My Boo-boo Coat
I finally finished the coat I started at the August Lansing Clippers’ Sewing Retreat. I had to force myself to keep at it until it was done! As I said in my September 4th post, the coat was a disaster because it did not fit. I knew if I wanted to rescue it, I would need to do a lot of alterations. I loved the fabric and I invested a fair amount of money when I purchased it. So, I worked on the alterations the last two months doing a little at a time.
There were so many boo-boos it was hard to decide where to start. I knew I had to fix the shoulders first because they were huge. I ripped the shoulder seams out and added a large dart in both fronts at the center of each shoulder seam. Then I inserted a large dart in the back at the center of each shoulder seam. I made sure the front and back darts met at the shoulder line. The fit was better, but the shoulders were still a little too big.
The next alteration required me to rip out the sleeves. There was just too much fabric in the coat around the armscye area in the front and back. Although I knew it was risky, I trimmed fabric off both the front and back armscye. That made the shoulders narrower as well as got rid of some of the extra fabric around the armscyes.
Then I trimmed fabric off the sleeve seams because the sleeves were too large. I had to increase the seam allowance of the side seams of the coat fronts and back under the arm. The next step was to sew the sleeves back into the coat. I held my breath. Would the sleeves fit in the armscye after all the alterations? Yes, they did fit!
The lining was next on my list of alterations. I had not sewn the lining, so at least I would not be ripping out seams. I assumed I would be making the exact same changes to the lining pieces as I made to the coat, so I kept a detailed list of all the alterations as I made them on the coat. I had not sewn the lining together yet, so I was able to lay each piece on the corresponding piece of the coat. Much to my surprise, the pieces matched! There were no alterations needed on the lining. Then a light bulb suddenly went turned on in my head. Now I understood what was wrong with the coat. I think I cut the wrong size coat for me and then cut the correct size lining. No wonder the coat was too large for me even though I have used this pattern for 20 years. I have most of the sizes traced on pattern paper because I have helped others of varying sizes make this coat and I have samples sewn for others to use to determine their size. Now I am ready to throw away all sizes of the pattern except mine, so I will not repeat this mistake just in case I decide to use this pattern again!
After attaching the lining, I proceeded to make the buttonholes and sew on the buttons. More boo-boos! I planned to sew buttonholes using the buttonhole foot on my Pfaff machine. I knew from experience I would have problems if I tried to make horizon buttonholes. The foot always gets hung up on the second leg of the buttonhole on the front edge of a coat or jacket if I use heavy fabric. I decided to avoid that problem by making vertical buttonholes instead. That caused another boo-boo! The buttonhole foot got hung up on the neckline when the second leg of the buttonhole was being sewn. I was forced to rip out that partial buttonhole. I did not want to do any more ripping. I decided to do bound buttonholes instead. This was not easy because the lining was attached.
Not only was it difficult to manipulate the fabric with the lining attached, but it was difficult making the buttonholes using the heavy coat fabric to make them. I should have used a lighter fabric in a solid green color for the patch to make the lips of the buttonholes, but of course I did not do that. Everything went okay until I did the opening of the third buttonhole on the facing side. I managed to sew the square of interfacing on the inside of the facing instead of the outside. I failed to notice that until I cut the slit into the facing which caused another boo-boo! I did some ripping and then some very careful sewing around the slit. I finally completed all four buttonholes. These buttonholes are far from perfect, but at least the coat is wearable.
I learned a lot of lessons while making this coat. The two most important lessons are:
1. 1. Always make sure you cut the correct size when you make anything!
2. 2. If you want to make bound buttonholes, make them before the coat is sewn together and especially before the lining is attached!