With our new spring fabrics coming in, I have been busy with behind-the-scenes tasks so sewing has taken a back seat. Instead, my friend Jane Noble, agreed to write a blog post on her latest garment project. While Jane has sewn with many different fabrics (both natural and synthetic), she felt that linen would be the perfect fabric for her Victory Patterns trench coat pattern. This wardrobe item is perfect as a season transition piece! Read on to see how Jane fared with this sewing project. But first, a bit of background about her.
I have been sewing for well over 60 years now, since my high school Home Economics days. I had a wonderful teacher for the sewing segment and she inspired me with lots of praise. I continued to sew through my years at university and into my career days. The arrival of children temporarily slowed this down, but my desire for clothes, and the kids’ desire for costumes and other items, kept the sewing going.
I have since found other like minded sewers in my community and, of course, Gala Fabrics. I now am known in my family for the “Gramma Jammies” I make for my 4 grandchildren. They have each shown some interest in sewing, and have sat with me to ‘help’ sew something special, such as a small bag to hold a rock or shell collection. The adult sewers in my life are wonderful friends and we will frequently talk about new sewing challenges or problems/puzzles that might occur. With friend Marian (of the Cielo Top and Dress blog post), I have visited fabric stores in France, Italy, and Spain; always coming home with a fabric souvenir!
The illustration on the front of this pattern appeared in my in-box one day and I was immediately hooked, so I ordered a copy. The pattern was available in 2 formats from Victory Patterns, but the tissue one was on sale so that is what I ordered and was immediately happy I did.
The pattern is rated Intermediate sewing level and included a 22 page booklet of instructions in impressive detail. Recommended fabric is a medium weight with high drape, so I selected a wonderful linen from Gala. It is listed as a ‘heavy linen’ which is best interpreted as a linen with enough weight for a light coat while maintaining a ‘drapey flow’. The coat is unlined except for the “rain guard” overlay and the pockets. I used Bemberg lining, as I didn’t want to interfere with the drape of the overlay. I immediately noticed that all seams in the garment were finished with binding and the instructions included a significant amount of detail on this. The recommended fabric for the binding was lining. The thought of preparing slippery lining binding strips and using them to bind seams is not my idea of fun, so I decide to change course. I serged all seams with a result that pleases me. Since the finished coat has the wrong side showing, and both right and wrong sides of hemming are on display, I felt that serged seams fit right in without drawing the eye to them. Plus, I am not a fan of bound seams and the way they draw the eye away from the garment. But it did take some extra thought to negotiate around all the instructions for binding each seam.
Selecting the size to sew was fairly simple. My measurements are similar to a S, but in this particular pattern only the bust measurement could be any issue, as waist and hip areas in the garment are wide and flowing. I am also on the short side and was concerned about being overwhelmed with a volume of fabric at the front. Since I am spot-on the finished garment bust measurement, I went with XS. I was slightly worried about ease across the back, so I made the centre back seam 1/4 “ instead of the recommended 1/2 “. This change worked for me. The seam allowances change throughout the garment construction and are noted in the instructions.
My short stature was a real concern. The pattern is made for a height of 5’6”-5’8”, and since I am just under 5’2” I needed to shorten the pattern by 5”. There are 3 shorten/lengthen lines on the front and back pieces, but the back length-to-waist was not an issue for me. After carefully looking at the pattern I made the decision to remove 2” from the hip line and 3” from the leg line. This was done on both fronts and both back pieces. In trueing the line on the front pattern piece, I also reduced the width of the lapel by almost 1”. This resulted in a small reduction in volume of fabric in the front. The following photo shows the shortening at the hip line and the trued upper part of the lapel.
Fabric requirement was another issue to decide. This pattern cannot be constructed using a narrow width fabric, so required amounts are listed for 54” widths only. The linen I chose was 60” wide. However, I am not big on having leftover fabric when buying for a specific project so I laid out all the pattern pieces, except for the rain guard overlay, which is cut on a bias fold. I determined I needed 2 m of fabric plus sufficient for the overlay. I took that pattern piece with me when purchasing the fabric and ended up with 2.6 m of linen fabric. Even with all this preparation, I still had 0.5 m left over! This is quite different than the 3.6 m recommended for size XS in 54” fabric.
The sewing instructions began with construction and placement of the pockets. They were probably the most detailed pocket instructions I’ve ever seen which took up 2 1/2 pages, but they were not difficult to follow. Then began the instructions for finishing seams with binding. These were mixed in with continued garment construction instructions. It took careful reading to not miss a step. Here are the completed pockets and flaps before placement.
The overlay construction with belt exit holes seemed straightforward, but totally depended upon meticulous cutting, marking, sewing, and pressing of a slippery lining fabric and the linen. I was impressed with the way the overlay was sewn into the garment with the side seams.
Once I got this far I found the remainder of the construction to be pretty straight forward. Making epaulettes, setting in sleeves, and the final hemming were explained well. It was interesting to see a line drawing of the hemming pattern, as the entire coat is like a rectangle with the hem following around the edges. The lower hem allowance is 1 1/2” with 1/2” turned in. The entire front opening edge is 3/4” with the edge turned in by 3/8”. When these are all prepared and ready to sew, hemming is a breeze.
I will make a final comment on the construction of the belt. The belt is made from 2 long, interfaced strips (about 56” long) sewn together and then turned and edgestitched. One needs to think ahead about how this turning will be accomplished, as the interfacing makes the long pieces quite stiff. I chose not to follow the instructions that left an opening in the centre of the belt. Instead, I pinned a large safety pin on the inside at one end, making sure it would be sewn inside the belt. With the other end left open it was not too difficult to turn using the safety pin as the lead.
Finally, the finished garment. The linen is a soft lavender and I love the way it falls. I think it is going to be so much fun to wear, especially with the (discontinued) Vogue pattern of Marcie Tilton’s pants (V8712) I just made with some gorgeous new purple cotton stretch from Gala Fabrics!