Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Finished Project: Closet Case Files - Clare Coat (Tester Version)

I have been dying to talk about this coat project.  If you're a regular reader of this blog, you could probably tell that based on all of the hints that I'd been dropping about a really well-done coat pattern that I tested with really great instructions. Drumroll...it was the Closet Case Files Clare Coat:

Closet Case Files - Clare Coat
Apologies for the crappy lighting here; I took these photos a while back (note the sandals and lack of tights on my legs), early in the morning. I've wanted to re-do this photo shoot, but if you follow weather in the Pacific Northwest at all, you'll know that we've had an awful lot of rain these past few weeks. (I finally snagged ~10 minutes of non-raininess to photography my StyleArc Misty jeans this morning...which I finished over a week ago and have worn several times.)

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:
  1. 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.
  2. 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?
Whether intentional or not, this pattern addresses both of those issues. I feel like Heather was really smart choosing an untailored coat style like this one for her first coat pattern--we dip our toe into things like adding support to the garment, but we don't have to worry about lapels, roll lines, pad stitching, or many of the other things that might make coat-making seem intimidating.

 

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.)
Here are a few details/construction shots of my coat:

Clare Coat - Zipper shield

Clare Coat - Neatly bagged lining

Clare Coat - My awesome welt pockets
I realize that I might sound like a commercial for this pattern, but I wasn't asked to write this. I simply feel very strongly that we need more of this type of pattern and fewer boxy woven t-shirt patterns from the indies. I truly feel like Heather knocked it out of the park with this pattern.

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!

PDF Assembly

 

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.

Lining shot.


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

Pattern Instructions

 

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. 

Final Thoughts

 

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!

46 comments:

  1. Thank you for an in depth review Michelle (and sorry you have to state eleventy times that your thoughts are your own ;-p)

    I already decided that I'm going to buy it. As I said in my post *this* is the kind of distinctive pattern that will totally make me bite on an Indie. It is interesting yet functional and not a 'big honkin project'. Especially if you've sewn a coat before.

    Funnily, before seeing your post I highlighted the reasons I thought this would be good for newbies (raglans, not fitted through waist/hip, etc), but I am also glad to know that it does have good instructions!

    I have a black/white herringbone that I'd like to use for View B but I want view A too and I think it's begging for a pop of color. I have a BRIGHT magenta coat (similar to the view A sample!) but what if I found cobalt wool?!?!? Mmmmm!!!!! Otherwise I'm thinking winter white. Gold zipper. Zippered welts.

    Ahhhhhh.

    Oh. Sorry. Back to the point of this comment (haha!). I really love your version. And I will be taking your advice and getting the printed pattern.

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    1. It's royal blue wool but looks like cobalt to me: http://www.califabrics.com/royal-blue-designer-wool-melton/

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    2. aaaaaand a swatch has been ordered! LOL! Thanks Niema!

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    3. Yes--that was one thing that I loved; the design isn't overly fitted, but it's not really boxy, either. There are panel seams/Dior darts that add shaping in the bust area, and then it flares out to the A-line skirt. So, it's a great coat if you want to concentrate on construction without making up several muslins, first.

      It took me about two weeks to sew, and nearly half of that was spent cutting everything out and interfacing everything.

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  2. Michelle, thanks so much for sharing this review so quickly! I've been waiting in anticipation since you have been dropping hints, and after I saw the release yesterday I was hoping you would share your review quickly so I could get a feel for how it looks on other people. I like view B, I'm not sure if its my DREAM coat, but if it has good instructions and is a design I think I will wear, it seems like a good choice for my first coat project. Plus, I bought some coating last winter that is just begging to be used. I have the lady gray pattern that I bought during some holiday sale last year, but I just haven't been motivated to make it up. With minimal tailoring, raglan sleeves, no buttonholes, and the thumbs up review from you, I think I'm going to go for the Clare!

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    1. Stylewise, it's not my "dream coat" either, but it's a fun coat to throw into my outerwear mix, and I've certainly been wearing it plenty. What was great about this project is that it was a big confidence builder for me. I had mixed feelings about how last year's coat turned out, but with this coat, I feel like I can apply thing things that I learned to future coat patterns.

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    2. Thats really good to know! I'm working on getting up the motivation, though I told myself I would make the SBCC moto jacket first since Betsy just did that sew along. Choices.....

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  3. Looks great! Love the polka dot lining. I've just ordered this and am even more excited after seeing yours.

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  4. Michelle - I'm glad that you were a tester for this coat! Now I know it works for plus size gals. Love your version! And you can get a print copy of the coat - so if you hate pdfs Heather has already taken care of that!

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    1. I'm really glad that she's starting to do print patterns because she tends to do non-basic patterns. I own a couple of her PDF patterns where I (now) wish that paper had been an option when I purchased them (e.g. the Carolyn pajamas and Ginger jeans).

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  5. Nice coat and nice review! Thank you for all the detailed observations. It's a very interesting design and I'm having fun seeing the reviews appear in the blogosphere. I'm noticed right away that you reversed the zipper side and I also noticed that Sew Dixie Lou also reversed the zipper side, and I'm wondering if the instructions are not clear or if it's a design decision. I'm not certain if I'll make this coat (I have several other outwear projects in queue), but it's a fun coat to watch.

    Rose in SV

    Rose in SV

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    1. My zipper reversal was caused by me being distracted by my 3-year-old when I cut out my fabric. :P

      She does call out in the instructions to pay attention, cut your fashion fabric first, etc. But that doesn't really do anyone any good when you barely glance at the cutting layout and just think "I've got this". As a tech writer (for my job), this is the sort of thing that I constantly struggle with.

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  6. Gorgeous coat! Glad to hear a review from a curvy lady, too!

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  7. Your coat looks fabulous. I'm tall and will need to lengthen and I also think I want it to hit closer to my knee. How difficult do you think it would be to add 6-8" in length? Would it still work? Thanks!

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  8. Your coat looks fabulous. I'm tall and will need to lengthen and I also think I want it to hit closer to my knee. How difficult do you think it would be to add 6-8" in length? Would it still work? Thanks!

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    1. I don't it would be too difficult to lengthen--it's just an A-line shape. (For the record, I'm only 5'2" and didn't make any length adjustments to my coat, so if you're tall and want a longer coat, you'll need to lengthen.)

      I think you'd just need to add a few lengthen-shorten lines to the area where you want to add length, then slash and spread the pattern. You'd also need to transfer these changes to the affected lining and interfacing pattern pieces.

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  9. I love your coat! Looks just fabulous on you. :)

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  10. Looks great! I love the splash of color in the lining. Thanks for the review.

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    1. I'm all about the fun linings when I do make something that's lined.

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  11. Gorgeous coat, Michelle! It looks just smashing on you! Thanks so much for posting such an in depth review, as well. You've definitely convinced me to give the Clare (paper pattern! :D ) a shot.

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    1. Thanks! I think it will look great on you!

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    2. The minute I saw this pattern I thought of you and now I see your coat! It's beautiful and I think it suits you. I'm really tempted by this pattern, especially as it comes in a paper version.

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  12. What a great coat! My only complaint here is the amount of grading that I would need to do! But it is soooo cute, and I love a two piece raglan sleeve. I will have to put this in my contemplate for later pile.

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    1. As far as coats go, I don't think this one would be too bad to grade outside of the fact that with the separate lining and interfacing pattern pieces, any changes you make affect a lot of pattern pieces. But, it's a pretty simple shape and doesn't have a ton of seaming.

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  13. I'm totally with you on the gap in the market for non-beginner patterns with detailed instructions. It's been a bugbear if mine for ages! So your observations are very interesting. And you've made a very nice coat too!

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    1. It really drives me nuts. I know that more basic, simple patterns are supposed to be the big sellers, but maybe if people were able to confidently and easily expand their skill sets, the more complicated patterns would sell better? At least, that's my hunch.

      Whether you're a fan of the Ginger jeans or not, I love how that pattern release got a lot of women sewing their own jeans.

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  14. Your coat looks great! I love the tweed fabric you used. I'm really excited about this pattern. I've really needed a new coat for awhile now but was dragging my feet so much about going to the store to shop for one that I wore my tattered coat all last season. But I feel like I can manage this pattern, especially the more minimalist view B. Your pattern review gives me even more confidence. I think I'm going to give Clare a try during my winter break!

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    1. I believe that more testers made View B than View A, so you should start seeing more inspiration pics of that view popping up in the online sewing community. I've seen some fantastic versions already!

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  15. I saw this pattern crop up yesterday and my first thoughts were 'I really, really, REALLY hope Michelle whips one of these babies up!!' I didn't want to fork out the NZ$28 for a pattern untested on us curvy (and shorter) ladies! It looks FABULOUS!

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    1. Thanks! I know that there were other curvy sewists in the testing pool--hopefully, some of them will post their versions, too.

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  16. Soooooo this is the source of the mystery sewing project you alluded to MONTHS ago! =P Maaaaaan, I've been waiting and waiting and waiting to see what that was! Your coat is fantastic! And your dress is too cute! I don't know if I'll bite on the pattern, but I will keep a watchful eye on the SBC.

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    1. Thanks! The dress is actually a Colette Moneta that I made about a year and a half ago. So, as much as I tend to bag on Seamwork, I will admit to getting a lot of wear out of my Moneta.

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  17. Love that coat! I got really turned out when I saw it in fushia. The raglan sleeves and side zipper are the deal maker for me. Thanks for your review--this is definitely a winner.

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    1. Yes, and even with my big boobs and t-rex arms, I can still zip up this side zipper! There are some really cute versions of this coat already popping up around the SBC.

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  18. Hey Michelle, question...I'd asked Heather on IG but since you've made the coat... :)

    How does this view work with the zipper done up partially?? Is it really an "option"? Or does it look best fully zipped?

    Thanks!

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    1. IMO, it looks best fully zipped. I thought it looked weird on me partially zipped, but I'm not sure if that's a function of the coat or of my giant boobs.

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    2. :) Thank you!

      Totally going to sew the other version over my long Christmas break. I have two lovely wool swatches coming to me for this version. They're pricey for me at $18/yd but I'd like a dramatic color for this one!

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  19. Great review, Michelle! As I like to be able to wear my coat open, I'm really considering the other view now!

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  20. Love your coat, Michelle, and your polka dot lining! I am going to bite on this one, for sure. Don't know if I'll get to wear it much, except on vacation! Thanks for the great review.

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  21. Michelle, I love your coat! Thanks for the in depth pattern review, it really helps. Seeing it on a person is extremely helpful. The tweed with the polka dot lining is so lovely.

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  22. You,and your coat look beautiful, already ordered my Clare pattern! Bought a fabulous boiled wool, and satin silk, and even managed to find horsehair lining.... Waiting impatiently for Canada Post,

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  23. do you think it would be easy enough to use the B sleeve on view A? i want my wrists covered for warmth. or would it require a lot of redrafting?

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  24. Hi, researching this coat pattern but got totally distracted by your cute sandals! What brand are they? Your coat looks great too- been eyeing this pattern for a long while.

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