As people of a certain age / televisual persuasion will probably know, there is an episode of Sex and the City where Carrie and Stanford go to a baby shower / kids birthday party. As they arrive Carrie is horrified when she is asked to take off her shoes (Manolos, natch). "But, but ..." she splutters, "it's an outfit, it doesn't work without the shoes."
Or something along those lines.
I use this rationale regularly to justify the ridiculous and continually growing number of coats I possess.
In a city where the weather requires coats of some kind for some six months of the year, if one wants to retain at least some semblance of style and sanity then you need a good quorum of outerwear from which to select. And more importantly, in my humble opinion, it needs to finish an outfit in such a way that taking it off leaves you feeling kind of like Carrie.
(This is clearly a Charlie-ism and can by no means be attributed to the every day coat wearing peccadilloes of the 8.5 million other New Yorkers, who likely don't give a hooey.)
So, when Lisa from The Avid Seamstress contacted me asking if I'd like to try one of her new patterns, specificially The Coat, I of course said yes.
The Coat, to quote the blurb. " ... has a slim silhouette with a modern twist ... Flattering princess seams feature a clever in-seam pocket, while the modern drop sleeves make for a relaxed yet stylish look ... Other features include a notched collar, 2 button front closure and a kick pleat."
Now, if I'm being completely honest, I wasn't immediately smitten with the pattern. This can be attributed to one aspect - princess seams. I'm not a huge fan of them. I get that they are incredibly flattering and really help make a piece of clothing fit well, but that's probably the issue, I like my clothes and especially my coats to be oversized and, well, to some degree, shapeless. But what then intrigued me about this coat is that the princess seam is only in the front and is combined with a drop shoulder, a roomy back and a casual long shawl collar.
So once I'd got to grips with the fact that I did actually really like it, I then looked at the details like the back vent - which I haven't sewn in a coat before - the notch collar, and the in-princess-seam pockets and the interesting yet simple construction and liked it even more.
Unlike my other coats, which are generally very simple, unlined affairs, The Coat is half-lined with a buggy lining (no me neither!) which apparently is most commonly found in outerwear and in tailored jackets. A buggy lining is where the front pieces are faced in self fabric and the back has a half length or less lining that mainly serves to reduce the weight of the garment and also looks nice when they're hanging on a rail as you don't see the centre back seam etc.
I found this to be a really nice way to finish a coat, especially when the facing edges are finished with bias binding. It wasn't at all complicated and gives the air of a more tailored jacket without actually involving the tailoring.
I wish I'd bound more of the main seams and the hem. That is my only issue with the instructions is that it isn't clear what seam allowance to finish when which means some were done retrospectively and don't look that great. But the insides still look beautifully neat and I love the curve where the front facing meets the back lining.
I decided to make the pockets out of lining material rather than the self fabric to reduce bulk but as you can see here it would look much better if they were either bound like the facings or made out of the fabric, as the pattern suggests, so that they aren't so obvious when you open the coat.
My other modifications were my usual forward / broad shoulder adjustments and adding three inches to the length of both the main coat and the sleeves.
Other than the seam finishes, the instructions are not only absolutely beautifully laid out and printed but are incredibly thorough and detailed. They assume you haven't made a coat before so really carefully take you through each step, especially the collar, which due to the bulk of my fabric was a bit of a beast to ease in.
The fabric, was supplied by Lisa as well and is a burgundy super duper soft polyester / viscose mix and feels so so cosy to wear. (You can buy fabric kits with this exact fabric in various colours from the Avid Seamstress website.) I'll have to see how it stands up to winter in New York temperatures, but as we're having a relatively mild one this is just the perfect weight and given it has some room in it, I can layer up underneath and still be warm. I've worn it constantly since finishing it which is indication of a win in itself.
I'd like to make this again in a classic camel coloured wool with perhaps some topstitching details and making it longer still. I think it has enough traditional elements that it could work really well. Similarly I think this pattern would make a gorgeous spring / summer lightweight coat in a twill or even a linen. It's subtly flattering, incredibly easy to wear, smart but not too smart, casual but not too casual.
Oh and it looks really good with navy and this outfit works far better with the coat on. I'm totally with Carrie.
*Lisa from The Avid Seamstress approached me to write about this coat and provided me with the sumptuous fabric, notions and pattern. I love the coat and all thoughts are my honest ones.
See you soon x