TheSecretCostumier - Tailored wool coat
From scratch

Dream coat turned…tailored!

About 3 years ago I made a coat. It was my very first attempt to sew outerwear and it was as far from flawless as it gets, but I loved it anyway. At first at least… Then, as my sewing skills developed, I slowly grew out of the “better-than-nothing” attitude, and the weird, sloppy collar; the way too long sleeves; the wonky “piping” and the general ill-fitting started to bother me. Which is why, when I picked up a vintage Harrods blanket to make a tailored camel coat out of it, I decided to take my sad little grey coat apart and practice tailoring methods on it.

TheSecretCostumier - Tailored wool coat

I never quite worked out what went wrong with the collar the first time around, but I think I must have cut out and inserted an extra pattern piece by mistake. With the new coat I meticulously hand sewed the hair canvas onto the undercollar, before steaming it to the shape required. Truth be told, I had to re-cut the undercollar from some leftover wool and while doing the turn of collar adjustment, I managed to cut too much fabric off, so the different fabric it is now showing a little…

The tailoring of the lapels took the longest time, but I must say it was worth it. It’s hard to see on the old photos where I am actually wearing it, but one of the things that bothered me the most about the old coat was how bulky and shapeless the lapels were. On the dressmaker’s dummy it’s a lot more visible (no, that is not a hood, that’s the extra pattern piece sticking out from the neck. 🙂 ), especially when compared to the newly improved version on the right. I used the Singer Sewing Reference Library’s Tailoring Jackets book, which is incredibly well written and due to the many great pictures, very easy to follow. By the way, it is available for pretty much peanuts on Amazon if you are happy to wait 2 or 3 weeks, as it is usually shipped from the US. (If you do live in the US, just buy them all!)

TheSecretCostumier - Tailored wool coat

As for the lining, I actually bought some fabric and made it up, all ready to insert it, but in the last minute I listened to my gut feeling and re-cut the whole thing out of the oldest fabric in my stash. I have been saving this remnant piece (with a wintry forest print on it 🙂 ) for something special, and I thought 3 months of hand-sewing a coat that has already seen a lot of work is special enough.

TheSecretCostumier - Tailored wool coat

TheSecretCostumier - Tailored wool coat

Now, life is anything but simple, so of course after all that hard work, 3 years ago and now, I am still not in love with this coat. There’s something weird going on at the hem, it still feels slightly big, boxy, too grey, too long, and definitely too warm for cycling in London. That being said, when we were taking the photos with a friend of mine, for a few hours I managed to forget everything I hate about it and somehow ended up just enjoying wearing it in all its warm greyness.

TheSecretCostumier - Tailored wool coat


15 thoughts on “Dream coat turned…tailored!

  1. i think it turned out great! last spring i’ve made a coat using that pattern, has been in heavy rotation this entire winter, and although it sometimes drives me nuts (same reasons like you – it’s boxy and huge) i still love wearing it..
    great choice of lining fabric! and, i love your sweater too 😀

    • Thank you! I have seen your coat (and the newer one, that’s beautiful too 🙂 ), it looks really cool and well made. It doesn’t look boxy at all on you! I love the sweater too, so much so that I’m sort of trying to replicate it right now…

    • Thank you Hilde, your coat is turned out lovely too! I’ve seen this coat from the twenties with this beautiful picture embroidered on the lining. It looked like a simple black cape, but I imagined how beautiful it must have been when someone took it off and the lining was showing… 🙂

  2. I hope it grows on you because it looks really really great! It hangs very nicely. I’m so impressed you went back and fixed it. Re: the hem (which is not that noticeable!), it looks like your front facings might be a little shorter than your coat front. I had the same problem with mine.

    • Thank you! I agree with the hem issue, that is probably what the problem is, but you see I just can’t be bothered to go back and fix that too right now! maybe in 3 years time. 😉

  3. The coat looks really amazing on you! I love the grey color and your lining fabric. As for the hem problem, I think it might be due to your lining being a little shorter that it should, pulling the hem upwards. In my pattern drafting classes they always tell us that the lining should be the same length as the main piece. I hope this is helpful!

    • Thank you Mady, I agree with you. I handsewed the lining to the coat, but you know what happens when you’ve been working on something for so long and you cannot wait to wear it already…It was rushed and I thought I could get away with it, but I really can’t. 🙂

  4. are you kidding me?? this is such a perfect coat! pfffttt, i didn’t even see any problem with the hem until you said it. 😀 but really, bravo on the re-do! i still haven’t got the guts to put any lining on my (one & only self-sewn) coat, it still hurts too much when i see the collar that i just try to postpone it as long as i can.

  5. Geo P says:

    Great work! I would’ve just went ahead with a new coat. It’s amazing what canvas and tailoring can do to a limp piece of fabric, isn’t it? It’s a gorgeous coat.

  6. I enjoyed reading this. It’s nice how practice makes perfect and we mindfully transition from settling for substandard techniques to more professional finishes.

    You did great, my first attempt at outerwear was quite the disaster, my jacket looked like it was sewn by a carpenter.

    Your coat looks great, I love the attention to detail. 🙂

    • Thank you Nedoux, I totally agree. That’s the interesting thing about sewing. Always trying your best and accepting the results you get at the time, but also knowing that you will be able to do so much better with practice.

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