First off, readers, let me say how very touched Cathy was with your response to her maternity ensemble photo shoot. Over breakfast yesterday morning, she couldn't stop beaming. She later threw up but such is pregnancy.
I realized too that we never talked much about Cathy's coat. To recap: I had originally intended for the cotton floral print lining fabric to be the outside of the coat, but I quickly realized it wasn't going to work: too light, too busy, too lining-like.
Here is an exclusive, never-before-seen test shot!
I had also taken this shot with a pink pashmina and immediately realized that that salmony color was what was needed to balance things out. As you can see, we do a lot of wardrobe testing here at MPB Studios!
That's when I realized I was going to have to go fabric shopping, even though I really wanted to sew this outfit entirely from my stash. (With the exception of the pink cotton sateen I used for the coat, I did.)
Next, I had to address the collar. The original pattern, which is for a women's robe, has a Peter Pan collar that is just too prissy and bathrobe-y (though opera coat patterns had Peter Pan collars too -- they were all the rage back then).
I wanted a collar like this one. (Quick: name that famous Barbie outfit!)
I dug through my stash and found this old Vogue Americana pattern with exactly the kind of large collar I wanted. The under collar and over collar pattern pieces are drafted differently, so the finished collar has a beautiful shape to it.
I interfaced the under collar (two pieces) with cotton shirting, and the one-piece over collar with stiffer hair canvas.
OK, so one of the versions of my robe pattern, Simplicity 3216, is lined and I followed the instructions provided. The lining is supposed to be cut exactly like the outer cloth (how convenient for me!) and attached at the front edges, right sides together, and then turned. Now, with wrong sides together (i.e., the lining inside where it belongs), the collar and neck facing are attached. There are no separate lapel facings, just an approximately three-inch front edge that's turned inside and slip-stitched in place. Readers, I had never slip-stitched in my life, but I learned!
The neck facing, just a piece of bias-cut cloth, is also slip-stitched to the lining.
Rather than fold the hem up two inches, since this fabric is so thick and has a little lycra in it, I feared it would look bunchy, so I cut a bias facing and used that. (I also didn't have length to spare.) It worked, though if I had to do it again, I'd cut my facing out of something lighter in weight. The raw edge of the hem facing is turned under and stitched. The hem itself is attached to the coat with an invisible (more or less) hem stitch.
I wanted the lining to hang free at the bottom (though at either end it's attached to the front edge of the coat). I simply turned it under and hem stitched it from the inside.
I attached the cuffs with a facing too. The facing, turned inside, is stitched to the sleeve lining. I modified the cuff so the ends are separate, rather than cylindrical, as in the original pattern.
There are very, very few sewing projects that I can truly say I’m
completely satisfied with. I’m sure other sewers can understand: there
are usually one or two details or aspects you’d do differently next
time. Sewing is a learning process, and as such I find it is rare for a
project to be a total success from start to finish.
I read this last week and I thought, BINGO -- that is so true! Take Cathy's opera coat, for example: I honestly like the way it drapes without a lining better than with, but I also love the look of a contrasting lining. Next time, maybe I'll have no lining and just finish all those raw edges (it's a raglan-sleeve coat, so there are lots of seams).
In closing, is it time for an opera coat sew-along? You don't have to be going to the opera to wear one and you certainly don't have to be pregnant! Thoughts?
I'm a native New Yorker and self-taught sewing fanatic! I've been sewing obsessively since 2009 and today make all my own clothes using mostly vintage patterns and vintage sewing machines. Welcome to the warm and whimsical world of Male Pattern Boldness, where the conversation is sewing, style, fashion, fabric, and more!