I finally wore the coat

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Remember this coat? I think I finally finished in April?  May?  Well, technically, it’s not finished yet, as I have not decided on the fastenings for the front.  Snaps or buttons?  Or hooks?  I’m leaning towards my new obsession – hand-worked buttonholes (Actually, this is more of a necessity than an option.  The coat will not fit into my machine for machine buttonholes, so I’m stuck with hand-worked ones if I want them.  Not that I’m complaining.  🙂 ).  I just need to find the perfect buttons.  No matter!  I’ve still worn it a few times.  The occasion in these photos was the first opera of the season back in October with a good friend.  Sometimes dressing up requires a LOT of energy and the right mindset, but this particular night I felt like wearing taffeta and the new coat in my closet.  The skirt is from Vogue 8287, which is from my pre-blogging days.  I have worn this skirt a lot for dressier times in my life.  I really like the swish of taffeta, and this tea length works for a dressy, but not formal look.  And it’s purple, so what can I say?

DSC03517The coat is actually quite comfortable and cosy enough to wear if it’s chilly, but I don’t think it would keep me warm at the freezing point.  I cut the sleeves on the bias because the fabric is an upholstery fabric, and I wanted a little more give in the sleeves than the straight grain would allow.  I must say I’m pleased with the way they move with me.  I did my best matching up the CB seam.  My original intent was to make a mirror pattern down the CB, but the design would not allow it, so here it is looking like one big piece of fabric.  This is my only disappointment with the coat.

DSC03527 I’m really happy with the fur cuffs and collar.  It’s one thing to wear a fur coat, but having just the trim is special.  I’m pleased with how this turned out, and intend to wear it until the cuffs fall apart…. or I get tired of the fabric pattern and put them on a different coat.  Who knows!

And because it’s been a while, and you may be curious to see the construction process of this coat, I’ve provided links to all the construction documentation here.  Happy reading!

Cavalli VII: Lining

lining & piping

The day after my last blog post the lining arrived.  Crazy choice, eh?  Ah, well, I guess the coat is a Statement Coat, so I thought I might as well give it Statement Lining.  It’s silk charmeuse from Printed Silks.  I’m always looking for economically priced silks, and while strolling through blog land one day came across a blog post somewhere (this is not helpful, I know) about silk T-shirts.  The writer named Printed Silks as one of his favourite silk jersey sources, and, of course, I had to check them out.

I chose to line the sleeves with ivory bemberg, and pipe the edges of the lining in the same fabric.  I thought the stylized leopard print may compete with the subtler spots of my cuffs, and thought I would play it safe.

collar & cuffs

I haven’t put on any fasteners at this point.  The fabric frays under stress, so I can imaging buttonholes will be a bit of a disaster.  And there was no way a bound buttonhole would be less than 1/4” thick in this fabric, so that option is out of the question.  I could have done snap buttonholes, but the fabric is heavy and an organza facing would not keep it from fraying, anyways. I’m leaning more to the big snaps idea for two reasons:  they will be relatively invisible from the outside, and hence will not interfere with the fabric pattern; and they will be easy to put in. 

Cavalli Part VI: Collar & Cuff Details

cutting fur

I thought I’d share some details regarding the collar construction of this coat.  The picture above shows how one cuts fur – with a very sharp blade.  My furrier gave me two, and it’s amazing how nicely they cut.  They also dull very quickly.  I’ve used one on just my little bits of collar and cuff and it’s lost it’s extra sharp edge.

underside of cuff fur cuff fur

Here’s the wrong and right side of the pelt I chose to use for one of the cuffs.  I wanted my cuffs to be about 3” wide, so I’ve trimmed the pelts in order to get all the spots and not so much of the brown back fur.

collar pattern

As mentioned in a previous post, there are no seam allowances when working with fur, so you have to create them with twill tape.  I used selvedge from medium-weight muslin.

adding selvedge to fur

The trick is to keep all the fur away from the edge of the pelt so that it will lie free from the seam.  A zigzag stitch is perfect, as it catches the edge of the pelt and tape and can also lie relatively flat when opened or stitched to the garment.

hand understitching

After stitching the fur to the undercollar, I really needed to understitch it.  So I used a bold overcast stitch to keep the twill tape in place.

turned undercollar

Here is the undercollar with the fur fully attached.  You can see the twill tape edging, but I’m not really concerned about it since the fur is long and will cover this up.  I’m also not too worried about it because I can see the about 1/8” of the twill tape where my furrier attached the fur collar to my leather jacket.  All that matters is that it’s secure and not visible through the fur.

I decided to attach the fur directly to the sleeves for the cuff as this would eliminated a lot of fabric bulk.  And I wanted the fur to be secure, not moving around.  I would probably have to tack a lined fur cuff to the sleeve to keep it in place, so why bother with the extra work of lining it?  Simple and effective is good in my sewing books.cuffs pinned to sleeve

I measured the width of the pelt between the muslin strips and marked the corresponding measurement (3 1/4”) from the cuff.  Then I carefully pinned the muslin strip to the sleeve, making sure that all the fur is away from the seamline.  I wanted the muslin strip on the bottom of the cuff to actually turn to the inside, as I intend to make the lining flush with the sleeve edge.

inside of cuff

Then I turned the cuff down, folded the remaining muslin strip over the sleeve bottom, and securely stitched it into place on the inside of the sleeve.

Et voilà!

cavalli cuff

Now all that’s left is the hem and the lining, which still has not arrived. *Sigh* However, I shall finish up the outer shell for this and go onto something simple for a palate cleanser!

Cavalli Part V: Attaching the Collar

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Whew!  The collar and front facings are attached.  I’m pleased with it!  It’s not as spotty as I’d like, but I intend to make the spots “thicker” on the cuffs, which I’m hoping will make them all stand out a bit.  And the pattern is perfectly matched down the centre front.  Yay!

Now on to the cuffs….

Cavalli Part IV: Playing with fur

cutting fur

I finally got up the courage to try cutting into the fur.

bad furThere’s a lot of pelts in my piece, and some are really ratty and falling apart, so I used them to get used to the techniques for sewing fur.  It also gave me the chance to play with the collar pattern to determine what works best.

tape fur

The first thing I did was remove the cotton twill tape that was blindstitched to the hemline of the fur.  Remember I’m working with the bottom 12” of a coat that’s been restyled.  When I checked my mink, the lining is actually handstitched to twill tape so that it’s flush with the edge of the pelts at the hem.

zigzagged tapeYou can also see the tiny overcast-type stitches on the wrong side of the fur.  Pelts are “let out” to length them or to make them wider and therefore get more area out of a single pelt.  Seams are also done in the same way, in effect eliminating all allowances – exactly like a butted seam.  So I trimmed all the seam allowances on the collar pattern piece.

collar patternThe seam “allowances” are twill tape zigzagged to the edge of the fur.  The fox collar on my leather jacket is attached to the leather using this technique.

tape pinned to undercollarOne other thing:  sewing fur is like having a cat constantly rubbing itself against your legs – fine hairs are everywhere and stick to everything.

Cavalli Part III: shell construction

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I’m still working on it.  I can’t believe it’s almost the end of March and I’m not done this ridiculous coat.  But I’m still working on it….

cavalli lined weltBecause the fabric is so bulky, I lined the welts instead of using two layers to keep things as thin as possible.  I also, for a lark, used the reverse side of the fabric and the selvedge as the edge, again to eliminate as much bulk as possible.  The selvedge has this funky fringe thing happening, and I actually trimmed most of it off the edges of the fabric to use as a trim on some future project or other. cavalli weltUnfortunately my crazy idea is hidden by the pocket flaps.  I worked to carefully match the pattern…. well, at the front of the flaps, anyways.  It was time consuming… I think I cut one flap 5 times before I was happy with the pattern match.

cavalli flap

I finished up today setting in the sleeves.  I’ve ordered silk charmeuse for the lining, so I’ll work on the collar and cuffs next while I wait for that to arrive in the mail.  I’ve cut into the fur.. now I just have to plan it so I get as many spots as possible….. into the fur

Tomorrow I’m planning a lovely afternoon with my good friend Lisa, who makes jewellry.  I’ll be smocking my DD3’s Easter dress, so the cuffs and collar of this coat will have to wait until later this week.

Cavalli Part II: Drafting the Collar

Thanks to everyone who commented on the fabric for this coat.  It’s always so helpful having other people share their opinions.  I must confess, after cutting the darn thing, that looking at the pictures in my last post made me reconsider which side I was going to use as the “fashion” side.  Dumb time to reconsider such a thing, especially when I’ve some pattern matching to do!

But I’m going to change it up and go with the right side of the fabric.  All your comments made me reconsider, as did pondering the pictures.  I was going to start putting it together this week, but I don’t have lining for it … which is probably a dumb reason to not begin on the project … and then I discovered I don’t have matching thread!  Go figure.  It’ll have to wait until later this week after a trip to the Fashion District.

In the meantime, I have a leather coat with a lovely red fox collar that my furrier suggested I use as a template for the collar on this coat when I chatted with him about the spotted fur.

fox collar

It has a zip-on hood, which I will leave off, but I’m going to trace this collar and collar stand, true them up and use them for my Cavalli coat.  You can see that the undercollar is in two pieces, seamed at the centre back.  So, interestingly enough, is the fur to ensure proper nap i.e. fur lies down at the front.  I will cut my lynx the same way.