11 februari 2018

This Is One Of Those Origin Superhero Movies You Might As Well Skip

Those of you who follow what happens with Freesewing know that Joost published a pattern for the coat Benedict Cumberbatch wears in the BBC adaptation of Sherlock. Cosplayers and coat-lovers rejoice! Those of you who have followed me for a while know I've been thinking about making my own Sherlock coat for AGES. I actually got to the point of adapting a Burda pattern, cutting everything out and starting to tailor the front, but then it got put aside (warm weather) and I lost so much weight the coat was going to be too big on me anyway, so that project got ditched.

*my dream*
 (Just a heads up: this is going to be a lot of talking and some really shitty pictures, no big fancy coat reveal! Yet.)

So, I'm not sure exactly how we started talking about it, but Joost and I decided to combine our skills to make a pattern for that coat. And because we both wanted one, it had to be a version for people with and people without boobs. People, this thing has been a LONG time in the making. I got tasked with researching the Coat, and thus spent a lot of time reading threads on cosplay forums. Most of my research meant finding hi-res images of the coat that could give us a clue about shape, size and proportion. I put together a file with my findings that had this as the first page:

Joost might have had second thoughts about working with me at this point, but he didn't show it. I ended up hitting the jackpot on a forum and found someone who owned the actual coat in a men's size large and had taken detailed measurements. This was immensely helpful for the way the freesewing patterns are drafted: they are all written in code and change according to the measurements of the person they are drafted for. This is super cool and saves a lot of time in the long run, but it also means you can't just decide 'these buttons are 10 cm apart' and be done with it. Nope, we (and by that I mean Joost) had to calculate what percentage of the entire waist circumference that distance was, so having measurements taken from a coat (and putting a size chart next to it) was really handy.

At this first stage my role was mainly sitting next to him with my knitting and giving unnecessary comments. There was a lot of debating about the angle of the topstitched triangle at the top of the back pleat or the curve of the lapel, but all in all the drafting went pretty smoothly, and soon the pattern was ready for a first muslin (which is where I got to feel useful!). This muslin was surprisingly ok (apart from a mishap with the collar) and after some tweaking the pattern was pretty much done, way ahead of schedule! Things got a bit busy for Joost at this point though, so the project was abandoned for a month or two, after which we discussed how to tackle the women's version. The conclusion was that most of the changes one would make to turn a men's coat pattern into a women's coat (narrowing the shoulders, waist and sleeves) would be taken care of by the whole custom patterns thing, so all that was left was to create a way to do an FBA. We decided a princess seam would be the most elegant option, and got pretty chuffed about how well this was going.


This is where my muslin-sewing journey started. I literally don't remember how many I've made.

The first version was... Not so great. The side front panel was very curved at the top as well, which made for a shape that could only be filled by someone with literal melon-shaped boobs. After tweaking that things looked better, but we noticed the armhole was really high and tight (I made that very first muslin without sleeves since we only wanted to check that princess seam). At first it seemed like it would be a quick fix, but further research showed that the way the FBA worked did some weird things to the armhole, and things seemed to really fall apart when different measurements were entered. BUMMER. I felt pretty shit about this since it was turning into so much work for Joost, who has plenty other things he wants to do as well. The next version had solved the armhole problem but things had gone a bit too far the other way: it was now so low the whole coat was lifted up if I lifted my arm, also resulting in a sleeve that was about 6 cm too big all around. Joost made ANOTHER version of the pattern to fix that armhole issue and I ended up taking some more width out of the waist, shoulder and sleeve, resulting in a muslin that could be called 'very promising'. Whew!

After all this I gathered all my supplies and started on this coat. I've made some coats and jackets before but never one as tailored as this, and I felt like I should do it right! Cutting all the pieces of fabric, lining and interfacing took an entire day, and I spent the last few days basting and pad stitching. It's all very very new, there are no instructions for this pattern yet and it all kind of makes me feel like this:

Frankly, this is how I feel most of the time
Things are going well though, and for those who sat through that entire story, here are some progress pictures:

I used hair canvas on the center front panels, attaching it with a permanent basting stitch, pad stitching the lapels and taping the front edges and roll line. Silk thread and beeswax were my best friends during this bit!

Most instructions tell you to use hair canvas on the entire front, but I thought things might get too stiff/bulky so I used a lightweight fusible interfacing on the side panel instead. SORRY TAILORING PEOPLE.

All the pleats on the back are basted closed right now to keep them crisp and out of the way during construction. I added interfacing to the armhole and shoulders and also added a heavy muslin back stay. I decided to support the pleats with a strip of hair canvas (cut on the cross grain since it seems to pleat crisper that way). I'd seen something similar on kilts and from what I can tell now it gives the pleats a nice amount of body! I also figured the waist seam could do with some stabilizing and reinforcement as well, so I cut a selfedge strip of muslin and basted that to the seam allowance. The top edge of that has been attached to the back darts, and after stitching the waist seam I pressed the seam allowance up and cross-stitched it to the muslin strip. No idea if that's a 'proper technique' but it makes for a nice straight seam!

Next on the agenda: assemble the sleeves, collar and front! There's also inseam pockets with a welt coming up. As I said, it's all new and intimidating but I'm having a lot of fun with this! Hopefully I'll have a nice new coat to show you soon.

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