Cut to the Chase, let the assembly begin

Yeah yeah, it’s been a long time since the last post. But there’s good reasons for that…the coat is complete! And delivered! So now I get to play catch up with you on how it all came together. So in the true spirit of Dr. Who, let’s travel back in time and see how that Tennant coat is progressing!

Having finished the muslin and determining that I really didn’t need to make any changes to the pattern I re-drafted, I needed to get brave and cut the actual fabric and double check I made all the appropriate changes to the lining. But in addition to the fabric, I also knew I was going to need some horsehair canvas (special thanks to Janet at JM designs for giving me a short course in shaping suit coats), interfacing, and something as an underlining for the wool to give it just a tad more body and reinforce it for shaping and wear. But this had to happen without killing the drape, as the coat needs to be very fluid for running into trouble and away from Daleks.

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Or looking good while insulting Daleks, even better.

It just so happens that Hancock Fabrics by the “casa del catos” was having a spring “spot the bolt” sale, and I was able to pick up a nice soft weave of (I am not sure but it is nice) in a poly/cotton blend, with great drape but a stable finish. And at $2/yd, hey – winnning! But the horsehair canvas is a very special item, and I didn’t necessarily want to buy that online without knowing how it was going to play with the wool. So that required a trip to Elfriede’s in Boulder, aww gee darn, I have to spend an afternoon in a sportscar with the top down to go play with expensive fabric. The horror.

While all this was going on another one of my best friends, Adam, had to go and get engaged. We all knew it was coming, but this added another layer of “get on it” to the Tennant coat, since now I also needed to make myself a tux to stand on the grooms side of the wedding. Since the wool of the Tennant coat is much more forgiving than the lightly napped “mystery fabric” I found for the Tux, it was urgent I get some of the tailoring aspects sorted out so that I could apply the techniques to the Tux without any errors. Postings on the tux will follow after finishing the tale of the coat, don’t fret.

So with all of the materials now acquired, all I needed to do was find a whole day to just work on cutting out all the pieces and double checking the modifications. You wouldn’t think that would be a tall order, but working three jobs seven days a week tends to make scheduling difficult (and wreaks havoc on a social life.) Memorial day weekend rolled around, and that allowed me the time I needed to get cutting!

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Inventing the horsehair structure pieces

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Slow going, as a lot of the pieces are rather large

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Pieces, pieces, and more pieces

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Prepping everything that needs interfacing

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interfacing & prepping the welts for the 12 buttonholes

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Prepping the underlining to be basted to the backs

After cutting and cutting and cutting, then applying interfacing, basting the underlining to the wool was up next, followed by tackling the 12 welted buttonholes. I have a few welted things, mostly pockets, in my sewing experiences. But the buttonholes were a bit daunting, partly because of their size, partly because they needed to be PERFECT. And additionally, I needed to determine at what point I was adding the horsehair to the project, how to treat the seam allowances due to bulk, and if there was going to be a certain order of progression in the project so I didn’t sew myself into a corner (both literally and figuratively speaking). So though the fabric was prepared, I didn’t feel I was informed enough to begin. Time for a trip to the bookshelf!

The internet is outstanding for finding information, however it also can provide a lot of FALSE information or shortcuts to old school techniques that really shouldn’t be cut short. Because this wasn’t just going to be a costume coat, it was going to be a full on, old world tailored coat, I needed old world tailoring information. One of the blogs I subscribe to and read regularly is Male Pattern Boldness, because Peter is a great writer and it’s a hoot to read his blog, but also because he seems to be similar in his approach to tackling challenging projects as I do. One winter he worked on a Peacoat with proper tailoring techniques. You can read about it HERE, it was a really great series. Having seen this technique, I searched my archives and found exactly what I needed in my 1968 Singer Sewing book. If you don’t have a copy, I highly recommend you pick one up. Excellent pictures, excellent descriptions, and suggestions in materials. This was a lifesaver for many of the trickier pocket applications and my pesky buttonholes.

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After several practice rounds and feeling pretty good about the outcome, I held my breath and started the buttonhole process. Twelve successful welted buttonholes later, I am not sure if I would ever make a regular old bound buttonhole on a jacket ever again. The finish and the look is just so amazing, and really once you get the hang of the process they are very forgiving and easy to modify BEFORE YOU CUT THE HOLE. Just double check everything before you cut!!

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turning the welts from wrong to right

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Maaahhhhvelous, dahling. Back placket buttonholes complete.

Now that I am feeling pretty smug that I conquered the buttonholes, it’s time for adding all the darts and sorting out the sexy venting in the back. While darts are nothing new or challenging, putting the darts in with the underlining in place AND not adding bulk AND making sure they are evenly spaced perfectly AND topstitching it all was kind of like having a last supper with a Slavine.

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Just like an enjoyable dinner, with all the attempts on your life and such

While it was a process, I deftly avoided the pitfalls of this seemingly innocuous exercise and the  darts are DOPE. Seriously, these are a work of art. I could just look at this all day.

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That’s a whole lot of coat for one day. So stay tuned for next time, with pockets and fronts galore, plus Better Living Through Endless Hours of Handstitching.

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