Friday, 11 March 2016

Operation Outerwear: VICTORY \o/ or, more prosaically, Red Spring Raincoat Part II

Red Spring Raincoat (Burda 02-2009-133) is FINISHED \o/
When last seen on Sunday, my red spring raincoat (using Burda 02-2009-133) had advanced as far as the outer shell being mainly finished. I originally planned to finish it up this coming weekend, but I had more time for sewing (and felt rather better) than I anticipated at the start of this week and so I quickly worked through the remaining tasks: making a lining pattern from the main pattern pieces; cutting out and constructing the lining; putting together lining and outer; and doing the final finishing.

The completed black and white lining (right side out) waiting to be attached to the outer
The outer fabric was, as I mentioned last time, beautifully behaved. It's a treated,"shower proof" 100% cotton, and I bought it in two colours (this red and also navy) from an online vendor back in early 2013. Allegedly it's ex-Burberry fabric, though who knows whether that's true. Regardless of pedigree, it really is a very nice fabric: it's extremely easy to sew and when I tried spraying water on the surface it beaded and rolled off. It probably won't stand up to really intense rain, but certainly it could cope with light drizzle. On the (minor) negative side, being cotton it will crease quite a lot -- I kept having to press it over and over to make it look even remotely nice in photos. I suspect if it were used by a manufacturer they'd have treated it with some kind of crease-proofing chemical.

The lining I bought in late 2013 on the Goldhawk Road in London. It's a black and white shiny something or other -- synthetic obviously, but fibre content is unknown to me. I was absolutely dreading sewing with it because my experiences with shiny, shifty fabric have not been particularly happy. However, with a few little tricks in my arsenal (505 adhesive spray; cutting out on top of fabric and with shears for once rather than rotary) it actually cut out nicely, and I also had relatively few problems with sewing it. In fact, the whole lining process went much more smoothly than I anticipated, and I am really pleased with the results.

Front and back view of coat
I know it's fashionable in the SBC to bitch and moan about Burda's instructions, but while I don't always love them I don't find them as impenetrable as some seem to. I mean, sometimes reading the instructions on their own without the garment pieces in front of me baffles me entirely, but normally I can figure out what it's asking me to do. For all of the outer and the lining construction, I followed along dutifully and had no problems at all. However, at the point of inserting the lining I departed from Burda's instructions entirely because Burda use a modified hand-sewing method of lining insertion. There are circumstances in which I would definitely choose to do a lot of hand-sewing to insert a lining, but this casual raincoat project just wasn't one of them.

Luckily, I own an extremely useful little e-book called "Easy Guide To Sewing Linings" by Connie Long, which I highly recommend. It is quite expensive for such a small book (about £9.50 on Amazon) but it is a well-organized book with plenty of pictures and useful information in a concise format. Most of the book is, as you have probably guessed, about inserting linings into jackets, coats, skirts, dresses, trousers, etc and it describes various hand-sewing and machine-sewing methods and techniques. However, I wish I had remembered before I cut my fabric that it also contains instructions on how to make lining patterns using your main garment pattern pieces. I did what Burda told me to do, which turned out to be more or less in line with the book's instructions, but I wished afterwards I had made some of the refinements to the sleeve/armhole recommended in the book that Burda do not mention at all.

Side and inside out view of coat -- you can see the vents on the sleeves and hem, and the long sleeve facings on the inside
My main use of the book on this occasion was to use it for instructions on how to bag (mainly machine sew) the lining. I am extremely happy with how it came out! I did have a couple of problems. I had some problems visualizing how the hem/lining/facing would come together in the corners, a problem exacerbated by the fact I had to deal with the side vents as well. In the end I had to do a little hand sewing to get the corners to look OK, and they are not quite as perfect as I would like (though, really, who is going to inspect my lining at the hem? Nobody, that's who.) I also didn't give myself enough length in the sleeve lining and had to unpick everything and re-sew with a tiny little seam to attach it to the sleeve facing so that the lining wasn't pulling at the sleeves, which was an enormous nuisance. (I also had to unpick a few stitches in one place because I accidentally left a pin on the inside when I'd closed the lining up. At least I found it before I sat on it or something.)

Coat as modelled by yours truly. Not sure what all those wrinkles are on the front shot since they only appear in this one image, but I definitely have some shoulder fit problems at both front and back
The biggest problems with the finished product are, of course, related to fit. I am reasonably happy with the fit, which is definitely not worse than my existing RTW coats (faint praise as all my RTW coats fit hideously badly and/or are two sizes too big for me) and I think it's entirely wearable despite the imperfect fit.  There's definitely room for improvement, however, particularly at the shoulder/upper arm/upper back. It was a mistake to do a single sleeve muslin -- I really needed both sleeves to get a sense of whether the coat would tug across the back when I raise my arms. While I do wish I had done a little better job on fitting this coat, I am OK with the results I got.

I really liked how the pockets were constructed on this coat
Overall, though I could continue to pick out many small faults in my sewing and fitting, I am absolutely delighted with this coat! I have been whining talking about wanting to make a coat or jacket for approximately a geological age, but kept chickening out. I am so glad I finally just got started and made one. I really enjoyed working on this over a period of ten days or so. I had wondered if I had the patience to work on long projects and the answer is apparently: yes! I'm also kind of in love with Burda as a result. Everything just fits together so well, and it seems like every pattern I make up from the magazines is well-designed, in terms of how things are constructed. In this case, it was the way the pockets and collar went together that really impressed me on this coat.

In conclusion: I am the happiest owner of a new red coat! :D Also, I think you can expect to see a lot more Burda and a lot more outerwear this year now that I've made a start. :D


  1. I've been on a Burda kick lately too. Man those patterns just WORK.

    Now, back to your FABULOUS raincoat! Woohoo! I'm so glad you jumped right in with both feet. It really looks amazing and fits well I think.

    It's really, really nice. I just love it and think you'll get tons of wear from it!!

    1. They really do just work! I just love how neatly everything just fits together. I loved the collar method on this coat and how perfectly tidy everything looked when it was done, even though it was then hidden under the lining!

      I am so so pleased I dove in and got started with this project in the end. I'm 100% sure I'm going to be wearing this coat extensively this spring. \o/ Thank you so much for your encouragement when I was starting on it! :D

  2. Your coat is fantastic! I'm going to have to give Burda's outerwear patterns a closer look.

    1. Thank you! I highly recommend Burda's outerwear patterns on the basis of this one -- just a very well designed pattern that produces exactly what you expect from the technical drawing/illustration.

  3. yeeeessssssss!!!! Despite the fact that you have thoughts on how you might have changed the fitting, I find there is no better killer of sew jo than worrying about fitting. I'm so glad you just went ahead and made it while you were in the mood, because you have such a fab red coat now! I'm cheering over here that you finally made your coat, and that it's awesome!

    1. I am so thrilled with it and you are 100% right -- getting mired in "perfect fit" is the death of enthusiasm about sewing.

  4. Fabulous coat. So cheery for dull rainy days. I am in a little sewing group and was sewing a Tshirt. One of the women asked wasn't I going to make a muslin ! If I felt I had to muslin everything for fit etc I would have quit sewing years ago. I think your raincoat fits well. I agree burda have great patterns.

    1. Thank you! I still really love it a week on, so it's all good :D