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How I sewed a Winter coat with zipper

How I sewed a Winter coat with zipper

Continuing my determination to have a whole wardrobe of coats to choose from I made yet another one this time with a zipper closure.
This one was not the easiest garment to make but I will explain why as we go along.
The machines and tools are from and the fabric is from MinervaCrafts. The pattern is Simplicity 1254.

I love coats and I wanted a choice to wear instead of just having one for best and one for cold winter days shopping. So I have made several.
This time I wanted to explore making a coat with a zipper. The last two coats I made have included poppers - note I have not been using buttons and buttonholes.

The pattern is Simplicity, buy it here from Simplicity 1254
The metal open end zipper is also from Jaycotts Brass open end zipper You do need to choose a substantial zip and a metal one is better in this instance.
The material I chose was from MinervaCrafts but sadly it is now sold out. However I had a lot of problems making up this design because the fabric was far too heavy and pulled the garment out of shape making construction and fitting difficult.
It also frays a lot and I wished that I had overlocked every piece before making up, this would also have helped to keep the pieces in shape.
Better choices would be a lighter weight suiting, take a look at the fabrics in this section there are lots of choices Suitings
Or a needlecord, again there are a lot of choices here Needlecord The pattern envelope has other choices but just make sure that you do not choose a fabric which is too heavy. If in doubt give MinervaCrafts a ring and they will help you to choose the best fabric for this pattern, contact details below.

On a heavy fabric with a raised pattern you need to use Tailors Tacks to mark the position of matching points, darts and all other markings. For this you need to use an actual tacking thread .Tacking thread is pure cotton and stays put until you pull it out.
Tacking thread  once you have used the real thing you will never make tailors tacks with ordinary sewing cotton again.
You will need a selection of pins. For this project you need longer glass headed pins so that you can see them easily see the choice here  Pins
I prefer a magnetic pin cushion Magnetic pin cushion  Both available from Jaycotts on the links shown.

Another product I love are these Wonder Clips they are fabulous for holding thick fabrics together whilst you sew. Wonder Clips They are fairly expensive, but you can purchase small packs, they last for ages and ages and have so many uses you will wonder how you managed to live without them.

These are my Tailors Tacks being divided so that the markings are seen in both parts of the fabric. By the way these are fabulous scissors. they are small and pointed and have a built in seam ripper.Take a look Fiskars scissors  in fact take a look at the Fiskars range available from Jaycotts, it includes a scissor sharpener which I do recommend as I use it myself to sharpen my Fiskars scissor collection. Fiskars scissor range. I also use the soft grip scissors and I you can look at those too in  the same link.

The only time I used a vanishing marker pen Marker pens was to mark the zip and fold line positions on the interfacing .
I use a woven iron on interfacing as it supports the weight of a fabric and gives a nice smooth finish to tailored or semi-tailored garments . At one time i would hand sew woven interfacings into garments by hand and it took weeks. I do think that the traditional methods are fabulous and I still have some of my hand tailored garments but I just don't have the itinerary of other ability to do it any more. This interfacing is the best compromise I have come across.

My advice to you is to follow the pattern instructions to the letter because although the pattern claims to be easy I found it rather challenging.
The other problem was that because my fabric was too heavy it pulled the coat down reducing the width at the bust and waist. this became evident when I came to fix the lining in place.
Please if you do make this coat in a heavy fabric then do not hang it up on a coat hanger or a tailors dummy until you have put the lining in. It WILL stretch out of shape it you do. It is better to lay it flat somewhere.

This is the coat before the collar goes in. The lining is already in place but not affixed at the neckline yet. Can you see that the fabric is fraying already?
I am now ready  to put the collar in which was easy enough to join together. I used a medium weight non woven interfacing in the collar because I wanted to retain some softness and in any case I could not afford the extra weight which the woven interfacing would have given me.
This is where the pattern becomes tricky!

Read through the instructions a couple of times until you understand them fully. It does make sense once you start to insert the collar, but at first it all seems confusing.
It seemed odd inserting the lining at the sides and sleeves and leaving the top and bottom open, but I soon realised that there was no other way to put the collar in.

I had a few fitting issues mainly I feel because of the weight of the fabric plus interfacing plus lining was just too much, I wished I had chosen a simpler pattern for this fabric .The skirt has a bit of width to it and it has several panels which were all starting to fray the more I worked with it. The weight pulled the coat down and narrowed the bust point so I needed to make some adjustments. Note, had I clipped into the seams at the notches instead of using tailor tacks I would not have been able to let the seams out!
When I was cutting the lining out I added extra at the back anyway - I always add extra ease to the back of a jacket or coat and form a pleat  so that the lining does not pull during wear. I was glad of this extra fabric!

So, after much pondering, re-cutting , re-stitching and a few tears of frustration, not to mention a day shoved to the back of a cupboard out of site I finally got it together!

I actually think it is a fabulous coat. The huge collar - which fastens with a large popper adds interest and cocoons the neck in cold wintry weather.
I did remove some fullness from the skirt but it still swings out which again I love.

The fastener is a zipper and it was very easy to insert so no buttonholes to make
All in all, eventually I am really happy with this coat. I have to admit I found it a huge challenge but perseverance paid off.

Now then what on earth am I going to make with this huge pile of the same fabric? The bottom piece is the reverse side which I quite like. Any ideas???

Thank you to  for my machines, tools and accessories. Contact them here for any questions or for advice on their products.Contact Jaycotts

Thank you to Minerva Crafts for the fabric. Please contact them here and they will advise you on the best fabric for your garment  Minerva Crafts

I hope that the three coats I have made so far will inspire you to make one (at least one!) For yourself. Think of the saving compared to shop bought and also, nobody else will own one quite like yours
Angela x
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