It has been a while since I posted any progress on my coat. There were several setbacks, so I continued with other projects while I rethought aspects of the duster. The further I went down the tailoring trail, the more particular I was about the results. I changed the lining, adding facings, and had some finicky stitching attaching under collar to the collar. This was due to the change in size of the under collar caused by the pad stitching. The pocket dilemma was the final issue, but in the end, the coat looks wonderful.
Canvas Interfacing Finally Arrived
I was waiting for a delivery of back-ordered hair canvas. When it arrived, I cut the jacket fronts. For the pattern, I altered the coat front, adding the collar to cut them as one piece. I traced the center front seam, around the collar, across the shoulder, down the armscye, and 4” down the side seam. From the side seam, I drew a line toward the center front which curves upward. For a large bust, this line should extend above the breast point; for a smaller bust, it can curve to just below the breast point. This line extends to within 4” of the center front edge. From this point, draw a line parallel to and 4” from the center front seam extended to the hemline. I also cut shoulder reinforcements. To make the pattern, follow the coat front shoulder from the collar seam line to the armscye cut edge, and from the collar seam down. Follow the armscye raw edge 2/3 of the way down. Draw a line parallel to the shoulder seam across to the line from the collar seam. Round off this corner, and you have your shoulder reinforcement.
Here are the instructions for the canvas interfacing:
- Cut out the coat fronts from the hair canvas. As I consider this collar a modified shawl collar, I cut the collar as one with the coat front.
- Mark the dart and collar roll line. Mark the pad stitching lines parallel to the roll line of the lapel and collar, and, except for the one row mentioned below, between the roll line and the cut edge. One row of stitches should fall 1/8” on either side of the roll line. Each line out from there should then be ¼” apart. As you near the lapel point (design notch), the lines should get closer together. The roll line on the collar divides it between “rise” and “fall”. The rise of the under collar, that part between the seam line and the roll line, is pad stitched in lines perpendicular to those seams. The fall of the collar, the part that falls over the shoulders and back, is pad stitched like the lapel, parallel to the roll line.
- Trim the shoulder and side seam allowances, but not the armhole seam allowance.
- Cut out the shoulder dart and whip stitch the dart closed, or use a piece of lightweight fabric to cover the dart and stitch it to the canvas.
- To help prevent the front of the coat from swinging out, make the following dart in the canvas:
- Mark a line 2” long at the natural waistline and parallel to it on the canvas. Slash this line.
- Mark a vertical line from this point upward toward the bust point and within 1-1/2” of it. Slash this line.
- Mark a diagonal line from the top of the vertical slash to the halfway point along the horizontal slash. Slash this diagonal line. This will cut out a triangle shaped piece, creating a dart.
- Take this triangle shape and flip it down so the bottom of the triangle is now the top. Next, flip the triangle to the left and align the vertical side against the edge of the interfacing canvas and the horizontal side against the slash line. The diagonal edge should make a continuous slash line from the bust-ward end to the edge of the canvas pointing downward toward the side seam. Cut out the second triangle-shaped piece of canvas.
- Bring the raw edges of the dart above the slash line (created when the triangle piece was removed) together and whip stitch the two edges. If you prefer, you can cover the dart with a piece of lightweight fabric and stitch it to the canvas.
- Mark lines on the canvas shoulder reinforcements vertically 1” apart and baste to the canvas front along these lines, matching shoulder and armscye edges.
- Stitch the center back seam of the under-collar. Trim and press open.
- Tailor-baste the canvas to the coat front. Tailor basting stitches are short diagonal stitches made by inserting the needle from right to left in vertical rows.
- Baste the canvas to the coat along the roll line. (Even running stitches ¼” to ½” long.)
- Cut a piece of 3/8” stay tape the length of the roll line from bottom of collar to notch. Although this is a shawl collar, it has a notch cut into it, mimicking a lapel collar. Place the stay tape 1/8” from the roll line on the side away from center front/raw edge and pin it only at the bottom of the line. Make a mark on the tape at the neckline seam. Pull the tape up ¼” to ½”, so it is slightly shorter than the roll line. Pin the stay tape in place, easing in the excess in the bust area. Catch-stitch or fell-stitch the stay tape in place.
- Pad stitching is used attach the canvas interlining to the lapel facing and under-collar. It gives shape and body to the garment. Use silk thread for the pad stitching.
- Pad stitches are made in vertical rows, with stitches ¼” to ½” long. The needle is inserted from right to left, going through the canvas and picking up only 1 or 2 threads from the garment front and coming up 1/8” to ¼” to the left of the insertion point. For the second stitch, insert the needle ¼” below the first point of entry and bring it up ¼” below the first point of exit. Continue to the bottom of the first marked line. Do not turn your work. Move up the second row to the top. Continue in this manner, following the rows marked. On the inside/canvas side, the stitches are vertical rows of diagonal stitches. On the outside of the garment, they are barely visible.
- Use your hand under the collar to help shape it as you stitch. The collar stand, that part between the seam and the roll line, should be pad-stitched in rows perpendicular to the roll line. This helps the collar to stand away from the coat and roll nicely.
- Once the pad stitching is complete, attach the canvas to the front edge of the coat with permanent uneven basting approximately 1” from the raw edge.
- Trim the canvas ¼” inside seam allowance to the lower edge.
- Pin 3/8” stay tape over front edge of canvas from collar notch to lower edge. Catch stitch or permanently baste both sides of stay tape in place.
Press lapel and collar over a tailor’s ham or a folded towel to shape it.
The Rest of the Coat
Because of the extensive tailoring I did to the coat, I decided to add facings. I cut these using the garment pattern. I stitched the fronts to the back at the shoulder seams, Trimmed and pressed the seams. I removed the lining from the upper-collar and attached the facings instead. This seam was then graded and pressed toward the facing.
To attach the facings and upper-collar, I matched the edges and stitched. The seams were graded and pressed over a folded towel, carefully shaping the collar. I recut the lining to fit the facings and attached it by hand to the facing and along the armscye, remembering to take in the tucks at the armscyes and center back where I allowed extra ease in the lining.
I finished the backs of the buttonholes by marking the facing through the holes and clipping the length and to the corners. I turned under the cut edges and whip-stitched them to the canvas.
For the sleeves, I cut a piece of 2” wide wigan the length of the cuff edge. I basted it to the sleeve cuff seam allowance between the sleeve and the lining. (The lining has already been attached.) Pinning the sleeve into the armscye, I adjusted the drape until it was straight. I basted and stitched the sleeves in place. On the inside, I turned the seam allowance for the sleeve lining and stitched it in place, covering the shoulder seam allowance. I decided not to use shoulder pads, as the armscyes are designed to be tight.
Once the sleeves were in place, it was ready for a final fitting. I am so happy with the fit through the shoulders, as that seems to be one of the tricky bits of these older patterns. I did notice, as I slipped my hands into the pockets, that something wasn’t quite right. One pocket was about an inch higher than the other one. The trim made it obvious. Back to the unsewing!
I let the coat hang for a couple of days before setting the hem. After that, the lining was hemmed and a final steaming and pressing was in order. I made covered buttons out of the trim fabric and attached four 1-1/2”, four 7/8”, and six 5/8” buttons.
- Duster Coat VPLL #0402
- I am an advanced sewer.
- I would rate this pattern a 5. It is beautiful and fairly simple for a coat.
- The sewer needs an intermediate level of skill for this pattern. The collar can offer a bit of a challenge.
- The instructions were easy to follow and straightforward.
- The fit is generous, but my alterations came out correctly, so I would say the fit is accurate.
- I altered only for fit. I increased the bust and back and shortened the coat to fit my 5’3” frame.
- I love my new coat. My daughter tells me it is fit for a Doctor Who convention!
Pattern Review Checklist
- This pattern is for a ladies full-length duster cut wide to fit over large skirts. It has shaped trim on the collar, cuffs, and pockets, and a total of fourteen buttons that are both useful and decorative.
- The pattern is for a 34” bust. It is sized generously, I think, as it is designed to wear over ones other garments.
- It looks exactly like the illustration.
- The instructions were straightforward and easy to follow.
- I like the trim, but found it a little tricky on the shaping of the collar.
- I used canvas weight linen for the coat, cotton home decorating fabric for the trim, and polyester lining.
- I altered the pattern for fit only.
- I would recommend this pattern to other sewers, as it has a lovely line.
- This is a great coat and I’ll be wearing it this winter.