The sun came out today, if rather shyly, which made it ideal weather for giving my McCall’s 5766 its virgin outing. When I finished it some 10 days ago, it was very cold and as I tried the coat on indoors, I could feel a breeze around my legs! Though it’s woollen, this isn’t a warm garment. It even feels light when I pick it up.
I remember once reading how Swedes, or maybe Scandinavians, tend to own four coats: one for the winter, one for autumn, a spring one and – poor souls – a summer one. Well, this is my April, May and October coat. I apologise for how awfully I’ve styled it (black doesn’t go at all) but I was in a rush to get to Down House with the kids (visiting Charles Darwin’s home has become an Easter tradition as they do a great Egg Hunt). A dress and high heeled boots or my blue dancing shoes would do this better justice. Also, I’m having a rather enjoyable search for some ballet flats that would go with.
Are you familiar with the concept of “treats” from the book Couture Sewing Techniques? A treat is a finishing touch that makes the handmade garment a pleasure to put on and take off, like a private reminder that your piece is unique. Well, let me introduce you to the opposite concept in couture: the clanger. This is the shaming mistake, or act of omission, you’d be wise to cover up as anyone in the know will otherwise mark you out as a hopeless amateur. I’d rather not list all of my clangers as I’ve rather come round to thinking they don’t matter. The marathon-effort that was McCalls 5766, begun with Shrek in January, is wearable. I have passed. Thanks for sticking with me, for your brilliant comments and insights!
But there are the two main areas in which I’d do things differently the next time:
1. I’d borrow a trick from speed tailoring and back the entire fabric with fusible weft interfacing (discovered here) before cutting. Not only would it save time finishing the seams, it’ll make the coat warmer too. And unless I was making a summer coat, I’d probably go for a thicker lining such as satin.
Do you know of any professional place that applies the fusible weft for you in London or thereabouts? The service is I believe called block fusing but that may be a non-UK term.
2. I’d do a proper job of tailoring the collar, using collar canvas, pad stitching and lots of steam power. I just stuck to interfacing as per instructions which was lazy but I was nervous that I’d make a hash job of the notch, having never done that to satisfaction before. In the end, careful marking and slow sewing ensured the notch worked out fine, but the collar is a bit of a pancake to be honest.
Here’s Gertie’s tutorial on making a proper collar.
Also on the subject of collars, let me share this interesting tip I found in the Morplan’s Tailoring book. It’s to help ensure that collar doesn’t roll in:
Before you join the garment to the lining and facing, pin them wrong sides together. Pin at the neckhole seam and at the shoulder seams. Put the coat on your dummy. If the collar and undercollar are exactly the same size, fine. If however the undercollar protrudes, mark the edge of the collar with a line of pins. Now, pin your garment and lining right sides together but match the raw edge of the collar with the line of pins before you sew.