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Cape Coat Dud

The thought of me being "trendy" when it comes to fashion is laughable. But, as I scoured the internet, I realized that just about anything can be considered trendy if I look hard enough. 

My cape coat combines the trends of plaid with cape with over-belt to create an outer wear piece I thought to be suitable for my mid-western, mid-30's mom-ness. Truthfully, the inspiration for this came from wanting to use a caramel colored obi-wrap belt I bought a year ago at the Limited for no reason at all and have never worn. The price tag is still on it.

If cape coats are so trendy, then why can't I find more than one or two sewing blogs where people have made one? My inability to over research a project forced me to hesitate, but just for a quick minute. I found this lovely Shetland Wool on clearance for pennies on the dollar. Without checking the pattern back, I ordered 4 yards and as it turns out, I have enough fabric to make two. It's the perfect color for my caramel belt. I made it up in Simplicity's Project Runway pattern 1775, using a roll of vintage Japanese kimono silk from my stash as a lining. As I did with my Lumber Jackie O Coat, I interlined it with this fabulous lambswool from A Fashionable Stitch's store.

Silk Lining
Shetland Wool
I pre-treated the silk the way I have all the kimono silk I buy: by putting it in the washer on cold and then the dryer for about 10 or 15 minutes. It comes out mostly dry and really wadded up. It's only 14 inches wide, and 500+ inches long. I steam press it on each side immediately after it comes out of the dryer and then roll it back up on it's tube for storage. This stuff is old, and used--you can see stitch holes in the edges where it used to be a garment and was taken apart. Sometimes there's patina or stains, it can be dirty from age and use, and there's always that "old" smell. I find it cleans up really nicely in the washer, doesn't shrink in the dryer (much, anyway) and so far hasn't caused any damage. 

In contrast, I was nervous about pre-washing the wool myself. I know wool shrinks, and that would be fine (it is the point, after all) but I was worried about the plaid twisting off grain, or needing to re-block the yardage (whatever that means). I have no interest in stretching back to grain 4 yards of thick and wide wool. My local cleaners says they will steam press it for a flat fee, so that's what I did. The finished product will go there for cleanings anyway. My time and stress is worth $20.

This pattern does not have pockets. To fix this, I placed my hand where it would naturally want to fall and traced it (on my muslin, of course). I used those dimensions and angles to modify the welt pocket pieces from my last coat. I made them about an inch wider and deep enough for m whole hand to fit inside. Noticed I matched the plaids on the welts!

Welt Pocket ugly.

I worked hard to successfully match all the plaid on this project's seams, and I was pretty successful too!

So, Crystal, why is this seemingly lovely coat a dud? I feel huge in it for two reasons: 

  1. It's too big! Boo. The back is far too baggy, especially at the waist. 
  2. Poor fabric choice means it's too bulky. If this had been made in a fabric with more drape, the bigness of it wouldn't be so overwhelming on my petite stature. Using a blanket weight wool and adding a lining and underlining gives this piece way more body than the style should have. It's stiff and heavy.
I wore the coat grocery shopping in yesterday's cold and snowy day, and it was pretty comfy. Just a shame that it doesn't fit well enough for me.


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