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31 March 2014

My radiant orchid coat, Vogue 1321 by Donna Karan

My new coat has been done for a couple of weeks now, but it took me a long time to get all the photos done. And then another while to write this post. It's just that I am so proud of this one that I want to give you more details. I hope you won't mind the longer post and gazillion photos.

We begin with a first impression photo. Came out nice, no?

Please forgive the sunglasses, one of my superpowers is to always know precisely when to close my eyes just in time for the photo. After so many tries I just decided to give up and make use of camouflage. Mmmmmhh, that hem needs another good pressing...

Anyway, my fashion fabric is a wool knit that was felted in some way and then bonded to a much thinner and silkier knit at the back. Its thickness and the backing fabric give it a stiff drape. It falls in wide folds, standing away from the body. With the silky backing I can easily get in and out of the sleeves without needing a lining. It also means that I cannot use any fusible interfacing.

All of these qualities make this fabric perfect for Vogue 1321 by Donna Karan, a full-skirted coat with a dramatic collar.

Before cutting into my fabric I made a proper full body muslin. I didn't have any muslin fabric as thick and heavy as the actual fashion fabric, but the muslin could still tell me about the fit, even if not so much about the drape. And I am soooo glad that I did!

In the muslin I could see that the sleeves were too wide and there was too much fabric around the sleeve at the bodice and especially at the underarm. In fact you can see this also on the pattern photo, but because the model is so thin, she still looks stylish even with all that extra fabric around. Me? Probably not so much.

So I removed a total of 6cm from the sleeve, making it narrower all along its length. I divided the 6cm between the underarm piece and the front sleeve piece, 3cm each, parallel to the grainline.

Then I also raised the armhole by 6cm. I also redrew the armhole shapes to match both sides, on the bodice and the sleeve. This was not much change at all since the sleeves are not deeply set.

All the seams are lapped, including the darts on the bodice and on the collar. I had never sewn darts using lapped seams so I made some tests. Lucky for me since the dart point ended up with a gaping hole because the overlap becomes too small for the stitching to grab the underlayer. Nobody wants holes like that, and especially not on an attention grabbing collar! I first tried sewing a normal dart and then topstitching it, but it looked too raised compared to the lapped seams. So in the end I just didn't cut the dart all the way to the dart point as the instructions said to do. I stopped cutting ±5cm before the end point and voila, hole averted!

With all those lapped seams to mark and sew do you know what was my absolutely unmissable tool? A 5/8" gauge, homemade out of cardboard. Completely free and totally invaluable :-)

Except for my choice to narrow the sleeve, it is a rather easy coat to make. There is no interfacing, no shaping with heat and moisture, no lining and only two buttonholes (which you could omit if you decided not to make the sleeve tabs). It did take me forever to hide all those thread ends, but then the inside looks sooooo pretty and neat, doesn't it?

For the pockets I used some leftover silk charmeuse for a lovely feeling on my hands. I used an overlock thread chain to keep the pockets from flapping too far around.

OK. I've tortured you enough with all these details, so here are the three views of my coat. I'm really loving it. The color makes me happy, the collar is actually very nice against the wind and the wide skirt goes perfectly with all my full-skirted dresses.

I did have to rummage through my belt collection to find the longest possible belts since all that fabric requires quite a few more centimeters than usual. And this is not a coat you want to wear without a belt. Saying it looks shapeless doesn't fully describe the mess of fabric swinging all around.

I've submitted my review of Vogue 1321 by Donna Karan to Pattern Review.

BTW, tomorrow is the last day to sew for the Stitcher's Guild 2014 SWAP and this coat is only my second garment posted! Yup, I'm afraid I'm not going to make it... I've actually sewn 6 of the garments in my 2014 SWAP plan, but it is obviously not the full eleven. From the beginning I knew that SWAP was too ambitious for my skill level and speed, but you know what else I discovered? I got a bit bored. Bored of working with the same fabrics and color scheme, but also bored with knowing exactly what I was going to sew for the coming 3 months... I kept getting new ideas that I really wanted to get to, instead of these old ideas I had long time ago. So, I'm officially bowing out, though I will still try to post the rest of the garments I sewed for the SWAP. Here's a sneak preview. Thanks for reading!


  1. Wow you should be proud. Thats one fabulous coat. Great fabric for the style too.
    I couldn't do a SWAP either, and certainly not one with so many garments. I like my sewing to be more fluid than that. Too much scheduling in my working life to let it infiltrate my down time too!

    1. Yes! You captured my feeling exactly with that word: "fluid". I want to move along with new ideas as they come, go with the flow... And thanks for the compliment, it is a great thing indeed when pattern and fabric go well with each other.

  2. Beautiful coat; I do like a dramatic collar. One thing, though, the SWAP ends April 30, so you still could do it.

    1. Thanks Elke, you are soooo right! I had it in my head that it ended on April 1st but I was wrong... I think that was wishful thinking on my part. Oh well, now I'll just have to admit full responsibility: I really don't want to finish my SWAP plans. It's ok, right, knowing when to quit. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Lucia de mis amores!!! Pero esto es un pedazo de abrigo! Me has dejado con la boca abierta. Y que tela!! Y que lista eres de haber hecho todas esas modificaciones...De verdad que me quito el sombrero.
    Y encima pareces salidita de Hollywood. Me encantas!!

    1. Mil gracias Merche linda, siempre me animas tanto tu! La tela si es lindisima, asi que le estuve buscando un patron que la mereciera. Que bueno que si le di esta vez!

  4. Absolutely gorgeous coat! The colour is so lovely and the collar is divine. What a perfect garment for bringing life and fun to spring days. I'm falling off the wagon with my SWAP, too.

    1. Thanks! We have lots of grey here in the Netherlands, so it's up to me to bring in some color :-) And the SWAP, yeah, it was a bit too ambitious for me... but hey it inspired us both enough to make great coats! That is definitely a win.