I. MADE. A. COAT. The Deer & Doe Opium. LEVEL UP!!! And it wasn’t a super easy coat. But I toiled it, fitted it and made it. In one of my most treasured fabrics, that I bought from Mood (!) in New York a few years ago. And now I wear it all the time, and most importantly, I LOVE it!
I will say up front that I had help making this coat! A coat wasn’t really something I thought I was going to do this year. I had vague plans to maybe make a coat, and had bought the pattern when it was first released, but kind of assumed I wouldn’t make it for a while because I wouldn’t have time. But then Sew Studio Fife advertised a coat making weekend for early October and I seized my opportunity for two full days child free, and on top of that, eat afternoon tea and sew all day!
The course was taught by Victoria (sewing nutt on Instagram) and Jen Hogg from Sewing Bee. All very exciting. They were fab teachers and I loved the course. I of course, being Sew Slow Sarah, didn’t finish during the weekend, but I left brimming with confidence and despite lots of lovely offers of help from both tutors, managed to finish it off at home in a few hours with no further help.
I used a few different fabrics for the coat. The main fabric is a wool blend from Mood I’ve had for a few years. I was a little hesitant about using a patterned fabric, but by cutting on the flat, and matching fabric pieces as I cut, I think I managed pretty well!
The pockets look level and the chevron points are level on different parts of the coat, so I’m very pleased. I had 4 yards of the fabric, and so still have quite a bit leftover…maybe one day Alba will get a matching coat.
I used two fabrics for the lining. I wanted a fun contrast on the inside so opted for the white cotton with a pink floral print – it’s really pretty and pops so well against the grey and black of the wool. It’s been in my stash for a while and I had no plans for it so I was happy to use it so well. Although cotton can stick to tights, the swing design on this coat means that shouldn’t be a problem.
The sleeve though needs a slippery fabric to help your arm move through and so cotton wasn’t appropriate. I picked up a black cupro from Rainbow Fabrics specifically for this coat, and it worked really well.
Sewing with wool is so lovely! The only allowance we made for the wool was to use a walking foot in the class to help deal with the thickness of the layers. The cupro was pretty slippery, and I had a lot of trouble with it, until Jen suggested using tissue paper under the seam to help the feed dogs grip and pull. After that it worked really well. The cotton was of course a dream!
The coat pattern comes together quite easily. The welt pockets are pretty much the first thing you tackle, and so after those it’s a nice easy sew. The two piece raglan sleeve means it’s quite late in the construction before you can try the coat on for size, so I definitely recommend a toile. The swing shape means you only really need to fit it on your shoulders and bust, so it’s not too difficult to fit.
Saying that though, I spent a lot of time fitting the coat, despite making a toile first. The toile was a size smaller than my measurements, as advised in blog posts about the coat. The toile seemed quite tight, and as I wanted to be able to wear my coat with warm layers, I decided to size up by two, and didn’t toile again as I didn’t have time before the course started.
The two sizes up matched my bust measurement. Experience should have told me going with my bust measurement is a recipe for disaster, as I have a really small frame and quite big boobs, so of course the sleeves were too big, and way too wide on the shoulders. I spent a lot of time adjusting the sleeves but I’m happy with them now. I reshaped the arm at the top seam to better fit my frame, taking out over an inch from the seam at the same time. I also took two inches off the length – this was perhaps a little too much, and so I’d maybe change it to 1.5 inches next time.
We used some tailoring techniques in the course that aren’t covered in the pattern, including pad stitching on hair canvas, which I think gives a really professional finish, and weft interfacing. The welt pockets are something I haven’t done before, but made much easier with help from Victoria and Jen. I think for anything like this, just going for it is the best way to learn. If you’re not very confident, practising in scrap fabric will really help, but it’s really not too difficult a technique, just a bit fiddly.
Bagging out is another technique used for this coat, and I’m already familiar with it through a few of the Poppy & Jazz patterns I’ve used. The tutorial from Tilly and the Buttons Eden coat sewalong always helps me to get my had around it successfully.
I think my favourite thing about making the coat was using a clapper. I’ve seen these magical tools (essentially a slab of wood) used before on You Tube, and they really do work wonders in giving that professional finish. I really want a clapper for Christmas, although using a wooden chopping board gave pretty good results too!
The coat is finished off with a Kylie and the Machine label to reflect the frustration I had with my fitting woes! There’s also a lovely chain for hanging it up that came in my goody bag from the Sew Studio. Lovely professional finishes.
I love my coat. It’s swishy and glamorous and totally my style. I haven’t had to compromise for breastfeeding access, and even though grey isn’t really my colour, I love how my coat looks.
After spending so much time making it, I refuse to keep it for best (ie leave it languishing in the back of the wardrobe). I wear it for walks to the park with Alba, brunch dates (to cafes as that’s all that’s open in Glasgow!) and one day I hope to wear it all dressed up for anything that’s not allowed under lockdown!
The only drawback is the lack of a hood. But I can just carry an umbrella.
So, overall, a success. Coats are time consuming, but once you have all of the hardware together, your pattern traced, toiled, altered and fabric cut, it all comes together quite quickly. If you’ve seen a coat you want to make and are hesitant, don’t be, you can totally do it!