Thursday, 27 November 2008


The nightmare coat

I finished another coat yesterday, which earned the distinction of the most pain in the a*** item of clothing I have ever made. This one was three layers: heavyweight cotton shell, double layer goretex fleece batting and cotton lining.

The goretex fleece is really quite strange. I saw it on ebay and thought it would be the perfect lining for coats as it is waterproof and wind resistant (the two most important features of a coat when living in Scotland), and it would be an easier way of making a coat warm than a super thick batting. It was advertised as being red fleece one side, navy fleece the other, with an inner layer of goretex. So I was naturally expecting something fleece-like, maybe even super double-y fleece-like on account of both sides being fleece. What arrived wasn't very fleecey, it's more like neoprene with brushed surfaces, and very stiff. The listing was for 5 extra wide meters of it, so I now have heaps...

I had thought that the problems I had with the other bird coat would be eliminated as I was going to sew every piece of the goretex fleece to the corresponding piece of shell before assembling the coat. Good idea, yes? Well... yes and no.
  • Good: stretch problem eliminated so no need to mess about with seam allowances

  • Bad: assembling a coat that is already two layers thick (creating four layer seams) and then attaching it to a lining (making seams three layers thick) and then hemming (making it six layers thick)

My machine and I cried in equal measures by the time we finished hemming the bottom edge. Next up, sleeve edges. Again, six layers. And I just couldn't do it. I could barely get it under the presser foot even at its highest position. And despite being a (much too) pricey machine, it doesn't have a stupid free arm. Which is just about the most useful thing when making baby clothes. Left hand tried to keep the massive sleeve sandwich under the foot and straight, right hand tried to keep the bottom side of the sleeve out of the way. It was too much, we had reached an impasse. I was faced with a coat that was 90% done, using semi-precious hoarded materials, and four hours of my life I'd never get back. So I made double fold cuffs and abutted them to the sleeve edges rather than turn them under, and then slip stitched by hand to both sides.

Only the buttonholes to go, my least favourite part of any creation on account of my machine's loose interpretation of 'automatic buttonholing'. Automatically chew your fabric apart?.... Sure.... Automatically make a buttonhole that bears to no relation to the one you asked for?.... No problem.... Automatically destroy your dreams and break your spirit at the end of a project?.... Yep, done....

I couldn't risk it, so I did the buttonholes manually with a tight zigzag, very small increments and an overcautious use of a seam ripper. Just to make this coat as time-consuming as possible, I also made covered buttons from fabric with white polkadots on black.

I think I am going to charge $5000 for it.I tried it on Jamie for size (and also because he is more co-operative about doing things like lifting his arms if a breadstick is involved) and it fits perfectly. I actually thought he looked awesome in it. Steven doesn't share this opinion (the word 'garish' was mentioned). What do you think? Is it too girly a coat? To modify it for a boy, I was wondering if I should make it less a-line and have a normal pointy collar instead of peter pan collar. Maybe if it was less a-line it would need one of those slit thingys in the back too... Ugh, sounds like a lot of work... I'm not so sure why he looks glum in this picture, maybe he's worrying about looking garish.

The jacket is also fully reversible, but I can't decide what color buttons to use. Orange is the natural assumption but I worried there is just too much orange going on. I tried black but I thought it made the fabric look washed out. Any suggestions?


  1. FYI there is no such thing as GORE-TEX fleece.

  2. Hmm... that's interesting.

    This is what the ebay listing said

    "This is a quality GORETX fabric made of a windproof fabric red on one side and navy on the other micro FLEECE it is coated with a film water repellant and breathable and totally windproof it has a membrain between the 2 for that. It is made by GORETEX"

    Typos theirs, not mine :)

    So, what do you think?


  3. Wow, that wee coat's gorgeous - what a labour of love! I too have done my fair share of cursing multiple layers of fabric and broken needles this week...I feel your pain!

    Re: buttons, how about turquoise?

  4. What a beautiful coat!! More girl than boy I think though - he won't thank you for it when he is older!!!

  5. Hey, love your stuff, do you have pattern for this coat, please?


  6. I love the orange polka dots. :) And your machine's buttonhole option sounds like mine. It totally chews my fabric to pieces, even when I use an interfacing. :P

  7. It is very orange!!!

  8. You poor thing, it does look absolutely fantastic though x