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.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Koos Coat - She is DONE! :)

Yes, it's done!

I left off last month (last year!) with the sleeves dangling on pins and basting stitches, not quite sure how I was going to attach them....and the poor thing's been hanging on Queenie ever since.  Once I'd had a delicious little snack (the LaFred pants) I was ready to go again, and decided to attach the sleeves per the pattern instructions - flat felled.   Ugh.  What I should have done (which required foresight) was to not stitch the construction seams all the way to the edge, especially the installation of the bias binding.  This way I could have neatly trimmed off the excess fabric while trying to get a nice, even stitch on the flat felling.    And, of course, I should have left 1" seam allowances for all of the ff'd seams.  I did trim the fabric as best I could, but given the different thicknesses of fabric, the risk of losing fabric I wanted through fraying (or [gasp] snipping through it....yes, I did that in one spot ::cry::)...well, can we just say that the next time I flat fell a seam it WILL be on even, not-too-thick fabric, and hopefully I will be much more successful, after all this practice!
Top of sleeve on outside - not too bad looking
Top of sleeve on inside - and the ugly truth....
Truth is, I will probably NEVER wear this jacket inside out.  I probably won't even bother posting a picture.   I mean, hey - I LOVE the outside, the inside is meh at best, so why even go there, right?

 A bunch of random pictures:

Collar rolled down

Construction Notes from this last phase:

1.  Attaching Sleeves:  See above regarding clipping out as much excess fabric as possible.  And I would HIGHLY recommend 1" SA's for all flat felled seams.   This I will remember in the future.  (Pounding this into brain as I type)
2.  The Welt & Pockets.   Vogue's welt instructions were a little odd to me, but then, this is a reversible jacket, and the pocket isn't attached to the welt at all, it's just sewn directly on to the inside of the jacket, so I followed their instructions. (mostly)   The first one left me mystified in several areas, but once I figured it out, the second one went very quickly.   The only part I didn't like at all is that there are a lot of raw edges left on the welt.   They're inside the pocket, but still - poor construction quality, imho.   Especially given the fray-proneness of one of my fabrics!   So I turned the raw edges under & topstitched them:
The edge I'm holding is left raw if you follow the Vogue instructions
I trimmed the inside fabric...
Folded the welt fabric over & topstitched
(this was welt #1 - #2 looked a bit better, but not much.
It was, once again, 8 layers of fabric in some areas....)
Sew the pockets on, hem the sleeves, clip the threads, press.....And that was it!   It took me over a month to get over the sleeve attachment hump, but really, it went relatively quickly once I did.    And, in spite of all the foibles & glitches, I'm thrilled with the results!

Some consolidated general tips (most of this is posted in more detail in my other 3 posts):

1.   Fabric Choice:  The ideal fabrics would all be similar weight and hand, with your bias trim being as lightweight as possible.  I think this coat would be fabulous in some drapey fabrics - a light-weight version that hangs in softer folds than a wool version.
2.  Pattern Instructions:  In general, the instructions are pretty thorough.   However, they do NOT follow the construction methods that Mr. Van den Akker used.  Janis at Grainlines and Biases attended a workshop teaching Koos' methods.  If I were to make this jacket again, I would utilize the methods she used!   In a nutshell, the fabric pieces of the outside are glued onto the inside fabric (the seams are NOT sewn together), and the bias strip is laid in place and then sewn through all the layers.   She also mentions a nifty way of attaching the sleeves, by using something like Hong Kong finishes on the SAs, so that the seams would stick up (on the inside of the coat).   I seriously considered doing this, but ended up flat felling.
   The labeling & numbering on the pattern pieces is just plain weird.  It makes no sense at all - I recommend cutting out your pattern pieces and laying them out, then RE-labeling them in a way that makes sense to you before you buy your fabric - that is, if you're the sort of person who wants to buy what you need, as opposed to one who always buys lots of extra.
   This is definitely an Advanced pattern, but if I could make my way through it, most of you out there in the sewing world can too!
3.  Pattern Sizing and Fit:  This is a seriously oversized jacket.  I muslined a Medium, & ended up making a Small, and it's still a fairly long jacket length on me.   The collar is TALL; unless you have a very long neck, it will end up making odd little folds on its own, or you'll need to fold it over for comfortable wearing.  (I trimmed mine down by about 1")
    And don't forget to add extra SA width to the seams that will be flat felled!
4.  The Collar:  Even though I trimmed it down so that my ears & chin aren't pushing on it, I'm discovering that the collar still has a tendency to want to fold down a bit.   If you want it to stand up,  you may want to add some stiff interfacing to your fabric (depending on your fabric choice, of course)

I may add a button to my jacket, but it will, of course, require the perfect button, which I didn't find in my stash (clearly I need more buttons!   hah.)

In the end, I have to highly recommend this pattern!   If you like a swing coat (I do!) this is a wonderful, modern take on it.  You can make a super easy version in a double sided fabric, without all of the piecing (see my first post for my fleece version - still unfinished because I do have some fun embellishments planned).   This is one of those patterns that really has a lot of room for creative fun!

ETA:  I've just discovered that there is another finished version of the coat in blogland - Noile has made a wonderful jacket using what she cleverly calls "Koos Lite".   She has a very detailed & informative post about her construction methods, including some helpful notes about the oddly labeled pattern pieces.

I think I'm starting to find a rhythm in what works for me regarding sewing projects.  I really thrive on the challenges - both in learning new techniques and in creativity, and I also love the instant gratification that a quick snack offers.   Alternating the two, and even sticking a snack in the middle of a long haul project, is what keeps me happily motivated.

How about you?  Do you like challenge after challenge?   Or would you rather have instant gratification most of the time?  Or do you need both?


Andrea said...

Wow, Jilly, what an awesome coat! You've done a great job with this challenge, and it looks fantastic on you.
As far as complex and challenging vs. a quick snack? I'd have to say both, but lately life seems to dictate quick snacks!

Unknown said...

Your jacket is marvelous. The only time I have been successful with flat fell seams is when I think ahead and add to seam allowance giving me plenty of turn under.

I like to intersperse straight forward projects between challenges because I can problem solve/design while working on the simpler project.

Martha said...

Wow, Jilly Be! This is a truly fabulous jacket. I just know you will love wearing it. The time, thought, and even tears were worth it when you create something at this level. I have this pattern and will definitely reread your posts when I get around to making it.

I totally agree about having a balanced diet of sewing projects - a balance of learning/discovery with easy/fun. Actually sometimes I just have sit quietly with some hand-sewing project to balance the challenge of an advanced project like this one.

Thanks for allowing us to follow this interesting journey.

S Sews said...

Wow! This is incredible! And Thanks so much for your detailed construction thoughts and notes. I have to admit I'm a instant gratification sewer. I used to do a lot more detailed and tailored sewing, but over the past ten years I find myself choosing and sewing quick projects.

That being said, I really love this and maybe, just maybe, I'll challenge myself again someday.

Judith said...

Just Brilliant!!! This is a true garment that no one else will ever have the enjoyment of wearing. Your time and patience have certainly paid off. You certainly rose to the challenge on this jacket - and nailed it!!!

Mary said...

How marvelous to have completed such a project, and what a gorgeous result. I love the feel of movement of the designs, and the colors and textures. Enjoy!

Jillybejoyful said...

Thank you for the wonderful comments everyone! I'm all cuddled up in the jacket right now (yes, inside) & thoroughly enjoying it :D

Noile said...

Jilly Be, I love your coat! Great fabric selection, and beautiful construction! The contrast of the lighter sleeves versus the bolder selections for the body is especially effective -- and it looks just smashing on you. Great work!

gwensews said...

That is an absolutely fantastic coat. Thank you for all your tips and instructions. Great job!

MarcyF said...

I'm so happy for you that you've finished! The coat is fabulous and you look beautiful. So, what's your next marathon project?

Jillybejoyful said...

lol Marcy - don't know yet. I have ultra simple in the machine right now, & then some baby shower gifts (babies SHOULD be easy to sew for....right?)

And then some jeans & some fitted trousers - not really marathons, but I think they'll give me enough of a challenge in technique & fit....

Hmmm....I'll definitely need to throw some creative fun in there though.....

glorm said...

Yet another great garment from you!

Your writing style makes it more special. You could be writing about changing a tire on a big rig and I would want to read it.

KID, MD said...

Yay! It's so fun, and looks wonderful on you!
I think we sew in similar ways, challenging projects are fun, but a quickie helps me to focus when I start to feel overwhelmed or bogged down.

Jillybejoyful said...

Awww Gloria :::shuffleshuffleshucks::: -that's the nicest thing I've heard all day - thank you :)

High 5 to variety KID :)

Oh, and btw - if I ever change a tire on a big rig, believe me, I'll write about it! ;D

Jan said...

Congratulations on completing your coat. It looks so good. You should be very proud of yourself.
I have spent months on fabric selection and fabric order on my jacket but I have started it. I feel the same way as you about the seam allowances. They should be at least 1 inch. I have made one sleeve as per the pattern and I am going to try a different way for the second. I will let you know how it goes.
I am really happy that you have finished your jacket and would do it again. There is some small hope for me.

Unknown said...

Oh my gosh, that turned out completely fabulous! It was really worth all the headaches and hard work.

House of Pinheiro said...

Jilly. Wowww. Totally unique and interesting

RhondaBuss said...

"Koodoes" to you Jilly!!! An absolutely fantastic job.

Anonymous said...

Jilly...your Koos coat is beautiful and the colors are so artistically perfect together!!!

I bought the pattern right after you started making yours. Don't know what colors or type of fabric I want yet, but when I was looking (staring-LOL) at yours last night, the left side...your right...I suddenly thought of the ocean...waves coming in. Waves of joy. The ocean is my favorite place to be. I'm going to pick out one fabric that reminds me of the ocean and plan the rest around that one.

Thank you for making the Koos coat and for sharing it with all of us!!! Can't wait to see what you're going to make next!

Jillybejoyful said...

I'm so delighted to hear that others are working on this coat too, and really looking forward to seeing all the variations!

Judi - the ocean - Yum! Sounds perfect with the wavey lines :)

Rhonda - koodos. heh. ;D

Again, to everyone - thank you, your comments really mean a lot to me! (I think I'm turning into a comment junkie lol)

Carolyn said...


Dilliander said...

Koostasic! What an amazing and inspiring coat.