After many many months of pondering this pattern from Loes Hinse, I finally put scissors to cloth and sewed her beautiful unlined duster coat.
The straight lines, small lapel, single button closure, and uncluttered neckline are so appealing. No darts or conflicts with collars. I find that by the time I put on my 'inner' clothing and any accessories, I really do not want a lot of fuss on the outside - I get kind of claustrophobic! and clothing conscious. This coat is perfect for my picky picky self :-)
I actually ordered two different fabrics for the coat. The first one was purple linen. I really had my heart set on a purple duster. But when I got the fabric and looked at it in the light and against the pattern, I was not convinced. Velvet is also one of the suggested fabrics - ding! I remembered reading about Alova velvet/suede cloth on JoAnns. And found this pretty sulphur Alova. Love it. It is a soft 100% polyester tricot knit, 60" wide, with no length-wise stretch, but about 10 - 15% stretch width-wise.
Here is a 2" square on the backside - very densely knitted! and tough as nails :-) I used a 70 ballpoint machine needle and my silk straight pins with this fabric. It does not ravel, being a true knit, and really sews very nicely.
Suggestion - use a walking foot! Alova is not just a knit, it is also napped, so a walking foot is a huge advantage in managing bias and long seams in this pattern. I found that I did fine with a 3.0 straight stitch, sewing a bit 'taut', i.e., keeping the seam flat under the needle by holding behind and in front with a little tension.
Okay, I 'fess up now - I did make some changes to the pattern. It is so pretty structurally, but to my mind, suffers a bit from being a sea of fabric with no breaks. A little boring - which was the main reason I took so long to sew it. I kept thinking of ways to add some visual elements.
What? you don't see it? LOL I basically split the front and back into upper and lower sections and added a tie front to replace the button closure. No pockets. I have this thing about pockets flapping around inside an unlined jacket or coat - I don't like it!
The changes were really simple!
- I cut my tissue as shown below, just below the button closure. Then I added 5/8" seam allowances to the tissue for the new seams.
- The new upper back has a faux seam, which I accommodated by pinning the tissue 1/8" away from the fold of the fabric instead of on the fold.
- After the fronts were seamed, I attached the new ties. They're sewn from 16 1/2" x 1 3/4" pieces (stitched wrong side together, turned, and topstitched) and placed where the button would have been.
Speaking of seams. The pattern has 3/8" seam allowances, not my favorite. I marked all my tissue pattern pieces for 5/8" seams and used my own cutting lines. Just easier to manage - and I shudder to think of cutting linen with a 3/8" seam allowance! Noooo.
I had a good time choosing techniques for the project. The faux seam in the upper back is a simple add-on. (Ralph Chado Rucci uses this all the time in his tops!) It is sewn by folding the piece on the center back, wrong sides together, and stitching the fold with a minimal 1/8" seam.
The bodice seams are sewn 'on', not together. The upper seam allowance was folded under 5/8" and placed on top of the lower seam allowance. Then I sewed the seam on the right side, close to the fold. A pretty finish for faux suede.
Because the duster is unlined, I wanted a pretty inside as well as a pretty outside, so I used Hong Kong seam finishes everywhere. Two exceptions: I trimmed and overlocked the armhole seam and the sleeve seam. The sleeve is fairly narrow, so I did not want to add tension in these two areas.
The bias seam binding is made with Kaffe Fassett's Asha print in lime.
I particularly like how the Asha print peeks out on the hem finish. Plain binding just would not have been any fun!
Such an enjoyable project! I'm in love with the weight and color and lines of my new duster. Perfect for our Florida winters.