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Welcome to the new era of menswear sewing. Go ahead and create something exceptional!


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My Mom’s Peacoat Sewing Experience

If you were a little overwhelmed by all the handstitching involved in Dana’s Tailored Peacoat Series last week, never fear, you can still easily sew a Goldstream Peacoat if you are new to sewing outerwear and only have a limited time frame for sewing.  Here is my Mom to tell you about her experience sewing the Goldstream Peacoat!

A Peacoat … Sure I can! And even better … if I can, you can!

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Not one to resist a challenge, I agreed to sew Farrell a ‘Goldstream Peacoat’.  I had been happily enjoying the winter coat that Morgan had sewn for me.  I showed it off to many people who admired her skill and my luck at having a daughter who would take the time to make it for me.  My favourite comment was from a friend who said that wearing a wool coat hand made for me was like getting a hug from my daughter every time that I put it on!

With that in mind, I tackled a peacoat for Farrell.  I did so without the confidence I typically have when sewing. I have not sewn much in the way of men’s clothing before.  I can sew but I think of myself as someone who tackles projects.  Typically the projects are ones that require my logical math brain, such as puzzling out how to sew boat cushions, window coverings, or specialty pieces including windlass covers.  I decided to trust Morgan’s instructions to get me through the techniques required for this project with the bonus of her support only a phone call, text or email away.  Turns out I needed very little help!  Farrell is wearing his beautiful pea coat regularly and has made some strong hints that he would like a lighter spring version.

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I selected a very thick Melton wool fabric in a black/almost navy with a shiny backed tan coloured lining.  I also purchased a metre of horsehair interfacing so that I could play with laying out some panels on the front pieces.

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The cutting out went well.  I decided to sew an extra-large rather than the large as we wanted to make sure that Farrell would be comfortable wearing a heavy sweater (his Newcastle) underneath.  Turns out that was a good choice for him and the types of activities he does when wearing his coat.  He has lots of room in the jacket for movement and doesn’t feel stuffed inside it when he is wearing layers.

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I carefully followed all of the steps that were thoroughly described in the instructions, right down to the tailor tacking.

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Because of my inexperience with sewing clothing, some of the steps were hard for me to logic out.  Instead, I just followed them and then ended up being delighted each time that the pieces went together and the intent of the step became clear to me.  Only once did I text Morgan a question.  I needed to check to see if I was interpreting her instructions as she intended.  In my impatience to keep going on the jacket, I didn’t wait for the reply and proceeded anyways. With relief I did fine as trying to unpick a black thread on the heavy wool seam is a tough task.  My light duty sewing machine coped with the heavy layers well.  The only challenging seam was the one where I sewed the outer jacket to the lining with collar and a leather piece that I chose to add.  With a denim needle and some patience, I got through it. (My mom’s tip to use a denim needle for thick layers is a great one, have you tried this?  I had never done this until the other day and I found this improved the quality of my stitches when going through several layers of wool.)

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The jacket turned out great! I meant to keep track of the time it took me but got carried away with the sewing and forgot to.  Once I set my mind to it, I just tackled a few pieces at a time and it was complete in approximately 20 hours of sewing. My confidence has been bolstered and I am ready for more sewing projects.  I think I will start on the Comox Trunks which are waiting for me.  I have my eye on an item of clothing yet to be released in the Alpine Collection.  Farrell has already been ‘living in’ the first sample that Morgan sewed in his size.  He has dropped some not so subtle hints about that too.

Thanks, Mom, for sharing your experience!  My dad looks very dapper in his Goldstream Peacoat!

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Tailored Peacoat Series: #7

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Day #1 – Tuesday, March 18th: Prepare Pattern, Cut Fabric, Mark Seam Lines

Day #2 – Wednesday, March 19th: Adjust Pockets, Apply Canvas and Interfacing

Day #3 – Thursday, March 20th: Sewing the Facing and Lining

Day #4 – Friday, March 21st: Sewing the Main Body Seams and Adding Shoulder Pads

Day #5 – Saturday, March 22nd: Creating the Collar

Day # 6 – Sunday, March 22nd: Inserting the Sleeves

Day #7: – Monday, March 23rd: The Finishing Touches

Today is the last day of the Tailored Peacoat Series!  Thanks for following along!  Today we are sewing the finishing steps and will have a finished peacoat to present by the end of the post.

Finishing

Topstitch the coat, starting at the edge of the facing along the bottom of the hem, and stopping at the mark for the top buttonhole and roll line.  Don’t backstitch, but pull the thread to the back of the coat and tie off.  Flip the coat and topstitch from roll line to roll line along the lapels and collar, then flip again and stitch from roll line to the end of the facing.  This way, you’re always stitching with the “right” side of the coat facing you.

I made buttonholes by hand, and also made a buttonhole on the right side of the coat and sewed a flat button underneath the top decorative button on the left side.  This button supports the underside front and keeps the coat hanging nicely.  Bonus points if you actually remember to button it when you wear the coat.

underside button

Remove all the basting threads and tailor tacks (there are a lot!!!).

Press the coat, working slowly and making sure edges are crisp and seams are flat.  Use a clapper to smash out any bulky spots.  It can take an hour to properly press a coat.

The finished coat! (Wahoo!  What gorgeous results after all of this hard work.  Congratulations, Dana!)

 Whew, and that’s the end!  Once again, thank you very much, Dana, for contributing this incredible series – what a resource for everyone planning to sew a Goldstream Peacoat!

As I said in previous posts, I have learned a lot of techniques (and have been reminded of a lot that I had learned in the past but have neglected to do!) during this series.  I’m really looking forward to trying out pad stitching and I will certainly be basting A LOT more than I did throughout the last pea coat sewing project!  I don’t know if I’ll have the patience to baste quite as much as Dana did but I really should just slow myself down and force myself to do it.  After all, if I am going to put hours and hours of work into sewing a coat for Matt (not to mention all the money for nice wool!), I would like the finished product to look as beautiful and last as long as Dana’s coat does and will.  Hmmm you just got a glimpse of the boxing match going on in my sewing room: too much excitement to see the finished product vs. the desire to create perfect, quality results.

Now that we are armed with all this knowledge and inspiration, we are completely ready to conquer our fears of tailoring and our habits of sewing only projects that provide immediate results.  It’s time to begin your big Goldstream Peacoat sewing project!  What did you think of this series?  Which tips and tricks do you think you will be using?

 


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Tailored Peacoat Series: #6

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Day #1 – Tuesday, March 18th: Prepare Pattern, Cut Fabric, Mark Seam Lines

Day #2 – Wednesday, March 19th: Adjust Pockets, Apply Canvas and Interfacing

Day #3 – Thursday, March 20th: Sewing the Facing and Lining

Day #4 – Friday, March 21st: Sewing the Main Body Seams and Adding Shoulder Pads

Day #5 – Saturday, March 22nd: Creating the Collar

Day # 6 – Sunday, March 22nd: Inserting the Sleeves

Day #7: – Monday, March 23rd: The Finishing Touches

Today is the last big sewing day for the Tailored Peacoat Series since tomorrow’s post will involve just finishing touches.  Get ready to insert your sleeves using a different method than our usual one (no gathering with this one!).

Sewing the Sleeves

I sewed the front seam of the sleeves, then used a strip of bias silk organza as a hem reinforcement, since I don’t have wigan (you can buy this bias cut sewn in interfacing here).

reinforce sleeve hem

Pocketing might have been a better choice.  The sleeve linings were cut with an extra 1 inch of seam allowance at the top of the sleeve (Dana added this extra seam allowance, this is not included as part of the Goldstream Peacoat pattern).

After the sleeves were hemmed and linings assembled, I sewed the seam allowances of the sleeve and lining together for a few inches at the elbow.  This keeps the linings from twisting inside the sleeve.

sew elbow seam allowances

Sew the lining at the hem with an ease pleat, and baste the sleeve and lining together about 3 inches below the top of the sleeve.

Setting in the Sleeves

I was taught to set coat sleeves using a different method than the gather-the-cap method almost every book, pattern, blog, etc, uses.  In fact, when I have to gather the sleeve cap (I’m looking at you, 1840’s men’s coats), I usually want to scream/cry/throw things.  If that method works for you, great, but I’ve always had trouble with it.

The sleeves have ¼” seam allowance (The Goldstream Peacoat pattern uses 5/8″ seam allowances but Dana has adjusted her pattern to include 1/4″).  Mark ¼” seam allowance on the armscye of the coat, either with tailor tacks when you cut the coat, or thread trace it now.   Pin the sleeve into the armscye, matching the notches.

pin sleeve

The pins don’t have to be close together, just enough so you can tell how the sleeve is hanging.  Don’t worry about extra ease in the sleeve right now.  Once the sleeve is pinned, check to see how the sleeve is hanging.  The sleeve ease is really well distributed in this pattern, so it should sit well, but feel free to move it around if you aren’t happy.  Next, baste the sleeves with matching thread, since this can stay in the finished coat. Use a fairly small running stitch.

baste sleeve

This is where you want to ease any wrinkles into the armscye; happily, most wool likes to ease, and using a small seam allowance makes it easier to control the fabric.  Check the hang of the sleeve again, and make sure there aren’t any big wrinkles or other unhappiness.  If you’re having problems, you can try pressing the seam, just don’t go more than an inch into the sleeve.  Hand sewing the sleeve into the armscye instead of machining it also gives you greater control.

Once the sleeves are sewn, baste around the armscye from the exterior of the coat, as close to the sleeve seam as possible and going through as many layers of canvas, shoulder pad, and lining as you can.

baste from exterior

You want to push all the seam allowances of the coat and sleeves towards the sleeves, and to hold all the layers in place.  Since there is extra ease in the lining, there might be a few folds when you baste the layers together, just make sure the lining isn’t pulling anywhere.  From the inside with the sleeve facing  you, backstitch through all the layers close to the stitch line using heavy thread.

Backstitch

I was able to go through the shoulder pad and catch the lining on the other side, but if your shoulder pads are thick you might have to do a second line of backstitching from the lining side, catching the shoulder pad to the lining.  Trim away the extra wool, canvas, lining, and shoulder pad; I usually leave only ¼ inch under the arm and taper to ½ inch at the top and sides of the armscye.  Sew a sleeve head in the armscye, starting at the front notch or sleeve seam and going around the top of the sleeve to the back sleeve seam.  Sleeve heads fill out the ease at the top of the sleeve and give a smooth look to the shoulder.  You can buy them or make your own; I used a bias strip of wool 2 inches wide, folded over about ½ inch and pressed.

sleeve head

 Fold the sleeve lining over ¼” and slip stitch in place, matching seams with the sleeve and just covering the backstitching.  Its perfectly acceptable to have small gathers in the lining around the top of the sleeve.  Lining rarely eases as nicely as wool.

stitch sleeve lining

See you tomorrow for the last day of our series!


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Tailored Peacoat Series: #5

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Day #1 – Tuesday, March 18th: Prepare Pattern, Cut Fabric, Mark Seam Lines

Day #2 – Wednesday, March 19th: Adjust Pockets, Apply Canvas and Interfacing

Day #3 – Thursday, March 20th: Sewing the Facing and Lining

Day #4 – Friday, March 21st: Sewing the Main Body Seams and Adding Shoulder Pads

Day #5 – Saturday, March 22nd: Creating the Collar

Day # 6 – Sunday, March 22nd: Inserting the Sleeves

Day #7: – Monday, March 23rd: The Finishing Touches

Tailoring the Collar

I split the under collar at the center back.  I cut two pieces on the bias from hair canvas, trimming away the seam allowance, and also cut two bias under collar  pieces from wool.  If you are suave like Matt (Matt appreciates that statement, thanks Dana! :P) and want to pop the collar of your coat, I would cut the under collar from a single piece, but you can still cut the interfacing on the bias.

lightly pad stitched the canvas to the under collar, making sure I didn’t go all the way through the wool –  but my wool is quite thick and fuzzy, so if your fabric is thinner or has a tighter weave and you’re worried your stitches might show, its okay to skip pad stitching.

padstitch undercollar

Cross stitch the canvas to the wool to keep the edges in place.

cross stitch undercollar

Fold the seam allowance up from notch to notch along the neck edge and baste in place.

Lay the coat out with the neck facing you, and with the wool side of the under collar up, pin the collar to the neck edge matching center back and the notches.  I also put a pin at the roll line.

pin undercollar

Making sure the canvas and linings are laying nicely inside the coat, and easing as needed along the neck edge, baste the collar to the coat.

Baste undercollar

Check to make sure the lining isn’t doing anything weird (sometimes it likes to jump around) — (Remember that Dana didn’t use the back neck facing so she is dealing with lining fabric at the neck seam) — and sew the collar to the coat using a fell stitch and double thickness of thread (to see how to do the fell stitch, have a look at the second stitch on Colette Patterns’ “Basic Hand Stitches” guide).  Don’t be afraid to catch the facing and lining.

sew collar

From the inside, cross stitch the neck seam allowance to the collar, clipping where needed to get it to lie flat.

cross stitch neck seam allowance

Cut a piece of fabric about 1 ½ inches wider and 2 inches longer than the under collar.  Fold it in half, and using a hot steam iron, stretch the top and bottom long edges.

stretch strip

Don’t stretch the center of the strip.  When you’re done, it should ripple on both edges.

strip should ripple

Mark the center of the strip.  Align the center of the strip with the center back of the collar and pin in place.  Its easiest to do this with the coat on a dress form, but you can also drape it over your knee or hand/arm.

align strip

Working from the center back to the front, smooth the fabric over the collar, keeping the straight edge at the top even with the seam allowance of the under collar, and pinning as you go.  You’re trying to build some ease into the upper collar so it will roll nicely.

smooth fabric strip

Its okay to trim some of the excess fabric if its getting difficult to work with, just make sure you have plenty for seam allowances.

Once the upper collar is pinned in place, baste around the outer edge of the collar, and remove the pins.

baste edge of collar

Sew the outer edge of the collar from notch to notch with the canvas side facing up, similar to how the front facing is sewn onto the coat front.  Press the seam open and grade and trim the seam allowance.  Turn the collar right side out, and baste close to the edge, rolling the seam towards the under collar, like the front edge.  Put a line or two of basting in the collar, working from the edge towards the coat, then fold the collar under (like the lapels on the facing) and run a line of basting to keep the ease in the upper collar.

turn collar

Trim the neck edge of the upper collar so you have 3/8″ to 1/2″ seam allowance, and turn it under and baste in place.  Slip stitch in place.

slip stitch collar

Well, there you go, the collar is finished!  How different from our usual approach to sewing a collar!  I look forward to draping my own upper collar when I sew Matt his tailored Goldstream in time for next winter.

Thank you to everyone who has commented via the blog/email/in person about the useful nature of this series.  Dana put a lot of work into all of these posts and I am sure many of us will be referring to her teachings for all sorts of coat projects in the future!

Look forward to a post on an alternative approach to setting in sleeves tomorrow!


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Tailored Peacoat Series: #4

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Day #1 – Tuesday, March 18th: Prepare Pattern, Cut Fabric, Mark Seam Lines

Day #2 – Wednesday, March 19th: Adjust Pockets, Apply Canvas and Interfacing

Day #3 – Thursday, March 20th: Sewing the Facing and Lining

Day #4 – Friday, March 21st: Sewing the Main Body Seams and Adding Shoulder Pads

Day #5 – Saturday, March 22nd: Creating the Collar

Day # 6 – Sunday, March 22nd: Inserting the Sleeves

Day #7: – Monday, March 23rd: The Finishing Touches

Today is a bit of a shorter post during which Dana demonstrates how to securely place the shoulder pads and shows us her method for assembling the side and shoulder seams of the coat and lining.  You may notice that the procedure is a little different than outlined in the Goldstream Peacoat instruction booklet because the lining pieces have already been separately basted to their corresponding self pieces.  Dana’s process involves a lot of hand stitching to complete the lining and I am sure you will agree that this is a very effective way to ensure complete accuracy when sewing such a slippery fabric.

Side Seams (both coat and lining) and Hem

Sew the side seams together and press open.  To sew the lining, at the side seams, fold one edge over the other making sure there’s a bit of ease in the lining.  Slip stitch the lining seams.

slipstitch lining side seams

Baste the hem up close to the edge, then again about half an inch down from the cut edge.

baste hem

Make an ease pleat in the lining, then slipstitch the lining down.

slipstitch lining to hem

 Shoulders Seams and Pads

Sew the shoulder seams.  Since most back shoulders are bigger than the front shoulder, its easiest to sew with the front on top and the back will ease itself in while you stitch.

I’ve found it much easier to place shoulder pads when the coat is on a dress form, or at least on a person.  My shoulder pads have a center notch; align this with the shoulder seam, and pin the pad in place.

shoulder pad placement

Move the pins so they’re holding the pad to the canvas (separated from the coat fabric), and diagonally baste the pad from the canvas side.

baste shoulder pad

Turn the canvas over, and cross stitch the pad to the canvas.

Cross stitch shoulder pad

Re-align the canvas and shoulder pad in the coat (its easy to do this over your hand) and baste it in place.

baste shoulder

Fold the back lining over the front lining and facing, and baste in place.

baste shouler lining

That’s it for today!  The main body and lining of your coat is now assembled.  Tomorrow we will be working on the collar.  Look forward to trying out some pad stitching (I’m excited for this part because I have never tried doing this before!).


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Tailored Peacoat Series: #3

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Day #1 – Tuesday, March 18th: Prepare Pattern, Cut Fabric, Mark Seam Lines

Day #2 – Wednesday, March 19th: Adjust Pockets, Apply Canvas and Interfacing

Day #3 – Thursday, March 20th: Sewing the Facing and Lining

Day #4 – Friday, March 21st: Sewing the Main Body Seams and Adding Shoulder Pads

Day #5 – Saturday, March 22nd: Creating the Collar

Day # 6 – Sunday, March 22nd: Inserting the Sleeves

Day #7: – Monday, March 23rd: The Finishing Touches

Today, on the third day of our Tailored Peacoat Series, Dana will be teaching a few tricks to put into practice while sewing your Goldstream Peacoat facing and lining:

The Facing and Lining

I overcut coat linings, with the exception of the front edge that is attached to the facing.  Fabrics, especially slippery lining fabrics, tend to shift and not always do what you want them to, so its very helpful having a bit of extra fabric to work with. I sewed the front facing to the front lining, stopping about an inch from the hem, trimming the seam allowances to 1/4” and inserting a strip of bias cut from the wrong side of my lining fabric.  The bias strip is purely decorative, but can be a nice little bit of color.  Instead of doing an interior patch pocket, I made double piped pockets.

Welt pocket

Sew the coat front and the facing/lining together, from the collar notch where you stopped trimming the canvas to the end of the facing at the hem.  Its easiest to sew with the coat side facing up, and stitching about a needle’s distance from the canvas.  Grade the seam allowance and press the seam open.  Baste the front edge, rolling the facing to the inside below the top button mark. When you get to the lapel, baste so the seam is in the center. 

baste front edge

Once the edges are basted, run a line of basting in the center of the lapel, then baste the roll line, stopping about an inch below the neck edge.

baste lapel and roll line

Fold the lapel over, and working from the inside of the coat, baste a couple lines, working from the edge of the coat towards the lining.  Folding the lapel will ensure it has enough room to roll easily when worn.

Baste close to the facing/lining seam, then fold the lining back and cross stitch the facing to the canvas, working around the pocket.

cross stitch facing to canvas

Fold the lining back far enough so the pocket can lay flat, then cross stitch the side of the pocket to the canvas.

cross stitch pocket

Lay the lining flat, and baste it down, leaving plenty of room for the armscye, side seams, and hem.

baste lining

From the front of the coat, trim the lining even with the wool around the shoulders, armscye, and side seams.

Trim lining

At the neck edge, clip the facing to the neckline about 1” past the roll line.

clip facing

Then, fold the fabric under and even with the neck edge.  Baste, then slip stitch, down.

fold uner and baste

The fronts are done!

The Back and Lining

I cut the back lining from the same piece as the back, since I’m not using the back facing.  I did leave enough in the lining for an ease pleat center back.  Once the center back seam and center back of the lining are sewn, baste them together along the center back seam, then in a horseshoe shape, leaving room for side seams, shoulder pads, and hems.

baste lining to back

 

Now that all the lining and facing pieces are assembled and basted to the main coat, we are ready to sew the main coat seams and insert the shoulder pads tomorrow!


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Sew-Along Announcement! Comox Trunks

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Ready to sew along?  We’ll be holding a sew-along and contest for our brand new Comox Trunks starting Friday, April 4th.  This will give you plenty of time to purchase your pattern and/or supplies kit.

For the first time, we’re going to include a contest aspect to our sew-along.  All you will have to do to enter is comment on the final sew-along post (I’ll remind you when I make that post, don’t worry) with a link to a photo of your trunks.  Now hold on…before you get disappointed that you won’t be able to enter because no man will ever be brave enough to model your trunks, don’t worry, I will be writing a funny little post on “How to Photograph Your Comox Trunks Sans Sexy Model.”

The winner of our contest (chosen using a random number generator from the selection of comments) will win a prize pack of boxer sewing goodies – a selection of elastics and a selection of great knits – and so they are ready to sew an entire underwear drawer full of Comox Trunks!

Stay tuned for a sew-along schedule and photos of the prize pack!  Will you be joining us?

As per Dan’s great suggestion on our Comox Trunks announcement post, below is a link printable knit stretch guide so that you can choose your fabric even before you’ve received your pattern in the mail.  When you print it, don’t allow the printer to “fit to page” or in any way scale this file.  The black portion of the bar should measure 3″.  Here you go!:

Fabric Choice Guide

Note: Now that I’ve told you the good news, I have a slightly less thrilling announcement about the Comox Trunks sewing pattern.  It has come to our attention that there was a minor error involving pattern pieces 2 & 3.  We will be revising the PDF pattern shortly and will email it to everyone who has purchased it.  For those of you who have purchased the tissue pattern, please refer to our Errata page on our website and please don’t hesitate to ask for clarification while you sew (simply email us at info@threadtheory.ca).  We’re really really sorry about this error – we will be providing several easy cutting and sewing methods throughout the sew along for you to use if you have purchased this edition of the pattern!