With my sister’s birthday round the corner, I have been racking my brain in what to get her. Usually, the distance between us would mean that she would often get a birthday card from me but as she is coming to visit me this time, I thought that I’d get her something special instead. Sometimes people drop hints at what they would like to have as a present but I think for my sister’s case, it was a bit too obvious.
Working in Bangkok meant that she no longer wears any winter garments. This also meant that if she goes overseas to a colder climate, she would often wear the same jacket that she got when she was in university here. So the request was simple, she wants a winter coat. Something that looks professional and is suitable for her upcoming convention. So obviously I told her that I was busy and that I didn’t have the right materials. I’m not being mean here but just wanted to throw her off course and surprise her.
The biggest decision apart from the pattern when making any garment is the materials. Usually I would go around the fabric shops or trawl the internet to find the perfect fabric but my recent hoard of materials meant that I didn’t need to buy anything; not even buttons! It’s actually very nice to have a selection of fabric at home that you can go through and decided which one to use. Using up the fabrics also makes more space for future acquisitions!
So from my stash of material, I took out a navy heavy weight wool fabric, lining, faux fur (all remnants from my previous projects) and horn buttons that was given to me last summer. From there, I enlarged a block bodice to get a oversized coat block. With the pattern out of the way, I cut out the fabric and started sewing the pieces together.
Some of you reading this now must think that I make everything sound so easy; draw, cut and sew. However, my ability to do this is based on the hundred of garments I have made in my lifetime. I have always maintain the fact that all the garments I made, mostly for myself, was not for vanity but more for education. After all, you can read all the books you want but without actually applying and experimenting with the techniques, it is quite impossible to experience it first hand.
So the results of my recent escapade?
A very simple double breasted wool coat with a faux fur trimmed collar and an oversized fit.
I have kept the design quite minimal and opted for a one piece sleeve, patch pockets and only a row of buttons.
I chose to use horn buttons as it adds an element of tailoring and sophistication to the garment.
From my previous projects dealing with suits and coats, I found that the best way to keep the fold on the lapel on your predetermined break line is to add about 5mm seam allowance to the peak of the lapel, tapering back to the button hole and neck line on the front facing. The front piece and front facing is then sewn together and the break line of the coat is gentle folded (I also steam the pieces and gently roll the lapel back at the break line and wait for the fabric to cool) and from the inside of the coat, I carefully tack the front facing to the wrong side of the front piece (while maintaining the fold of the lapel and ensuring the tack does not show on the front). The lining is then sewn by hand to the front facing to complete the piece. This may sound technical and elaborate (and different to other techniques I have used) but it creates a default position for the lapel and no matter how you manipulate the lapel (i.e. raising the collar or leaving the coat unbuttoned) the lapel alway folds back to the default position.
To go with the wool coat, I have also bought for my sister a Edwardian brooch I got recently in an antique shop. It detaches and turns into clips as well, perfect for dresses too!
I hope she enjoys this coat and the brooch. I cannot splash out on expensive gifts but I can always rely on own hands to make expensive gifts instead.