Who told me to make a coat? Why did I feel I needed to make a coat? How many coats does one girl need? Did I really need another coat? (Answers: Your lack of impulse control; you were probably drunk; four, five at the max; absolutely not, you rowdy fool. You have 12).
It's absolutely ridiculous that I decided to make this coat, but to quote a line from the delightful "Being Julia," I drop-kicked all good sense and reason out the window and proclaimed, "I can't stop! Let me go my wicked ways!"
The first fabric I chose was a sage wool plaid, and it's lovely. The pattern is a 1930's wrap coat from the Vintage Pattern Library (post below). Then I walked into a local fabric store and was seduced by a brown felt wool the color of hot cocoa. It was entirely too expensive for my budget, but being the wicked creature I apparently am and acting like a girl who had far too much to drink at bar closing time, I went home with it.
I had no idea what a bronking bull I had unleashed in my dining room/sweat shop. In a word: Nightmare. If I ever work with boiled or felted wool again, I would be wise to insert a slip of tissue paper in between the layers of fabric before I cut them, otherwise, it's impossible to get it smooth. The fibers clutch to one another, giving the cruel illusion that both layers are flat when actually, the bottom layer will be all bunched up and rippled, only exposing itself after you've cut. Lesson learned. I had to recut every piece, some of which were substantially larger than it's "twin". This was especially a problem with any pattern piece I had on the fold, which there were several. My notches were all off, although in the end, it didn't prove to be as much of an issue as I expected it would.
The fabric clinging together didn't stop at cutting, however--it continued on as I began to stitch, with the top layer shrinking while the bottom layer grew MORE and only resolved itself when I switched to a larger foot AND went to a larger stitch (I started on one; ended up at three). Basically, this coat is basted together, but there was no other way to construct it without going to a larger stitch.
Although the coat is meant as a wrap coat, you can also wear it open, and being the wide collar/lapel-loving girl that I am, I'm going in that direction. I also need to add here that I LOVE TRIM. (Dirty minds excuse yourself.) Unfortunately, I don't like cheap trim (nothing says "hussy" like bric brac on a JoAnn's clearance table), and unfortunately squared, we happen to have a very nice trim shop in Eugene that is owned by a lady who loves M&J Trim even more than I do. I didn't have anything long enough in my stash from anything I got at M&J to cover the lapel (I needed four yards), so I needed something new, and she had it. Don't ask me how much a yard. DON'T ASK ME. Just look at it. It's gorgeous. Seriously. I never stood a chance. Here is the layout of the collar/lapel, and then the trim itself (I know. It's like trim porn.)
I am almost finished with the construction of the coat itself, I just have to attach the lapel, and I'm waiting for the lining fabric to come from Fabric.com. I decided to eliminate the belt and button the coat at the side waist--I had a huge Art Deco antique black glass button that's gorgeous and has been in my button drawer for 10 years waiting to be put onto a coat like this and serve its duty appropriately. I'm hoping to finish this after Thanksgiving, I'll post the pics of la Grand Dame when I'm done. Just note: Wool felt will undoubtedly drive you to Valium, gin or a bowl of brownie batter, whichever your drug of choice. I'm serious. Make sure you have any/all on hand.