Baby got Back

Having conquered the collar, front, and facings, I now had enough courage to take on the back of this amazing coat. Since I had spent the time moving the front shoulder, I needed to apply the same change in REVERSE to the back (since it was an overlapping yoke) and also remove the yoke and making the back a single unit. A the same time, the sides needed the same modification of the front, removing the panel and converting it to a side seam. While all this was going on, I also needed to identify the venting and buttons down the lower third of the full length vent. Oh, and don’t forget the darts, either.


Again, you can’t see the buttonholes, but hey, at least I have a better view of the buttons. This is the version I liked best, so I mocked mine closely to this version.


The button placket is overlapped, but looks to be completely non-functional from what I can tell.


Two darts, and not much shaping, but a good reference of the venting


Note that you can’t tell what is going on with the vent, and there’s only 1 dart per side. I hate the front buttons on this, I am not sure if it is the placement, poor pressing or what. Just looks sloppy.

The hardest part of deciphering the back, was that I couldn’t find two pictures showing the back that matched each other. One had 3 darts, one had two, sometimes the button placket overlapped, sometimes it was centered, and NOWHERE did I find an image of the buttonholes on the lower vent placket for direction. So I decided I had some creative license, and as long as it closely resembled the coat and fit correctly, I should be fine. But more importantly, if Joe liked it, I was golden.


Drawing out what I think I want the back vent to do, so I can figure out the folds and adding the facing to the back of the placket.

One of the concerns I had was whether the button placket should be overlapped, or should it just button together, as you already have the vent hiding a lot of what is going on. You really are only going to see flashes of the button when sitting or moving, otherwise the drape should cover the placket when just standing. Additionally, would Joe EVER close that placket up? I was going with a solid NO, as having the open vent makes the coat move beautifully and also gives a lot of room for motion. So functional but not over engineered was a better plan, so the style of the coat shines through.


I also had to add a placket facing piece to support the buttons, but here’s the extension on the bottom for the buttoned vent.

I also waffled back and forth on three back darts or two, and settled on 3. I could attain more detail in the shaping, and also more panache in the coat with three, and I think two were used in commercial replicas in order to fit a wider array of customers with less shaping. I want the coat to hug Joe’s back and look bespoke, because it is.


Marking out the back darts, and also extending the back center for the added venting. Figuring out the positioning of the triangles where the vent starts and stops was tricky without Joe there to measure.


Folded back shoulder to move it from lapped to centered on the shoulder seam, side panel added and folded back to get the side seam moved, prepping for tracing the back itself.

Once I got the back finished, it was time for a break. Total time modifying, measuring, remodifying, and getting final pieces? 4 hours. Granted, I was doing this with a crazy bad respiratory cold, and had to take several breaks due to coughing fits and other miserable conditions. But it was done. All that was left was adding the extra length where necessary (a WHOPPING 20″ from the original pattern) and stitch up a mockup.

If you have never sewn a “muslin” before, the critical thing is to have really really great markings so you know how much you have deviated from the original, and decide if you need to make a second mockup, or if you can go with your minor changes and run. I recommend watching this short video on Threads, which will give you a nice primer. Also, Jamie of Denver Sews did a nice piece on making a muslin for a jacket, which you can read about here.

I cheated a bit, and only threadmarked the darts, because I figured those would need tweaking and was very concerned the coat might not have enough ease, as Joe has wide shoulders and is kind of a big guy. (This is still a concept for me, as I still see him as the scrawny geek from freshman year somewhere in the back of my mind.) The side seams, shoulders, etc and event the length I wasn’t too worried about, as I had taken really good measurements and stuck to them, checking frequently during the pattern revamp.


Stitching over my marks so I had “permanent” markings to go by


darts thread marked for assembly

I did go to the trouble to actually put the pockets in the front, as I really wanted to check size, shape, and positioning, though I did not add the bag, just the flaps. In the process, I did determine I have my “spread” too far and will adjust from 1/2″ to 1/4″ for the welting process.

Here’s a slideshow of the completed mockup on a hanger, which made me very excited because it looked like something! And looked close to what I had intended! Yay!


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On our usual Monday night “race nights” that occur this time of year to watch Formula 1, the rest of our merry band of geeks (sans Joe, kid responsibilities) comes over to my house to indulge in racing commentary and snacks. The snacks vary, the commentary does as well, unless you count “smartass” as a genre, in which case we rarely venture out of that genre. The guys took turns trying on the coat, Thomas didn’t want to take it off, and claimed the mock up as his. That was funny. Here’s Joe trying on his new mockup the following evening, very pleased and somewhat shocked that “It’s actually real! I’m getting a coat!” Yeah, well, we’re quite a ways out from a final product, but both Joe and I are very excited about the progress thus far.



Image Business in the front…(never mind the off kilter collar, he had to run around his living room and play with it a bunch before pics)…Party in the back. I LOVE the back. Manly yet chic. Even in the muslin it drapes great.


Much ado about Welting

Now that I have the collar where I *think* it will be a good match, I need to address the inside welted pocket, while I am messing with the facing edge. Many many coat patterns have an inside welt pocket that crosses over both the facing and the lining, which makes for some acrobatics when assembling the coat. Not to mention, if you have spent a ton of time and energy getting the coat to be perfect, only to have a snafu at the welt pocket, it’s just a tragedy. I looked over several versions of the Tennant Coat, and several have the cross-over welt, but many versions have this “Solid state” welt which seems more stable and sturdy for repeated sonic screwdriver removal.

ImageNot only does it supply a nice base for the welted pocket, in an area where having a bit thicker material for support is not a bad thing, it also allows you to assemble the welt pocket BEFORE you attach the facing, so if you have difficulty or make a mistake, you are only recutting the facing piece, not starting nearly from scratch. This seemed like the best option so modifying my current “cross over” welt was necessary.


Image Aligning the position and length of the “solid state” flap for the welt (above), and the new extension for the welt applied to the modified facing.

With the front facing now complete of modifications, I can move onto applying the new shape of the collar to the front of the coat, and also modify the front to be a side seam instead of a 3-piece front/side/back. Additionally, I need to start pondering how to get the venting and shaping on the back, but conquering the front first will give me a feel for the back.


Lining up the front with the side, note the side panel has been folded to move the side seam.


Getting the shape on the collar to match the shaping, taking care not to have any extra bits where they shouldn’t be


Original front, original side, and new facing placed for moving side seam and restructuring collar shape

You’ll notice how it is important to keep everything aligned and pinned to itself to prevent slippage and deforming of the pieces, and to keep everything on grain. It is wayyyyyyy to easy to slide things around and end up with something that came from Chernobyl if you skip out on properly pinning down the pieces to each other.

I was lax in how I lined up the side panel to the front in order to get a new side seam. Part of this was so I could “fake” my seam allowance and not redraw it on the side, as my folding was stick straight and therefore my grainline was intact. The other part of this madness was to remove the shaping in this part of the coat just a bit, so I could put it BACK IN with some darting details over the pocket. So I wanted a bit wider waist than the initial shape I started with, as the shaping came from the extra panel. Make sense?

Yes, there are a LOT of moving parts going on at this particular moment, and depending on your method of modification, you may not want to make all the adjustments I am making all at the same time. You might want to redraw the collar, then address the side, then move onto shaping in several steps, using different colored pencils or markers in order to keep your changes straight. I did everything in one pass, because I like seeing the outline laid out all at once, even if it is with multiple pieces.

Even with being careful, I still forgot that I needed to move the shoulder seam as well, as the back shoulder wrapped over to the front of the coat in my original, and I wanted a top shoulder seam instead of a “yoked” version. This change required using both the front, the back, and the facing in order to determine the exact point of the new seam, how I wanted the shoulder slope, and also to make sure I didn’t forget the seam allowance. Note the new, extra piece attached to the front.



The revised seam, note the overlap between the front and the back, indicating the shoulder seam. (yes, the seam allowance is off in this pic)  Also the neckline has remained the same.


Determining the new centered shoulder seam with original front and back, and new front and back and facing

With the shoulder now correct, I can turn my attention to the outer pockets which are originally set in the seam of the front and side front. I need my pockets to be horizontal flapped, and with a bit of angle to them, as indicated in the pics I found….

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The pockets are just a bit below the waistline, by only about an inch or so, and the angle is not that dramatic. The pocket flap stops JUST BEFORE the side seam by an inch or so, and the flaps have a rounded “nose” with a pointed tail. So redesigning the pocket flaps is necessary as well.

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I have added small darts into the side for shaping, but may have to revisit this based on the hang and armhole fit later. I did double check the sleeve to armhole measurement and it should work.

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Note the shape of the pocket flap matches our Tennant coat, and I had to create the bag, since our previous pocket had a side seam entry and bag.

The long “almond” dart that is vertically placed was a snap to figure, as it is right under the buttons, and runs the length of the button rail. I determined the amount of width in the dart by finding the difference between my side and front when I added the back, and applying it to the dart to be “removed” to regain the shaping from the straight side seam.

A lot of this I applied on the fly, as I am intending to make a mockup and have Joe wear it to iron out any wrinkles in time (wow, triple play? At least a double pun there!). So at this point, I think I have the front knocked out. The back…well, will be a bit more interesting, as I have to add the venting up the ENTIRE back of the coat, along with buttons and facings to match.

Stay tuned sportsfans!