|Closet Case Files - Clare Coat|
First off, let's get a couple of things out of the way. Yes, I pattern tested this coat and therefore received the pattern for free. However, I wasn't asked to blog about this pattern and all of the opinions that I express are mine, blah, blah, blah. And I'm just going to be blunt here; I love this coat. I loved working on this coat, and I'm really happy with how it turned out.
|Clare Coat - Side with Zipper|
Now let me go on a mini-rant: In blog posts and in the comments sections on other people's blogs, I have two pet peeves that I lament on a semi-regular basis:
- The lack of details in the instructions for commercial coat sewing patterns. I found this horribly frustrating last year when I sewed my first coat. As a newbie coat sewist, you don't know what you don't know. The Big 4 patterns that I've looked over typically tell you to interface the collar and the facings, and that's about it. There's nothing about back stays, interfacing the hem, or adding interfacing anywhere else that might give your coat the structure that it needs to actually look good. (When I look at the coat I sewed last year, I suspect that it would have benefited greatly from an interfaced hem...which I didn't do because I didn't know that I should do it.) We can cobble together tips from books and online sources, but I had yet to see a pattern that actually walks you through the process of making a coat.
- So many indie patterns are really basic and beginner-oriented. When you look to the brands that carry more detailed and more advanced patterns (e.g. StyleArc, BurdaStyle), the instructions often leave something to be desired. Where are the Intermediate or Intermediate-to-Advanced patterns with the detailed instructions that could help a sewist advance her skills?
But it's $18!
I know that a lot of you are interested in this pattern but probably want to hear more about it before pulling the trigger. I've already seen a few comments online expressing hesitation at the price ($18 USD).
|CCF - Clare Coat|
IMO, if you like the style of the coat, this pattern is totally worth the $18 investment. And while I technically received the pattern for free, I kind of freaked out over the number of pages to print/tape in the standard PDF version and wound up taking it to a copy shop. So yeah, I've already paid over $18 for this pattern (and will be receiving a free copy of the print pattern), and I'm totally fine with that. Here's what you get for your $18:
- Two distinctly different coat views. The two views do share a few pattern pieces, but where the views diverge (other than length), you get separate pieces.
- Separate lining pieces. None of this having to remember to take an inch off the bottom of the bodice pieces, etc. It's done for you.
- Separate INTERFACING pieces. Yes, you read that correctly. This pattern includes separate interfacing pieces for the coat front, shoulders, zipper area, hem, etc.
- Two-piece raglan sleeves. Yay!
- Really great instructions. Constructing this coat was a joy. If you're looking to expand your skill set, View A (the one with the zipper) includes clear instructions for constructing welt pockets, when and where to grade/clip your seams, inserting an exposed zipper with a zipper shield, and bagging your lining. (View B is a bit simpler, so if you don't want to tackle those detail, you don't have to, and you'll still get a nice-looking coat.)
|Clare Coat - Zipper shield|
|Clare Coat - Neatly bagged lining|
|Clare Coat - My awesome welt pockets|
On a side note, Heather gave us the choice of sewing View B or View A for testing. I was completely torn as to which view I wanted to make (really liking both views is a big reason why I threw my hat in the ring for testing on this one). I ended up going with View A because I decided that I really liked the zipper and also wanted to try out the welt pocket instructions.
Fabric and Notions Used
I used the following fabric and notions for my coat:
- Shell: Wool tweed coating from my stash, originally purchased from (now-closed) Fashionista Fabrics. It's quite warm but also quite bulky. This fabric had been sitting waiting in my stash for me to tackle a coat without a ton of seaming, and it felt like a great match for this pattern.
- Lining: Poly charmeuse purchased years ago from Gorgeous Fabrics.
- Interfacing: Medium-weft fusible interfacing from Fashion Sewing Supply.
- Zipper: Custom-shortened separating zipper from Zipperstop. (Pattern testers were given a fair amount of lead time on this coat to source supplies, and I wanted to use a nice zipper.)
|Check out my sweet zipper!|
The test version of the pattern had 80 pages to tape and assemble. (Note that not all pages were used for all views.) I saw that and promptly sent my pattern to a copy shop to have it printed. The copy shop version printed without issue.
Unless shipping is a major concern or you love taping PDF patterns, you'll probably want to pay a few dollars extra and go for the print version of this pattern.
Pattern Drafting, Sizing, and Alterations
This pattern is available in Closet Case Files sizes 0-20, ranging from a 31" bust/33" hip (79cm/84cm) to a 46" bust/48" hip (117cm/122cm). I'm a little outside of the size range but wanted to keep my pattern alterations to a minimum, so I sewed a size 20 and added a touch to the size 20 seam allowances throughout the body of the coat. I'm actually really happy with the final amount of ease in my coat, but it is riding up a little in front, indicating that I probably should have done some sort of length-only FBA. (This is to be expected, considering my very large bust.)
You can see that it gets slightly hung up on my rear high hip in back, but that's an easy fit issue to fix in future versions.
|Clare Coat - back view|
I really like the ease-of-movement that I get from the two-piece raglan sleeves. I did not need to do a full bicep adjustment on this pattern, so that was nice. I can easily drive and take my laptop bag on and off this coat without feeling like my movement is restricted.
I found the pattern to be very well-drafted. There was a small error in one of the sleeve lining pieces that the testers caught, but that is supposed to be corrected for the final version. You might notice a slight twist in my raglan sleeve in some shots--this was also corrected for the final pattern. In addition to the sleeve, Heather altered the draft of the collar piece in View A from the test version so that the collar would stand up better.
You might notice that I reversed the side of the coat where the zipper opening is. That's due to a combination of user error (I cut one of my pieces wrong) and personal preference (for asymmetric things, I prefer to have the opening on the right side because I'm right-handed).
Another alteration I did was to add a coat loop at the back so that I could easily hang the coat up on our rack at work:
|My added coat loop|
The instructions for this pattern are pretty great; I found them to include just-the-right-amount of detail for a newbie coat sewist. They tell you "sew the bust darts" without holding your hand (I'd assume that if you're sewing a coat, you know how to sew darts) but then go into detail on sewing the welt pockets and bagging the coat lining.
Can you tell that I love this pattern? I realize that the style isn't for everyone. Yes, a more open neckline would "suit" my large/large-busted figure more than View A's neckline zipper, but I don't care; I like it. And if I want to break up the large expanse of fabric, all I have to do is throw a scarf around my neck. Problem solved. Would I sew it again? I don't need another version of View A, given that it's pretty distinctive, but I would like to sew View B, which I think is really cute, too. I love the idea of doing View B in a bright color (like Heather's sample of View A), so I think I'll keep an eye out for an appropriate wool for that version.
So that's my take on the tester version of the Clare Coat. Feel free to ask me any questions in the comments section!