Wednesday, December 3, 2014

In Progress (part 1): Simplicity 1254 - Leanne Marshall coat

As I know I mentioned in a previous post, I put aside my other two in-progress projects to jump on the Simplicity Leanne Marshall coat bandwagon. My muslin is well underway, and while I wouldn't normally post a progress post this early in a project, I know that a lot of others are working on this coat right now, and I wanted to share how the fit was going in my muslin, in case it helps anyone else out.

The Fabric

First up, though, here's the fabric and lining that I'm using for my coat. Apologies for the somewhat dark-ish photo, but as blog followers, you've probably picked up on the fact that A) I'm a crappy photographer who just uses an iPhone camera and B) the lighting in my sewing room (outside of the Ott lamp at my sewing desk) is crap.

Fabric for my Leanne Marshall coat...squeee!
The color is hard to see here, but the fabric on the left is a gorgeous wool flannel in a peacock/turquoise-ish blue that I bought from (the now closed) Fashionista Fabrics a few years ago. Melody told me that there's some cashmere blended in there, and I believe it. This fabric is SUPER soft. I've been waiting for the perfect pattern for this coating (and in reality, probably, to finally live in a climate where I wear coats), and I'm both super nervous and super excited to finally have a wearable garment from this.

The fabric on the right, of course, is my lining fabric. It's a poly charmeuse that I purchased during a recent sale at Gorgeous Fabrics. It looks like there's still 3 yards left, if you're interested.

I also purchased interlining (not shown) from Gorgeous Fabrics. It's supposed to be similar to thinsulate, but can be washed, dry-cleaned, etc. I will be underlining the lining with this fabric.

Why is this coat labeled "easy"?

I've seen some comments online wondering why Simplicity chose to mark this coat as "easy", especially since the zipper instructions are not supposed to be good. I've only worked through one side of the zipper so far in my muslin (they split up the process of doing each half), and while they don't produce the most professional-looking zipper as written (there's no facing/shield, as drafted), I didn't find the first half particularly confusing. In any case, I can see why this coat is labeled "easy", compared to other coat patterns:
  • There aren't a lot of pattern pieces. It's basically the equivalent of sewing a lined, princess seamed dress.
  • Inserting that zipper, even with possibly confusing instructions, is going to be way easier than either trying to do machine buttonholes on wool coating or attempting bound buttonholes.
  • The hood/collar is pretty straightforward and is easier to attach than, say, doing a notched lapel collar, like on other coat styles.
Once I get the whole zipper inserted, I'm going to try to figure out how to add a facing and shield so that the zipper tape is nicely sandwiched in my wool in my final coat. Cathy on Pattern Review made this change, and I'll likely do the same for my coat. I think it looks nicer.

Preliminary Fitting Notes

I decided to muslin the whole coat. I've gotten burned in the past by not muslining sleeves, so I will be muslining both of those, too. I've found that you can't truly get a read on your arm mobility until you've got both sleeves in. I'm also going to muslin a single layer version of the hood/collar, just in case it looks horrible on me, in which case I'll scrap this coat and move onto a different pattern. So far, I have the muslin shell sewn up, and the sleeves sewn but not inserted.

Here are my fitting notes, based on my partial muslin:
  • I used my own "standard" Big 4 adjustments as a starting point (FBA, broad back, petiting everything by 2 1/2", "just in case" 1" seam allowances on the sleeves).
  • I have one half of the zipper inserted, as I've been following the instructions as written. Right now, my fitting observations are based on pinning the coat closed at the CF, but I don't expect them to change much.
  • The bodice fits, as expected through the shoulders, bust, waist, and butt. My high bust measurement (43") puts me between a Big 4 20 and 22, so given that this was a coat, I went with the larger size as my base size (22).
  • As the first few reviews/posts for this pattern have indicated, there's more room through the hips on this coat than the line drawings/pattern photos indicate. On my muslin, it has almost a fit-and-flare shape. I think kinda like it like this, but I think I'm going to take the hips in a bit on my muslin because although I like the look, it's not what I was going for with this pattern. I'm not sure if I'll be taking in just the front princess seams through the hips, or the side ones, too. I do need the extra room going over my big butt in back, though. The hem is actually hanging completely level, and I don't want to mess with that.
  • Pattern length for the coat body runs as expected. My 2.5" petite adjustment will put the coat hem at a similar place on me as it is on the pattern photo for the coat view. Right now, it's just above the knees, but I suspect that with a 1.5" hem, as called for, it'll wind up pretty close to lower-mid thigh, like on the model.
  • The sleeve, on the other hand, looks like it's going to run short and snug. Just from eyeballing it, I decided to only shorten it 2", instead of 2.5", and after sliding the muslin sleeve onto my arm, I suspect that I'll be adding most, if not all, of that length back on. My "just in case" extra large seam allowances aren't going to cut it here, either, if I wear this over anything long sleeved or with any bulk. I'll be doing a slash-and-spread full bicep adjustment before I cut my fabric. Unless you have slender arms, I highly recommend muslining the sleeve for this pattern.
If you're working on this coat, I hope that you find my observations useful in figuring out what adjustments you may or may not need. I hope to get my muslin finished/tweaked over the next few days, and will get photos over the weekend (the only time that I'm home when there's actually light outside for photos), so that you can start to get an idea of how this coat looks on a plus sized body.


  1. Hey Michelle,
    I just finished muslining this pattern too and my adjustments are almost identical to yours, I didn't think to sew up the hood though. Good Luck! I cannot wait to see your coat.

    1. Thanks! I'm looking forward to seeing your coat, as well.

  2. Thank you for your notes & observations. I plan on making this coat since I love it as well!
    Good that you mentioned that there are no seperate facing pieces for the zipper. I had the same 'issue' with the last coat I made and I find it quite frustrating to get it zipped up. So I will be drafting my own facings.
    Also thank you for mentioning the shape in your muslin. I find it very annoying when line drawings differ so much from the actual finished garment. It's good to know that there is a lot more ease in the hips for picking a size.
    Reading your blogpost I'm quite sure I'll be making a muslin as well!

    1. The hips really don't look bad, and I suspect that taking them in a touch will change the shape to be more like the photo. I did want to mention it, though, because I suspect that pear-shapes who usually go up a size or two at the hips will likely be able to get away without doing so on this coat.

  3. Thanks, Michelle. This is really helpful! Going over the instructions I was not impressed by the zipper insertion but that can be changed. Your observation about the fit comes as a surprise. Call me naive but I'm never prepared for patterns that don't resemble the line drawings. I should know better ;)

    1. I wouldn't normally have muslined a zipper (I usually just pin the CF closed), but hearing about the zipper on this pattern made me change my mind. I figured that if I worked through it on my own first, I'd be able to figure out how to change it to get it the way I wanted in my "real" version.

  4. Really looking forward to seeing the completed jacket.

  5. Thanks so much for sharing your observations. I too plan on making this coat and hope it comes together nicely. I have never done a seperating zipper before- so this is way out of my comfort zone. I also have large biceps so will definitely be adjusting that area also.

    1. I haven't found separating zippers to be any more difficult than regular zippers. You just need to make sure that everything lines up so that one side of your hem doesn't end up looking shorter than the other side.

  6. I have always said that sewing in the sleeve is needed on a bodice. As you said, you can't get a complete idea of the fit without seeing how the sleeves affect the bodice.

    I am surprised that this coat has such narrow sleeves. Thanks for sharing your preliminary results.

    1. I re-sewed the sleeve seams with a 1/4" seam allowance last night, and the extra ~1" that gave me helped quite a bit. I may still opt to do a slash-and-spread full bicep adjustment on them, but I'll determine that once I actually get the sleeves set into the shell.

  7. All very interesting! The pattern is on backorder but is meant to be shipped soon so I'm looking forward to getting mine :) I think it's going to need a hefty FBA for me unless there's a lot of ease in the chest, but luckily I've done them before. (Understatement Of The Year)

    1. If you look at the finished garment measurements, there's 3.5" of ease drafted into the bust. I suspect that this number is fairly accurate. I know that coats are supposed to have at least 5" of ease through the bust, so yeah, you might need to add more above your usual FBA. What I did, to spread things out a bit, was do a 3" FBA (for 6" of ease) and then a 1" broad back adjustment (I typically need BBA in wovens, and the resulting shoulder dart helps with fit), and then cut larger "just in case" seam allowances on my muslin. From pin-fitting the CF, I think it's going to work just fine, but we'll see if there's any pulling once I get the second half of the zipper installed.