embroidered wool coat

I don’t know if this is a general habit for others, but often if I am working on a long/boring/difficult project I start to plan a nice/interesting project in my head and this project becomes the treat that I can look forward to.  So while I was plodding away with the Irish dance costume, wondering when it would all end….. I was planning to embroider this coat on the left below.

embroidered red coat

The coat is a nice quality wool, and in its day, it would have been a mid-range coat with a basic (ie not satin) lining, although the wool by contemporary standards is excellent.  It had the 80s shoulders (big), a generous cut in all (I think everyone wore big jumpers in the 80s too).  It didn’t sell for €20 didn’t sell for €10 and I bought it at €2.  I was never too sure on the colour as it was a dull rust red so I left it for a while until I figured what pattern to use for it.

I used simpliciy pattern 6733.   The cut is similar to the one I drafted last year, but the simplicity pattern has no darts, and a bit more generous in the cut, and I managed to squeeze it in.  The cut was quick enough – centre front and buttonholes and pockets carefully lined up and cut (and useful to have them all done) – back equally easy to line up.  The sleeves were a squeeze and I find this each time I recut a coat, so as long as I got 2cm past hem line, I could do a faced hem!  The collar was part cut from collar and I cut as short as I could so I would have sufficient fabric for a hood.

I dithered over the design.  Originally I was going to go with one colour only and do a grid of this motif, but it did look and feel a bit bland – a friend of mine suggested the scale of the design was insignificant got me thinking a bit more and I went searching for a another motif so with some other tiny scraps I did another test using this new motif, and loved it as the red and pink seemed to lift the colour and I could do some borders also.  I used motifs from embroideryonline.com.   Originally I was going to try and do a tiled design but once I did the finished the large motifs and placed the half motif I figured it looked a bit busy so left it.  The coat  has 2 borders – one in red, and the other in brown, and there are 8 large motifs around.  The sleeves just have the borders, and I used standard sewing thread for the embroidery.

embroidery  samples

final motifs for embroidered coat

Out of the left over fabric, I recut some back and side facings, and reused the lining, and also cut a hood.  I did not re-cut the lining as the cut was so similar to the coat itself, I just took it in a bit at sleeve head and sides.  I did use some gross-grain ribbon on the hem to give a make a bigger hem, and I like the way the ribbon looks on the inside – I also put my label on the lining with the original! (these are school labels – and I am finding them useful especially for knits so I know the back and front!).  The hang loop was reused.

 

 

The hood was a tighter cut, and I had tried to make it more dramatic originally, but when I tried it on I did not like the bigger hood at all, and as the idea of the hood for me is practical, the bigger hood has less weight and would probably blow off occasionally so I trimmed it and had to use some embroidered scraps in the edging.  I put poppers along so its not detachable.

embroidered coat with hood and without

Verdict- so delighted with the coat and wearing it loads.  This red, despite my original misgivings,  is a perfect shade, and the embroidery seems to ‘lift’ it.   It nicely replaced last years red coat which I did not wear that much as the red was a bit overwhelming for me.

I did a stall at a local market and sold some makes and last years red coat was sold.  It a great shade but too bright for me.   The stall was a bit of an experiment as sometimes donating back makes to the charity shop potentially increases their workload, and it could be interesting to find out what people think of the remakes directly.  I priced the makes at secondhand clothes prices – as charging labour time would have been unrealistic,and I wanted to clear the excess makes.  I see these makes as sample sews and considering doing a stall occasionally in the future as I like the making but sometimes I make more than I wear and and sometimes, I make for an experiment.

 

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red coat remake

Probably one of the more exciting things that happened this week was whenever I got to change flavours in cough sweets.  I have been rather bogged down by a sore throat/lost voice all week, so sounding like Kathleen Turner (how cool) but punctuated by hacking cough (how not cool) and feeling a bit peeved by it all and with only myself to blame (as I went out with a cold, came home with no voice).   I did manage to refocus the sewing, and finish this red coat .

red coat remakeIts probably my longest sewing project as it was done over the course of 6 or 7 weeks, and yet it only really took 2 or 3 days.  The coat is a divine cherry red wool, in an 80s cut, and the buttons were of the same ilk (and just look plain old tacky).  So I took it apart, brushed it and steamed it and rested it for a few days before the cut.  The lining was in good condition so I took a chance and put it aside to reuse.  I used the same self drafted pattern I used on last years coat, and decided to cut front from front etc, and reuse both the pockets and the buttonholes (as there was not enough fabric to redo the buttonholes) and in all this seemed all like a good idea and both the coat and lining were sewn up in a day, over a month ago…… and left there.  After making it up, I decided I was not sure about the darts (I have since relented and like them but would omit/change them if I was using this cocoon-style coat pattern again), and then I dithered on how best to finish (there is no best way, the only way is to get on with it).

red coat remake

In truth, the only delay was finding better buttons, and I ended up using ones that came from the button box that are a dark metal.  They are the right size and seem to work well. So then it was trying to tweak the already attached front facing into joining the rest.  I cut the back facing from the left over scrap and also made the sleeves longer but adding a deep cuff, I thought I wanted the coat shorter, but preferred it a bit longer when I had it near done, so I added bias binding to the hem to maximise the length.  I left the wool label in place…..but don’t think I will ever ever reuse those gold buttons…..

red coat remakered coat remake

Finishing took a day, and I was rather pleased. So I steamed it and clamped it and broke the Ann Ladbury rule (of resting coats overnight on hanger or manequin after making and pressing) and wore it straight away.

green car coat to ‘racing green’ coat with a hood

………..so …………this is the jacket that started it all and now that I have finally started working on it one year later, I am wondering how I picked up such an odd one!  It was 2euro, the colour of my old school uniform and it’s like wearing 1983 – you may not be able to see it clearly, but there is a tab space for missing epaulets, and some strange panel at the back, the buttons are a pewter shade, the wool quality is gorgeous..

After the issues with the last coat, I thought that perhaps I should make a pattern for what I had rather than making a pattern fit to the coat and it seemed like a good plan, especially as in the taking apart, I had ripped part of the front…. (one way to establish grain – not), so I darned it and thought I could hide it in a neck dart …..maybe…..(and it turned out maybe not).  The coat length is what my aunt calls a  ‘car coat’.  which I think refers to above the knee length – but longer than a blazer.  

I drafted a overgarment block, and then made a raglan block, and made a toile that was far too fitted, so I drafted another bodice block, and sleeve,  and gave it extra ease, and there wasn’t enough fabric in the panels using this one.  So then I went a made a deep raglan from the fitted block by the time it came to making the toile, I didn’t know if I wanted it to fit or not as (a) the pattern drafting was getting cruder each time and (b) every-time I smooth the fabric to put pattern pieces on the green wool – it was like a precursor to laying out snooker balls (and of course once you get an idea like that in your head, its hard to remove it)



The deep raglan toile had too much room at sleeve front and back so pattern re done, toile/lining recut, and coat cut. The lining/toile fabric is a sheet.  The coat made up quick enough considering I was a few days messing with drafting.  The pattern is a bit basic and I will use it again, but I will refine a few markers, especially the centre front ones as they are incorrect for sure…..  

The pockets are set in seam, the original coat has welted pockets in the same location, and I figured easier in the re-cut to put in seam.   I tried some top stitch across the pocket seams but it looked a bit odd so I took it out.


I had also thought of adding two toggles or decorative clasps but when it was sewn, I went off the idea, however, there was a buttonhole from the old jacket that ended up in the mix.  I knew it was there and left it there so to get maximum cut – and thinking it may end up in a seam finish (it didnt) as I kept as big an overlap as I could, so I left it.  I have secured and darned it the hole and will figure something in time to conceal it better.    I left the sleeves ‘bracelet’ length.  It was the longest I could get them with small cuff and 2cm hem (the only other spare fabric pieces left were the strange back panels which I needed and collar – wrong grain direction for cuff).  

The back panels were then used to make a hood, which I thought would be even better if it was detachable, and thought it may look better also lined in some nice leftover lining from last summers green coat. 


I have never drafted (or made) a hood before.  I have pattern instruction from fashion college (I never use those notes as they are in inches, although I do like my notes as I drafted all my pattern notes to scale!), and I used that with Helen Armstrong Jones (rarely draft from this – inches again), and did a mix of both.  I am really pleased with the hood, apart from it being immensely practical, it also sits well on jacket and due to fabric restrictions I did a small curve to the front hood which really holds it in place on my head, the hood facing was made from a collar which had a bias to it and not the correct grain, but it was the only piece of fabric left so it was used (well technically 3 pieces left, 2 pocket flaps and that strange button piece at neck in first photo!)



I will decide on what do about the ex buttonhole at the top later, I may just put a button on it to cover it – currently the scarf covers it fine and the hood conceals it well.    The photos are blurry towards the end, as I dropped the camera – twice. 

I was so very pleased with the jacket and wore it straight away and since, and the hood works very well indeed – tested soon after wearing thanks to the predictable Irish rain, the jacket/coat is a light weight and perfect for this time of year, and well into summer. This is now looking like the basis for the red coat remake.  I have also ceased to think of the colour as relating to my school uniform or snooker tables but prefer to compare to jaguar racing green! – 



blue coat remake to blue tunic

The best part on drawing, is not at the beginning or the end but something is often right in the middle, and the same goes for sewing!  This little project had its own moments, good and bad,  but there was a point just after the sleeves set in, that I knew it was going to work out just fine!

upcycle remake coat to tunic


I had in mind a few ideas for this coat and in the end decided on a tunic or an over-blouse.  I could have made a coat but as it was a mans coat originally, there was no excess of fabric on the hips, and the shaping darts at waist took away some more options, and I am also concious of going with the cut on wool due to pile.  The wool was lovely and although rather old, it wasn’t too worn, just some repairs here and there (which I like to see as it shows that it was a very serviceable item and worth repairing – not unlike my own ancient eiderdown tweed winter coat).

I did some drawings and drafted a pattern and made it up in a cotton which was to be the lining.  

The whole piece took about a week here and there to draft cut and complete and I put it away each time I was unsure of what to do next.  I got a bit flummoxed on how to cut the sleeves and figured the best thing to do at this point make an base-layer for underneath and as these take an hour to make up, at least I would have achieved something that day!  The base layer was made from a cardigan in my wardrobe – love the colour but those front bits get in the way all the time and there have been times I have used a clothes peg to keep them in place when I am working on something – and as a consequence, I no longer wear it, so it was to become a polo neck base-layer!  I used my knit-block, set in sleeves flat and put a band in for neck – using pretty much all of the cardigan to make it.

cardigan to pullover remake upcycle



The tunic pattern is straight forward.  I drafted a light jacket pattern, and then had the shoulder seams shorter than a jacket as I wanted a very fitted shoulder, and tight sleeve-head (I don’t know if that describes it correctly). I marked lines where the joins would be preferable on pattern worked the cut from there – the back panel has a yoke and bodice as does the front with a centre front seam.  I top-stitched each side of these seams.  The front was cut from the front, and back from the back.  The facings were cut from facings, and pockets from the coat sides.  I cut the sleeves from the sleeves – this was a dilemma for a while but I thought it best to leave it a 2 part sleeve as it was and I pressed and steamed the sleeve as much as I could before laying the pattern over it and cutting.  I cut the cuff on the crossgrain with leftovers from the back of the coat.  The cuff has a slight flare to it.    

upcycle remake coat to tunic


On one hand, the coating fabric is a heavy fabric for the tunic, and ideally it should have been made in a lighter wool with a zip back – however the coat fabric is easy to manipulate and works fine (no way was I trying to put a zip in this either!).  For a fitted piece, there is easy movement (I chopped some logs to check), which means it will work well as a ‘work tunic’ and as a mid-season jacket.   I am so pleased with the tunic – it is incredibly warm, and such a practical item, and the pockets are a bonus. Gold stars all around.


McCalls 7520 – pauline trigere coat – remake a coat to a coat

McCalls 7520 - pauline trigere coat - remakea coat to a coat

When I saw this coat – I was so pleased as there is a lot of fabric, so I probably overlooked both the fabric quality and a few stains (the trims of leather in it seemed to have put the original owner of cleaning it!)  The original coat  very much of its time, with lapels and different fastenings, the lining was anchored, as opposed to bagged (it was curious to see all the hidden bits of sewing and detail).  I took the coat apart and brushed it well, and steamed the pieces heavily with the iron and laundered the lining (I had decided to reuse it, as it wasn’t too bad and I couldn’t find a shade like it easily).

When the pattern was laid out, as usual there was compromise, the front of the coat was nearly on the straight so I lost a bit of space there, as the button detail tab on top used up extra fabric space.  The full sleeve would not fit, so I would have to take a chance with a cuff.  I was sure everything would fit, but I completely forgot about the underarm section. This just about fitted, but then the pocket seam would be tight.  I had thought if there was enough fabric that I could make it the original length which is mid calf, but the more I thought about it, the less I liked it especially as there is only one button, so I decided on a finished length of 90cm/36″, as this length is good with trousers.  In the illustration, the coat looks shorter than it is, the actual length of the coat is about 30cm/12″ longer – mid-calf. In the end, I had to put a cuff on the sleeve to get the length, a small inset for the pocket recess, and shorten the coat overall.  

McCalls 7520 - pauline trigere coat - remakea coat to a coat


I interfaced all the sections, in the original coat, the fabric was supposed to drape so only the front was interfaced and the back interlined.   This coat is a wool cashmere mix (45% cashmere!) I don’t think it was best quality cashmere and for that matter, wool, and also the patch pockets had left marks on the front, so i was also wondering if it would clean up sufficiently for a public outing!


The sleeve heads were very uncooperative this time around (as opposed to the jacket), and I was progressively getting more and more suspicious of the ‘less than lovely’ quality of this fabric, to the point of I didn’t know who was having the attitude over ease, me or the fabric.  it was only when the coat was at the lining stage, I decided to try and match them once more and curved the point (the design element) on the rhs so it matched the other.  I don’t know how noticeable the difference is, but I suppose if I can see it, then it will always bug me.

It was only when the coat was finished I realised I could have and should have inserted the sleeves  in on the flat, and then sewn the sleeve seam and shoulder seam as one.  I wore the coat out to lunch to ‘road test’ it.  Its a nice warm coat and worked well with a black polo and jeans.   I am also considering taking the sleeve off and re-doing if it is going to get out more, and will wait till the marks on the front (where the pockets were) become less noticeable (or see if they will).  

McCalls 7520 - pauline trigere coat - remake coat to a coat


There was only one real issue and that was when we left the cafe, some big droplets of rain fell from the awning outside on to the coat and it soaked immediately and made the coat look very stained, the marks dried and disappeared off in 20 minutes but looked so so grubby when it was wet – and as it rains a lot here, I was wondering on the practicalities.  The coat was fine when it drizzled so I don’t know if somehow this coat was washed with detergent of some sort to make it so absorbent? or if this can happen anyway with camel shades …… coat is now resting in my wardrobe for a few weeks and I will steam it again to see if the pile lifts up from where the pockets were, if it does, then I think I will consider re-setting sleeves………..

McCalls 7530 – Pauline Trigere Jacket, coat to jacket

McCalls 7530 - Pauline Trigere Jacket, upcycle coat to jacket


About 6 months ago, I  was in a charity shop and spotted a coat for 2euro. now this particular coat was – a dated cut(huge shoulders), dated colour (green), and dated buttons (they were everywhere), but it was also wool cashmere and that started me on thinking about the challenge of refashioning these coats – the quality of the fabric was brilliant, and wool is a nice obliging fabric to sew – (having said that, if I was asked 10 years ago to recut a coat or suit, I would have run a mile) Now,  when I say these coats, I do mean plural, it became a slight digression (obsession)  for a few weeks and I ended up with 6 coats, 1 black, 2 navy, 1 bottle green, 1 fawn, 1 camel.  At this point I was also thinking I should start sewing or draw a halt, so I took one coat apart, got a bit overwhelmed, and thought I would work up some smaller projects, and then revisit the idea, which as it happens is how this blog evolved – these coats. 

And then I spotted this Pauline Trigere pattern on etsy,how could I not?

McCalls 7530 - Pauline Trigere Jacket, upcycle coat to jacket

When I  took apart the black coat, there was a lot less fabric that i thought.  the extreme shoulder shaping was helped in part by inconvenient (to me) darts.  I got the jacket cut from it though, and only was compromised by back facing which was cut across, but then wool is so obliging!  

Sewing it was relatively straight forward.  the original coat  was interfaced in most parts and I managed to keep the interfaced pieces to the back and front, but part of the back sleeve had some at the seam, so I added some to the other sleeve to balance it – I should have interfaced whole piece, it makes little difference but if i was doing it again, this I would do (and now that I have typed it, I am wondering why I didn’t) .  The nice curve detail in the sleeves worked out beautifully, they were set in and sit at the shoulder and the neckline is wide, it feels a bit like a wearing a cape, and not unlike the matching dress, the cut of dress and jacket seem to ensure correct posture when you wear them.   I was able to flat construct the lining sleeves, as the sleeve head would be hand stitched to the facings.  

I probably got a bit too confident and also wanted to have it finished that evening so I went straight in to the buttonhole – the only buttonhole – and even while I was doing it, something felt amiss……. I tried it on after, and there it was, the buttonhole was on the left, and then for some really really odd reason, I thought I could fix that later, and I would put the button hole in the other side – which I did, crooked and out too far – so I left it for a few days……


McCalls 7530 - Pauline Trigere Jacket, upcycle coat to jacket

I decided that poppers were the best alternative, and made a bow to cover one buttonhole and put a strip over the inside one.  All in all, it looks fine, and I would love to say this is the one and only time I have gotten left, right, wrong side, right side mixed up but I will get to do it all again when I get to make the coat version!

Butterick 2704 – green cloak to green coat

The Green Coat, Butterick 2704 - cloak to a coat






When I saw this green cloak in the charity shop – I truly could not resist it..  It reminded me of the original Irish Air Hostess uniform.  Its a full-on kelly-green woven wool cloak with hood.  My feeling is that it was probably made for either a primary school play or float about St Patrick, and also made a long long time ago!  With a cloak there is a natural progression to a kimono sleeve (I was given a cloak some years ago and made a jacket with sleeves from it, and it was only when I finished I thought the kimono sleeve …..) 

butterick 2704 upcycle cloak to coat
I used this Butterick pattern and had to make it about 8 inches shorter as there was not enough fabric, but that being said, the pattern length was too long for contemporary wear.  The sewing up was relatively straight forward, and its a great summer coat pattern,  I used the lining from the cloak to line it but it was a bit light and a bit scrappy, so I happened to come across a nice check lining by chance, and it has a better weight, so I relined it using a heavier lining and also decided to include side pockets.  The patch pockets did not look well at all, and the side ones work nicely. 
butterick 2704 upcycle cloak to coat

(I was tempted to make one of the hats from here to match ….. but that’s for another day)