Friday, February 13, 2015

Butterick 5960 - My First Coat

Finally, after many months, I finished my coat!  And I love it!

The coat saga began with four yards of a silvery double-knit jacquard-ish fabric I found at my local thrift store for $4.  Thrift stores are hit-or-miss, but over the course of last year I happened upon a lot of usable fabrics (like this shower curtain fabric).  I didn't know what I was going to make with it, but for $4 it was coming home with me.  At first I thought a dress, but when I saw Katherine Tilton's coat pattern Butterick 5960, I realized that was what the fabric wanted to be;) I made view B, the lined coat with inside pockets.

I loved the simple lines, the oversized duster shape and no closures, the shawl collar. However, upon closer inspection my fabric was a little light weight for a coat.  I decided that a quilted lining might offset that.  I found some on ebay for about $30 (around $7/yard). That, plus the pattern ($2 on sale) pushed the cost of the coat up to just under $40.  I still feel pretty good about it, especially after seeing this Emilia Wickstead coat, which - as best as I can tell - originally sold for the US equivalent of around $3,900.00. Now I am not claiming that my coat is on a par with the designer one as far as quality of construction and materials, but at least from a distance my coat gives a similar feel and I know that oversized bold silver floral coats are a 'thang.'

I made the lining first.  I like to do that when possible - it helps me check fit, etc. The lining I ordered was pre-quilted and quite stiff, so it functioned as a skeleton for the outer fabric. (A note on this lining: the backing was made of a fusible batting.  BE CAREFUL using your iron on this.  I did use a press cloth, but I still managed to melt a few spots.  Thankfully I caught it before ruining the whole thing, but learn from me - don't use a super hot iron on this).  I used a quilting needle in my sewing machine since this was a quilted piece of fabric, and the needle gave me no problems, so I continued to use it on the whole rest of the coat.

I was a little afraid of a Michelin-man look, especially in the sleeves, but it is comfortable to wear and also very warm.  The coat feels very much LIKE a coat, it has a nice heft. Having said that, I do think you could make a great sweater coat using view A, that would be a lot more drapey, but still very attractive. Maybe one of these days I will do that myself.

The voluminous side view!
Back view
I made a size medium, and the only alterations were to add one inch to the lining length (as per Bunny's advice) and one inch to the sleeve and sleeve lining length (a common alteration for me). I am 5'8" and normally sew a size 14 in the shoulders plus add width at the waist.  This put me at the upper end of the medium size range and I did not add any width, nor did I add any length (which I usually do). It is still plenty roomy and long on me, so if you are on the smaller end of your size range, check because you may want to go down a size.

As far as construction went, I combed over Bunny's posts at LaSewista.  She made a gorgeous cashmere version of this coat last year, and put up a series of construction posts that were very helpful.  If you plan on making this, I highly recommend reading her posts - I learned a lot! Her coat is much more couture, and mine is definitely not, but I like that you can see that the pattern can look good either way, and that people with very different skill levels and fabric choices can both end up with a great-looking coat.

Some construction notes: The front facings are supposed to be padded with wool batting, but I used high loft polyester batting, primarily because I wanted my coat to be potentially washable, although I think I would only hand wash it.  The facings are hand-basted in, but I did not find a place in the instructions that had you remove the basting stitches.  I did remove mine because they were visible; however, I carefully and as invisibly as I could hand-stitched the batting to the fabric near the fold line because I couldn't figure out how the batting would stay in place without that. ( just occurred to me another design option could be to quilt the facings).

Here is a view of the completed facings and the lining.  The batting really makes the collar feel luxurious and warm.
Unlike Bunny, I did put in the hidden upper pockets, using a silky black remnant so as not to add any bulk.  I just thought if I were somewhere and didn't want to take a purse, I could very safely put my phone and a few other small items in those pockets. (And they are deep! I have to really reach down to get to the bottom).

Reaching into my 'secret' pocket
Interior pocket close-up

The outside pockets were probably the most complicated part of this pattern, primarily because you can't see what you are doing. You really do have to thread trace them, as Bunny recommended.  I can't see how you could mark them otherwise.  I'm just glad I was using a print, which is a little more forgiving of slight inaccuracies.

Thread tracing from the wrong side

There is a place in the directions (step 16) that has you stitch the top and the bottom closed.  I just hand-stitched a little bar there, but you don't actually stitch through ALL the layers or you will not be able to get your hand in (thanks for the heads up, Bunny!).

Outside pocket close-up
I have long arms and my hands don't quite reach the bottom of the pockets, so if you have shorter arms you may want to see if you need to raise them a little.

This was a bulky project.  Sewing the lining to the outer fabric was like wrestling a bear! I kept all my supplies in a big box on the floor.  While the pattern is not necessarily difficult, there are LOTS of markings and you will need every single one.  I kept having to get my pattern pieces back out and see what marks I was supposed to be matching up.

I stitched and pinked all my seams during construction.  I'm sure serging them would be easier (and I got a serger for Christmas!), but I was already too far in to change methods. The lining hem I turned up and sewed down. I tried doing that with the outer coat, but it was too bulky and left a lumpy ridge.  I ended up using some Hug Snug seam binding I already had for the coat and the sleeve hems, which gave them a nice finish.

lining hem
Blurry view of the Hug Snug

As far as the pattern goes, it is drafted very nicely, although I would add an inch to the lining length so that your lining hem will be sure to cover the hem edges of your outer coat.  I did make myself a few notes.  On Step 9, DO NOT sew past the square.  This is clearly illustrated, but easy to overlook (ask how I know). On Step 16, DO NOT sew through ALL the layers, just through all the FRONT layers. On Steps 20 and 33, when sewing the sleeves in, note that you DO NOT line up the seam lines, you line up the marks, the sleeves are slightly offset. (If you do it wrong, your sleeves will not fit right.  Again, ask me how I know). On Step 35 I think it is clearer to say "Stitch one POCKET (9) to each side of side front lining, matching notches and large circles and STITCH one pocket section to each facing section of front." (I added the word "STITCH" in bold).

I started this coat in October and quickly got the lining made.  However, November and December saw little to no sewing.  I got back to my coat after Christmas and finished it by the end of January.  I'm a very slow sewer and I have to sew in bits and pieces of time, which slowed me down a little more because I would have to spend time finding my place.  My coat is definitely not perfect, it is not as smooth as I would like where the facings attach to the back hem, but I love it and hope it keeps me warm for many years.

(Links to my Pattern Reviews are on the sidebar, if you are interested)

(Also linking up to Share in Style - Japanese Inspiration, hosted by the beautiful and gracious Rosy at sewingadicta). 


  1. Wow! I hope that someone who wants to make a coat takes advantage of all your comments about this pattern. That looks and sounds so complicated...I can not imagine. It looks great, it fits like a dream, and it's warm. Who could ask for anything more?

  2. I like it and it looks like it is toasty warm!

  3. That turned out beautiful!! I haven't sewn a garment for myself in forever.

  4. Beautiful work and beautiful result, thanks for all the tips and hints!

  5. Lovely coat! The proportions are really flattering to you! And I love those hidden pockets!

  6. Lovely. It looks so warm and comfy.

  7. Love love love. I can just feel it! What a wonderful coat. Your detail and finishing is wonderful, and your fabric choices are so creative. Enjoy!

  8. It's fabulous! Enjoy your beautiful coat. I love it when a trip to the thrift store has a fairy-tale ending!

  9. Turned out great! That lining looks wonderfully warm.

  10. Beautiful coat. That lining looks very warm and the outer fabric looks lovely. You should wear this with pride.

  11. I'm so impressed with your sewing skills! The coat looks great on you, and it a nice shape. Good work!

  12. Wow !! I'm sure you will enjoy this beautiful coat for many years to come, dear friend !! It's just wonderful !! I'm thinking that it bears a resemblance to Japanese-inspired lightweight, perhaps you would like to link up your post to our Share in Style, the issue is just that ... Japanese inspiration .. you will be welcome, dear friend.

  13. What cool fabric. I am so amazed you found something so cool at the thrift store! I am making a coat now and not having much luck. I tried quilting my own lining and it was a big fail. This makes me want to press on. Love the shape of this and the big deep pockets.

  14. I never sewn anything more complex than a skirt or a I really applaud you...this coat is divine!


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