I won! I won! Sewing a Trench Coat – Fabric Mart 2016 Sew Along

When I saw Round Two of the Fabric Mart Fabricista 2016 was a trench coat, I was not enthusiastic. A trench coat, any coat actually, is a lot of work. I didn’t really need or want another trench coat. And, I had a busy weekend planned.

Front of the Trench coat

Front of the Trench coat

Research was the first step. Trench coats started off as practical, utilitarian clothing, not as a fashion statement. The contest rules included a link to the Wikipedia entry for Trench Coats, but I found the Gentleman’s Gazette guide to Trench coats much more informative and entertaining https://www.gentlemansgazette.com/trench-coat-guide/   Many features of a traditional trench coat serve (or served) a purpose. The rifle flap kept a soldiers gun dry, the back flap provided rain protection for his back pack. The D-rings held canteens (or according to some sources, hand grenades). The deep collar could be turned up against the weather. Pockets covered with a flap provided water proof storage. IWrist straps pulled the sleeve hem close to the wrist, to keep rain from dripping in when a soldier raised his arms (this was before the invention of the ribbed cuff). Epaulets held rank insignia.

My pattern stash offered nothing suitable for a trench. So I turned to my favorite pattern download site, Lekala, where I found a classic trench coat pattern # 5488, called Double Breasted Raincoat.

Who says downloaded patterns are instant satisfaction?? My printer seldom has a decent cartridge. I like to send my stuff to the local FedEx-Kinkos to print. They usually have it done the same day, and they are open 24-7. But, I still have to drive over and pick it up.  Then the pages must be taped together, and, finally, the pattern pieces must be cut out. That’s not my definition of instant!

On the plus side, Lekala patterns are customized to your measurements. When you’re in between or crossover sizes the way I do, this eliminates a lot of time consuming tweaking for fit.

As my downloaded pattern file went off to Fed-Ex Kinkos, I dug down into my fabric stash. I had some nice water resistant and repellent pieces, in burgundy, emerald green, and navy blue. The emerald is a sort of double-cloth, with a black lining. I also had some pieces of canvas, including a water-resistant Greek key design in an olive green and gold. But, the solid colors weren’t exciting and the Greek key canvas was too busy.

The bolt for the fabric

The bolt for the fabric

Then, I stumbled across an old bolt of fabric. The label said only “Assorted Wovens”, with price tag of $1.99 per yard.

The fabric itself is a wonderful ivy print. It looks a lot like a Dorothy Draper print I saw in the Trellis Room when I visited the Greenbriar Resort in West Virginia earlier this summer. I knew it would make an exciting and different trench coat. And, when I spilled a little white wine on it, I learned it’s actually quite water resistant. Or at least, white wine resistant.

My limited stash of polyester lining fabric had nothing suitable. I found an army green challis-like rayon that might have worked, but it had the price sticker still attached, and I didn’t want to use $5 yd fabric to line  $1.99 yd  fabric.  I kept searching. I was very close to giving up and using the rayon when I popped open a bin of old sheets. And there, right on top, was a sheet in the perfect color, in perfect condition.

I trekked to Fed-Ex, picked up my pattern and some tape, came home, and made dinner. Afterwards, while watching TV with hubby, I taped the pages together and cut my pattern out.

Back of the coat. The flap matches so well it disappears into the back

Back of the coat. The flap matches so well it disappears into the back

Most Lekala pattern instructions are little more than a brief outline of assembly steps. This coat had almost a full page of instructions, 17 steps. Some steps were quite verbose, yet cryptic. I’m still not sure what the relieve edge is. Throwing caution to the wind, I  set the instructions on the china cabinet and tackled the project my own way.

First, I laid out the pattern pieces matching the bold print as best I could. This time consuming process gobbled up fabric. The back of the coat is three pieces, center, left side, right side, princess seamed. Starting with the center back, I matched the pattern along the princess seams. Then I matched the back flap to the back. The front is also princess seamed, with four pieces. Two center pieces that overlap to make the double breast, a right side and a left side. Ideally, I wanted both center fronts to be exactly the same with the sides matching at the princess seams. But, I didn’t have enough fabric. So the right side front matched one center front piece, the left matched the other. But the center front pieces do not match each other.

The patch pockets match the fabric under them, the pocket flaps are made from the contrasting lining fabric.  The sleeves are two pieces. I wanted to make them so the pattern is mirror image, but it was impossible. The print has a distinct up and down and a clear left and right side. So the pattern runs front to back on one sleeve, and back to front on the other.

Then I cut lining, belt and contrast pieces from the cotton sheet. I omitted the interfacing in the coat itself because the fabric is really stiff on it’s own. The belt is interfaced, because the sheeting was way too soft without it.

Back of the Trench

Back of the Trench

I sewed the back pieces together, the right front to the right center, the left front to the left center, then the shoulder seams. I did the same with the lining. I applied the pockets to the front, then the contrasting pocket flap. I stitched the upper and under back flap together, trimmed the corners, turned it right side out and top stitched it. I basted it into place along the neck.

I made the collar using the print fabric for the under collar and the contrasting lining for the upper collar. I basted the collar to the neckline, over the back flap.

Then, I sewed the lining into the coat, sandwiching the raw edges of the flap and collar between the coat and lining at the neck. I top stitched around the front edge.  Next I added buttons and buttonholes. Usually a double breasted coat has two vertical rows of buttons. One is functional, the other is decorative and provides visual balance. I used only one vertical row of functional buttons.

I assembled the sleeve and sleeve lining pieces. I turned the sleeve right side out, and the sleeve lining inside out. I slipped the lining over the sleeve and trimmed the lining to be a bit shorter than the final sleeve length. Then I slid the lining down the sleeve, so the hem raw edges lined up. I sewed the raw edges together. I slipped the lining off the sleeve, and stuffed it back inside the sleeve. I pulled it up on the inside so the raw edges at the top of the sleeve and sleeve lining lined up. This pulled the lower edge of the sleeve, which was longer than the lining, to the inside of the sleeve, making a hem. I pressed the hem in place, and inserted the sleeve into the coat.

 

D-ring on Pocket Flap

D-ring on Pocket Flap

I had loads of o-rings and split o-rings and even a few square rings in my stash but no D rings. So I went to the hardware store to find some D-rings. As I was picking through the bins, a helpful store associate asked what I was using them for. When I told him they were for a trench coat, he said a lot of artists had been in that week buying hardware bits, and asked if a big art show was coming up. He seemed a little disappointed when I told him it was for an on-line sewing competition.

D-ring as belt loop

D-ring as belt loop

I added the D-rings to the pocket flaps, the collar and the back flap. I also used D-rings for belt loops.

I finished the raw hem edge of the coat and lining on my serger, turned them up and top stitched the hem.

Two features that appear on traditional trench coats that I did not add were epaulets and cuff straps. The slightly strange collar would hide epaulets anyway. I originally planned to add cuff straps in the contrast lining, but I simply ran out of time and energy.

The final step was photos for Facebook. I uploaded my photos just hours before the deadline.

And I won! A rotary cutting tool and two patterns. Yay me!

 

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