Gemma’s Hunter Coat
In December Gemma received the Luxury box which was in collaboration with Crafty Sew & So. She used her 3.5m of Lady McElroy brushed cotton twill to make a stunning, lined, Hunter coat from Fibremood.
Well, I only went and made a full on coat this month didn’t I?! Quite honestly, when I received the Luxury Box from Hayley and saw the gorgeous blue tartan, I knew it had to become a bold statement piece, and a coat seemed fitting.
I have made a few simple ones before – such as an unlined, tie fastened one, and a bomber jacket using jersey fabric, so naively thought it would be a great idea, even in the busy rush up to the festive season. I had seen the Hunter Coat by Fibremood (not many versions on social media but the ones I had seen were beautiful) and there was no swaying my decision that this would be the one I wanted to make.
However, it was not an easy journey, and up until I actually photographed this make, this coat and I were not the best of friends! Once I started wearing it though, the trials and tribulations were worth it, so let me begin!
First up the fabric: A beautiful blue brushed cotton tartan. I was actually a little bit gutted that I had decided to make a lined coat as I wouldn’t get the full benefit of the lovely soft underside of the fabric! Although it might not seem like the obvious first choice for a coat, it is slightly heavier than a standard cotton (although not as heavy as a wool the pattern suggested) but I thought this would make it slightly easier for me when sewing.
Second: the pattern. Now this is where the enormity of what I had decided to make started to hit me. I loved the look of the Hunter Coat and blindly decided it would be a great choice for my fabric (it is, not to worry!) However, once I started to embark on the prep, I really began to doubt my abilities!
I have sewn a few Fibremood patterns before (remember my 1m Norma Blouse in the green double gauze?) and found them not the greatest in terms of instructions. When reading through the coat instructions, I found the stages overwhelming, with several elements I haven’t sewn before, as well as quite a lot of pattern pieces – to say this is a very involved make is an understatement!
I had the magazine issue that included this pattern, so needed to trace off the pattern pieces – this took an entire day as the layouts held lots of different patterns and were very muddling (think Burda x10!) You also have to add seam allowance, which really annoys me. Usually I would just size up to get around this, but with this coat my actual size was the amount of fabric I had to use, so I hoped it would be ok. Coats don’t have to be as fitted as dresses or tops so it did work out, but do keep this in mind.
Cutting out my pieces took another day as there were so many – as I’ve mentioned the coat is lined, so you need outside pieces as well as lining pieces. I decided to throw caution to the wind when picking my lining fabric, and went for something that was heavier than my main fabric: I chose a blue Boucle fabric, thinking it would add a cosy soft layer and give the coat the weight it would need to hold its structure.
This choice certainly wasn’t so fun when it came to sewing, as they were some very bulky (and fluffy!) layers to get through, and I did start to question whether it would work, as I worried whether it might be too bulky in places such as the sleeves.
I also had to shorten the coat by a good 10-15cms, as I am definitely not as tall as the pattern is drafted for. I’m not sure if I missed it on tracing the pattern, but I didn’t seem to have shorten/lengthen lines, and so had to guess using the paper pattern held against myself – not the most reassuring of methods but luckily it worked in my favour.
I also knew pattern matching the stripes would bother me, however based on the amount of fabric I had it was a little tricky, so again, I lined up the front pieces and hoped for the best – luckily it turned out in my favour again!
Feeling very overwhelmed already by this point, the idea of actually sewing this coat seemed daunting, but I hoped if I took it step by step it would work out! However I stumbled at the first hurdle: welt pockets. There is a small breast pocket and two main ones on either side of the coat. Having never sewn these before, I found the instructions confusing and not so helpful at certain points, and had to turn to Youtube several times.
Figuring these out took the best part of another day and several tears of frustration! My tips would be to make sure you sew your basting lines as these really help you line everything up, and snip as far to your stitch line as you can when needed, as you need all the space you can get. And PRESS! I’m guilty of not always pressing when I should, but with this I really recommend it!
Once the pockets were completed, creating the coat and lining actually seemed relatively breezy! The next major hurdle was attaching them together – again I didn’t find the instructions so clear. It uses a method called ‘bagging out’ (which I didn’t know was called that until more extensive Youtube research) and even more complicated was attaching the sleeves to the sleeve lining. As you close and hem the coat before this step, you essentially pull the entire coat through a gap you leave in a sleeve, but the instructions just didn’t make sense to me on how to get the sleeve cuffs to match up in the correct position for this.
I eventually came across a Tilly and the Button tutorial (good old Tilly to the rescue!) for how to do this on the Eden jacket, and that saved me! However, another tip I would give here is to make sure you try it on before sewing the cuffs together (a little difficult but very worth it) as it is very easy to mismatch the seams and get the sleeves/linings twisted – I did have to unpick one sleeve several times.
Once this hurdle was overcome, closing up that sleeve was the best feeling ever – I had a coat!
The finishing touch had to be adding a ‘Thanks, I made it’ label (from CraftyPinUp) onto the back neckline, to finally draw an end to a long sew!
This was a very involved and ambitious make, one that I didn’t think at times I would be able to complete. It was a slow process, with quite a few tricky parts, and many times I questioned not only my fabric choices but my ability too. Part of this I do think is down to the instructions.
Once I wore it to take photos however, my feelings started to change – not only was I wearing a very cosy and amazing looking coat, but it dawned on me that I had managed to overcome the difficulties and I made it myself!! The feeling of achievement with this make is next to none, and although it certainly isn’t perfect (don’t look too closely at that breast pocket!) I think done (and techniques learnt) is better than perfect.
Looking back now having worked out those tricky parts, construction makes so much more sense, and I feel making another would most definitely be much smoother sailing, if still a large, ambitious make. Am I going to attempt to make another though? The jury is still out on that one!