Trench coat project part 1
Aquite a while ago I wrote about my plans of making a trench coat. At that time I had the basic materials ready but was still browsing through the internet to find the perfect pattern. I was annoyed to have found out that McCall’s 5525 trench coat pattern was sold out. However, guess what! I was super lucky to find the exact pattern on Ebay after weeks of searching!
Now, I said that I hated making toiles. Well, for this coat I made an exception since the materials alone were expensive. I also really need this coat so I did not want to spend weeks making this coat and then realise that it didn’t fit.
The size chart on the pattern envelope again told me to choose a size between 12 and 14. Yeah, right! I looked at the actual measurements of the garment, compared it to my existing trench coat and went for the size 8. (Why or why can’t they make size charts that actually resemble the current fit? I swear that the models on the envelope neither wear coats that match their measurements according to the sizing chart!)
first Modifications to the trench coat pattern
I bought about 7 metres of the cheap Ikea unbleached cotton for the toiles. I knew already that I needed to make a lot of changes to the pattern. Firstly, the back was way too wide for my shoulders. I compared the pattern to my old coat and took away quite a bit from the center back. Then the center-front pieces were too wide for my taste. I moved some of the width to the side-front pieces. The hem was too straigth for my taste, so I widened the side front and the side back pieces towards the hem to add some flare to the coat.
I was mistaken previously when I said that this coat didn’t come with a gun flap, since after getting the pattern I noticed that the view C had one. However the gun flaps were quite heavy looking and needed some modifications. Besides, I only needed one. The storm flap was weirdly unsymmetric. I made it symmetric and added an inch of length to it.
Anyway, these modifications were not the most crucial ones. The fit was off for the princess seams. Also the grainline went haywire at several places. If I have learned something, it is to always draw the grainline carefully and make sure that it is vertical in the finished toile (with some exceptions). I scrapped the extra flaps and such and started toiling (is that a word?).
fitting the toile of the trench coat
Nice thing about the toiles is that I don’t have to be careful. I drew all the markings and my ideas onto the fabric using a Sharpie. I stitched all the seams using the longest stitchlenght of my sewing machine that allowed me just to rip the seams apart when I wanted to change something or, in many cases, to use the modified, folded and pinned pieces to make a new toile.
After a few (honestly, this was probably the fourth toile!) toiles I got something like this:
The narrowed back fits my shoulders nicely. At this time I didn’t have my final shoulder pads so I used just some pads I happened to have in storage. I have marked the bustline and the waistline.
Here is the toile from the side. I seem to have fallen asleep in the middle of being protographed!
Of course, this coat doesn’t look like a trench coat, more like an oversized dress. Especially without any belt the coat looks quite baggy. However, I need room to be able to wear my normal cooler weather clothes under the final coat. I tried belting the toile and the resulting look was already much better.
Now I was happy enough to try the sleeves. After sewing the sleeves on I had this:
… and from the back:
… and from the side:
I was disappointed with the fact that the McCall’s 5525 didn’t have two-piece sleeves. After all, sewing a trench coat is a big job, so why not do it properly? These sleeves have to be modified but what I got from this toile was that the width and length of the original sleeve was quite good. This means that I can use the original pattern as a reference.
My sewing guru Michelle was super helpful and offered tons of advice on how to achieve the perfect fit along the way. She even send me shoulder pads to go with the coat! Following her suggestion I still ended up modifying the last toile by lifting the waistline for 1,5 cm to create a slimmer look.
I also learned about a tailoring technique called off-graining. In this method the drape of the front of the coat is improved by slightly tilting the grainline from vertical. The exact angle depends on the weight of the fabric, the interfacing and even the choice of buttons (metal buttons are much heavier than plastic ones). Since my coat is long and heavy I will definitely try this technique!
What else? I made different drafts before I was happy with the shape of the modified gun flap and I ended up widening the center-front piece at the top to be able to button in under the gun flap.
At this point the trench coat toile was ready and the scary part of cutting the actual gabardine started. More of it in the future posts…
Thank you for visiting my blog! Happy sewing!
Your work on this project will really pay off. I think you have achieved a really good fit for a trench coat although I am glad you raised the waistline as I was wondering why it seemed lower than your true waistline and thought this might be a style preference. I will be very interested to follow you as you explain the off-graining technique – I have never heard of this!
Thanks, Dagmar! I think actually that the waistline was at the correct place. My body has a bit weird proportions since my back is very long. However, I do usually raise the waistline because it just looks better. Also, it was good that you told about your interest in off-graining. I can try to explain it later, although this is my first project where I try it. I am trying to get a book by Roberta Carr where it is supposedly explained in detail but unfortunately the delivery seems very slow.
Wow – this is going to be such a beautiful garment when it’s done. I love that you toiled the bodice without the sleeves first and then added them later in the process – that’s a great tip. I’m looking forward to part two.
hello, im making another coat this year from wool and plan to make a version of McCalls, M6800. im making it from wool but have noticed on other peoples makes that, with out some sort of structure, it can look baggy (and depending on fabric choice too). i really want to eliminate this from my finished project. is there anyway to add this support without adding too much weight? im not worried about adding interlining for warmth, but rather for structure or support. what fabric would you recommend.
Check my red wool voat project! I added hair canvas for the main support and then quilting cotton and wadding for warmth and wind proofing.