Coat’s are a staple item in the closet, for both men and women. Nice, thick and heavy coats for those cold days and light coats for those days and nights to dress up in. Kenneth King instructs the Craftsy class Carefree Fly Front Coat, teaching you how to customise and construct your own individualised coat.
Lesson 1 – Meet Kenneth D. King and Get Started
Kenneth dives very quickly into the lesson. He briefly mentions his history, saying that he has written a few books and basically been sewing since he was a child. Then he’s straight into the pattern, explaining that it’s a simple coat that is great for people starting tailoring. It has a fly front, cuff latches, seam pockets, and customised lapels.
Pattern Drafting and Modified Collar
A pattern draft is based upon the stitching lines, whereas a sewing pattern includes the seam allowances.
Kenneth explains the first changes that he has made to the pattern draft to suit his tastes – important since your beginning pattern may not immediately match his.
Kenneth shows you how to made a subtle collar change so that it’s easier to sew; he essentially removes the corner and converts it to a curve.
Adding Princess Line and Hidden Pocket
Start the princess line 3″ from the underarm. At the hem it’s about 3 and 1/2″ from the side seam.
Start the pocket opening 2″ below the waist and make it’s opening 6-7″.
Making Pattern Pieces
Make a test fit out of muslin and make any fitting changes you want to the pattern pieces first.
Using a separate sheet of paper you should trace your new pattern pieces for the side front, the centre front, the pocket lining. Also include information such as grain lines and appropriate notches.
Adding Seam Allowances
Since these are only draft pieces, you should now go ahead and add your sewing seam allowances. The standard is 5/8″. Kenneth actually cuts the side and centre back seams at a larger 1″ seam allowance; finding that when he adds a binding to them the wider seam allowances just looks more luxurious. The hem and cuff’s should have 1 and 1/2″ seam allowances so that they can be folded back.
Fabric and Tools
Textured fabric is more forgiving when it comes to mistakes; so if you’re a little scared of starting this project then definitely go for it.
Kenneth also discusses popular tools such as rotary cutters, fabric sheers, specialty presser feet, irons and numerous pressing tools.
A Magic Knot – Bonus Tip
This class will require you to do a little bit of hand stitching. Kenneth shows you how to very quickly and easily tie off the ends of the thread.
Lesson 2 – Drafting the Details
Drafting the Front Facing
Now that we have changed the major pattern pieces, it’s time to make those minor changes that will really individualise our project. We will need to add the internal facing as well as the fly facing, which is a nifty little feature that hides the buttons from view when buttoned up.
I love how Kenneth covers information on adding or removing material so at one can’t favour a seam during sewing and pressing, this is a step that I would have never thought of doing myself.
Drafting the Back Lining
Drafting the back lining is a similar process to the front lining. Kenneth takes you through the process of drafting the lining, including how to remove the shoulder dart and adding a pleat to aid movement.
Drafting the Yoke
A yoke is both a design and a functional feature. It’s quite simple to add a yoke, which process also involves pivoting a dart to a seam.
Drafting Cuff Latch and Sleeve Lining
Whilst a cuff latch mostly just looks pretty, they can be designed to craftily keep the freezing cold wind from blowing up your sleeves.
To highlight just how easy some of these changes are, to draft a sleeve lining from the main pattern is as simple as a single strategically placed line.
Lesson 3 – Front Facing, Lining and Binding
Kenneth walks you through what will be covered in this lesson: he will teach you how to stay all curves and add Hong Kong seam bindings as a nice finishing touch for inside the garments. This little overview is helpful to allow you to skip straight to sewing if you know the techniques, providing a list of items that will need to be sewn.
Staying the Curves
You will need to cut strips of muslin on the cross grain and then press to form a curve.
Hong King Finish: Cutting Bias Strips
What a great tip, especially for people with tiny cutting mats. Kenneth how’s you to fold material multiple times to give you a smaller cutting area yet still achieve full length bias grain strips.
Hong Kong Finish: Binding the Seams
If you need to stretch the curve so that your bias will lie better, go ahead and do so.
Kenneth binds the seam allowances before joining the two fashion fabric pieces together; he just finds it much less fiddly. If you’ve never sewn a hong kong seam binding, Kenneth walks you through each step including how to finish it by hand or sewing machine.
The Assembled Bound Pieces
Assemble the jacket interior (front facings and back linings) before the body. If done correctly, these pieces will look as they do when installed into the jacket. Finally bind any edges that will not be sewn to the jacket – i.e. the lower raw edge of the jacket lining and facing.
Lesson 4 – Preparing the Sleeves
Making the Cuff Latch
Ideally you want the lining and fashion fabric’s raw edges to align, despite the fact that we cut the lining ever so slightly smaller. Clip corners and trim the seam allowances. Finally turn right side out.
Kenneth provides a very simple tip on how to reinforce your corners to prevent seams from bursting; all of one step but can potentially save you a fair amount of time by preventing disaster.
Sharp Points and Topstitching
The latch already looks so nice. Press it all flat, including the very points using Kenneth’s method to achieve really sharp corners. It’s just these little things that really make a garment look couture and professional.
Cuff Interfacing and Sleeve Seam
For the cuff you should ideally use a sewn-in interfacing. If you aren’t too familiar with the types of interfacing, Underneath it All by Linda Lee (read my review) is a great resource – I’d absolutely love it if I had that information in a quick reference book.
Considering how easy it is to add the latch to a jacket, I can’t believe I haven’t done this before. They are a lovely decorative – and functional – feature and just so easy to make.
Pressing and Tacking the Cuff, Sewing the Sleeve Lining
This is actually two parts of the lesson, combined into one paragraph since they are so short.
Press your latch and cuff as normal. Tack your cuff internally to help hold it in place. Sew the side seam of your lining so that it can be inserted, do so and then finally hand tack the lining cuff to the jacket cuff.
Lesson 5 – Constructing the Collar
In Lesson 1 we made some basic adjustments to the collar patterns. This lesson will extend upon constructing the pattern pieces and finally sewing and attaching the collar to the garment.
On a previously made garment, Kenneth shows you how our alterations and finished product should look like.
Drafting a Collar Pattern
On the upper collar you will need to add favouring, so that it’s not completely visible when worn. Remember that we want to cut the fabric on the bias, so add an appropriate grain line.
Preparing Collar Fabric
Kenneth uses tailoring canvas as a sew-in interfacing to give the collar just that little extra bit of a body. Since he is using a sew-in interfacing, Kenneth explains the best way to sew the pieces of fabric together to obtain optimum results: allowing the fabric to be supported but not inhibited in movement.
Sewing and Pressing the Under-collar
Stitch the two under collar pieces together right at the stitching line, being careful to avoid stitching the canvas. After pressing your seams open, topstitch 1/8″ from the seam well to secure the canvas from shifting.
Press the collars in a curve so that they shape nicely to the neck.
Assembling the Collar
Sew the seams, again avoiding the canvas interfacing.
Grading, Clipping and Pressing the Collar
Grade the seam allowances at slightly different widths, such as 1/4″ and 1/2″. Clip al the corners, alternating the clips between the upper to under collar fabric.
Press, favouring the upper collar.
Topstitching and Final Finishing
It’s helpful to line up the seam allowances at the raw edge, so that you don’t need to worry about shaping the collar when it will be attached to the garment.
Lesson 6 – Body and Inseam Pockets
Kenneth shows you one of the front pocket pieces already finished to give you an idea of how it should look once finished. It’s quite neat, hiding all raw edges so that the internal of the jacket doesn’t need to be lined.
Attaching the Pocket Lining
This process involves two steps: the centre front panel and the pocket lining.
After sewing your lining to the fabric seam, clip the corner of the lining and just past the stitching line.
Joining the Front Panels
You’ll need to sew the two front panels together whilst keeping the opening for the pocket.
Sewing and Pressing the Pocket Bag
Now that the front panels are joined we have to sew the pocket bag closed.
Fold back the seam allowance and stitch under the pocket opening, around the pocket itself mad finally secure the top.
Tacking the Pockets
Sew some bar tacks on each end if the pocket opening to help secure them for heavy use
Binding the Pockets
Similar to how you did a Hong Kong finish to the earlier seams, you will sew some bias fabric to the raw edges of your pockets.
Assembling Body Pieces
Kenneth overviews each step he did to join all the garment pieces, such as which pieces he joined, the direction he pressed and which seams get bias bindings.
Pressing and Tacking the Side Seams
Press as sewn. Press the seams open.
The Blind Stitch
Blind stitch the side seams down so that they don’t fold the wrong way when the garment is worn.
Attaching the Collar
After clipping your curves, pin and align your collar to the yoke and shoulder pieces as necessary. Machine baste these two together.
Lesson 7 – Adding the Fly Front
Attaching Lining to Coat
Kenneth does a quick overview of what needs to be done to the garment before continuing. He unfortunately doesn’t cover how to sew the lining.
Attaching the Fly Facings
Attach the fly facings to the body with the right sides together. Edge stitch the side fly front facing, but leave the body facing free.
Joining Body and Facing to Form Fly
Line up the tailor tacks together. Sew from the lapel to the first tailor tack, pivot 90 degrees and then sew until the edge. Do the same for the bottom hem. Turn to right side out and press.
We will complete this section in the next lesson.
Lesson 8 – Pressing, Buttonholes and Hems
Good Pressing is Key
The golden key is heat and steam. A semi-transparent pressing cloth, such as silk organza, helps prevent a png wrinkles being pressed into the fabric. Let the fabric cool completely before moving.
A hardwood or cotton surface and tools are best as they draw the moisture away from the fabric and aids in its cooling and drying.
Kenneth really does go into depth discussing the best techniques to achieve sharp points and flat pressed seams.
Use the buttonhole foot to sew the required number of buttonholes.
Closing the Fly Front
Line up the two fronts so that the facing sits slightly behind the body. Sew 1/8″ away from the buttonholes through both the facings and linings: this will close the facing.
Finishing the Facings
Mark your hem allowance. Sew the facing. Trim excess material.
Topstitching the Coat Front
Topstitch at a 1/2 from the collar all the way down to the bottom hem. Top stitch the button fly fronts on both sides.
Lesson 9 – Sleeves and Shoulder Pads
Sleeve Drape and Pad Fitting
Kenneth gives you an overview of what to look for in a well fitted sleeve.
When fitting shoulder pads, the front should be fatter than the back. If you pull the sleeve pad out just a bit so that it lines up with the cut edge of the bodice, then you will find the finished look will be much nicer.
Shaping the Sleeve Cap
Most professionals will distribute the ease in a much larger area than commercial patterns, as Kenneth explains. This eased area is where you will traditionally sew a basting stitch to gather the sleeve cap before attaching to the bodice. It’s also quite important to press your sleeve cap so that it has a nice curve free of wrinkles.
Pinning in the Sleeve
To get a better fit, trim excess material to reduce bulk.
Sewing in the Sleeve
Sew in the sleeve as you would normally. Trim your seam allowances so that the garment follows the contours of the body for a more comfortable fit.
Making a Sleeve Head
Many commercial garments – at least the ones I’ve sewn – haven’t instructed you to add sleeve heads despite how useful they are. A sleeve had is essentially a bit of padding between the seam allowance and the sleeve cap itself; it allows a nice gentle slope from shoulder to arm; a more professional finish.
Kenneth walks you how to cut and press a sleeve head in preparation for installation.
Installing Sleeve Head and Shoulder Pad
After installing the sleeve, stitch your sleeve head into the garment. Similar to how Kenneth showed you how to fit the shoulder pad, place it in place and baste in place. Finally stitch in place.
Securing the Facing
Kenneth walks you through the steps of tacking everything in place for the ultimate no-fuss long lasting garment.
Steaming the Shoulder
Finally, when everything is in place, you steam. This helps to set the material to be set in place.
Lesson 10 – Finishing
Pinning the Sleeve Lining
If you aren’t doing a bagged lining then chances are you will have to hand stitch your sleeve lining onto your sleeve. After clipping the curved edges, you will need to pin the lining in place.
The Felling Stitch
A felling stitch is perpendicular to the folds of the fabric. If done right, the ease should be distributed evenly whilst the stitches themselves should be somewhat unnoticeable.
Attaching the Lining at the Cuff
Matching the under arm seam, pin the lining and the cuff together. Once again do a felling stitch.
Trims and Ends
Using a blind stitch, tack down the facing and the pocket seams so that they lay permanently flat against the internal jacket.
Slipstitch the binding to the hem allowance at the very bottom of the jacket.
Thread tack the midway points between the button holes to stop the gap from opening up when worn.
There is a proper way to hand sew buttons, thankfully Kenneth shows you how. He gives you tips on building a shank for the button so that you have manoeuvring room for handling the button, as well as how to quickly build thickness.
- Metric Conversion Chart that comes with all Craftsy sewing classes
- Supplies, Resources and Guidelines. This covers the supplies and tools you will need for the class, the patterns you ned to cut, helpful resources and instructional tips.
- Vogue 8841.
Like most of Kenneth’s classes I find them highly informative; not only does he explain how to do something, but why it should be done that way in order to achieve the best results.
Kenneth doesn’t walk you step by step through the entire project. Rather he does much of the sewing off camera and then outlines what he has done so far before taking you through the next technique
The Carefree Fly Front Coat class is not for beginners; you need to be confident using and even altering sewing patterns. Having said that, Kenneth does walk you through most of the things that you need to know. Another thing of note for beginners, as I mentioned under the Cons section, is that Kenneth doesn’t cover every single step in the construction process – you will need to be able to refer to the pattern instructions and his own customised instructions.
I think intermediate sewers will find the class somewhat informative – Kenneth does cover a few good tips and tricks. Expert sewers will have a nice class to follow along and help them feel more confident in moving away from pre-designed commercial sewing patterns to
If you are even slightly interested in learning how to make your own patterns or altering commercial patterns to make your own designs, then this class in an essence is perfect you. Kenneth how’s you how absolutely easy it is to add extra design and functional features to the garment, such as fly facings, yokes, facings and much more. Seriously after seeing just how easy it is – even if you weren’t interested in doing this before – you will be wanting to try it out. As part of your course materials you don’t just have the video but instructions in the supplies work sheet as well. Just perfect.