Since moving to Kuwait I have acclimatised to the 40 degree heat, however the turn in season to winter has changed that. I’m not dealing well with temperatures hitting single digits – how do some of you deal with below zero?!
So I’ve decided to make myself a nice long trench coat. That’s when M6800 became the perfect specimen: it consists of four different coat styles, featuring hip and knee lengths, as well as the traditional collar or the peter-pan collar styles. I picked View D as a shorter more casual jacket, and View B as it was quite similar to a trench coat.
First Step: Adjustments To Pattern Measurements
The first thing I do to pretty much any pattern that I open up is to check my measurements, both the recommended size as well as the finished garment measurements.
I prefer not to touch the original tissue paper pattern so that I can always fall back on it. Before I made any alterations I traced everything onto sheet paper from my local stationery store. With pinning, it usually lasts long enough for two or so uses before I need to retrace. It’s on this tracing paper that I made the alterations to height and girth measurements.
Second Step: Buy Material
I did imagine the traditional beige colour, however availability of fabric changed that preference. I also wanted the material to be of medium thickness and weight, to help protect these cold days. I returned to Souk Al Mubarakiya with my husband acting as my translator. Again we stuck to the nicer fabric areas, since our experiences with the cheaper stores suggest they are more willing to bargain unlike their cheaper counterparts.
We shopped around a lot before purchasing any fabric, and I mean a lot. We probably ducked our heads into the majority of stores. I found one store that sold beige polyester suitable for my jacket, costing 2.5KD per meter (that’s US$8.85 per meter). It was sufficiently soft, and priced fairly… But I’m just not a fan of polyester; I avoid when possible. We kept looking around, testing our luck. Finally we stumbled across a store called Al-Safat Palace (we dealt with a guy called Khalid). Here they sold 100% wool for 6KD a meter (US$22 – ouch) but was willing to reduce it to 4.5KD ($16). Since it was getting late, and my only alternative was the polyester, I decided to blow my budget just a bit.
Not only was the wool natural compared to the polyester, it had a much nicer weight and drape. It was also so much softer, like really fine felt or flannel. Downside, they didn’t have any in beige so I had to settle for a dark navy blue.
I can’t remember how much the lining was originally priced at, but we ended up paying about 2-2.5KD per meter for it (US$7-8.85). It’s a silk-cotton blend called Valentino, and can I just say that it has the most amazing texture I’ve ever felt: it’s one of the softest materials I have ever touched. I have worked with it before in my first ever sewing project, the Lace Dress. It doesn’t wrinkle as easily as some of my other cotton, it’s very thin and lightweight and so, so soft. The downside is that it can be slippery to work with.
I ended up picking a basic complimentary color to the navy blue: a blood-red.
Third Step: Prepping the Fabric
I always wash my fabric – I just haven’t come across fabric that can’t stand water. The wool didn’t bleed any dye at all, it just absorbs moisture like crazy. I tend to boil my kettle at 100 degrees and soak in a bucket.
The Valentino silk-cotton blend was a different story however: I soaked it three times in hot water and hand rinsed without having any impact at all on the bleeding. The water was just as red as it started off with, and worse the dyed water in the bucket wasn’t helping to wash away the excess dye. Since I couldn’t stick it in the washing machine I ended up jumping in a hot shower with it to continuously stamp and rinse the dye away. Problem was my feet ended up being stained pinkish-red. Better my feet than my clothes I guess.
Waiting for material to dry is like watching a kettle boil.
Step Four: Cutting
Since I haven’t yet bought a cutting mat, I had to go through the arduous task of pinning and cutting every piece of fabric. I hate this part as my knees really do protest when I kneel the entire day on tiles. My family knows when I’ve cut material as I end up with massive bruises on my knees.
It took me three days with some distractions, but I finally got everything cut appropriately. Downside is that I discovered I had bought non-woven fusible interfacing and not woven by mistake… Oops! It’s all I got so I’m just going to have to cross my fingers and hope that it’s enough.
Step Five: Sewing!
I think that this is everyone’s favourite bit, it’s just a pity that it takes so long to get to.
Following the instructions was fairly simple, except for so many pieces appearing similar. My tip is keep the pattern piece attached to the fabric right up until you see it on your garment, this way you’re less likely to get confused.
Having said that, I did sew one of my sleeves inside out. I only noticed when I went to join it to the main part of the jacket, trying to match up the notches. I won’t blame myself too much as my fabric is double-sided, and be easy to sew on the wrong side.
I did stuff up when it came to the pockets, but like all mistakes you can try to find a positive side.
Pockets for the long coats – B and D – have pockets more along the front princess lines, whilst the shorter jackets – A and C – have the pockets built into the side seams. When following the instructions, I sewed the princess pockets first only to realise that the shorter jacket’s were further back. So I cut another lot of pockets and sewed a second pair to each side.
Because of the design of the jacket the extra pockets aren’t very noticeable, yet they give me just that bit of extra functionality.
I didn’t end up sewing without pins, as taught in the Craftsy class Sew Better, Sew Faster: Garment Industry Secrets (read my review) as the fabric layers were too bulky and difficult to guide cleanly under the needle. Had I used thinner wool this would not have been a problem however, and I would have finished much faster.
The instructions weren’t too clear when it came to attaching the lining to the jacket. I initially sewed the lining on the wrong way, so when I turned it out the jacket inside – seams and all – was visible. Oops! After a lengthy process of unpicking the stitches, I finally got it right. Yet I still had to attach the sleeves with very little help at all from the instructions, which merely stated to sew and attach the sleeve linings in the same manner as the sleeves. There was also little guidance about folding in the center facing (the location where the buttons are placed) and the collar.
I feel like there is too much flare at the hips when it comes to the shorter jacket pattern. I could reduce the flare in the pattern, cut on the bias so it drapes more on my body, or use a fabric that isn’t so stiff and drapes more smoothly.
Due to the number of panels the coat is divided into – six for the main body plus two for each arm and then double that for the lining – it isn’t the fastest of projects. It took a number of days for me to complete from prep to ready to wear. Having said that, it was well worth the time and effort; I love both the coat and jacket and they are now my new favourites.