Five months ago I first blogged about this project, designing, weaving, and sewing a Victorian style topcoat. After co-hosting a Victorian make along with Kristin from the Yarngasm podcast, (I didn't finish the coat by October 31st for those keeping score,) I did however end up finishing the fabric, which I talked about in the second part of this blog series.
I learned a ton of lessons while working on this coat, which I will discuss after the image gallery. This coat ended up being about 5 inches shorter than I had planned, but I added a hood and different closures, so it all evens out. Please look at the photos below and then skip to the bottom where I talk about the process, and the lessons I learned!
At first, I was intimidated by this project. I had just woven yards and yards of fabric using a yarn with blend of wool and alpaca; not cheap stuff. I wasn't intimidated by cutting into the fabric, but was terrified of sewing the pattern itself. I think after the weaving, the next part that took the longest in this process was finding a pattern for me to use.
First Lesson: There are not a lot of men's sewing patterns out there, especially for outerwear, and even more so when it comes to Victorian patterns. There was a wealth of patterns for women's patterns, both modern and Victorian.
After realizing that I wasn't going to find a men's Victorian topcoat pattern I was going to have to find a suit-coat pattern and then alter it.
Second Lesson: There are a few suit coat patterns out there, but many of them are pretty expensive. I also learned that I could easily draft my own pattern based on my own measurements. So I decided to find an online tutorial and went to town.
I started by taking my measurements twice, just to be sure that I was going to get a good fit. The drafting process wasn't hard, though I wish I had bought drafting paper. I used pieces of sketching paper taped together which worked just fine in the end, and the resulting pattern pieces are more durable now.
Third Lesson: I used the cutout piece of the arm pattern piece to frame my fabric since it was two-sided to decide which pattern I was going to use for the right-side of the fabric.
Once I cut all the pattern pieces out it was time to move to sewing.
Anytime you work with handwoven fabric I would HIGHLY recommend using fusible interfacing to stabilize your fabric, I decided that my current skills were high enough that I didn't need to do it for this pattern. I decided to use the reverse side of the coat as a finished object as well, but with a punk twist, so a rough finish inside was going to be ideal!
I cut the pattern pieces out of the fabric with a generous 1" seam allowance.
1. I didn't want to screw up and ruin my fabric.
2. This was going to add to the punk look later.
Fourth Lesson: Lay out your pattern pieces on the fabric one more time before cutting. When I added the extra seam allowance this shifted my pattern pieces significantly, so I ended up having to piece together some pieces of fabric in strategic places.
Once I sewed the pieces up, It was just a matter of sewing in darts and finishing the punk side.
Fifth Lesson: I think overall, the lesson I learned from this project was "Be Fearless." I know I have mentioned this before, but when you're about to cut into fabric that took hours of preparation and creation, it means a little bit more. When you have a big idea, go for it with fierce intention.
Read Part One here. Read Part Two here.