all my own work by ann

Sewing and textiles with Ann

A coat with provenance

Buying at source is such a trendy thing to do, but CAN COST A LOT OF MONEY. Finally, i have a coat made from Trefriw Woollen Mill tweed. It’s highly likely that the coat is unique, as the bolts are woven in quite short, never to be repeated dye combinations, and the chances of someone choosing the same pattern for a short run of fabric are, well, pretty slim.

It’s uniqueness and expense, made it pretty scary to cut out. I think i have a rule of thumb here though; for expensive fabric, use simple patterns. You would like to think that there is less likelihood of anything going wrong.

I bought the fabric at Easter 2019, on my way home from a walking holiday in North Wales. But my visit was planned, and if i remember rightly, i had already decided what pattern i was going to use, if i bought some tweed. I chose Kwik Sew 3732. Hardly a rule of thumb – just plain common sense – make up the pattern in cheaper fabric before you make the expensive version. I did this here, using Irish Avoco wool from FabWorks Mill in Dewsbury. Coincidentally, the coat lining was also bought at FabWorks. Its obviously a good shop, as it is about 100 miles from where i live! The buttons are from Abakhan in Mostyn, so maintaining the Welsh connection, bought without any point of reference apart from my memory.

As discussed in the previous blog post, making the shorter woollen jacket told me several things:

  • It enabled me to design and test pattern pieces for a lining. I just needed to add on the lower front and back sections to line the longer coat.
  • It would be much easier to sew the collar (I decided to go for the longer version with a collar), if i made the under collar from lining fabric and not wool.
  • I have since added a lined pocket to the shorter version, so i used the same principle to make lined pockets for this version. The pockets are slightly smaller than the pattern suggests. Just big enough for my hand to reach for the car key, which i have inevitably put into the right hand pocket!
  • The hem. I referred back to the shorter jacket on a number of occasions, including my method for hemming. I had hand stitched the lining to the turned up wool. It seems to have worked, so i have done the same again.
  • Buttonholes are nearly as scary as that first cut into expensive fabric. I bought a whole new sewing machine because of frustrations with buttonholes on the original model. A test run suggested that i’d be OK using a machine buttonhole through two layers of wool and two layers of interfacing. But re-visiting my blog post for the shorter jacket, apparently that was the case then as well. I’ve never liked the press studs that i used on that jacket….. The problem often isn’t so much stitching the buttonhole itself, but the foot coping with thicker fabric seams that it might encounter mid sew. And it would be quite complex to replicate the exact situation. So after a couple of deep breaths, and persuading myself that i could hand stitch a buttonhole if all else failed, i pressed the machine peddle….. And it was OK. I know that the third one isn’t perfect, but you won’t know!

Planning this took much longer than the sewing. The wool is quite easy to sew. I mainly used the walking foot, especially when sewing the wool to the lining. Although something is making me sneeze a little bit, and i think it is the wool fibre……

I decided not to top stitch, which is a pattern ‘option’. Whilst it would have held the seams flat and in place, the wool appears to have creased ok using steam and a pressing cloth, and top stitching would have been one more thing to go wrong on expensive fabric.

The larger coat panels are interlined, hoping that this will add extra strength and longevity to the garment. The fact that i had some suitable interfacing is a bit of an accident really. I seem to have acquired some woven cotton iron on interfacing from an online order placed early in lockdown. I didn’t really want woven cotton, but as it happens, there was just about the right amount to use under the top and bottom panels. I didn’t iron it in place. It’s just stitched with the garment seams. Any adhesion is simply as a result of pressing. I think it probably makes a positive difference, although i wait to see what happens when i have been sat down in the coat for a long time.

I could have a long wait. Whilst now is definitely a good time to make a smart coat, there are very few opportunities to wear a smart coat. So i mustn’t take any actions that might change my size and shape between now and next winter, and beyond, so that i can be sure of a lot of wear another winter.

Oh, and of course there is some left over fabric – about £25 worth, so not a lot! The mill sells scarves for £23. I have the measurements. Maybe there will be some wool scarves for Christmas this year.

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