Image: Trench coat collar
My projects,  Sewing,  Tailoring,  Tutorials

Trench coat project part 3: The Coat is taking shape

Finally the trench coat is taking shape! The previous posts in the series:

Part 1

Part 2


Most of the seams in my trench coat have top stitching. My Bernina has previously had trouble with top stitching thread, so I used two treads that I treaded through the machine like a single thread, except having two different spools. I still noticed that I needed a sharp Microtex needle and a well oiled machine to get a neat result.


I mentioned the pockets last time but I never showed how they looked from the right side. I ditched the idea of the original pockets since they were too small for my purposes and drafted my own. They are basically a double welt pockets with flaps but I used faux leather piping as the upper welt. They start from the side front piece and reach about and inch over to the side seams towards the back. I used woven fusible interfacing for the top flap and left the bottom flap uninterfaced.

Sewing the piping on neatly took a lot of tries, but I think it finally looks okay. Making the cuts for the pocket openings was a scary job. My gabardine frays like crazy and I was so afraid of corners unravelling. Finally I got my bottle of Fray check and dabbed a drop of it at each corner before cutting the pocket opening.


Since this coat is made solely for my needs, I wanted to add some handy little details. Inside one pocket, I added a D-ring in order to clip my keys securely to it and a smaller little pocket to hold my bus ticket or credit cards:

Here is how the pocket looks opened up:

Sewing the gun flap, the storm flap

and the epaulettes

I cut both the gun flap and the storm flap out of both the gabardine and sturdy lining fabric. Both needed some extra support both for the buttonholes and the faux leather piping. My dear sewing guru Michelle recommended using a strip lawn for the edges, which I already had in storage and I chose fusible interfacing for the buttonholes.

However, both of these interfacings were brilliant white and the contrast with the light beige lining fabric showed through the main gabardine. Following a tip from Michelle, I then dipped both the lawn and the interfacing to some strong tea and thus dyed them off-white. My coat may smell like Earl Gray when it gets wet but luckily I like tea!

I had to modify the epaulette pattern to be able to add the piping. I interfaced the both sides using fusible interfacing. However, I needed the finished shoulder seams to be able to fasten them…

The main trench coat progresses

Sewing up the shoulder seams required a little bit of easing of the back shoulder pieces that where slightly wider to allow for the shoulder blades. At the same time the gun and the storm flap were inserted. To make setting the sleeves and the collar easier, I then basted the flaps to the armholes and the neck line.

sleeve drafting and toiling

Here are the original sleeve pattern from McCall’s 5525 and a two-piece sleeve that I picked from a coat pattern at Finnish crafts magazine Suuri Käsityö. The latter doesn’t have any seam allowance included, which is common in Finnish patterns. I chose the two part sleeve because it has a nicer drape and this particular pattern since it had a similar width to the original sleeve.


Then I started cutting and taping. At first I sliced up the two-part sleeve and taped the top together to make the top look like the original sleeve. Then I changed the curve of the two-part sleeve to the shallower one of the original sleeve. There was some extra width, too, that I had to take away. My sewing teacher recommended the sleeve head to be 1″-1 1/4″ more than the arm hole circumference.

I made a toile and was quite happy with it. Although, In the image there is some wrinkling in the front part meaning that the sleeve pitch was a bit off. That could however be fixed with rotating the sleeve, (Yes, that was a new concept for me. I’m happy to learn new things and this coat is a real learning experience!)

Image: Trench coat sleeve toile.

The I cut the actual sleeves and basted them on. I still ended up removing a tiny slice of the top of the sleeve crown but then I had sleeves that looked right.

Image: My finished modified two part sleeve pattern.

Inserting the sleeves

Then I learned a new method of setting in sleeves that don’t ease so well. I cut 1″ wide bias strips from tie-interfacing (Really, you can take it from an old neck tie, if you want to!):

Image: Trench coat sleeves ready to be eased.

Instead of sewing easing stitches the tie interface is sewn to the seam allowance so that it is pulled and stretched while sewing. This causes the tie interfacing to gather the sleeve head nicely.

Image: Gathering the sleeve head.

The outcome looks nice and no extra sleeve wadding was necessary:

Image: Eased sleeve head.

From the other side:

Image: Eased sleeve head from the right side.

Before inserting the sleeve the shoulder pads go in:

Image: Inserting the shoulder pads.

Then the sleeve is pinned to the shoulder and the drape is checked.

Image: Pinning the sleeve on.

Image: The pinned sleeve.

I had to baste the sleeves on a couple of times until the sleeve pitch was okay before I felt comfortable sewing the sleeves on.

The trench coat collar

You may have noticed that at sometime during my sleeve construction a collar appeared on the pictures as I was doing both the collar and the sleeves at the same time.

I cut the top collar out on the fold. The lower collar was cut on bias so that the bias direction was opposite on the left and right sides with a seam at the center back.

I also shaved 1/8″ of the lower collar to allow it to drape nicely under the top collar. I used the same fusible interfacing for both the upper and the lower collar, but I cut the interfacing on bias on the lower collar (the CB seam allowances were not interfaced so that the drape was not compensated).

With the upper collar I used this trick with a tailor’s ham and some steaming. Basically I started ironing the roll line of the collar and then I shaped the collar as I ironed the rest of the interfacing on. I finished by putting both the upper and the lower collars together, adding plenty of steam and, after a thorough steaming, pinning them tightly around my tailor’s ham to dry overnight. The result is a collar that drapes beautifully and stays in place.

I interfaced the outside collar stand with some woven fusible interfacing and sewed cotton lawn on to interface the inner collar. I wanted my piping go continuously from the collar to the collar stand. This meant that, before sewing the upper and the lower collars together, I had to sew the collar pieces to the corresponding collar stands.

I sewed the piping on the upper collar first using a basting stitch and a teflon foot. I then switched into a teflon zipper foot and stitched as close to the piping as I could. If you do this, remember to cut the piping at the corners to make nice folds. It also makes sense making some clips at every inch or so to make sure that the piping cannot pull the fabric.

Image: Inserting the faux leather piping.

After that I attached the collar pieces together and fastened the lower edges of the upper and lower collar pieces together from the seam allowances between the collar and the collar stand. Then it was just a matter of some top stitching to get this gorgeous collar:


The next time I’ll talk about the belt, the sleeve bands and attach the lining with some neat details that make my coat special for me.

Thank you for visiting my blog and welcome again! Subscribe to follow me on my sewing journey! Happy sewing!

I am a mother of two. I sew, knit and create and blog about it.


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.