Saturday, March 12, 2011

Garment Construction and My Favorite Coat

I've been sewing for about three years now.  I started with simple patchwork quilts and I have moved on to more challenging quilt blocks and I've begun sewing a lot of garments.  Mostly, I sew toddler-sized garments for my toddler-sized Pete, but I have tackled some dresses for myself as well.  All this to say, I feel like I have a pretty good sense of how pattern pieces for garments come together.  Sure, there's the occasional tricky turn to hide your seam allowances, but generally there's a predictable order to things.  Starting today, now that winter is nearly over and my winter coats will be packed away for the spring and summer, I'm going to be testing my garment making confidence.

A few years ago--maybe even before we were married, I don't honestly remember--my husband bought me the. Most. Beautiful. Coat. Ever.

Purchased at Express c. 2006
 Every time I wear this coat, I get compliments.  Most people say it looks vintage which is why I fell in love with it in the first place.  The coat is a creamy wool with a satin ruffle around the collar and down the front.  The belt is chocolate brown satin ribbon, and the lining is the same satin as the ruffle.  Unfortunately, the coat is beginning to show signs of wear.  You can see a little pilling on the wool in this photo, but the worst wear is happening inside the coat.

Satin is a notoriously difficult fabric.  It's slippery, it frays very easily, and it can wear and tear very easily as well.  The photos above are the armholes of my coat.  Basically, the lining has shredded all along the seams and, unfortunately, a little whip stitch is not going to help matters one bit.  Since I consider this coat to be probably my best "statement" piece for winter outerwear, I think it's worth taking the time to really restore it so that I can get as long a life out of it as possible.  So, I decided to cut the existing lining out of the coat and use it to draft a pattern to make a new lining.  I gotta admit, here, that I'm scared shitless that I'm never actually going to be able to wear this coat again--at least, not with a lining.

From top: 1" grid interfacing, Licien voile, inexpensive quilting weight cotton
I use the grided interfacing to trace all of my pattern pieces from purchased patterns, so I figure it will work equally as well for tracing around the existing lining pieces of my coat to create a pattern to work from.  That way, I don't have to continue to handle the fragile satin and hope it stays put while I trace it onto my good fabric.  I'm going to use the inexpensive quilting cotton to make a muslin.  I don't usually make a muslin when sewing store-bought patterns because money is tight and my time is tight, so I save both by just going for it.  In this case, however, I had the fabric in my stash and that voile up there is kinda precious.  I'd rather not have a technicolor lining a la Joseph due to having to piece fabrics together to make my lining, so I'm going to go full-tilt and make a muslin from the pattern pieces I draft.  Better safe than out 3 yards of gorgeous Japanese fabric.

If any of my sewing friends out there happen across this post and have words of wisdom, I'd sure love to hear them.  In the meantime, keep your fingers crossed for me!

1 comment:

  1. I don't have words of wisdom but I really hope it works out. I have a similar situation with a coat I like and a shredded lining and I've been trying to figure out what to do. If this works for you, I might have to try it too. I'm terrified since I've never done any garment sewing, however.