Everything I learned about coat making: Magnesium

If one year ago you would have told me that I would have been able to make a coat I would have laughed. To me making a coat has always been a daunting task, I guess the most terrifying project together with a blazer. But I’m VERY PROUD to say that I just completed my first coat! And it was a journey…but not for the reasons I thought it would be.

Pattern, notions and tools

I choose a french pattern for my first coat: Magnesium (Ivanne S.). I purchased the pack complet to have all the possible variations. This pattern is very versatile, with options for short, medium, long length, single and double breasted closure and several pockets and neckline options. In addition all the patterns from Ivanne S have extensive and detailed instructions, and are very well made. I wanted a pattern that I could “trust” for this big project.

I spent quite a long time just figuring out where to find all the tools and notions that I needed to make a coat, and to read all the instructions. The pattern recommends making the shoulders using both shoulder pads and sleeve heads, I bought both on Wawak. On the same website I also got a tailor point presser and clapper, which I highly recommend for tailoring and pressing wool, and I already had pinking shears and a pressing ham. Between the lining and main fabric I decided to add gold piping that I found on Etsy.

Fabrics

Just to give you an idea of how long this took, I started the search in July last year…I wanted a 100% wool coating fabric, but I wasn’t sure about spending so much money on the fabric for my first coat (I found fabric between $35-40/Yard and I needed 2.5 yards). While browsing I discovered FabricMart.com. They specialise in closeout fashion fabric, which to my understanding is like deadstock fabric. Deadstock fabrics are fabrics that are no longer being produced, remnants from previous fashion collections, so usually available in small quantities, and for a cheaper price. There, I found a cashmere (10%) wool (90%) blend in an indigo-purple coating wool for $20/yard. It was my first time ordering from this website, but I was very pleased with the fabric when it arrived. It’s very soft and with a nap.

For the lining I choose a vintage cotton that I found on Etsy some time ago. The blue of the polka dots perfectly matched the indigo of the coat. I still have enough to make a shirt, since I only used one yard. I also bought bemberg rayon lining for the sleeves in blueberry from Blackbird Fabrics (sold out).

The coat

I made the long version, single closure, inseam pockets and a blazer neckline (version B, boutonnage simple, avec col tailleur). I only changed the position of the dart’s point (0.7cm toward the side seam and 1.5cm towards the waistline) and cut a size 38, after having made a toile. I actually fit it in 2 yards of fabric!

I spent the first evening (it took me 3 hours) to print the 70+ pages, tape them together and add the seam allowance (which is not included). The second evening I made a toile for a size 38, after that I only changed the dart position and left all the rest untouched. I have to say that it was quite difficult for me to figure out the final fit from the cotton toile. Wool and cotton behave so differently, that I only focused on the shoulders and darts position. The third evening I cut all the fabric (main and lining), and the 4th evening I interfaced. Then it took me 4 more afternoons/evenings to actually sew the coat, and it wasn’t hard at all! I think that technically speaking making jeans is more complex and time involving, for me the longest part in this case was the preparation.

After having finished the external coat I took in 3 cm (pinched 1.5 cm) per side above the seam line (and seam pocket), and I decided to attempt a bound buttonhole (successfully!, see resources below). I decided to use only one huge button from my grandma’s stash (2” diameter).

And here’s the result!

Everything ran smoothly actually, and I’m quite pleased with the sewing part…EXCEPT for one MAJOR THING!!!!

PLEASE ALWAYS USE A PRESS CLOTH, and more than one layer!!! Ask me how I know? Well…on day 1 of sewing I pressed my wool on wool settings but without a press cloth, and the result is that I slightly burned the nap of the fabric in certain parts, and while it’s ok in normal light, in full sun it’s more like a tie dye effect (see pic below, I took them at 12pm full light)…disaster! The fabric has a nap and it already reflect the light behaving similarly to a velvet, but you can clearly see parts that are darker than others both on the front and on the back. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to do much to solve the issue, so I guess I’ll try to avoid full light while wearing it (vampire mood). Now..I think that my fabric was particularly delicate, because when I realised it I tried to iron with a press cloth and I still had issues, my solution was silk settings, 3 layers of press cloth (white cotton), maybe the cashmere makes it very sensitive to heat? Not sure…

Cost and other details

Here’s a breakdown of the total cost ($77.50 pattern excluded)

  • fabric: 2 yards wool coating $40, 1 yard lining $6.63, 1 yard of bemberg rayon lining $9 = $55.63
  • interfacing: $5
  • notions: shoulder pads $3.39, sleeve heads $1, thread $2.5, button (free from my grandma’s stash), piping $9.99 = $16.88
  • pattern: $15

Very useful resources

As I wrote, I spent quite some time researching coat making. I’m a very visual person and to me the best resource is always youtube/blogs. I highly recommend TomKatStitchery channel and her B6385 Sew Along! I made the bound buttonhole following Whitney’s instructions to the letter.

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