Secret Selfless Sewing: Testing the Goldstream Peacoat

While pretending to tidy up, move house, celebrate Christmas, and tidy up again, what’s really been keeping me busy is that I got to test the Goldstream Peacoat Pattern by Thread Theory.

peacoat flats

I really wanted to make the coat for Andy’s birthday, and this heart-warming cause was enough (with a bit of perfectionism and coatmaking experience) to win Morgan and Matt over. Yay! The pattern arrived in November, and most of the coat was finished by early December. But between moving house, Christmas and spending a lot of time on the sofa, it didn’t get finished until the second week in January. Woops. That was a little later than his birthday (mid-November), but hey, he had the fabric on his birthday. That counts, right? It wasn’t actually a secret from Andy. I figured I needed to measure him, and he is picky with what he wears, so he definitely needed to pick the fabric himself. Andy had surprising amounts of fun choosing the fabric – I took him to Goldhawk Road, and after a lot of fabric touching, we settled on a dark, almost-black wool with polyester (confusingly, it’s called ‘cashmerette’), and a blue lining (silk and viscose, with quite a lot of body). I got away with 2.2m of the main fabric, and have a lot of lining and nice interfacing from the English Couture Company left over (oh, what a shame. I’ll have to make myself a coat to use it up!)

Now it’s finished, I thought I’d share some pictures with you and sing the pattern’s praises. I really enjoyed making the coat; I love love love coats and jackets in general, and with this one, I learnt lots of new tricks. Here’s the result:

Coat on coathanger

Coat on coathanger

And in action:

Coat on Andy. If you want to pose there yourself, head to Holland Park!

Coat on Andy. If you want to pose there yourself, head to Holland Park!

Inner Pocket!

Inner Pocket and Lining

Side shot

Side shot

With a few detail shots:

Shoulder Epaulets and Collar

Shoulder Epaulets and Collar

Sleeve Tab

Sleeve Tab

Pocket and sleeve tab

Pocket and sleeve tab

I made Andy the classic version of the Peacoat. The whole coat came together beautifully – I particularly enjoyed the sleeves (once I’d figured out how to set them in. I don’t recomment trying it with a massive cold!), since I’d never sewn two-part sleeves before, and I think it hangs really nicely and gives a great shape. The collar, too, was great fun to sew, and the sleeve tabs, and the pockets, and… Lots of little neat teachniques to discover on this coat!

The wool itself behaved very nicely, once I’d figured out that it didn’t like being ironed from the right side. I steamed it before, as several sources on the internet suggested, to make sure that it wouldn’t shrink during construction and later on at the dry cleaners.

I eventually persuaded myself to hand-stitch the hem – I was very very tempted to machine-stitch it, but am glad to say I actually handstitched my first invisible hem. I know. It took long enough, huh? And no, now that it’s finished, you can’t actually see it.

Since finishing this, I’ve gone on a post-big-project jersey quick sewing spree, which was very satisfying, but not quite as satisfying as sewing this label into the coat:

Labelled Coat

Labelled Coat

The main issue I had with the coat where things didn’t go smoothly were the button holes – the fabric thickness meant that it was out of the comfort zone for my machine, which meant it was out of my comfort zone, too. For every buttonhole, I had to do a) maths to figure out where to start sewing b) lower the feed dogs c) put the fabric in, try to shift it into the right place, with everything where it’s meant to be, and so the button holes would be straight and d) remember to both raise the feed dogs and lower the presser foot. This simple combination of things to do before sewing each button hole was somehow beyond me. Oh, and to lower and raise the feed dogs, you have to take the free arm extension off my sewing machine, but in order for the fabric to feed properly underneath the feet, it needed to be in place, so I had to put it back… There was a lot of swearing, almost a lot of tears, a very strong wish to throw an epic tantrum, and finally button holes I can live with, but only because they’re hidden by buttons. I learned that button holes by my new machine rip out much neater than those by my old machine, but frankly, I could have lived without that knowledge. Next time I make this coat, I’m going to attempt bound buttonholes. There, I’ve said it. Maybe that’ll be easier to do for my machine (and me).

I can highly recommend this pattern – I’ll certainly make it again. Next time, like I said, bound button holes, and maybe I’ll also do a small shoulder adjustment, since it’s a bit wide for Andy. The shoulder pads (I know! I used them for the first time, and it was exciting) hide the fact well, but he says movement upwards is a little bit restricted, so that’s something to work on for the next one. Other than that, I’m sure I can keep up the one coat a year pattern. Maybe a little break first, but then? Bring on the next one! Special thanks to Morgan and Matt for having me as a pattern tester, and to Andy, for happily modelling this so I can share it with you 🙂

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Completed: Selfless-sewing birthday bag

My youngest sister (I have three sisters, for I am very lucky!) asked for a weekend bag for her recent birthday, and I kind of jumped at the chance of testing a pattern I’ve had for a few weeks now. I got together with my other two sisters to pick some nice fabrics and notions, then whisked it all away to the UK for some secret sewing.

The pattern I used was by Gingercake, the Make-your-getaway duffle which can be found here. I could have probably drafted my own, but I figured, for $7, I would much rather somebody else did the maths for me 🙂

The pattern worked out pretty well – I only made small changes: the handles were a bit longer, I didn’t do any quilting, and I interfaced the parts which hold the zipper (I figured they’ll be under a bit of strain). Also, I didn’t add a lining, but I interlined instead. I wanted to have small bags on the inside, but I didn’t want that to be visible from the outside. So, I cut some lining pieces, added the pockets, and then treated it as one with the outside fabric. I then hid the seams in some polka-dot bias binding. I also added a big side bag for magazines etc., which I just cut like a side panel, but a bit shorter. I even matched the stripes! It was a very satisfying make – the pattern came together well, it looks nice, and my sister loves it. Score!  It’s pretty roomy, but I think still within most european airline regulations for hand luggage, so another win. Without further ado, here are some pictures.

the bag in its entire beauty. You can see the outside pocket here. I used denim for the pieces with a lot of strain - handles and bottom.

the bag in its entire beauty. You can see the outside pocket here. I used denim for the pieces with a lot of strain – handles and bottom.

Detail shot of the inside: Bias tape at the seams, and bias tape to finish the pocket edges. I figured the orange would make it easier to find the pockets.

Detail shot of the inside: Bias tape at the seams, and bias tape to finish the pocket edges. I figured the orange would make it easier to find the pockets.

Inside and outside of the bag at the same time

Inside and outside of the bag at the same time

And the inside - the bag photographed really well with some sofa cushions inside. You can see the bottom is made of denim - I used some old jeans to reinforce it.

And the inside – the bag photographed really well with some sofa cushions inside. You can see the bottom is made of denim – I used some old jeans to reinforce it.

All in all, it worked a lot better than I expected – I already have some materials for another bag for myself sitting on my shelf 😉 Oh, and did you notice it’s not a sewaholic pattern? But hey, I still had somebody holding my hand. Babysteps…