I’m BACK, guys!
Did you all enjoy the husbeasts’ guest post last week? I did, and although he says that ‘he’s not very good at writing blog posts’ I actually think that he is and it was bloody funny. My favourite bit was the sad-looking Christmas tree ? (but in reality, he still doesn’t even have one bauble completed so there is a legit chance our tree is gonna look like that ?)
I’ll try my hardest to get him to write for the blog more regularly – he’s not got much of a fabric stash going on which might be stalling the makes a little… we’re off to NYC again early next year so I will definitely be encouraging him to buy whatever takes his fancy ? Hopefully this will translate into more blog posts from him next year! ??
We’ve been super crazy these last few weeks – with work, life, and more work (and not much life, lol). We’ve held stalls at a fair few markets this year – which is something that we only dabbled in last year – and they seem to be pretty successful on the whole. We have had a couple of not-so-successful ones, but I guess you win some and lose some ??♀️ At the time you will likely be reading this, we will be on our way to another Christmas craft market – send good vibes our way please! ?
But in the meantime, I’ve got my second version of the Republique Du Chiffon Gerard coat to present to you ??
I was really pleased with my first version – I used a tapestry jacquard fabric from Stoff & Stil with a suuuuper warm quilted lining. It was the first time I’d used a quilted lining, but I’m sold. I’ve already got some more lined up for another bomber jacket for the husband ?? I mean, I’d prefer it not to be polyester – obvs – but unless I want to sit there quilting silk (which, just for clarification, I don’t), I’m not sure I have much choice. I mean, sure, this coat makes me look like the Michelin man, but it’s SO warm (and just happens to coordinate perfectly with my pink hat) ?
I made that coat quite some time ago (at the end of 2017! ?) but immediately started planning the next version – and in true ‘me’ style it took me like over a year to make it. In my head, I saw jacquard fabric being used again, but this time it was some luxurious pattern with at least a little bit of gold in it… ?✨
I chose this beautiful Indian banarasi fabric from The DelhiStore on Etsy – one that had been in my favourites list for a very long time. I’d originally earmarked it for the panels of my Yaya Han godet coat, but didn’t go for it because of the price – it was pretty spendy ? I’m actually glad I didn’t choose that fabric – because it would have been too close a shade to the rest of the coat in the end – but ??♀️
While browsing online for fabric to pass the time – as you do ? – I saw that the seller had 15% off their store and my coveted fabric along with it. The idea started to formulate in my head to make that second Gerard out of it.
It was sold.
When the fabric arrived, the colours weren’t *totally* as I expected – it was more purple than the expected magenta – but it was fine. I wasn’t coordinating or matching with anything so it didn’t bother me. It was still beautiful ?
I had ordered two and a half yards of the fabric, and hoped that it would be enough – I had two and a half yards of the Stof and Stil fabric that I made the last Gerard from, and had some leftover (even after recutting the collar, when I buggered it up) so I figured the same amount would be enough. WRONG. I was merrily cutting out the pieces when I looked at the template for the front facing which I was still to cut. NO WAY was this going to fit on the fabric I had left, even before I’d cut out the sleeves. After cutting the sleeves, there was no chance. This fabric was much narrower than the Stoff and Stil fabric I’d used previously – such a rookie mistake not to have checked that ??♀️
So I put the as-yet uncut templates for the front facing, hem facings and back neck facings to one side and pondered my options.
I could buy more of the fabric – but at quite a cost. It’d already cost me £55 in total for the two and a half yards that I had. And even if I did choose to buy more, it would take a fair few days to get here from India – which would hold up the process. When I get into something, I do not tolerate hold ups very well ? Or, I could embrace a contrast facing so that when the collar and lapels of the coat are turned out, they were a different fabric. But what fabric? Satin? Possibly too shiny. A different brocade fabric? Hmm, maybe too clashy. And do I want brocade on the inside of a coat? What if I catch jewellery on it? DRAMAS. ??♀️
I decided to head down the contrast fabric road, and would do the welt pockets in that fabric as well to make it look deliberate and not like I’d ran out of fabric…
Not wanting to spend even more money on fabric for this already pretty spendy coat, I started looking at satin because it was cheapest. A not-too-shiny purple satin would look nice on the lapels, I thought, but choosing fabric online is a tricky beast when you’re trying to colour match with something else. I went for one metre of a purple polyester satin, which looked like it might coordinate relatively well with the main fabric. When it arrived, the disappointment hit. Not only was it a Cadburys-purple kind of colour (ewww), but it was the worst fabric I’d ever felt in my life. It was SO plastic-y and stiff. I can’t even imagine wearing anything made from this fabric – they just shouldn’t even bother producing it. I literally threw it in the bin, it wasn’t fit for anything else. It cost just a couple of pounds, which honestly should have rang alarm bells… never again will I make this mistake.
Determined (really determined this time) not to spend anything more (especially now I’d wasted money on that awful satin), I went digging around in the boxes at home. The husbeast was stashing a couple of metres of some purple velvet that he picked up at the Sewing Bee Live Show, which I had promised to sew up into a velvet coat for him (I think it was on my 2018 make nine?! And is still there lol ??), but still hadn’t touched. I delicately approached him and enquired as to whether it would be acceptable to him if I stole a bit of it (just a small bit!) for the facings of my Gerard. He agreed ☺️?
The velvet coordinated WAY better with the other fabrics than the satin, so it was meant to be ?
I got to work.
I used to swear by sew-in interfacing over iron-on, especially for things like shirts that were gonna be seeing the washing machine a lot – because I’m damn sure that glue disintegrates eventually. I used sew-in for *everything* though – EV-ER-Y-THING – and in hindsight, I actually think that iron-on is actually the way to go for coats and other big garments that aren’t going to get washed on the reg. It’s much easier to apply, and if you buy the good Vilene stuff rather than the suuuuuper cheap eBay specials (yep, been there, done that, regretted it), it’s actually pretty good.
When I made this coat, I was still using the sew-in stuff and it took me AGES to affix it to each piece ?
Oh, and yeah I had to overlock the edges of EVERY. SINGLE. PIECE. too because fraying ?
Sewing the Gerard is *relatively* straightforward – there aren’t too many small, fiddly bits – but the collar can prove a little tricky if you’ve not had much experience of sewing that kind of thing though. It’s a basic design with no frills. But it will give you good practice at sewing welts!
Talking of welts…
For whatever reason, my welts don’t cover the facings precisely. There’s a gap of a couple mm at the top… which is extremely bloody frustrating as I’m sure I got them spot-on on the first Gerard I made ? It bothers me probably more than it should… but OMFG… look at the bloody state of it ?
The dog probably sensed the levels of emosh-ness going on, because he came over to provide moral support in the best way he knows how – by standing right underneath the ironing board ?
I’m sure there must be a better way to attach the pocket bags than the instructions give you, because it’s an almighty FAFF. Now I may have done something wrong or stitched a bit further than I should have done, but I’m left trying to attach the edge of the pocket bag onto a sliver of the pocket facing. For both pockets, I had to bodge them by hand and then machine stitch as best I could, because it was awkward to get it through the machine as I was working with so little fabric. The instructions are, I think, translated from French, and although they’re pretty good, sometimes there can be a bit of a WTF moment ?
I also think there’s something funky going on with the size of the pocket bags… I know I used 5/8 seam allowance when the recommended is 1cm (my tracing wheel only does 5/8 and there ain’t no way I’m adding on the 1cm by hand) but I *thought* I adjusted the other pieces for this too. Maybe I didn’t. The pocket bags just seem really huge in comparison to the length of the facing you’re attaching them to, so maybe I need to double-check the pattern instruction to make sure I am actually meant to add seam allowance to them ??
The method they give you for attaching the lining to the main coat body does actually give a *really* clean finish at the cuffs and the back facing (you turn the coat the right way out through a hole in the sleeve lining), but it doesn’t allow you to understitch the facings so that they don’t roll out to the front. I had this problem on my first Gerard, which I “solved” (botched) by basically topstitching all around the edges.
I didn’t want to do that on this one, so I took the approach of hand stitching a nice little row of running stitch along the edges of the velvet to hold everything together instead. I did consider using a gold thread for contrast, but then remembered that I’d need to keep a nice and even stitch for that to look good – and I’ve overestimated my skills in the past. So instead I chose a purple thread, as closely matched to the velvet as I could find in my thread box, and went for it.
To my surprise (and delight), the running stitches actually sank into the velvet, meaning you couldn’t even see them. So instead of a line of running stitches, I’ve got a line of little indents – which I’m cool with. They do the job of keeping the facings in place, so I’m happy. What I would have preferred though is a better-designed pattern that made sure you didn’t actually have to do this ??♀️
Look – you can’t even see the stitches ? #winning ??
I remember that the last time I made the Gerard, I almost gave up on it over their method of sewing the sleeve lining to the cuff. They very helpfully refer you to an online tutorial in the instructions, but what you don’t find out until you eventually find this elusive tutorial is that IT’S ALL IN FRENCH. Thanks, that’s really helpful to the people that have bought the English version of the pattern because THEY DON’T SPEAK FRENCH. ? The pictures do make some sort of sense, and once you’ve done it a couple of times it does become a hell of a lot clearer, but it is an absolute mind-fuck to begin with ?
I probably should have continued the velvet along the collar, but didn’t want to steal too much of the husbeast’s precious fabric. I also probably should have made the effort to do bound buttonholes down the front, because I can’t help feeling that it looks a bit crappy ???♀️
Sewing machine buttonholes on shifty velvet: NOT FUN ?
This was my first time sewing with velvet, and I can confirm that it was NOT enjoyable. It took me two attempts to sew a cotton label to the inside in a straight-ish position and it’s still a shambles. I couldn’t bring myself to have a third attempt. The velvet pile sends anything put on top of it all over the show – it’s worse than silk! I can 100% say I am totally not looking forward to sewing the husbeast’s promised jacket with the remains of the velvet. Yes, the finished item will probably look amazing (and feel amazing fo sho) but it’ll be a bastard to sew it. You can’t even press it with the iron because it leaves marks. (Ask me how I know that ?)
But, I made it to the end. The coat was finished.
I do really like the shape of the Gerard – the welt pockets give it that hint of masculinity that’s probably what drew me to this pattern. BUT – my hips don’t really gel well with the low-down button closure, and turns out the masculine shape to the coat doesn’t like my hips either. The coat is super tight around my bum, and very baggy around the waist. I may like the shape of the coat, but it seems the coat doesn’t like my shape.
It’s also a bit of an unsatisfying sew if I’m honest – having just completed putting the finishing touches on my uber-complex vintage Dior coat, this coat seems a bit dull in comparison. As in, it’s a bit of a boring make. Now it’s had some wear, I can see that the fabric hasn’t held up too well – it’s very bobbled and plucked, and looks a bit of a state. In hindsight, the fabric – while pretty – isn’t really up to outerwear in terms of thickness or durability. It was perhaps better suited to lighter use, special occasion wear. Lesson learned, I guess.
It’s a good jacket to wear when it’s milder weather though (so I don’t have to fasten the buttons) and although it’s a bit more of a ‘casual jacket’ rather than a coat because of the drape, I can still find a place for it in my wardrobe. I mean, I *could* grade up a couple of sizes at the hips, but I feel like I’d really be heading into ‘sack’ territory then. I’ve got plenty of other coat patterns that I want to try (and indeed some that I’ve already sewn that fit me well), so I’ll move on without losing any sleep over it.
Tbh I can’t actually afford to lose sleep on anything at the moment – we’re so busy with the market stalls, the Christmas orders, our actual jobs plus I’m on a four-day intensive training course all next week… I am gonna be rolling out of bed every day like:
Give me the coffee and no one gets hurt. I can’t wait for the Christmas break when for two solid weeks I get to wear my sweatpants, not brush my hair and eat Quality Street for breakfast.
BRING. IT. ON.
You guys planning on doing any sewing over the Xmas break? I am – just need to choose my projects! A Fennel Fanny Pack for sure, but at this point in time, literally anything could happen ?
See ya next week✌?
Next week on the blog – I’m continuing my Thread Theory fan-girl-ness with their Goldstream Peacoat. Basically, I’ll probably just work my way through all their patterns until the husbeast has one of everything ? Subscribe below to have the post drop straight into your inbox! ??