|That's the smug smile of a real sewasaurus.|
|ZOMG I love that the sleeves are actually long enough!|
Although I've got a lovely piece of red wool coating laid away, I'm too much of a chicken to dare working with it just yet. I decided to make a more casual, more machine washable, wearable technique-muslin* of sorts out of navy blue anti-pill fleece instead. At $5/yd on sale at Jo-Ann's (plus my teacher discount of 15%!), it's definitely cheap enough that I feel free to make mistakes, while still (somewhat) getting the experience of working with such thick material and the types of techniques that requires.
This project actually works nicely for R&RtRTW, too. I used to have a charcoal gray fleece jacket that I bought for cheap at one of those little Forever21-level-of-quality stores at the Tanforan Mall several years ago. It was light since it was fleece, and warm enough, considering that it was unlined and cheap. I wore it everywhere and wasn't afraid of getting it dirty since it was just fleece and could be thrown into the washing machine. It pilled like crazy after a while, though, and I sadly retired it after the beating it took in a two-week Hong Kong trip. I've missed it in the intervening years, as my wool peacoats sometimes look too formal (or are too heavy) for just going out to run errands. So this fleece jacket steps into the gap between expensive long wool coat and waterproof ski jacket.
|I made View C, but even shorter.|
Since I only purchased two yards of fleece, I was barely able to fit in all my pattern pieces, and even then I had to make the collar shorter than I wanted. Frustratingly, I ended up cutting about five inches off of the bottom of the coat because it looked awkward at the original length, which meant I could have made a taller collar if I'd, you know, planned ahead and tried holding the pattern pieces up to my body. Rookie mistake, I know.
|You can really see the sleeve head dimpling here.|
Figuring out the toggle placement was actually one of the most frustrating parts of sewing this. I kept sewing them on misaligned or crooked, and let me just tell you that ripping seams out of fleece is so. freaking. difficult. The seam ripping frustration might also have been compounded by the fact that *ahem* I didn't baste the toggles first and just went straight for sewing them in "permanently" every time, hoping against hope that the placement would be miraculously correct. I promise, one day I will learn.
|Finally more or less lined up!|
The pockets were also an ordeal, trying to get them the same size and fit them onto the little space I had on the sides of my coat. I opted to make them without the flap, and with an angled hand entry like kangaroo pockets. One of my biggest pet peeves with the RTW toggle coat I already own (but wool, and much heavier than this one, so not redundant in my wardrobe) is that trying to stick your hands into pockets vertically is really awkward and uncomfortable, so this was my attempt to remedy that bad design.
|In hindsight, I probably should've added stay tape to the opening to keep it from getting stretched out.|
I lined the coat in this fuzzy plaid flannel; I actually cut it from a cheap RTW poncho that was gifted to me. I felt slightly bad cutting it up, since it was a gift, but I'm telling myself that I would never have worn it in its original form, and at least this way it's going to good use. Unfortunately, there wasn't enough yardage to line the sleeves, so I just finished the armscyes with seam binding and tacked it to the seam allowance at the shoulder and armpit. This makes the insides of the sleeves look really ugly, but hey, nobody's going to see it, right? I might go back and add sleeves at some point if I find a similar-looking flannel, but for now, it's fine.
|Looks normal enough when the jacket flops open...|
|...but when the jacket's flipped inside out, you see what a lie it all is -- there's no sleeve lining! Oh, and that flannel was so loosely woven and unstable that I couldn't get the plaid to line up at the center back seam. Oh well.|
|Closer look at the inside...I love how the the other side of the cording stitching looks on the facing, and the way the lining looks with the dark blue makes me so happy!|
Fabric: 2 yards anti-pill fleece, one Korean poncho's worth of 80/20 wool-poly blend (it looked just like this, but in black and white)
Notions: 2.5 yards of cotton cord, 4 wooden toggle buttons, seam binding
Techniques: grading seams, topstitching, setting in sleeves
Hours used: Erg. A lot. I made it through a whole season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer working on this thing, and that's not even counting all the times I put it on pause to sew particularly tricky bits.
Will you make it again? I love the toggle look, and am totally intrigued by this inset feature, but I think more than one coat with this design is unnecessary. Also, as mentioned, I already have a RTW toggle coat. The two-piece sleeve, though -- I am totally using that on future coats now that I've adapted the pattern for my arms!
Total cost: $17. This is probably the ultra-discounted sale price of a similarly shapeless polyester coat at Forever21 or one of those generic Korean import women's fashion boutiques that are ubiquitous in SoCal, but I made this one so it's got extra value to it! Also, it kind of bothered me that the toggles and cording were more expensive than the actual fabric.
Final thoughts: Maybe it's one of those biased mom thoughts, you know, my-child-is-gorgeous-and-perfect-because-he's-mine sort of things, but I really really really like this coat. I am so thrilled with myself for making real functional outerwear -- it's actually quite warm (at least for California...it wouldn't begin to pass muster in a Canadian winter!) and navy blue goes with almost everything, it's casual but not sloppy, it has that vaguely military look I love because of the cording, and I get the satisfaction of saying I made it! I'll wager that it's better made than any other similarly priced fleece coat with no interfacing that you can get at the mall, and oh gosh I just can't get over that I made real outerwear! I'm totally psyched about making my red wool coat now, even though I know it will probably be next winter by the time I get around to it. And can I also congratulate myself for persevering through the 80+ degree days and trying this coat on countless times and sweating because of all the poly and wool, because now I am totally prepared for the fact that winter is coming. Seriously, I think this is the first time I've actually done season-appropriate sewing ahead of time!
|Apparently winter is coming from behind me.|
*Although this isn't the pattern I intend to use for my red wool coat, it does give me practice with the techniques that I may need to use, so it's a technique muslin, get it?