If you’re looking for a good mystery to read, I totally recommend all the Wallander mysteries by Henning Mankell.  His stories are so well thought out, and he does a great job with character.  I love the portrait that he paints of Wallander–the police inspector who is absolutely brilliant at his job but completely inept in every other part of his life.  I also love that Wallander is an opera nut–a characteristic that I highly suspect is the source of his genius. 🙂  What does this have to do with sewing?  I’ll tell you. 

One of Wallander’s many oddities is that he has a collection of sweaters that he wears only in certain temperature ranges.  He has one sweater that he wears from 0-10 C etc.  Inept though he may be in life, he very practically likes being warm without sweating and having to change later in the day.  So naturally, he would wisely put my new jacket safely back in the closet since it’s appropriate for 40-60F and not the 12F it is currently.  No matter.  I LOVE it and nobody can stop me from waltzing around the house in it.

Burda 02-2008-117 Trench Coat

What I learned:

Coats need FBA’s too: well, at least this one did.  With as fitted as it is through the top there wasn’t enough ease to get away with not doing an FBA.  Thankfully I’ve gotten quite quick with this particular alteration.

You can’t always make an apple into an orange:  So I tried lining this, but there wasn’t enough ease to make that work without the jacket being all weird and bulky and tight.  Also my method of using my smocked muslin to produce pattern pieces for the lining that were nice and smooth also didn’t work out.  Poo.  I’ll learn to line a jacket another day.

Lapels are a bit of sewing magic: It took me some time to figure out how the lapel thing was supposed to work, but eventually from the drawings in the pattern and the modeled picture and the pattern lines, I figured it out and it’s kind of wacky to me that the things just kind of magically fold over (okay, I put a 1/2″ strip of interfacing along the lapel fold line per Sandra Betzina) on their own.

Collars are a little fussy:  The collar on this is a LOT better than the last collar I put in, but the undercollar is a bit wrinkly and so forth, probably because it needed a little tailoring.  It’s okay–it’s still functional and the next one will be better.

Why haven’t I learned how to put my walking foot on before?:  There’s a lot of topstitching (that’s really quilting) on the hem facing and the sleeve cuffs (10 rows if I remember on each cuff and 20 on the hem).  I didn’t use the walking foot on the cuffs but I did on the hem and there’s a big difference even though the cuffs look really nice.  I can’t imagine trying to do the hem facing without the walking foot–the coat was pretty bulky at that point to be monkeying it through the feed dogs, so the walking foot made nice even rows with a good stitch.

Thread is different:  I used polyester to construct the jacket for it’s strength and Mettler cotton silk finish thread for the topstitching because it’s beautiful and silk thread to hand sew the snaps.  The silk thread was the biggest aha for me.  It’s SO nice for hand stitching because it glides through the fabric with less tangling, has a great finish which looks really nice, and it just plain feels good while you’re stitching.

Jackets are less daunting than I thought:  The construction of this jacket is really very simple.  The details take a long time.  I realize that I have a lot to learn in the way of tailored garments and so forth, but this is a good start and it makes me believe that I can try something harder the next time.

As for what I like about this jacket–I love the feminine detail of the smocking at the waist.  The jumbo snaps are so fun to snap and I love how they look and they were worth every last hand stitch.  And I love this fabric.  It’s a really silky lightweight cotton twill from fabric.com.  It has awesome drape and it feels marvelous to wear.


  1. dearmrsreese Reply

    Awesome! Makes me want to stop everything I’m doing and go make myself a coat.

  2. Oh GREAT job E…wow!! You look great in it! I’ve been wanting to try a jacket for my 7 yo, but it is soooo scary-looking!! You just make everything look so EASY! Love the “smocking” on the hem…very girly!!

  3. Wow! This is wonderful! Thank you for taking the time to share some of your learning with us. I recently bought a trench pattern and have the materials, just need the motivation and time. This looks great and it makes me want to sew mine 🙂

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