get wet! Amazing! Doesn't seem to shrink when steam ironed. It is deep red.

Some sort of slippery lining material in dark blue, which turned out to be rather narrow so I didn't have enough for the last two bits of the arms. I am substituting those with Pertex. The construction with the Pertex didn't seem to be a problem, except that Pertex really does get holes in so I used technical-tape (I expect it has a name, but it is Japanese) and steamed the seams together prior to sticthing. The Pertex is noisy compared to the rest of the lining!

Sizing - Cut size 14 shoulders, arms and bust and tapered the edges of the pattern pieces down to a 12 above the waist (at the "petite fold line"). Size 12 below that. People have described this coat as tight fitting but it seems fine and I can easily fit a jumper underneath. It is certainly nothing like as close fitting as most of the trench coats worn by the trendy girls in Japan. The way I did the alteration seemed to mess up the button positioning somewhat - probably a higher degree of accuracy cutting out was required too! Still, it works as long as I only button right over left, which is all one would ever do anyway I think. The pattern instructions on the button positions and which sizes of buttons to use where are clearly wrong. I just did it so it looked right and so that button sizes matched buttonhole sizes as much as possible.

The instructions say to clip the under-collar and the pictures seemed to show a cut under-collar - so I did cut the collar - in several places! But I ended up sticthing it together again, and I now think that one is supposed to clip in the seam allowance of the collar - like with all the other bits round the collar where it was clear to clip in the seam allowance only. What a dimwit!

Others have complained that the sleeve in this pattern needs too much easing. I used Gigi's method of stretching a bit of material cut on the bias along the stitching line, and it worked perfectly - not that I know really since this is my first go at sleeve easing, but it looks fine to me. The easing of the lining also worked fine using Gigi's other method, of sticking a finger behind the presser foot to stop the fabric feeding through so fast.

The sleeves remain a bit of a mystery. The 3 (12,14,16) sizes on the pattern all have the same length of sleeve. I measured up and decided they were far too long for me, using the carrier markers as a guide to where the wrist should fall. So I cut the petite length (shortening in 2 places above the carriers). The sleeve lining is marked as being cut much shorter than the sleeve. I now conclude that the sleeves are supposed to have a huge hem, and the lining attaches to the top of that hem. I ended up with quite a small hem and so my lining and sleeve don't meet. I wouldn't have had this problem had I not cut the extra length off the lining, but I still think that had I cut the full length sleeve and used a large hem that the carriers would be two inches too low! Perhaps the pattern indicate the size of the hem, but I didn't notice if so.

I have two sorts of interfacing, both fusible - a heavy one and a light one. In this garment I have played with putting different weights in different places to see the effect. I put light interfacing on the front facing and upper collar and heavy on the collar band, lower collar, pocket welts and the shield. The shield ought to have a lighter interfacing but he rest seem about right, so far. The other problem is that the interfacing doesn't fuse for long to this fabric, so I should have stitched it in more carefully, rather than cutting the seam allowance completely off the interfacing! Hopefully since this coat wont be laundered perhaps nothing too terrible will happen and the top and edge stitching should have stitched most of it down.

My topstitching on this garment varies from really rubbish to OKish, as I have slowly learned more about how to tackle it. In this fabric you can't redo a line of stitching more than once since you get holes in the fabric. I found a size 20 thread, which is too thick even with a size 16 needle. Sometimes it stitched OK and sometimes not. I found that testing on a scrap of material after each needle re-threading, and then re-adjusting the threading again if it looks bad, avoids bad top sticthing on the actual garment. (doh!) Another thing I discovered was that curves like the collar corners are much neater, and quicker (when you take into account ripping!) to topstitch by hand. I just leave a long thread out of the line of stitching from the machine and then finish the corner with that. The pattern calls for topstitching and edge stitching all over the place. Without a double needle, my lines aren't parallel. One day I was in the train eye-ing up the girls in trench coats - they must think I am a mad lesbian - and I noticed that their coats don't have the double line - they are only topstitched. After that I gave up on the edgestitching, and everything look so much neater - pity I was so close to the end of the topstitching part before realising this!


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