When the trench coat challenge this week for the a couple of things ran through my mind. First, I thought about how much I love making jackets, then about how much work a jacket is, but mostly that I wasn’t expecting to make another trench coat so soon after my Jeanius Trench. The upside is that I could start work immediately because my pattern had already been fitted and cut before. An applique trench coat was in the works!
Vintage Vera Applique Trench Coat
One of the things that Fabric Mart wanted to see in the trench coats this week was our personal style. My own style is a bit eclectic. As a sewist, I love modern Euro patterns with lots of detail, but I also love embellishment techniques. I grew up going to antique stores with my Mom. We always called it (and still do) treasure hunting. Because of her I have a serious appreciation for lace, other vintage textiles and accessories.
As an adult, I’ve become a collector of vintage table linens kind of for a really specific reason. I’m a serious baker, and I often make strudel for my very German family. I’m the 5th generation of strudel makers in my family, and one thing you need to make strudel is a proper tablecloth to stretch the dough out on. One thing I noticed is that vintage tablecloths hold the flour better because of their slightly looser weaves. Vintage tablecloth = better strudel–who knew? Once I started collecting tablecloths, napkins soon followed. I love the bright colors and funky prints of old table linens. My Mom jokes that she often wears prints that look like wallpaper. And I’m guilty quite literally of wearing the tablecloth.
One of my favorite linens designers is Vera Neumann. She was a gifted painter who had the smart business sense to put her paintings on household linens and scarves and tablecloths en masse to make a decent living as an artist. I love her sense of color and her bold illustrative mid century style. If I see Vera, I snatch it up! I had always intended to use these particular Vera linen napkins in a garment, but I didn’t really know exactly how to do so.
When it came to the challenge, it became clear that I’d add the flowers from the napkins to my trench coat. This trench coat represents my love for super detailed sewing and vintage linens. It’s pretty much exactly what I wanted to sew.
The pattern is the same trench coat pattern I made a couple of weeks ago for my denim trench coat. It is Burda World of Fashion 2-2008-114. It’s a classic raglan sleeve trench coat style in most respects but it has 3/4 length sleeves. It might seem odd to sew a jacket out of linen in fall in Colorado, but our weather is incredibly variable. Fall and Spring both are some collection of cooler days interspersed with hot ones or snow. 3/4 length sleeves actually turn out to be wearable for parts of 9 months of the year. They let you layer up or layer down quite easily.
The pattern is an unlined jacket, so I drafted a lining. Sewaholic has a good tutorial for this here at Tilly and the Buttons, The tutorial is for a standard sleeve. Because this is a raglan sleeve, you have to adjust one thing: remember on a raglan sleeve that the facing covers the sleeves as well, so you must cut off the top part of the sleeve where the facing will cover it on the lining.
The outer jacket fabric is a linen/cotton from my stash. It has a good weight for it for a jacket, but I wanted to cut down on the wrinkling. I fused the entire jacket with a fusible interfacing.
I had just enough yardage to eek out the body of the jacket, but I didn’t have enough for a longer hem, facings, and collar. For the facings, I used this blue/white crosshatch cotton print. I used the same fabric for a hem facing and the belt loops and belt. I like the contrast it provides against the blue of the linen, and the visual texture of it pairs well with the Vera appliques.
The lining is a Japanese polyester lining I picked up the last time I was in San Francisco.
The fusible interfacing adds all the stability required for the stitching of all of the applique work. Without the interfacing, the linen might pucker oddly under all the added stitches. Instead of interfacing, you can use a double sided fusible web on appliques to adhere them and give stability. I opted against the Heat n Bond because it feels a little too papery on such large appliques.
The various flowers and leaves I cut from the napkins were scattered around the cut out pieces of the jacket. Using this Valentino jacket as a reference, I played around with the flowers’ placement so that they wouldn’t be covered up by the welt pockets/buttons etc.
After that, I pinned on the flowers and zigzagged around each applique. To add more detail and to keep the flowers from poofing up later on, I stitched down around the interiors of each applique, more or less following the lines of the print. It was so much fun to add more detail to the work of an artist I have so much respect for. I hope that Vera wouldn’t mind that I stitched up her designs!
Construction for this jacket is really straightforward. There’s really good instructions in the magazine as it’s one of the rare illustrated course patterns in Burda mags.
Wow, there’s a lot of topstitching in this jacket. One thing I did to streamline the process was to divide my time by task. One session I made all the tabs/collars/belt loops, another I did all the applique, and another session I did all of the topstitching. It really made things go quickly to have all the pieces ready to go so I could just sit and do one task all at the same time. This also minimized my thread changes.
The topstitching thread is white Robison-Anton thread. It is more heavy than all-purpose polyester thread, but lighter than a topstitching thread you might use for denim. This makes it fantastic for embroidery. It’s nice here for topstitching on a fabric that is not as heavy as denim.
The belt for the coat is reversible. I couldn’t decide if I liked the blue linen or the crosshatch cotton for the belt, so I chose both. There are 2 layers of fusible interfacing inside the belt plus a strip of the linen to give it the weight a belt should have. I added more topstitching rows to the belt. The reversibility is one of my favorite features of this coat. If I want to change it, I just need to flip it inside out inside the belt loops. Super easy to do, and it gives the coat a different look.
It was quite the challenge to sew a trench coat in short order, but I’m glad I pushed myself. I’m glad to have found the perfect canvas to display some very favorite linens.
You can see the other contestants’ trench coats and vote here on the Fabric Mart blog.
My review of the jacket is here at Patternreview.
Elizabeth Farr is the writer behind the Elizabeth Made This blog where she shares helpful sewing tips, step by step sewing tutorials and videos to help you explore your creativity through sewing. She has written sewing Eguides and patterns, been a featured teacher at Rebecca Page’s Sewing Summit and Jennifer Maker’s Holiday Maker Fest and her work has appeared in Seamwork and Altered Couture magazines. She also created a line of refashioned garments for SEWN Denver. When her sewing machine isn’t humming, she’s playing and teaching violin, and hanging around a good strategic board game with her husband and 4 kids.