Several weeks ago, in the middle of a small heat wave, I had the crazy desire to make a winter coat. Out of wool. Heavy, cozy, black wool. In 80+ degree weather. It was a bit of an odd time for this fabric to start speaking to me, but I decided to run with it and get a jump on my winter sewing.
I picked up this great wool fabric when it went on end-of-season clearance at FabricMart last spring, with the goal of making a classic/traditional black coat, but with no plan or pattern in mind other than knowing that I want to make just another black coat. I used Lekala 4298, a knee-ish length coat with princess seams in the back, and decorative/shaping seams in the front. I was drawn to the interesting and unique seamlines on the front of this coat, which I hoped would give a bit of subtle visual interest to a black coat (and I think it worked out exactly as I hoped).
The pattern seems to have been …inspired… by this Burberry pattern. Which apparently sold for around $3,000 when it was in stores.
The shell of this coat is made up of eighteen pieces, six of which make up the front. None of those six pieces resemble traditional coat or jacket pattern pieces, at least none that I’ve encountered in the past. I nicknamed this my “jigsaw puzzle coat” fairly early on in the process, as working with the oddly shaped pieces was a bit like putting together a puzzle. The instructions did help with the construction order for the strangely shaped pieces, but I could have used a few diagrams in with the writing – it took me a few more tries than I care to admit to get the front of the coat correctly sewn together. After I solved the pattern piece puzzle, I colored the seam allowances of the various pieces in different colors so that I have a color coded guide for if/when I decide to sew this pattern again.
The fact that Lekala patterns are custom to your measurements gave me a great starting point on this coat, and I didn’t have to make many alterations. The only alterations I made were to raise and make smaller the armscye and narrow the sleeves.
The pattern calls for all of those fancy seams on the front to be topstitched, but seems to ignore the back of the coat (save for adding the tabbed belt piece). I decided that if I were going to be spending all the time on the seaming and topstitching on the front of the coat that the back deserved some, too, and added topstitching to the side and back seams.
I knew from my muslin that I was going to make several substantive design changes, as well, mostly do to my lack of height. I shortened the coat by several inches to get a car or walking coat length, as the original pattern’s hem fell at a funny spot on me and made me look shorter than I already am (and I aim for my clothing making me look taller, if anything). Since I shortened the pattern, I didn’t feel the need for the back vent, and left that off.
The pattern called for, if I recall correctly, seven 3/4″ to 1″ buttons on the front, not even carrying the buttons through to the hem of the coat – seven buttons all on a smidge more than half the length of the coat. Which I guess would work on a super tall model, but I thought that felt way too crowded on my coat (again – I’m short), and only used three.
I left off the huge (on me) angled pocket flaps, then went ahead and also left off the pockets themselves as I felt they broke up and distracted from the great seaming details on the front, which, to me, were the main attraction of the pattern. I contemplated adding in-seam pockets to the side seams, but decided that wasn’t the most comfortable place for pockets and then managed to convince myself that I didn’t really need pockets as I almost always have a purse with me and can shove all of my stuff in that rather than in pockets. And use gloves if it gets that cold here. But, really, where I live, the coat should keep me warm enough.