Making a winter coat

Including: trying out lots of new techniques for the fist time.

I like pushing the envelope. I don’t know why, but I just cannot get enough of challenges. Not overly ambitious challenges, but still. I like to experiment with things I have not done before and enjoy adding to my knowledge of sewing-related things.

So, as promised, here is the coat I made while I was in Germany. I have actually worn it several times since then.

 

wool coat front3 Burda 6921 edited

 

wool coat side Burda 6921 edited

 

wool coat back Burda 6921 edited

 

The pattern:

This time, my fourth time making a coat (I think? I might have lost count…), I wanted something a bit different. I shopped around a bit, but am sad to say that I didn’t think there was anything better suited than Burda 6921 with some alterations.

I basically cut out view C of the pattern, but left out the collar as I had my own ideas of a big one-piece collar.

I then added some skirt panels and ended up making the back longer than the front. The Panels have some darts, which are lined up with the front seams of the bodice.

 

winter wool coat open Burda 6921

 

The fabric:

I used a heavy “fulled loden”, which is made from 100% wool. It actually has a bit of stretch to it and is a little lighter than I imagined.

I really fell for this steel blue, even though my usual colour palette is more in the realm of either petrol or purple.

What new techniques did I use?

1- Piping

I looked at this steel-blue coat and couldn’t help but think that it looked like something from a war-era. The colour just screamed “There is nothing to be happy about.” at me. I knew I needed some colourful touches, so I got some magenta piping to decorate the edge with. I had never done piping before, but didn’t find it too difficult.

piping front collar wool coat Burda 6921 edited

 

2- Felled seams

Now this was something I’d been wanting to do for ages. A lot of corsets employ a felled seam as casing for the boning and since making a “proper” corset is still on my mind somewhere, that is definitely something I keep an eye on. Also, I often see coats with felled seams and quite like the look of them.

There was also a practical reason though. As stated above, the fabric was a bit lighter and stretchier than I imagined, so any added strength in the seams would make for a more solidly constructed garment. I also topstitched both sides of all seams that weren’t felled, so the waistline, side seam and shoulder seam are all topstitched.

As you can clearly tell, I found it a little bit difficult to get accurate seams. My machine did not love this loden fabric and I struggled with tension issues quite a lot, depending on how many layers of the stuff I was trying to sew through.

 

DSCI0578

 

 

3- Welt pockets

I also finally had a chance to do welt pockets! I have to say, they are not quite as hard to achieve as I had thought at first, but give such a cool look to a pocket. This Burda pattern has the pockets in the seams, which is probably the easiest way of doing them, but since I didn’t use the pattern for the skirt part, I wanted to try my hand at something new. Nevertheless, there is definitely something I find very hard about them and that is making them look accurate.

You can see that they are a bit wonky, or rather, you can see that one is a bit wonky, as I am ashamed to show you the other one up close. This is definitely something I need to practice a bit (read a lot) more.

 

welt pocket wool coat burda 6921 edited

 

Oh, and here is my favourite part of this coat, the lining…

I used the most colourful lining in a very bright fuchsia, which is certainly a contrast to the drab steel blue.

 

lining and buttons wool coat Burda 6921 edited

lining wool coat Burda 6921 edited

 

A self-drafted coat (in camouflage) made with Burda 6921

camouflage coat Burda 6921 me side 2

This week, I am well excited. After what seems like an eternity, my new camouflage coat finally came together. And as if that was not enough, the weather decided to get colder and give me a chance to wear the coat out every day now. I am so happy with this one, I would have hated to leave it hanging in the wardrobe.

Yesterday was a sunny day and I got my husband to take pictures of me in the coat! He seems to like it a lot, as he keeps telling people that it is really nice.

A bit about the pattern

This is my third time working with Burda 6921 and I decided to change a few things and also add a hood. What I love about the pattern is the way the collar/back of the coat works. Even though I didn’t do a collar at all, the hood still stands up somewhat against the back of my neck, so that I never get too chilly there.

Burda 6921 is pretty well-suited to an hourglass figure, which makes it a great base pattern for me.

The sizing is fairly accurate. I am a German size 42 (UK 14), so that is what I traced and cut and it fit me pretty well. This seems to be true for all Burda patterns, or at least the ones I have encountered before. The only adjustment I made is grading down to a size 40 (UK 12) around the waist.

I pretty much never go off the size charts on the back of any pattern, as that would put me at a UK 22. I did this only once, with my very first pattern, which ended up looking like I was lost in a stylish potato sack. (I am currently working on a Butterick pattern and there the size is always such guesswork…) With Burda at least, I know I can use my “store” size.

On the other hand, Burda patterns require you to add seam allowances. That’s ok when you do it once, but every time I get this pattern out, I have to do it again and it’s starting to annoy me. Next time, I will make new pattern pieces on Swedish tracing paper that will include seam allowances.

What did I add?

I self-drafted a hood. This is my second time attempting a hood and I think I did rather well. It is definitely big enough for my head and would have probably accommodated my dreads when they were longer as well.

I also made some small alterations to the width of lower half of the sleeves, as I thought that a wider sleeve would suit the look of the coat better.

I widened the lapel and added a zip to be closed on the side front of the coat. Again, I didn’t think buttons would be suitable for this coat.

Normally, the inside of the lapel is meant to be made of the same material as the outside of the coat. However, my husband convinced me to use the lining fabric instead and I think he was absolutely right.

This is the original sketch I made for this coat

This is the original sketch I made for this coat

 

The Fabrics I used

The outside fabric is a ripstop I bought from ebay. It is very sturdy and originally meant for military uses. It’s wind-resistant and shower-proof.

For the lining, I bought a shiny polyester satin. While it was cheap and looks really nice, it was certainly a pain to work with and kept fraying very very badly. Next time, I will overlock the edges before working with it.

 

And here it is in all its glory

I do apologise for the dorky faces I pull…

 

camouflage coat Burda 6921 me front

 

camouflage coat Burda 6921 back me

 

camouflage coat front me Burda 6921

 

camouflage coat walking

 

camouflage coat hood Burda 6921 me

And here is a bonus picture of the grumpy jerk that tried to prevent this coat from happening 😉

you are not sewing now

 

Burda 6921: a work in progress

A few months ago,  I made view A of Burda 6921 and am actually still getting lots of wear out of it (since the summer has proven to be a bit rainy and cold for this time of year).

Still though, I haven’t completely given up hope to see more of the sun this year and am currently making it again, in a shorter version, to be worn in the morning/evening on hot summer days.

The front panels of this one are going to be shorter than the others, so it looks a bit victorian (or what I imagine that to look like). I changed the collar to be a bit bigger, as the small collar bothered me on the original. The sleeves will be button-fastened at the wrists, so that I can unbutton and then roll them up. That is, if my shipment of buttons ever arrives at my door…

I made the decision to add a lapped slit in the sleeves with three buttons for a closure on a whim when cutting out the pattern, so I ordered some more of the buttons I had intended for the front, but guess what? DHL is on strike again… I know I could add different buttons to the whole coat and just go and buy them, but I really like the ones I already have for the front closure…

Well, I’m sure I’ll still be working on sewing it together till the end of the week, so DHL, you have 4 days to deliver. Also, it would be really nice if I could get that parcel from the UK, which, according to RM tracking, arrived in Germany on the 4th (19 days ago…)

Ok, I’m sorry. I will stop ranting now. I guess I should use the time to actually finish this coat. Let me tell you though, it is quite a bit of work.

Despite not being overly difficult (it is classed by Burda as intermediate) – and if you make a few shortcuts (as I do), it’s not overly tedious either – it still takes an amazing amount of time to make a coat.

I am a lazy seamstress and try to avoid all the handsewing the instructions suggest. I didn’t baste a single stitch on the original and only handsewed the very middle of the hem to finish it up. Everything else was machine-sewed. And yet, it took me about two weeks (mostly evenings and weekends) to finish everything.

The most difficult thing is probably fitting the collar on. I am still on the fence about having the whole lapel on the front panel of the coat. I know that this is the proper way of doing it, but, as a home sewer, I think it would be easier if it was a separate piece. As it is, the instructions ask for the sides of the back collar to be sewn onto the top of the lapel first, then for the bottom of the back collar to be sewn onto the back. It is rather awkward and the instructions are a bit unclear if you’ve never made a coat with a lapel before. Both times, it took me an entire evening to sort out the collar and lapel.

I think that this is something most people say about burda patterns in general though. Often, their instructions make you feel like you should already know more about sewing than you do, and are taking for granted that you know what they’re talking about. Things are not as well explained as on other companies’ patterns.

I might be wrong here, but in my experience, this is pretty much a tradition for all things German. We are expected to know stuff already or have been shown it by our mums/nans/aunts or whatever other female with sewing skills available. Never would we turn to a pattern to learn how to do the stitches it requires. 😛

I always find it such a luxury to work with a non-German pattern, where seam allowances are included and instructions are super detailed… (This, btw, also goes for recipe books…)

Oh yeah, I forgot to say, this pattern does not include seam allowances. The first time I made it, I looked at the pattern pieces and thought “hmm, they look a bit small”… Luckily, I had only cut into Swedish tracing paper at that point.

And here is my work in progress:

 

 

I haven’t sewn the lining into it yet and the whole thing needs to be hemmed. Then of course, I will need to make button holes and sew some buttons on.