Have you ever sewn anything just to prove to yourself that you could? That was exactly what I had in mind when I started this project. Then, halfway through, I realized I wished I would have used better materials because I ended up really liking the coat. Oh well ... live and learn ... and buy more materials :)
I have never made a coat before, so why not start with one made from leather (never used that before either) with industrial snaps (don't own any snap pliers) and a mandarin collar (no idea how to draft one) just to keep it simple! I headed off to buy some supplies from Joann's where I discovered they don't carry any brown leather or even anything that really resembles it. So, after a lot of searching, I chose a vinyl from the home decorating section and hoped for the best :) Then I made my way over to the tools area with a whiny one-year-old who was doing some kind of contortionist move to get out of the seat belt. I swear she can probably turn upside down in the cart but still be buckled within a matter of seconds :) I attempted to find snaps and snap pliers. I picked the snaps first (the only gold snaps that remotely resembled the snaps from the original) and then tried to find the appropriate pliers. The directions on the snap package told me to find a certain size pliers but the pliers weren't labeled with the same sort of notations as the snaps. After all, why make it easy on the people buying your snaps! I finally found the the correct pliers behind some miscellaneous snaps and realized that they cost $27. Thank goodness for 40% off coupons! At this point, I had been at Joann's for quite a while, so I called it a day and headed home with my upside down toddler :) Mae thought that was a great idea too!
I made a few changes from the Pale Cloud original only to accommodate my fabric and Michigan's weather :) I really could not improve on the look of the original in any way! I started with a combination of patterns T & U from this book:
I used the size 100 pattern pieces shortened to a size 90 and I added 3 inches to the width of the sleeve pattern to create a gathered sleeve. The coat is a little big, but it won't be worn until fall anyway. Then I drafted my own mandarin collar. I wasn't sure if there was anything special I was supposed to do for a mandarin collar so I searched and found a couple of what could generously be called tutorials and then proceeded to figure it out on my own. Turns out all you need to do is determine the size of the collar, draw a rectangle and curve it up 1/2 - 3/4" on the ends. Here's a picture of my collar piece (please ignore the extra lines, arrows and scribbles):
I honestly didn't notice the mandarin collar on the cover of the pattern book until just now. It probably would save me a bit of time if I paid better attention once in a while :)
The only major change I made from the original is to use long sleeves instead of 3/4 sleeves. I live in Michigan. For those of you who don't live here, there are only two temperatures in Michigan ... hot & humid or frozen. Spring is seriously about two minutes long :) So 3/4 sleeves on a coat are one of those fashion trends I refuse to embrace.
This was a very frustrating photo shoot with Mae. She was way more interested in taking pictures than in being in them! She just learned how to push the play button and make the pictures appear on the screen, and it is the coolest thing ever when the ball (or wipes container) appears on the screen. Trust me. I have proof:
Then Mae spent quite a bit of time trying to take off the coat. Fortunately, she's only one and (although she can do acrobatics in a shopping cart) not quite that coordinated :)
Then I let Mae direct the photo shoot and she introduced some new props. Apparently, this is one really good book:
Until you get to the end of the book ... or maybe the beginning ... I have no idea if the book is upside down or right side up :)
I really do love this coat. It's fun without being over-the-top. I plan to make it again, just out a better material next time ... maybe some navy uncut corduroy with a fun print for the lining. Speaking of the lining, I finished the seams with some bias binding because the vinyl was rather thick and the binding laid better (and looked cute!) I used elastic to gather the sleeve cuffs instead of bias binding due to the thickness of the vinyl as well.
With some patience I was able to get a few good pictures of Mae. I may be biased (who would have guessed!), but she is absolutely adorable :) And look at those curls!
Outer fabric - Brown vinyl from Joann's
Snaps - Gold heavy duty from Joann's
Lining - Colorbok from Joann's (purchased sometime last year)
Binding - Michael Miller bias binding in apple pindot