Some years ago, I saw this stunning tutorial in Threads Magazine for a “Bog Coat” (See the Tutorials heading). Well, I’d been making similar jackets of sequined velvet for ages, but I fell in love with one of the particular samples they showed, which seemed only slightly more elaborate than what I’d been making:
Much to my dismay, their tutorial didn’t really explain how to make this coat, it really just explained the coat on the right and its variances – which I didn’t like at all:
Searching for another quick, easy, dramatic project, I stumbled on this image again, and decided to create the red coat even if I had to figure it all out from scratch myself.
I had these two beautifully complementary fabrics – both with just exactly enough yardage! A floral cotton, and a striped jacquard.
- You’ll need about 1 yard for the primary fabric (in this case, the floral).
- If you plan to line it, you’ll need the same amount for the lining. (I used a deep brushed teal twill from my shop from Worth NY).
- Trims – personal choice (I used a yard of the striped fabric to make bias strips for the cuffs).
- Fabric for ties – I used 2 yards of gray silk charmeuse from the shop.
- Thread to match, pins, other standard sewing supplies.
It was a little complicated to figure out, and I did my best to make the directions clear and easy – please let me know if you get stuck somewhere!! On the upside, I completed this whole coat – start to finish – in half a day, and that was without having convenient instructions and having to run up and down the stairs all day because the iron and thread colors were on the second floor, and I was sewing in the basement….
Step 1: Decide on how long you want your sleeves to be – I just used the full width of the fabric, in this case about 54″, and how wide you want your sleeves to be – I made a loop with the tape measure, stuck my arm inside it and adjusted it until it felt ‘right’. Very conveniently, this turned out to be 20″, which was so close to the length of my fabric, I just went with the fabric as is.
Step 2: Fold your fabric in half, selvedge to selvedge. Fold it in half again, mark that second centerfold point and unfold that fold – leaving the first fold in place. Draw a straight line 2 or 2.5″ (I used 2″) from the center fold to slightly below the marked center point. Free-hand draw a graceful quarter arch from the 2″ line to the center fold – this will be the part where your neck goes. Cut along the line – you’ve now created your center opening!
Step 3: Unfold, and fold in half the other way – RIGHT SIDES TOGETHER.
Step 4: Sew from the selvedge in along that bottom open edge. It takes a little trial and error to find how much you need to sew – what is comfortable for you. For me, a 12.5″ seam worked really well (I’m a size 18).
Step 5: * OPTIONAL* If you are full lining the garment, duplicate all of the above steps with the lining fabric, making sure you use the same measurements you used for the primary fabric.
Step 6: With right sides together, sew around the necklines (I pinked these edges to reduce bulk and help it curve nicely), and sew the bottoms together – the parts that weren’t part of the 12.5″. This will be a little squirrely to line up and you’ll end up with all these points converging on one spot, but take a little time to pin and sew carefully, and this is really way easier than you think.
You still need to insert the ties, which is a step that properly goes in here, but I’m putting it in later so you can try on and adjust the garment first – since really they are the next-to-last step.
Step 7: The only parts NOT sew together should be the cuffs. Turn the garment right-side out through the cuffs and nest them properly (lining inside fashion fabric). Try on your jacket – this is your last chance to make any adjustments and changes. (Have I mentioned how much I suck at selfies?) If you like it, press everything.
Step 8: TIES! Inspired by the photo of the original jacket, I wanted big full ties. I looked at my jacket, and decided I wanted them to be no more than 3″ wide where they attached to the jacket, but then they should flare out to 6″ at the ends. I also wanted them long enough to wrap around my body and tie in a huge bow, with plenty of trailing ends. I used the tape measure and decided that my ties should therefore be 75″ long with seam allowance. I happened to have a piece of gray silk charmeuse that complemented this and was 77″ long – close enough. I liked the idea of using the silk because that would drape and tie much more nicely than the cotton, twill, or stripe jacquard. Stupidly, when I laid out my silk, I completely forgot to double it (for folding it in half and having 2 nice sides), so I cut a straight strip of 10″ wide (the math doesn’t even make sense for not folding, I have no excuse)…. and rather than waste the silk, decided to just go with that and cut a second strip, also 10″ wide. Don’t make the same mistake I did – but if you do, it came out ok, so it’s Good Enough (more on that at the end).
Folded the strip right sides together, pinned it (silk is slippery!), and straight stitch all the way down using a narrow stitch (2.5 – I usually sew everything at 3.5, so for me, this is a huge leap. But I wasn’t going to serge the interior seam, so wanted to make sure the silk didn’t start fraying.) I left one end open (to turn), and sewed the other end at an angle (just eyeballed an angle that looked nice.) Do the second strip. Carefully press your ties.
My ties were now 4.5″ wide (10″ fold in half with a 1/4″ seam allowance), so I gathered the open end. I very carefully went in between the still-open cuffs and found the bottom center front corners of the jacket (be very careful you have the front edge, not the bottom edge – once you get inside, everything gets turned around! Also be careful that your ties are on the outside of the jacket, backed into the hole – not inside out 😉 ). I wanted my ties right at the very bottom, so I measured up from the bottom stitch line 2.5″ and ripped that open. I inserted the open end of the tie – being careful to orient the stitched seam toward the bottom – and used the gathering stitches to gather it until it fit nicely into the 2.5″ hole. I adjusted the gathers to be even, then stitched the hole closed. Using that narrow 2.5″ stitch, I sewed up and down several times, making sure it was VERY securely attached.
Step 9: Turn everything back right-side out, and baste your cuffs together, aligning the bottom seams. Then finish to taste. You can fold them over and top stitch, you can bind the edge with a fancy trim, you can use a decorative serger stitch, etc. I took a 5″ bias strip of the striped jacquard, pressed it in half, sewed it on to the outside, used a long basting stitch to sew the same seam allowance on the other side (not sewing it TO anything), pressed it in along the basting line, removed the basting stitches, carefully pinned the folded edge in place along the inside of the cuff, and did stitch-in-the-ditch on the front side (using a metallic gold top thread, and a black bobbin thread) to catch and fasten the back half of the strip.
(The lining is TEAL – not purple!!! Stupid cell phone camera…)
Presenting my finished product (ignore the wrist brace):
A final word on this tutorial, and my projects in general: You may have noticed (ahem) that there is an awful lot of “about 10 inches”, and “roughly…” and “oops, I measured wrong…” I advocate the philosophy of Good Enough. Shoddy, poor-quality work is not an accepted part of Good Enough, but Good Enough is about recognizing that there some things that matter and some things that don’t really matter. No one but me – and you because I told you – know that the ties were supposed to be a different size. They don’t affect the finished product in any meaningful way. All too often, we hear this chorus of perfection – from the Martha Stewarts of the world, to the super-strict sewing teacher that made you cry when your points weren’t perfectly aligned, to the endless demands from society that we somehow be Perfect Mother, Perfect Wives, Perfect Daughters, and Perfect Housekeepers (even if we have a full-time career) with Perfect Bodies. I say ENOUGH. It’s ok if the house is not immaculate, if your quilt points don’t perfectly match, if you never lost the pregnancy weight from the baby that’s now in college, if you fed the kids non-organic hot dogs for third dinner in a row because you’re exhausted and they’ll at least eat that without a fight.
My projects encourage you to aim for Good Enough – not perfection (highly overrated!). For more information, please see the Good Enough tab at the top of the page.
(General rules – you may share this project and the Good Enough idea – but please be sure to properly credit me, and share it by linking back to this page – not just copying and pasting. I know you respect the amount of effort that goes into developing interesting content for you! )