The Importance of a Toile

I have been on a hiatus lately. Both on my blog and pattern cutting, with the main reason being my wardrobe space. I noticed it was burgeoning with so many clothes (and, I’m proud to say, mostly ones I have made) that I had to store some away in the attic. I decided that if I continued to make anything, it should be something more substantial and not the hundred and one shorts I always made.

For the whole of summer, I just made do with the occasional small sewing projects until I decided recently that I wanted a trench coat. It wasn’t out of the blue but something I had on my wish list for ages. It finally came to fruition when I saw a really nice waxed cotton fabric, prefect for a waterproof trench coat.

I had the fabric, but the only thing I didn’t have was a trench coat pattern. I knew that I wanted something big and long but apart from that, I was open to suggestions (although it was more like influence). I did some research on the history of trench coats made by Burberry and Aquascutum, looked at some photographs of oversized coats, inspected a WW2 army greatcoat I had and eventually listed down what I wanted for my own coat. I didn’t want to make a faithful reproduction of a trench coat: rather I wanted something of my own design but with similarities to a trench coat.

The first thing I did was to decide on the pattern block I wanted to use. These personalised blocks have been fitted and altered to me so many times that it’s near perfect! I went with a raglan block as I have not made any coats that featured a raglan sleeve. I traced the block off and made all the necessary changes like adding width to enable the coat to be double breasted, decided on the break point/breakline and drafted a collar and lapel. As this is the first draft, I decided to make a toile with the pattern I had just drawn. A toile is extremely important as it ensures that any fitting problems or changes to the style can be made before the final pattern and garment is cut. It may seem like a laborious task but this is actually good practise and eventually can prevent a lot of issues with the final garment.

My toile fitted me well but I didn’t like the collar I’d drafted as it was too short. I easily solved this problem by laying a piece of scrap calico and made the changes that I wanted.

The collar and lapel on the left is the original draft while the collar and lapel on the right is the altered version.

I also made changes to the sleeve as I wanted a curve along the arm on the elbow. This was done by inserting a dart.

Once the changes to the fitting has been transferred back to the pattern, I proceeded to draft all the other elements of this coat. It included the storm flap, gun flap, facings, lining, belt, pleat on the back and also the removable pockets.

Sewing this garment took me a few days. This was mostly due to the waxy/oily residue the fabric imparted. Although it left me with moisturised hands, it also left everything else (including my sewing machine) with layer of wax. I also had to wrestle with the size of this coat.

The front of the coat showing all the details of a typical Trench coat but with my preference.

The back had a huge pleat that contributed to the fact that I ended up using 5 metres of the waxed cotton fabric.

The details to the pocket was an afterthought. I was dreading placing the pockets on the coat as by this time I’d had enough of oily surfaces on EVERYTHING! Then an idea popped into my head about removable pockets. I can also use the pockets as a bag when I need to and before I knew it, these two big envelope shaped pockets appeared.

I had my hesitation at first when I wore this coat (I thought it was too big) but after I pressed this garment properly (my iron continues to smoke due to the wax on this coat!!!) everything came to life and it sat perfectly on me. I can’t wait to wear this coat out but Sod’s law dictates that the weather will be wrong to wear it out. Typical!

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About syvyaw

Eat, sleep and think Fashion.

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