coat · sew

I Knew Winter Was Coming, So I Made A Coat!

Making a coat is a huge advancement in my lifelong sewing skills, and this was the first time I tried. What took me so long? Well, I must admit that I had always been afraid, simply because I thought it would be too complex. But much like my fear of making pants, which I conquered earlier this year, I have also completed my first coat project. Helping me to achieve this goal were two key factors: One, I joined a sew-along, and two, I made a little girl’s size 7. I think the coat’s tiny size made the biggest difference, no pun intended. Let’s just say that the smallness of the project kept it from being intimidating. Make sense?

So first, let me tell you about the sew-along I joined. I had noticed a few weeks ago that the Violette Field Thread’s Gathering Place, an online sewing group, was going to be making the Valentina coat in December. I was excited to see this, not only because I love a good sew-along, but also because I had purchased the very same pattern a year ago while I built up my confidence to tackle it.

Here’s how the sew-along worked: The schedule was posted up front, with certain steps to be completed each day, and photos of the day’s finished work to be posted by each participant in a special folder within the group’s web page. These photos can be viewed by everyone in the group, which means, yes, I got a delightful sneak peek at everyone else’s progress. And by the end of the week, we were all finished with our respective coats.

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Here’s a photo from the Violette Field Threads Gathering Place group. It shows the schedule and some finished coats for inspiration.

There were more than a dozen pattern pieces that had to be printed, taped together and then cut out. The size I was going to make needed to be traced off, and that also had to be cut out. Finally, I cut all the pieces of the fabric and the lining. Because I chose to make the coat in a pink plaid flannel, I had to do some fussy cutting in order to match the plaid print in the front of the coat. With so many pieces to cut out, fussy or otherwise, I feared I’d end up with carpal tunnel syndrome by the end of the day. But my fears were overblown, as I can still feel all my fingers!

Valentina Cut Out Day 1
This is my Day 1 photo showing the flannel plaid I chose for the exterior of the coat and the floral print I picked for the lining.
Valentina Day 2
Day 2 was all about constructing the outer shell, top only. I was thrilled with the matching plaid across the front.
Valentina Day 3
Day 3 completed the entire shell of the coat. It looked almost finished, but there was still much work to do.
Valentina Day 4
Day 4 involved constructing the lining, top only.
Valentina Day 5
Day 5 was all about finishing the lining. Yes, the plaid was mismatched here, but all the seams were perfectly matched, which was much more important, as you’ll see.

After Day 5, things got a bit tricky. First I had to sew the lining and shell together, and then I had to trim the seams. I actually chose to serge the major ones, using pinking shears on the rest. In retrospect, it would’ve been easier had I just serged them all. When all was said and done, I had something that looked like the this:

Valentina Attached at cuffs Day 6
On Day 6, it was time to attach the lining and the shell. This shows everything inside out.

The pattern instructions had called for opening up one of the lining sleeves to pull everything through. Sounds easy, right? But trust me, it was only possible because I had used thinner fabrics, I had help (I begged my husband to pull while I pushed), and the coat was small! I can’t imagine a woman’s coat being constructed this way. Anyway, within a few minutes I had something that looked like this:

Valentina Turned right day 6
Pulling the coat inside out actually worked!
Valentina Finished Day 7
On Day 7, it was time to sew the lining sleeve hole closed, attach the belt, and give the whole coat a good pressing.  By day’s end, the Valentina coat was finished.

Well, I made a coat! It was small, and the fabrics weren’t heavy, but hey, it was my first. This me-made girl’s coat will be a gift for my oldest granddaughter, who will most likely love it. I’ll have to get some cute pictures of her modeling it for me.

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5 thoughts on “I Knew Winter Was Coming, So I Made A Coat!

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