Curate: Many fabrics curate in my collection for years waiting for the golden opportunity to be part of a great project. I have such an extensive collection of fabric but that doesn't seem to stop me from getting more. Great fabrications need to be snatched up quickly before they are gone! I can't cut into precious fabric until I hear 'a calling' especially when you consider the fact that most can't be replaced. I think we need to establish a fabric replacement service just like replacement china and silverware.
Pattern: Many patterns curate as well. I don't need another coat but I wanted to take on the challenge of this Vogue Koos Van Akker coat. V1277. It is possible to purchase most 'out of print' patterns on websites like Etsy. There are a ton of websites.
Cogitate: Now comes the hard part. It could take days or even weeks to select just the right combination of fabrics and notions. Actually, picking out the fabric isn't anywhere near as difficult as deciding on the under structure support and sewing techniques. Coco Chanel, Armani, Miyake and Ralph Rucci are just a few designers who mastered genius construction techniques. I want my garment to reflect my own creativity and be beautifully sewn. (That means I will not be following the guide sheet directions in case it wasn't obvious.)
Selecting just the right amount of support in the proper areas is critical. The wrong interfacing could totally destroy the drape of the fabric. I don't want the coat to look like I'm wearing a lamp shade! Not enough support in stress areas will cause the garment to become distorted. And this pattern has a multitude of bias and cross grain lines that will need support. In my opinion, stay-stitching will not provide enough support in the tailoring process. What takes place below the surface is the hallmark of a great garment ! I'm already thinking about using 1/4 inch strips of silk organza. Stitching with an integrated dual feed system is definitely helpful if your machine has it.
Top-stitching around the outer perimeter is suggested in the guide sheet. This is both decorative and structural. All those circular areas will need some sort of stabilization. I could hand baste twill tape to the left of the seam allowance. That way it wouldn't be incorporated into the seam (no bulk in the seam allowance) however it will be secured when you add the top stitching. Fusible stay tape may also work nicely on smooth fabrics but not on the textured fabrics. Strips of silk organza would work well on almost any fabric.
Solutions for creativity and construction may be inspired at any time of the day. Ideas may cross your mind when you are on the treadmill at the gym or as soon as your head hits the pillow. Hint: keep a pad next to the bed. I don't start the cut out process until I have all my construction ideas in place.
The Seams: The seams are to be sewn with the fabric wrong sides together (like a French seam) with the exposed seam allowances on the right side of the jacket. The seam allowances must be trimmed down to a scant 1/4 inch for the 1/2 wide bias strip to straddle and cover the raw edges. Hopefully you wont have any stray whiskers peaking out! Never, never, never. Then you need to decide whether you will pin or baste the bias binding. We certainly don't want any 'kinks' or whiskers. Why can't we sew the seams in the traditional manner? I'm not sure yet. ( I found the answer when I read and re-read the guide sheet instructions about five times. It wasn't the least bit obvious until I figured out what they were doing with the pocket opening.)
My concern with the suggested guide sheet technique is this; the bulk from the seam allowance below the bias may cause the seaming to look and feel like the ridge of a spine. If I sew the seams in the traditional manner with the seam allowances on the wrong side they can be trimmed down to 3/8 inch. Press and pound the seams. The 'grading' process of the seam allowances will result in a flatter and smoother appearance. Placement of the bias binding over the seam will be much more forgiving.
Under structure: Deciding on the type of interfacing, underlining or batting is another major cogitation. That depends on whether I pick coating weight fabrics, suit weight woolens, synthetics or quilting cottons. I have tested at least 3 different interfacing products. I refer to 'Grid Weft' as an interfacing product rather than a true interfacing because the function is somewhat different. Grid Weft can 'beef up' a fabric that lacks body. Because each fabric is a different weave, weight and/or texture I have selected a different interfacing respectively.
This is the sequence I have chosen working from the bottom of the coat to the top of back. (The dark tan is showing up lighter and brighter on my computer screen.) Most fabrics are from Sawyer Brook, Clinton MA. Marona wool plaid # 18-1102 from the 2019 fall collection. Red Maple wool has been curating since 2002, and Crimson Fancy is from 2000. (Note- They are moving to Marlborough ! )
The dark tan wool crepe was from a delightful store called Clearbrook Woolen down in Clearbrook,Virginia. Sadly, they retired.
The dark grey melton coating is from Banksville in Connecticut.
(Quilted items remind me of an I LOVE LUCY episode. Lucy was trying to save money by sewing a dress. She cut the carpet by mistake. She sewed the dress and modeled it for Ethel. Ethel laughed hysterically. She looked like a lampshade. )
Pattern piece #2 is positioned as the #4 on the jacket back. (The pattern numbers and the positioning is majorly confusing. It took quite a while to interpret the pattern envelope.) This fabric is droopy so I fused 'Grid-Weft' . Note: I always use contrasting thread to baste my notches and pocket lines.
(using the Babylock Sashiko machine) I will test out the technique on scrap fabric first to see if I like it.
The Sleeves: I chose the nubby red, gold and black textured tweed for the sleeves because the wool was more pliable and lofty. I fused 'Grid Weft' to add a touch of body because this fabric has a fairly heavy drape. I felt this soft texture would work out better for a sleeve which needs to bend. The guide sheet suggests quilting the sleeve. Naturally I tested this process on scrap before plunging into my yardage. I tried 3 different colors of thread. None of them showed up. I honestly don't feel the texture enhances the appearance of the fabric. The texture created by the quilting stitches just made the fabric appear lumpy. I have decided against quilting the sleeves. If I had chosen the solid rust color the stitching may have shown up better but I was more concerned about the sleeve looking stiff. That was the trade-off. Besides, this design has so much going on it really didn't need more enhancement. I used flannel backed satin lining for the sleeves so it will be easier to slide on and off.
Pocket Welts: I noticed the welt pocket is going through BOTH layers of this coat because the jacket is designed to be reversible. That will be a challenging pocket to stitch through both layers plus through the bias binding trim. This is starting to sound like it may be quite bulky !? Initially I was contemplating using flannel as an inter-lining. Hmmm. 💭 That would really add bulk to that welt pocket area. Pockets definitely need a support structure to prevent being stretched out of shape. Silk organza to the rescue!
Anyone who has sewn a traditional pocket welt with side seams knows that side seams can have major bulk issues. This is where a Japanese welt comes to the rescue so I know I will not follow guide sheet directions for this step.
The ANSWER was in the Pocket! And the pocket is their last step if you are following the guide sheet directions! I just noticed there are no pocket linings. Hmmm. 💭 This is unusual. The inside of the pocket is already finished because the seams were sewn in reverse! OK. Got it! But.... the pocket opening goes through both coat layers so the coat can be worn reversible. They simply added a patch pocket over the opening. Experience tells me this will be very challenging and very bulky. I do not plan on wearing the solid reverse side so I'm going to eliminate this construction concept and prepare a pocket lining between the two layers. Now I can sew all my seams in the traditional manner, grade my seam allowances and place the bias over a smoother seam. I altered the pocket welt pattern to a Japanese welt to eliminate that nasty bulk in the side seams.
On the sleeve (#2) take notice there are lines of machine quilting. If I use a solid fabric here then I might be able to pre-quilt the yardage on my Bernina Q-24 quilting frame using the Q-matic automation. Hmmm. Decisions, decisions. A busy fabric with too much print or texture will not showcase beautiful quilting. Pre-quilting the fabric stiffens the body for sure. Across the back works out just fine because that is where you would want some structure. It doesn't interfere with the overall drape.
The pattern does not have a button closure. I added a loop and this leather woven knot button.
On the back neck line I had to get a little creative. To cover the seam allowance I used a strip of Petersham (similar to grosgrain ribbon) . This is typical in knit t-shirts to strengthen the neckline.
Finally, it is done in time for cold weather.
Due to the irregular pattern shapes there is quite a bit of waste. Time to turn all those large remnant scraps into a skirt.