Part 3: The actual coat. Sort of.
So here’s Kitty’s winter coat, the end product of all that pattern drafting and testing. Whee! I got it done! For a given value of done, anyway, as I shall explain.
I feel like it came out as a camo block that makes me look like the Abominable Snow(wo)man hunting snow moose. But by golly, it’s warm! Well, it’s super-warm most of the time (more on this later).
When the photos were taken, it was several degrees below zero in the snow, with extra windchill. My fingers, feet and face were freezing, but my torso was completely cozy.
The coat looks like it might be too big on me, but it isn’t really, since I want to be able to layer a sweater or two under it when the weather turns even colder. Right now, it’s roomy, but not so it lets in too much cold air.
I included all the features I sketched out in my original design — the back and front shoulder storm capes, the funnel collar (to which I added a cross-over front and snaps), big patch pockets, back waist tab, and a full lining.
Weird and Bumpy – As it should Be
By the way, you might have noticed that the front of the coat looks all weird and bumpy when laid on a table and not being worn. That’s exactly as it should be; those bumps are the spaces that will house my not-precisely-modest bosom when it’s actually on me.
Here’s some wisdom from your elderly Aunt Kitty: fitted, non-stretchy clothes for large-busted women should always look wonky (!) when they’re on the hanger or lying flat, with bits that stick up or out. They should not neatly fold flat the way a man’s shirt does (think of it like folding a fitted sheet versus a flat sheet — you have 3-dimensional bits that need accommodating too). Clothes that lie or hang totally flat will NOT do your curves any favours when they’re actually on your body.
On Rory, you can see how the bumps and wrinkles disappear, magically transforming into a smooth fit over the chest and gently nipping in at the waist.
What You Don’t See
You know what you DON’T see? Those awful armhole wrinkles, or the straining across the chest, which you get when you try on clothes that don’t have any bust shaping. (If you want some pictures of what I’m going on about, you can look here.)
The curves built into the bust and back areas also means that I can lift my arms and reach forward without feeling like the armholes are binding. I could get into a snowball fight in this coat and never have any trouble lobbing overhand missiles.
The sleeves are hanging funny because Rory doesn’t have arms to fill them out. But they’re made in two pieces with a seam running over the shoulders and all the way down to the wrist, creating a contoured fit that follows the bend of the arm. It also makes enough room for my manly biceps, especially over several layers of shirt and sweater sleeves.
You can’t see it, but the entire body of the coat is interlined with fleece, meaning there’s a whole other coat sandwiched between the outside and the lining. This adds a good whack of bulk, but that’s fine by me. I’m far more interested in staying comfy in the chill than in looking svelte.
All in all, I think it’s a reasonable first effort at a proper winter coat. However, there are some things I’m not quite happy with.
First, the fabric. It’s a lovely heavy cotton twill with a good amount of body and breathability — but as it turns out, cotton also gets waterlogged in wet weather. When I got home from the snowy walk, I was soaked from all the melted flakes. Unlike, say, wool, cotton loses all its insulating properties when wet, and goes clammy and cold. I knew all this before I started, so I have no excuses. It was just a dum-dum moment.
Next, the snaps. They’re proper industrial-strength outerwear-weight snaps. That’s not a bad thing, per se. Unfortunately, I have tiny little kitty paws (the only delicate parts of me!) and I can hardly get them done and undone by myself. Seriously, you could use these snaps to close straitjackets. I need to try an easier alternative.
Finally, the storm cape/flaps. Somehow I don’t fancy them as much as I thought I would. On me, these details look not so much ruggedly outdoorsy as accidental, like I caught some fabric remnants in my stitching by mistake. I’ve often observed that simpler lines just work better on me. Much as I covet ruffles, flounces, bows, and all the extra details I admire on other people, I just can’t seem to pull them off.
And the Ugly
The really ugly part is that if I want a coat I’m genuinely happy with, I’m going to have to do this all over again.
Well, not ALL over again. I’m pretty pleased with the general design (sans some details) and fit, so I won’t need to alter the pattern, which is something. But I WILL need to make a whole ‘nother coat.
Cutting, stitching, pressing, and finishing 50-plus pieces of fabric yet again feels a little daunting, to say the least. But it’s got to be done. And if it were done when ‘tis done, ‘twere well it were done quickly, as the Scottish Play says. So as with many film franchises, this trilogy is turning into a quadrilogy.
Next time on the increasingly inaccurately named trilogy:
Kitty ordered fabric online for the first time! It’s this new-fangled, high-tech softshell outerwear fabric she’s never encountered before. If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to make your own water-repellent snow gear, you’re about to find out. Hopefully it gets here before the next cold snap.
And also, we’ll explore the wonders of the zipper, because it turns out that even Ancient Aunt Kitty must be dragged kicking into the 19th century if she wants a coat she can get on and off in under ten minutes.
P.S: Photo Apologia
My apologies for the horrendous indoor photos in this and recent blogs. We’re in the process of some opportunistic house restructuring, meaning that our usual photo area has been dismantled in preparation for being moved into a proper studio-ish setup (we’re going to have lighting and backdrops and all that jazz!).
Until then, all pictures are being taken in a sliver of space between the corset storage shelves and the sewing machine tables. Right under the delicious glare of my fluorescent work lights, which picks out every tiny shadow and turns it into a magnified wrinkle. You’ll have to take my word for it that these items look much nicer in real life than they do in these photos.