It's about exploring and sharing my creative adventures (mostly sewing these days) ~
~those activities that sometimes obsess, usually inspire, occasionally frustrate
~and always provide a delightful maze to wander through.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Koos Coat - What I've Learned So Far

Oh, how I wish there were days when I had nothing to do but sew!!!  I am making progress, but it seems rather slow...especially when I think I'll be done with a certain stage in a couple of hours, and a day later, I'm only halfway there!  But crises have been averted, and I am, once again, really happy with how it's looking :) 

I do have a few notes to make, however.

Pattern Rating    
ADVANCED  Vogue's Definition: The finest patterns featuring the best of European and American Couture. Perfect for those who like the sewing challenge of professional tailoring and fine couture techniques. Expect intricate fashion shaping, hidden construction details, couture inner construction, fine touches of hand sewing and bias draping.

I don't know about the "couture" bit, and Koos isn't known for a love of tailoring, but in my somewhat limited experience, I have to at least partially agree with the rating.  I would just rate it "Not for the faint of (sewing) heart".  I do not, by any stretch, consider myself an "Advanced" sewist, so if I can do it (and I CAN!)....well, chances are, you can too :)

Fabric Choice
This is a lesson called "Do what I say, not what I did".   
I love all of my fabrics, really, I do.   But...... (biggify for the words)
I HIGHLY recommend choosing stable fabrics, all with similar weight and hand.   For construction ease, this can really save you some angst.   Of course, if you're like me, you're going to go for the colors, textures, and variety that speak to you, and just deal with the angst anyway.   Just don't say I didn't warn you!  

Also, I recommend a relatively thin fabric for the bias strip (mine was a bit thick....of course). :::rolleyes:::  Bear in mind that, once you start flat felling the sleeves onto the coat, you'll be going over multiple layers of fabric, especially when you start crossing the bias strips!

(Note that I didn't even mention the inside fabric in the above pic, which caused most of my angst......if you saw my previous post, you already know about that....)

Sizing and Alterations
It runs large.  I started with a Medium muslin, & ended up making a Small.
I only made 2 alterations.  One was on the Sleeve length, which I shortened at the wrist end, like so:
It's an odd-shaped sleeve;
I marked the shortening line to run perpendicular to the grain line,
& then trimmed the edges to smooth them out.  
After I had the body of the coat put together, one of those niggly little back-of-the-mind voices that had been whispering to me finally made itself be heard.   Loudly.  Notice the height of the collar on this model (who almost certainly has a neck that is twice as long as mine to start with).
I was drowning beneath this collar!   It either had to be folded over, or it would create its own fold all around the center of the collar.  Not a good look!  Luckily, I was still at a stage where I could unpick the stitching & cut down the height (by over 1")...I made an 'after the fact' notation on the pattern piece:

The overall length is closer to coat than jacket (at least on my 5'4" [almost] frame), much longer at the back than at the front, but I'm fine with the length as is.   You could just trim the bottom of it off if you wanted it shorter.   Which I would probably wait to do until after you had all of the piecing could be a little tricky figuring out just how it falls until you have it to a point where you can at least pin the body of it together.

Flat-Felled Seams
I remember doing these early on in my former sewing life.
Not much though, because mostly I remember hating doing them.  
Clearly, though, it was time to change my attitude, since all of the remaining seams in this jacket need to be flat-felled.   The problem (for me) was how to deal with 4 thicknesses of wool fabric being sewn & folded (making 6 thicknesses for the topstitching...even more when you start sewing over the bias strips!)

After trimming the inside SA to a scant 1/4", I decided to trim the inside fabric of the outer SA as close as possible to the seam line.   This means I would only be folding over one thickness, instead of two (Did that make sense?)
SA on the upper side of the pic is a full 5/8"
The next layer of fabric is trimmed right next to the seam
The two fabrics on the other side of the SA are trimmed to a scant 1/4"
 For the pressing portion of the seams, I decided to use a technique I learned when working with slippery silk charmeuse.  I folded the wide seam over & pinned it in place directly on to the ironing board, using glass head pins, & poking them in at a sharp angle.

Steam & Press it into submission, then let it rest until it's cool:

The finished, top-stitched result - I'm happy with it!  

I'll leave you with a shot of the ugly truth of the scene on the inside, soon to be hidden (hopefully!) beneath the pocket.  (But don't show this picture to anyone else, OK?)

Next up:  sewing the sleeves on to the jacket, making the pocket welts, installing the pockets, and ... dare I say it ... completion!!!!


shams said...

Not for the faint of heart, indeed! But it's looking really good! I'm grateful that you are working through this because I think I'd like to tackle it at some point. :)

Unknown said...

What a lot of effort and personality you are putting into this. Honestly, you make the most wearable artistic clothes of anyone I've seen. I just know this is going to turn out amazing for you!

Jillybejoyful said...

Oh shams I hope you make this! You would make it amazing, I know!

Aroura... wow, high praise!! I am humbled by so much far more amazing work I see out there, but I'll gracefully accept your compliment; thank you sweetie :)

Mary said...

Love, love, love what is happening so far. I appreciate the attention to detail you have included here. I like the discussion of fabric weight and hand. i too, would get stuck on choosing color and texture, forgetting that I'd have to actually manipulate all the fabrics together.

Your work is really interesting to me and I have to second Aroura's praise. Shams, I hope you make this also because your rendition will be wonderful as well.

gwensews said...

Ditto above comments. Thank you for all your expertise making this pattern. It will save some of us a lot of grief. You're doing a fantastic job, by the way.

Jean said...

What a great coat design! Thank you for sharing your journey -- this seems too challenging for me, but I'm looking forward to your finished coat!

Carolyn said...

You are putting in such a lot of careful and meticulous work into planning this coat, I am sure it will turn out just beautiful!! I really love the mix of fabrics you have chosen. Very artistic and creative, in both colours and textures.

Dixie said...

Hang in there, Jilly, I know you can do it! Very valuable information you've shared here. I'm so looking forward to seeing this finished and on your smiling body!

Remnant said...

A very timely post for me as I am in the planning phase of choosing fabrics while I'm waiting for my pattern to appear in my mailbox. (Impatiently!) One of my main fabrics is a stretchy, loose weave and I spent a portion of the day trying to talk myself out of using it. If I do, it would need interfaced and that would change the hand quite drastically and I'm not sure this particular fabric deserves that. After reading your recommendations, I'm going to set it aside.

Questions: Can this coat be made without the flat felled seams? Could the inner layer, which I'd probably never wear on the outside, be treated more as a lining, therefore eliminating the need to flat fell all these seams? Furthermore, I've read a few blogs which report that the construction method Koos uses differs from the printed Vogue instructions. I'm wondering if anyone knows how he recommends constructing the coat.

Thanks for taking the time to blog about your experiences.

Jillybejoyful said...

Thank you everyone for your too kind comments (I'm basking in them lol) Let's hope I still deserve them when I'm done lol! (I've had to put it aside for a few days...hopefully will back at it on Wednesday)...

Remnant - my top back piece is a stretchy wool knit that I had to interface. For that area, it was fine, but I don't think I'd want to do it for any of the other areas, that really need to drape a little better.

It can certainly be made w/o the flat felled seams if you don't want it to be reversible! I'll be making a fleece version that won't be reversible; I'm not sure yet how I'll finish the seams, but if you just line it, you can do anything :)

Janis of just took a class on the Koos method of construction....I'm anxiously waiting for her to blog about what she learned, because I don't know what the differences are (other than it has to do with applying the bias least in part....)

And thank you for commenting! I'm delighted to hear that my posts are helpful to others :) :) :) :) :) :)(makes me smile a lot lol)

Janis said...

Hi Jilly,

Finally coming up for air since my class is over. I just posted an update on my blog.

Your coat is looking fantastic! This is a challenging project, isn't it? I really struggled with a piece of silk I used at the center back.

I had to baste the flat-felled seam on the sleeve. WAAAY too much fabric there.

I don't think I'll get much more done until after Christmas, but it's fun knowing you are sewing it too.

Karin said...

I am so glad you stopped by my blog- it helped me find yours! What amazing sewing you are doing! This coat is a bravura performance. I am fascinated by all the technique. I can't wait to see it finished.