I “finished” the coat about two weeks ago. But it wasn’t what I hoped it would be so I wasn’t excited to share. However, I had put a lot of time, effort and money into the project, the sewing was flawless (flawless, I tell you) and it was cold outside so I was going to wear it even though I knew people were going to think I was wearing a bathrobe.
Yes, that is what the finished coat looked like; a bathrobe. It’s drape-y, and fuzzy, has a shawl collar, wide cuffed sleeves, two patch pockets and a sash belt. All I needed was Kleenex in the pocket.
What did I do wrong? I worked hard, I followed instructions – carefully. Come on now. After getting over my initial disappointment and disbelief that this coat didn’t turn out like I had expected, I tried to think where, at what step, did it start looking like a bathrobe? And how could I fix it?
The first problem was the front not draping quite right. I thought it was because of the pockets. It needed ironing. That, I just knew, would solve it. I had been warned not to press this fabric too much as it would put a shine on the fabric and crush the pile. At this point what did I have to lose? So I got that iron heated up and pressed the hell out of the front. I had a professor who frequently reminded us that if you don’t press your garment as you sew it, it will look homemade. And that is precisely what my coat looked like; a home ec project.
The pressing did wonders. I pressed carefully with a towel underneath so as not to crush the pile, a damp press cloth on top, lots of steam and light pressure. Still it was bathrobe –esque. I gave up. Nothing was going to change that, I thought. I resigned to it. The lesson learned was “never make your clothes.” At a store you can try it on before you buy. When sewing it’s completely unknown until you’ve already spent the money and time, and unlike ordering online, there is nobody to return the ill-fitting garment to. But no, that cannot be the lesson. That is too depressing and besides, it’s not completely true.
Your finished garment is not a complete mystery. You know what the style will be. If you measure correctly and make adjustments in the pattern if needed, you know the fit. You know the color of your garment, the print if there is one. You can pick the type of zipper, buttons and color of the thread. My mistake on this project was not matching the fabric to the garment. I forgot, in a moment of blind love (with that fuzzy, blue fabric) that not every fabric can be made into any garment with great results. My chosen fabric was too drape-y and loose for that coat style. Such a casual cut needed a stiffer, tighter fabric. Camel was suggested and camel would have worked up lovely. Lesson learned? Think twice, three times if you have to ”Is this fabric suitable for this project?” It’s funny, I’m pretty curious and like to learn things all the time, but learning lessons in this manner can be tough on the ego.
I wore it anyway. Maybe it’s just me, I thought. Maybe it doesn’t look like a robe to other people. Not so. A stylish mom at the school where I work walked in to the office as I was walking out. She noticed the fabric of my coat and commented how she liked it. She dabbles in sewing so I mentioned how I was a bit disappointed that it wasn’t the right fabric for the cut. She knew what I meant, took a step back, looked me over, and said, “Make it double breasted, take the pockets off and get a buckle for the belt” Major save by Claudia!
Or so I thought.
I took the pockets off. They left a shadow mark but once again steam and a damp press cloth rescued the situation. I put a snap closure on the front of the coat to make it “double breasted”. I got stuck when trying to locate a buckle. The local shops didn’t have the right type. I checked online. Other than ebay, no luck, and not much luck on ebay either. And this is when it pays to have friends that sew. I mentioned my buckle problem and she walked to her sewing box and came back with the perfect size, faux tortoise buckle. Once again, illusions of a beautiful, finished coat were mine.
Buckle on, pockets off, seams pressed, it’s still not the best coat. It’s too much fabric. It’s not flattering. I will take it in at the sides but I will do it later. Right now, I just need to put it aside.
The good news, I get to make a different coat next year.