Making my first coat

Oh crikey – I’m not entirely sure what I’ve let myself in for with this one.

I’ve wanted to make a coat for forever, but have never quite had the guts to actually go ahead and do it. Sometimes I feel like my sewing techniques are a little too slapdash for the more complicated projects. But how do you get better if you don’t try and stretch yourself every now and then.

Luckily for me, the “in” shape (basically the coat everyone in London seems to be wearing) is a slouchy, boxy boyfriend coat, usually in varying shades of pastel. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not one to follow trends usually, but it makes it a lot easier to find inspiration when you see it on the Tube every morning.

I had a look at a few boxy-type patterns and ended up going for Republique du Chiffon’s Gerard coat and I think I’ve found a great black and white tweed fabric in a shop near me . I had thought about going for some ridiculous colour, but I think I’d rather something a bit more neutral for my first coat.

That said, I’m not overly encouraged by this pattern so far. It’s been quite a bumpy ride, and I’m not even halfway through the toile. Being a French company, all of RDC’s patterns are, of course, in French. But some of them are also available in English PDF versions. I thought: great!

My least favourite bit. And I've also got to trace some pieces. Buggerit.

A post shared by Elena Cresci (@elenacresci) on

Unfortunately, all the pattern pieces are still labelled in handwritten French, so you’ve got the job of deciphering the handwriting as well as matching the pieces to the English in the instructions. They do have a key, but a couple of the pieces aren’t numbered, which makes it a bit confusing. Also, I really wasn’t keen on having to tape the pattern pieces together and also trace them afterward. I’m told this is common with French patterns, but I’m a firm believer in not having to trace if you spend an indordinate time taping the pieces together.

On top of this, because I’m a bit thick when it comes to instructions anyway and keep getting confused, the toile keeps going wrong. I’ve sewn wrong bits together, got confused by which pieces they mean (I really wish they’d referred to the numbers in the instructions) and just made a bit of a mess of the whole thing so far.

I wish this was a more positive update of the coat-making! But I’ve had a super-frustrating evening and I haven’t even begun fitting the damn thing yet. I’m kind of worried the shape is going to look awful on me and I’ll have to scrap the entire thing.

*sigh*

If anyone’s made this pattern and has any tips, they’d be much appreciated…

10 thoughts on “Making my first coat

  1. EmmaBirneyCunningham says:

    Elena – don’t give up! I haven’t used that particular brand of patterns before but once you have figured it out and cut it you’ll be able to follow your nose and figure it out. Coats are a lot easier to make than other types of garments because there are usually less pattern pieces and the thick fabric absorbs a lot of mistakes and is easier to sew with. One thing I would say though is if your fabric has a loose weave in any way, interface it as it will make the whole garment look much better when it’s finished. Good luck!

  2. Lillian Bloom says:

    Elena, Here are some ideas: after checking your measurements carefully with the pattern options, use a roll of tracing paper to trace only your size pattern pieces with all the markings. This will make it less confusing. Then make a muslin of your coat-to-be. This will help you understand how it will go together in the final version. You can use google translate for any translation issues. I agree with the others, go to the sewing shop and get an ally to help you with any specific problem areas. Take it slowly and you will be OK. Lillian

    • Elena Cresci says:

      Hey Lillian, thanks for the tips! Luckily for me, I was already doing the first few steps, including the muslin 🙂 I think this is just a general frustration with the pattern and how long and laborious everything has been so far.

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