The Beast (aka Sara’s Albion Coat)

Hello friends.  I’ve been a bit absent on this blog of late.  Apologies.  I’ve got a few things to share but will admit that life has gotten in the way of the making of late.  That said, this project has sucked up a lot of my evening and weekend time in the last month! Four muslins and a fit bootcamp with Andrea, Kristin and Sarah for starts!  So.many.changes!    I may do a post describing the fit changes that I made but first…  my friend Anne modelling!

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If you’re at all familiar with the Colette Albion pattern (and of course you are!), then it’s probably fairly obvious that I made some changes. I had originally planned to make this jacket in its original form for my Brother (still plan to do so!) but didn’t think I had any need for such a coat in my own wardrobe. However, on a search for RTW duffle coats, these two gorgeous coats from Burberry popped up and I was sold!

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I really loved the casual style of the grey one with the extra pockets, relaxed A-line shape and cropped length.  I also liked the idea of making the neckline taller or adding a collar as this would make the coat far more functional in a winter and wind friendly city like Toronto!  However, I also loved the deep pleat in the back of the red duffle coat.  I think it makes a boxy coat just a touch more feminine.  Anyway, after coming across these, I decided that I did indeed need a duffle coat in my life! The sewalong that Colette Patterns was hosting was just the icing on the cake!

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Sadly, disaster struck in the form of muslin #1!  First of all, one should always pay attention to the actual pattern instructions when they are  making a muslin and not assume they know how everything goes together based on previous experience! I made the size small (this is a unisex pattern that was really drafted with men in mind) based on my upper bust measurement. Then I made the mistake of adding the facing to centre front.  Oops!  Turns out that the facings were for the lining only! Needless to say, this muslin was HUGE! The facings ended up being a serendipitous mistake based on my plan to extend them at the top and add a collar. That’s the absolute truth and I am sticking to it!

2014-03-09 17.20.28OK.  I’ll attempt to quickly sum up the muslin stage, which hurts as the muslin stage was a solid 3 weeks of work while the actual sewing was only a week. A crazy, crazy week filled with late nights and little sleep but who cares!  It’s done!  Anyway, my second muslin was a straight size XS but I didn’t love this one.  It still had a lot of the same fit issues as the small (extra fabric at the front due to my addition of the facings, droop-y shoulders, low armscythe, etc). However, I found the XS a wee tight in the arms and across the back.  So I took the size small muslin to the fit bootcamp and stood like a lump while Sarah and Andrea slashed away amid mad chatter involving numbers and technical jargon. They did a rounded back adjustment (a big one!  Yoga, you and I need to be better friends), a forward shoulder adjustment and pinned a bunch of fabric out of the front (starting at the shoulder seam and working down to the hem in a line parallel to the grainline).  Now that I had taken that extra fabric out of the front, I widened the darts that were now in the back yoke after the rounded back adjustment (Andrea, please feel free to correct my jargon as I’m not sure that is the correct term) to eat up some of the extra fabric and used the feed dogs to do some easing to eat of the rest of it.  Incredibly, everything worked out!

2014-03-09 17.22.22I was tempted to do a narrow shoulder adjustment but decided that I liked a slightly relaxed look to the shoulder and the addition of shoulder pads kept everything from dragging and sagging.  I did try correcting the sleevehead to match the forward shoulder adjustment as Heather demonstrates here but my muslin and all of the horizontal balance lines told me that was a no go. The original sleeve worked much better.  I also raised the base of the armscythe a half inch using a tutorial found in the June/July issue of Threads (thanks for pointing me in the direction of this, S!).  This was a challenge without a large work surface! Using the same tutorial, I also took in the side seam a half inch at the armscythe and removed a quarter inch out of both sleeve seams to match. I still find it all a bit low and restrictive but it’s not too bad now that the lining is in.  Gives me lots of space for layering with those big sweaters I so love to knit.

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I kept the patch pockets but made them a bit smaller to accomodate the cropped length and rounded all of the edges.  Similarly, I rounded the edges of the sleeve tabs to be consistent and just to soften the coat and make it a but more feminine.  I kept the side seam pockets (drafted my own to keep things small and tidy) and added a double welt pocket with a flap above the patch pockets, successfully ripping off my Burberry inspiration coat!  I used the flannel lining fabric for the pocket bags of the inseam pockets to avoid a lot of bulk.  I lined the patch pockets with a bright pink rayon bemberg (also used to line the sleeves) using some tips from this book. I used the same pink bemberg for the pocket bag of the welt, again in an effort to avoid unnecessary bulk.

2014-03-09 16.56.57 I wanted to add some leather accents using leather scraps that I had picked up awhile ago. They’re small, which limited what I could use them for so I went for leather bound buttonholes (using this method). These were a time sucker but I love them! Well worth the effort!

2014-03-09 17.19.49And then there is the collar. Sigh. I really wanted the collar to be the highlight of this coat and while I think it looks great, there are still things I wish I could change.  To start, I spent a lot of time trying on RTW coats to decide what kind of collar/hood combo I wanted.  In the end, I decided that I prefer having a stand collar that is separate from the hood…  I really, REALLY hate the feeling of having the collar being tugged backwards when the hood is attached and down! So I kept the hood as is and I will say that this is an excellent hood! The perfect size and shape!  I left it unlined and flat felled the seams as I didn’t want it to be a major feature and detract from the leather accents. I drafted the collar piece and on the muslin I was quite pleased with how it turned out. On the jacket?  Well, I have a few issues with it. It’s stiff! And I think it looks a bit like it should have a giant helmet attached to it! I honestly think it could support the weight of a helmet!

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Not at all irritated by the collar!

And on me, it looks like I have no neck but on my tall friend Anne, the collar looks great and she loved it so maybe I’m being hypercritical. I do love the leather accents on it!  I want to have mitered corners with the leather but by the time I got to making this, I was tired of the whole project and didn’t want to take the time! So I’m going to call the collar a success. Besides, the wool and leather will soften over time so I’ll feel less like I’m being choked by it!

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I used this buffalo plaid flannel for the lining of the body but used hot pink bemberg for the sleeves (easier to get it on and off). I’ll have to take a picture of the entire lining as the pink really is an awesome pop of colour!  I had planned to use the pink to make piping between the inner facing and the lining for another pop of colour. I have the piping but forgot to add it and again, was tired of the project at this point and didn’t want to redo anything unnecessary. Perhaps if I had not already graded the seams! I also added an inner welt pocket that holds my cell phone perfectly!

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I think that about covers it! Well, I did also add the deep pleat in the back but there’s not much to say about it. I’m not sold on the back tab that I made and I think I might make a bigger one with leather bound buttonholes. Certainly the entire coat needs better buttons as they are a definite feature. I plan to go digging through the vintage button collection that Karyn has at the Workroom to find something outstanding to finish this all off!

Finally, here are some pictures of me in the duffle coat.  The fitting was done on me but I really think this works better on Anne, which is funny as we are not built the same way.  She has broader shoulders, is much taller and does not have the generous booty of a pear-shaped woman!  Thoughts on the fit on each of us?

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All in all, I am pleased with the fit of this across the chest, shoulders and back. It looks a but big across the back on me here but I’ve only got a T-shirt on underneath. This is not a lightweight coat and is more likely to be worn over my usual winter layers and the fit accommodates all of that. Again, I think the collar is the wrong height and shape for me and the overall length… not so flattering.  It needs to be a bit shorter so that it doesn’t hit me at my widest point.

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In short, when I wear this I feel a little dumpy and irritated by things I wish I could change. When I see Anne in it, I think “shit, I made that!  I’m AWESOME”.

Make sure you check out the rest of the sewalong entries here!  There are some seriously gorgeous coats in this pool!

Sara

Linking up with:  Make It and Love It

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18 thoughts on “The Beast (aka Sara’s Albion Coat)

  1. Of course you are AWESOME and not just because you made a pretty complex coat (which you basically re-designed to perfection) adding very interesting details and finishing touches. Sara, I think the coat looks great on you. I’m not just saying that because I’m trying to be nice – I really mean it. I also don’t think it has to be shorter at all or that you have to change the collar because it looks pretty perfect form where I’m sitting. Man, you handled ‘the beast’ so well and should be very proud of the construction as well as the fit you achieved. Personally, I think your hard work totally paid off. Wear it proudly, my friend!

    • Thanks Andrea! Your help was much appreciated! And now that I have had a chance to wear it out and about, I agree that the length is perfect! The collar will continue to annoy me until it softens up a bit but it’s not too bad if I keep it unbuttoned at the top.

  2. You ARE awesome! I am truly in awe – this is one of the most gorgeous coats I’ve seen! I absolutely adore all the leather accents you added; they really make the coat look high end. You did an incredible job on this.

    I also think it looks as great on you as it does on Anne. I think you might be happier with it when it softens up, and if your coat is anything like the wool coat I made in the fall, it won’t take long. I think I’ve only worn mine 3 or 4 times, and it’s already quite a bit softer than it was right off the machine.

    I am totally blown away by this project – you have every right to be proud! Can’t wait to see and touch it in person!

    • Thanks Gail! This is indeed a serious compliment! I also really love the leather accents! They took a ton of time but were totally worth it in the end! I have been wearing it quite a bit in the last week and it definitely feels better when it’s layered over sweaters. Sadly, I don’t think this is a great winter coat… too short and lots of places for the wind to sneak in! Anyway, I’m hopeful that the collar will soften up as it really does irritate me when I wear it! It even got in the way when I was looking down to try and read on the subway!

  3. I”m with Andrea on this – You are an awesome seamstress and the coat looks great on you! I think you might just be so pissed with the whole making process that you are prejudiced against the finished product. Give it a week and I bet you’ll like it more! 🙂 There are so many beautiful details, and the fit looks great! The true test will be wearing it around the city. (And of course, now It’s getting warmer…)

    • Thanks Gillian! I think you’re right about liking it more after stepping away from it. You did get to witness my irritation firsthand and you know that I was not enjoying this make by the end! I have been wearing it and it’s better than I thought… though the collar still irritates me. Will have to think of ways I could more the relaxing/softening process along! It’s definitely a Fall/Spring coat though! It was great for the warmer weather we had earlier last week but it was no good at all once the cold and snow settled in again!

  4. Wow, what a fantastic coat! You’ve really made this pattern your own. And I am very impressed with your muslin staying power – I probably would have thrown in the towel. The fit is really great, and the high collar and leather accents just make it even more fabulous. Way to go conquering the beast!

    • Thanks Chloe! It’s a great base pattern to work from… for men! I’m not sure that I would recommend it for women as there really is a lot to change. The fit was a lot of work and I can see where it could still be improved but I still learned a ton from the whole process!

  5. Congratulations! Awesome that you persevered. “Not every great make is perfect in every way and not every disappointing make is imperfect in every way.” I am so impressed by your skills!

  6. Pingback: a Graphic Belcarra | hamiltonchicklets

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