The “Duchess” Coat

The Facts

Fabric: some blend (wool? acrylic?) and matching lining, $12 from Fabric-a-brac, pink brushed cotton for interlining ~$3, and some burgundy lining from my stash for the sleeve linings (since I didn’t have enough of the pink lining that I got with the shell fabric)
Pattern: Butterick B5145 only modified beyond all recognition
Year: 2007 only modified a lot as inspired by the early 1960s
Notions: iron-on interfacing for the collar and front facings; 6 vintage buttons from the amazing Meg
Time to complete: 14 hours
First worn: out grocery shopping
Wear again? yep
Total cost: about $15
Bump: 31 weeks

So here’s a little something I’ve been working on for a few weeks now. Originally it was going to be for the ‘Royal Family’ inspired weekly challenge over at The Sew Weekly but, well, it didn’t quite get finished for that. Too bad – I’m naming it as though it did get finished in time for that challenge, since it was inspired by all the lovely coloured coats the Queen wore back in the 1950’s and 60’s.

I picked up this fabric last month at Fabric-a-brac, with the intention of turning it into a coat. Since none of my regular coats do up over The Bump at the moment, I was going to make a 1950’s style swing coat that would do up and keep Bump warm in winter weather. Only guess what? I don’t have any patterns for one! Argh!!! (And yes, this took me by surprise. How on earth do I not have a 1950’s coat pattern in my pattern stash?!? Eek!) My long-suffering partner drove me to Spotlight and waited (in the car because he refuses to set foot inside the store) while I went hunting through the vintage re-released patterns to see if I could find an appropriate coat pattern. Finally, I found a Vogue 1950’s re-released pattern that would do. Only guess what? They didn’t have it in stock in my size. Sure, I could have bought it and graded it down two sizes, but I couldn’t quite bring myself to send $30 on a Vogue pattern that was going to need that much work. Nuh-uh.

Instead, I went hunting through my stash, and pulled out this Butterick pattern. Sure, it’s not at all like a swing style coat, but hey, that can always be changed, right?!?

I made quite a few changes to this pattern. I got rid of the darts in the bodice – instead, I butted the bodice and lower coat sections together, cut them as one, and flared them out from under the bust to add more volume around the waist (has to fit over the Bump, after all!). I did much the same for the back – butted the bodice and lower coat sections together, added a bit of A-line flare, and cut them as one. I also got rid of the centre back seam – it seemed (hah, seam, seemed! *cough* Well, it amused me when I wrote it. Anyway….) unnecessary so away it went. I kept the seam lines going down the back from the shoulders, and added a bit of width to both the centre and side back pieces to get that A-line happening. I top-stitched down the back seams, to add a touch of interest and because I like the look of flat seams.

I also added a couple of inches to the sleeves, just for the novelty of having a coat where my wrists don’t stick out and get cold. Sure, I probably could have made them an inch shorter than I did, but hey – I have a bit of a habit of making slightly-longer-than-necessary sleeves to make up for all the times my wrists stuck out and got cold in ready-made clothing.

For some reason, there was a heck of a lot of ease in the shoulder caps of this coat. Rather than mess around with it for ages trying to get rid of it when sewing up, I simply gathered it up at the sleeve cap – I think it adds a cute touch. (Steve disagrees, but he hates this coat anyway. *shrug*)

I used the pocket pattern pieces, and added in-seam pockets below the waistline. (Below the waist as I intend to make a matching belt for this coat for next winter, when I’ll be wearing it sans-bump.) The pocket openings are a bit too small, even though I made them bigger than the pattern instructions called for. Or maybe I just have big hands. Oh well, either way, they’re functional, and that’s what counts.

Meg sent me these buttons last year, as part of the Travelling Lace and Notions swap a group of us did via the Sew Weekly community site. Aren’t they fabulous?!? I’ve been wanting to use them on a coat ever since I got them, and I think the pink of this one sets them off well. :-) Thanks, Meg! You’re awesome!

Since the buttons were far too big for my buttonhole foot, I made bound button holes. Just do me a favour and don’t look at them too closely – some of them aren’t quite as straight as I would have liked, despite lots of very careful pinning in place. Next time I do bound button holes, I’m just going to give in and slip-stitch the ‘lips’ in place before machine stitching them down. So much extra time, but looks like I can’t get away without doing that. *sigh*

Not that you can see in the photos, but I fully lined this coat. I machine-stitched the lining on nearly entirely, with the exception of a 10cm long gap in the bottom hem which I used to turn the coat and then hand-stitched closed. It slips on nicely over wintery clothes. Lined coats really are awesome, don’t you think?

Please ‘scuse the photos. I had grand plans of a photo shoot up in the town belt, amongst trees, with handbag and heels and red lippy. And then it rained. All weekend. Since I spent so many weeks working on this, I didn’t want to have to wait until next weekend to get photos, so Steve snapped a few in the underground supermarket carpark when we were out grocery shopping. Not quite as glamorous as the queen, but hey, a bit of juxtaposition never hurt anyone, right? ;-) (You’ll also have to excuse the wrinkly hem – despite being pressed no less than three times, sitting in a car didn’t do it any good. I was a lot better before I left the house, I promise! I’m actually quite embarrassed by how wrinkled it looks after being sat on for a while, but not quite embarrassed enough to wait another week to take more photos. Sorry.)

Anyway, even though Steve hates this coat, I think I like it. (As with any new garment, the jury is still out on whether I do like it or not. Does anyone else have that? Kind of like a trial period with something you make, where you’re not sure if you like it or not, but make yourself wear it a few times to find out, and then sometimes you do like it, and other times you don’t? I seem to get that need for a trial period with most things I make. Heck knows why. Perhaps I just get too close to them emotionally while making them, so I don’t trust my own judgement on whether they look any good or not? Hmmmm…..) The main thing is – this coat does up over my bump! Yay!! (Sure, there’s not a lot of wiggle room, but still.) We’ll ignore for now the fact that it is slightly too tight around the bust – I forgot to allow for an expanding rib cage when cutting it out, so it’ll fit fine there when things go back to normal I guess.

Oh yes, I nearly forgot to say. Since winter is cold and all (funny, that), I added a bit of extra warmth to this coat by sandwiching a layer of brushed cotton between the shell and liner fabrics. See? Bright pink brushed cotton on the inside! (Not that you can see it now the coats made up, but it makes me smile to realise there’s bright pink fabric in there, hidden away like a little secret.)

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21 responses to “The “Duchess” Coat

  1. I love the slight gather to the sleeves and the back seaming- this is so classic and fun in the pink!

    • Thanks! :-) I do love coats in non-black/grey/navy colours. Winter has enough dark colours going on as it is!

  2. Super cute! I love this color, and your adaptations to the pattern are quite impressive! Great job!

  3. I love that location for the photo shoot! I really like this coat and I think it’s a great color for you. :)

  4. Firstly, Kat you are looking wonderful! Babyness makes you glow. Thankyou for your kind comment on my blog, things are already feeling better. Thirdly, WOW!!! I love you’re coat, you made a coat!!! So impresse4d, and it looks great!

  5. Kat if you don’t have the right pattern, why not do a shout out? I’ve got a million of the darn things here and I know of a bazillion others around town :)

  6. Yay, well done on getting it finished, it looks super warm and cozy. Now The Bump won’t get cold ;-) The pink looks really good with your hair, especially with that cute little flower you’ve got in it.

    • Oh, and your comment about sleeve length made me laugh, I do the exact same thing!

      • Tee hee, ultra long sleeves are awesome! Somehow it doesn’t surprise me at all that you do that too. Too many years of wrists sticking out the end of tops seems to do that to a girl…..

  7. Love the coat Kat – great fun colour (black coats get so boring sometimes). I also love what you have done with the sleeves as it really does add a bit of girly flair. I guess it’s a good thing Steve doesn’t like “girly flair” since he is a bloke :-)

    As always the bump looks great!!

    • Thanks Ange! :-) (Poor Steve – he asked me before he saw it if it was going to be ‘too girly’. Guess it was. Hah.)

  8. It looks great. I know you were going for a 60s look but I think it looks quite 1940s, especially with your shoes (which I love!). I’m impressed with all your bound buttonholes. I always have trouble getting them all straight too.

  9. Great job. I have that Butterick pattern, and I like it so much I actually have two coats made from it, but I wouldn’t have thought of taking out the seam between the bodice and the bottom. I love what you did with it.

    • Thanks! I really like the original pattern actually – I’ve been meaning to make it up for ages now in it’s ‘proper’ form. Maybe next winter….

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