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Dec 7, 2010

Toggle Coat Turmoil et al.

First things first:  I sold my Necchi Lydia!  Yesterday evening the interested party -- let's call her Darlene Gillespie  -- swung by to check her out.  It was love at first sight (between Darlene Gillespie and Lydia of course), what could I do?

You know how something (or someone) you've dismissed suddenly looks desirable when someone else is interested?  All the while Darlene Gillespie was practicing stitching with Lydia I was thinking Why am I selling this gorgeous machine?  Then she handed me a crisp fifty dollar bill and I remembered.

So that's it,  six sewing machines sold in one week!  If that isn't a record, it at least deserves honorable mention.  Now there's just the lonely Elna Grasshopper, chirp chirp.

Meanwhile, my Singer Genie's new owner sends us all greetings along with this heartwarming photo -- practically a Christmas card:

Genie looks happy but I'm not sure about that shawl.

I think we can do away with pseudonyms; Genie's new owner is named Yarrow and Genie was a gift from Yarrow's good friend Deepa.  You can check out Deepa's charming/funny sewing blog, Wearable Toile,  just as soon as you finish mine.  I predict Yarrow will have her own blog before long. 

But enough about sewing machines and pseudonyms.  Let's move on to my toggle coat project, Vogue 8452.  Yesterday I made a muslin and I am not happy with the results.  I cut the Small and it is ginormous.  I know a coat is often cut to fit over a suit, but this coat could fit over a fat suit.

Here's how I envision the fit:

Here's my muslin:

Now I know some of you are thinking, well, it's big, but not that big.   You're right.  I owned a Gloverall duffle coat in the mid-Eighties and I remember it being about this size but everything fit big back then.

Here's a Gloverall coat worn today -- still quite roomy and, let's face it, boxy

I think I'm going to cut down to the Extra-small, which kind of sucks because it's not just a question of cutting away, I'm also going to have to get out my French curve and add, since in a few places, like the neckline, the grading for the Extra-small is chopped away when you cut the Small.  Does that make sense?

So I guess I have to make another muslin.  If I still don't like it, I'm not going to make the coat and I'll use the wool for something else.  What's the point of making a coat out of high-quality materials if I'm not going to want to wear it?

And that's it.

Friends, how roomy do you like your coats to be?  Do you like room to layer or prefer the feel of Bemberg rayon lining snug against naked skin or maybe a silk tee?  We're all different, as Sunday's basic sewing machine recommendations post proved once again.  We like what we like and it's not about right and wrong...I think.

Have a great day, everybody!  Any Darlene Gillespie fans out there?


  1. Your muslin reminds me of when Moms buy coats with room for kids to grow into!

  2. Your pattern dates from 1992, which I think is the problem. Clothing for both men and women was boxier back then. Don't give up until you try a different, newer pattern. That fabric is perfect for your project and is too gorgeous and matches too well to stop now.

  3. I would only like my coat to be big enough for a bulky sweater underneath. Coats are heavy and cumbersome enough without adding extra fabric. I hope it works out for you Peter.

  4. What happens when you align the CF's? It looks like the shoulders, neck and hood seem okay, but only that there is too much style ease in the body, and lower sleeve. You may need to blend to XS rather than cut it outright. Put it on the mannekin and pin out what you don't like before you recut a muslin.

  5. I don't understand what you mean about CF's, Dre. Could you explain. You're right about the hood, it fits fine.

  6. Muslin? You should totally make that the finished coat fabric. Hotness.

  7. I struggle with this. On the one hand, I'd prefer to not feel like a blob in my winter coats. On the other hand, I have Canadian winters to deal with, and layering is a must.

    I agree with Drein, the shoulders and hood look good. It seems like the armscye is too low (causing the sleeves to bind) and yes, too much width in the body.

  8. This is why I often trace a pattern, especially an OOP pattern. :)

  9. If the neck is okay then why not remove some of the excess in the front and back along the shoulder line? That way it won't effect the fit of the collar or sleeves. You do it by making a tuck, equal amounts, in the fabric from the center of the shoulder down to the hem in both the front and back pattern piece (or muslin piece).

    Also CF is center front.

  10. I have been so upset about you selling the genie, but photos of it in it's happy new home and actually being used have stopped my pouting.

    silly question: what does OOP mean?

  11. Mom2five, I may try that, thanks.

    OOP = Out of Print.

  12. I totally agree with Mom2five. After that alteration be sure and try it on with the shoulder pads in place. It may or may not need to be taken in a bit at the side seam. It is hard for me to diagnose from pictures. Kinda like ordering fabric online without feeling the fabric. I always marvel at others coming up with a great solution from pictures.
    I do hope this will work out for you. It would be such a beautiful coat.

  13. Don't get discouraged because you have to make more than one muslin - that is why we sew! To get a great fit! Sometimes more than one muslin is required to fine tune the fit. Many of us used to be able to pretty much sew out of the pattern (minor adjustments like the hem) whereas now, I have curves where I used to be flat and flat where I used to curve!

  14. I like a coat to fit with one light layer (a cardigan or light jacket) underneath, because I prefer to do what I can to keep from looking as wide as a house.

    It's funny that something in a vertical stripe would somehow exaggerate (to me at least) how boxy the fit is. You look like you're costumed to be one of the brothers in the cast of Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat..

    This post makes me consider muslins in an entirely new light. Maybe it would be helpful sometimes to do the muslin before even investing in the fashion fabric to avoid heartbreak later. Much harder when you're prone to letting the fabric inspire the garment, but still working from a pattern.

  15. I think your muslin is fitting like the photo on the pattern envelope. It looks like the coat is supposed to have dropped shoulders. (Is that the term for it?) Also, the pattern is described as "loose fit", and that's loose by 1992 standards. I like Mom2five's suggestion for removing some of the extra ease.

    Personally, I like roomy coats. In RTW, I buy winter coats 2 sizes bigger than I would for fitted blazers. I like to wear thick sweaters in the winter and I need a coat to accommodate them. That was one of the things I liked about this pattern - nice and roomy! Modern coats make me feel like an overstuffed sausage. I would be okay with a coat that fit like that red Gloverall coat. Although I may add some waist shaping when I make it up.

  16. I agree the boxy shape of the coat seems to be a style issue, rather than a pattern problem. Of course, if you want a different look, you may have to adept it. However, before you cut out the XS, I'd say take another good look at the first muslin. In the pictures you took, the fit at the shoulder looks about right for a coat and only you, the wearer can judge the fit of the neckline and armscye (and coat armscyes definately need more ease that other garments). By going down a size, you would make those smaller as well. If they, or some of them are right the way they are now, you could taper from S to XS at the point where it's needed (under the armscye, for example)

    As for the fit I prefer for coats, I used to like a fairly fitted princess-line but three years ago, I made an A-line coat, last year I made one which is fitted only at the hip... and every time I think about making another coat now, I think about roomy shapes. Sewing (and designing and making patterns for) all my own outfits means I have a greater diversity of clothes which have to fit under my coat and that means wide is better. Because I draft my own patterns to my own designs, I can plan the fit (with enough muslins, that is), creating room without giving up on style (in my humble opinion). For a lot of RTW coats and store-bought patterns, it seems that 'roomy' often equals 'sack-shaped.

  17. I think 1992-hangover-from-the-80's is the issue, maybe you could look for a 70's duffel coat pattern which would be a neater fit? I like my coats to fit close, unless the design calls for it, but I live in a warm temperate climate so don't need many layers.
    For this one I'd tend to go down to extra small, as the grade will reduce the armscye depth as well as general width. But you really need to look at it on you and assess where it is right/wrong. I think it is definitely worth persisting!

  18. There might well be more room than you need in the upper chest as 1990s patterns were cut to give that inverted triangle look. Before you chop anything, how about pinning in the shoulder pads, then trying it on over a jacket or whatever you would normally wear under it and pinning it closed? That way, you should get a better idea of exactly where you hate it. I prefer the armhole to be cut higher/closer to the body as it limits movement less. If this is what you want, you might have to kludge this pattern together with a 70s one.

  19. It's a generous fitting style in general. You may want it fit enough so that something cold weather fits comfortably underneath. Sweater, or such. I have to disagree with the others, the fit is too large through your shoulders. Then you have to think of the additionals, if you're adding, underlining, lining, facings will bulk the appearance up more. Size it down, it's worth it.

  20. Six machines in one week! What do you possibly have left to sew with? Though I am glad you've given them up to honorable stitchers.

    As for that coat.....I think even an xs would be too big. Holy cow. I like my jackets and coats to fit rather snug. I find it easier to stay warm that way, no drafts you know.

  21. I am a little mad I wasn't paying attention. Because I have been wanting a little Genie for ages now. But, I have two other portable vintage mnachines and should shut my mouth.

  22. I really prefer form fitting coats that show my shape versus the boxy look. It's difficult when shopping though because often when I find a coat that fits my body wonderfully, the sleeves are too short.

  23. Shoulder pads, remember to check the muslin fit wearing the size pads recommended by the pattern. That will raise the lower armscye. The front looks a little big, so try the tuck mom2five suggested. Coats are often layered over heavy garments, take that into account for all your pattern alterations. This will be a striking garment with the wool you have chosen. The horn buttons will be a great accent.

  24. I only have to deal with Australian winters, so I like my coat to be able to fit a long sleeve shirt and a cardigan underneath, but nothing else. So pretty snug overall. Plus I also prefer coats that show my shape rather than hiding it!

  25. I agree with many others. Fit looks good through neck and shoulders and a bit big through the body.

    Pin in the shoulder pads, pin CF (center front) and pin up the hem.
    To me it looks a bit long and I think that may be part of the IT'S HUGE feeling you're getting.
    If it still feels too big try taking 1/2" wider side seams. That will take out some of the extra (2") and also raise the armscye a tiny bit.
    And don't forget you're working with a double layer of fabric when you get to the wool.

  26. I hope you soldier on through this fitting process. The shoulder width looks good to me. There's been some talk of shoulder pads, but I think the addition of the yoke and a couple of strips of your wool sewn over the sleeve cap will give you enough structure. Sweet Edna Bishop will walk you through that! I would mark the front overlap and then continue whittling away at the seams until you get the trim fit you desire. Where's Michael? Round him up and have him put in a few pins for you. Looks like the sleeves could be tapered more. It's gonna be fabulous!

  27. No shoulder pads in the toggle coat -- it's a softer look.


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