Thursday, 14 March 2019

Black corduroy coat

Oh my, I am behind on blogging. Even more behind than I usually am when I say I'm behind on blogging! I finished this coat over 5 weeks ago, and have finished two shirts since then.

Oh, I should update you on my not-buying-fabric! It has been going well. I haven't bought fabric, nor any other sewing material since I decided not to in January.

I went to a fabric swap at the end of January and got rid of a lot of fabric that I had no use for. I brought some fabric back, but only about 1/6 as much as I got rid of, so overall that definitely counts as getting rid of fabric rather than getting new fabric. I have a bit more space in my room now, and I'm no longer tripping over boxes of extra fabric that don't fit into the filing cabinets! I still have a few pieces of fabric that I will probably not use, so I look forward to the next fabric swap, whenever that may be.

I started this coat sometime last winter, I don't remember exactly when.
I originally intended for it to be plain and simple, but then in my search for reference pictures I found several with shoulder capes, and decided I wanted them.
It's somewhat based on this one:
Coat, c. 1800. Germany.

It has plait pockets!
And this one:
I can't find the original source for this one
so all I know is that it's from 1792.
I considered doing the little button tabs, but they would have been nearly invisible on something so dark and matte.

I'd been meaning to make myself a spring/fall coat for several years. My old store bought one, besides being rather ill fitting and synthetic, was splitting at the seams in several places.
About a year and a half ago I bought some fine black corduroy (at one of the big sales that fabricville has a few times a year) which I intended for my new coat.
I made my pattern by tracing parts of my 1789 coat pattern and drawing on a lot of new stuff.
I cut the coat pieces in the black corduroy, cut the skirt lining in what I think is a cotton/linen blend, the sleeve and bodice area lining in rayon bemberg, the pockets in a plain woven black cotton, and the shoulder cape linings in a black cotton sateen. For the collar, pocket flaps, and front edges I used fusible interfacing.

Some of these were not good fabric choices. Bemberg is a bit troublesome to work with, and much better suited to modern coat lining techniques than historical ones. The coarse stuff I lined the skirts with isn't slippery at all, and so the front parts of the coat tend to stick to my pant legs and crawl forward when I'm walking, which is annoying. This may also be caused by the corduroy facing, which I think I made too wide.

I decided to machine sew most of the coat, mostly because the materials weren't great, but also because I wanted to get it finished quickly. (Which I did not do.)
Pocket flaps and pocket bags.
I'd never done plait pockets before, and wanted to try them, especially since my inspiration coat has them. I'd read a post on how to sew plait pockets years ago and so I re-read it, but I must have been quite sleep deprived at the time because I didn't understand the instructions at all. I tried to cram the pocket pieces together in a terrible way, and then had to pick them out again when the terrible way did not work.

I was quite frustrated and I put the coat aside for some months. When I came back to it I re-read the plait pocket post again and it made perfect sense. (Presumably because I wasn't sleep deprived this time.) I sewed the plait pockets fairly successfully, but because of my failed attempt I had lost a bit of width in the lining fabric, so they aren't perfect. I had to tack some bits by hand to help them lie better.

In 18th century coats the front pieces are supposed to be lined before being sewn to the back pieces, and then the pleats can be pleated with the lining and outer fabric as one piece. But since I was machine sewing it in a not-so-historical order of operations this didn't happen, and my pleats aren't as happy as they could have been.
My pockets. They ended up looking pretty nice from the outside.
I also messed up on the shoulder capes. I probably should have drafted the pattern for them by tracing the neckline of the front and back pieces, and then building the circle shape off of that, but instead I just drew a circle for the neckhole. I vaguely recall mocking the capes up, but it must not have been in a stiff enough material because when I sewed the final ones up they didn't sit right on the neckline. They were puckered and crappy in the back!
I picked them off and trimmed down the back portion of the neckhole, and re-attached them and they fit. I don't think I attached them in the best way though. In Costume Close Up the shoulder cape is attached to the cloak by just having the raw edge turned in and hand stitched down, but it's in wool and I can't do that with fray-y corduroy. I could perhaps have turned in the seam allowances of the neckhole area to make the capes finished all around, and then hand stitched those down.

As it is I sewed them all into the neck of the coat itself along with the collar, so that seam ended up being very thick and I had to do it by hand. All together it was 5 layers of corduroy, 2 of interfacing, and 2 of cotton sateen. I hand stitched the coat lining to the inside of this, after tacking the giant bulky seam allowance in a few places to help it stay put.
Next time I make a coat like this it will be wool, and I will have none of these troubles.
The third thing I messed up was the lining. I machine stitched the front linings together, with the cotton on the bottom part, the bemberg on top, and a wide corduroy facing on the front edge. While I was doing this I accidentally ironed one side of the rayon on a setting that was far too hot and it shrunk. It shrunk rather more than I realized, and I didn't want to pick out that piece and re-cut it, though I wish I had because it would have saved so much time. I thought I could get away with keeping it if I sewed it with smaller seam allowances, but no. I ended up having to hand stitch in several extra strips of bemberg where the shrunken pieces didn't reach far enough.
The coat has 18 death's head buttons. Aside from a few practice ones, this was my first time making death's head buttons. I followed the directions in this booklet, but similar instructions can be found here. The only differences are that the booklet instructions have you wrap without a stick, and then insert a pin through the middle after a few wraps. And they also say to secure the wraps at the back with a different piece of thread that's waxed. I did it that way and I'm quite happy with how my buttons turned out.
I used a thick-ish black cotton yarn from Mama's yarn stash for both the button wrapping and the buttonholes.. I meant to do 10 buttons on the front, but I accidentally cut 6 buttonholes so it became 12 buttons, which is better anyways.

This coat took 52 hours in total, but a good portion of that was fixing mistakes. So much for a quick machine sewn project.
I don't yet have any good photos of me wearing this coat, because it turns out that photographing matte black things against bright white snowbanks is a bad idea. I tried twice, and got my most excellent uncle to take photos both times. The first time it was cloudy and the coat was a black blob in the dim light.

The second time it was sunny, and the coat was still a blob because of all the glare from the snow. It's a good thing I didn't take the trouble to do my hair.
Overall I like the coat, and it's good in cold-ish weather. I am rather annoyed by the clingy-ness of the bottom lining fabric though, which makes the coat skirts crawl forward a bit when I'm walking, and I think I made it a bit too long.
It's as long as the coat in my inspiration image, which I think is a bit too long to be practical. My sister accidentally stepped on the hem once when we were both walking up a staircase. I don't think I want to shorten it though.
I forgot to bring a ruffly shirt the weekend these were taken, and I think I should have worn a white cravat too.  I will get better pictures later and post them!
The buttons look so nice but it doesn't show in these photos.

Now that I have this coat I feel like I really need to make one of those 1790's hats. The tall tapered ones that look sort of 17th century revival.
Portrait of Jacob Fox Willemsz, c. 1795

1 comment:

  1. If you want to drool at some wonderfully done reproduction hats, check out M. Brenckle, hatter.