Tuesday, 3 March 2015

A Bit of Winter Sparkle

Hello there! I'm behind with my blogging and have several things to show you guys, so expect a flurry of posts in the next few weeks. To start - I made a coat! As usual there's a bit of a story behind it. I bought this coat about 10 years ago:

It's by a brand called Libertine, who at the time specialised in customizing high end vintage clothes with graphics. It was hugely expensive, but I managed to get a massive discount, and proceeded to wear it to death as it was SO WARM!!!! There were no labels inside - naughty Libertiner-s took them out and replaced them with their own - but I assume it was a cashmere or cashmere mix. It's also hard to determine the era of the coat without the labels; looking at the construction techniques, it could be from any era between the late 60's to the 80's. 

The coat appears simple, but there is some interesting sleeve. armhole, and yoke construction:

Back armhole and sleeve detail
Besides the name on the back, there's also some symbols on the sleeve cuffs:

But as you can probably see in the photos, the coat has seen better days - it's threadbare all over the place, some of the buttonholes are frayed, and I won't show you the lining because it's disgracefully worn out. But I've hung on to it for years because it was an investment and I can't bear to part with it, even though it's pretty unwearable. So I've kept it's memory going by remaking it. Here's the pattern which I made through a combination of measuring and tracing - it looks weird:

The pattern - that's the sleeve on the top right

I was considering taking the coat apart and using the pieces as my pattern, but I just couldn't bring myself to do it - am I the only one sentimental about clothes this way?

I used a sparkly wool that I picked up last summer on a flying visit to Abakhan's in Manchester:

It has a sort of boucle texture with random bits of silver sprinkled throughout. And it frays like crazy when you work with it, so pinking shears were used for most seams. 

And here it is:

I have been wearing this constantly since I made it - it's so warm and comfortable! I didn't quite manage to transfer all of the fullness of the original to my version, but I think it still retains the shape of the original. I lost the front button band - never liked that bit - and added that to the front section. I also made it a good 5 "/12.5 cm approx off the length.

I totally forgot to take any construction photos as I went along, but I used iron-on hair canvas for the interfacing on the front, yoke, and collar. Because I'm a bit 'belt and braces' in general, I trimmed away the seam allowances of all the interfacing pieces to reduce bulk in the seams, and then herringbone stitched the interfacing to the coat pieces. I also placed 3" bias strips in the hem for weight and 'crispness'. Then I turned up the coat hem, and herringbone stitched it to the interfacing before inserting the lining. 

The coat goes together pretty quickly - it's just a series of rectangles, no tricky round sleeves, etc. The only tricky bit is the junction of the sleeve seams under the arm. It took a couple of goes, but I got there in the end!:

Hard to see, but this is what the seams look like under the arms
I was considering interlining the coat for warmth, but then decided it didn't need it. Instead, I used a heavy-ish satin that I found in  local shop in Dalston for a bargain £3 per metre. I don't think it's meant for lining (it seems to have some stretch in it) but I don't care because I like it!

I cut the lining using the same pattern pieces, but with the facings and collar accounted for. It was put together on the machine, but then applied to the coat by hand:

Where the lining meets the coat - you can see my little hand stitches

Where the lining meets the centre back facing, with a pleat for ease of movement.
I topstitched around the centre front collar and yoke, just like the original. I also avoided button holes by using big black press studs:

Top stitching and press stud detail

I made the cuffs a bit deeper than the original:

I think that's everything! As I said earlier, I've worn this coat constantly in this cold weather, and it's kept me warm and toasty. You can throw it on with anything, jeans and a t-shirt or something fancier. I'm actually going to miss wearing it once it gets warm!

See you soon!


  1. You did such a great job. I was planning on making a coat this winter but never got round to it.

  2. Cassie Stephens3 March 2015 at 21:27

    Wow, I am SO IMPRESSED! Not only am I in awe that you stitched a coat but that you created a pattern based on another coat. That's amazing to me!! Love the coat, you look perfect :)

  3. Scruffybadgertime4 March 2015 at 07:05

    That looks so satisfying on all fronts! You've got an awesome coast winter coat that shimmers, AND you've allowed your beloved coat to live on in tribute. What a labour of love, and so worth the effort.

  4. Wow, your boucle coat is amazing. Both shci and sporty!

  5. Wowsers! This is gorgeous, and I am amazed that you made the pattern too. Re taking the old coat apart - I've been watching Kenneth King's Craftsy class called Jean-ius. This one teaches you how to make a jeans pattern from a pair of jeans. He recommends not taking the jeans apart, as the fabric can stretch and the pattern would then be distorted. He uses the thread tracing method instead. I haven't tried it yet myself, but it certainly makes sense. Lynne

  6. Stunning coat Nicole, you've done an amazing job!

  7. Ahh this is perfect and such a great job using the existing coat as a pattern. Love the bit of sparkle!

  8. This is so fabulous! I'm impressed with your patience to draft a pattern from the original - a real testament to how much you must love that Libertines coat!


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