Tag Archives: sewing a coat

My Inspiration: The Swiss Army Albion

Last fall when Colette Patterns released their Albion coat pattern it looked like an attractive and rugged coat; when I did the test muslin (see former posts) I gained a lot of confidence in knowing that I was able to complete a piece of lined outerwear.  I just could not get inspired over appropriate fabric decisions.  The wool at stores was bland and not made well and I was reluctant to spend too much money online when I could not see and feel the fabric, (O.K,,that never stopped me before… I was just fabric-“uninspired”).

Like most folks my sewing time is precious, cathartic and incredibly sacred.  I have to feel that something is going to feel right and really connects from step to step. That does not mean it will always turn out but i am not into something just to “crank a project out”. I believe it is this process that focuses my attention ever so briefly away from the struggle of Trigeminal Neuralgia and into my version of normalcy and purpose.

Now that I have that behind me, I turn my attention to December 6th, 2013. I had almost decided to pass on making it when I saw something on a random internet search.  It was wool, it had great detail…but it was not “fabric”.  But why in the world couldn’t I use it? So I purchased, did a London shrink to see if it would be destroyed and I was happy to find the whole piece intact and softened. I decided it must be fate.

Well, I have dragged this on entirely too long! I am speaking of a Swiss Army Blanket……

Inspiration_0225I let all this sit for a while and of course worried that it would be too bland, too obvious, over or under done.  But that certainly was not going to stop me.  The first thing I did was to search google/ebay/etsy to make sure this had not been done a million times.  There were, of course, actual coats made by Swiss Army Co and vintage coats for sale on all the sites but I did not see ANY photo of a coat that was constructed out of the blanket(s).  If there are coats out there that I missed, do not tell me.  I did not see them and this coat is my labor of love constructed by my own vision.

The first issue at hand was placement of the red, stripes and crosses.  In some ways I was limited since there are two stripes per blanket and they were at the top and the bottom.  I did a bit of sketching to see what might work:

Sketch 2_0246Sketch1_0244

DSC_0247

I did not really have anything set in stone until I had my major pattern pieces cut and started moving them around to see where I could insert the red.  I had planned on off-centering the cross on the left shoulder but when I tested and had the hood hang down CB, it looked like I had made a mistake and tried to correct it.  So, right smack in the middle it went and I ended up liking it.

Chris back_0228I know I skipped right to the finished product but it had to be done!   Next up is something I found when testing thread, thread color and stitches.  It is called the double overlock but to me it looked EXACTLY like the stitches on the edges of the original blanket.  I did not want to ‘force’ the coat to look like a blanket but I did want to pay homage.  Here are stitches that I used on the hood, front and back yokes and front pockets, basically everywhere it called for top stitching and a few extra spots:

Blanket stitch_0212

The only design change I made was on the front pieces:  I wanted to have a red stripe corresponding with the pocket flaps and the only way to do that was to slash the body on the left and right front, so I marked and cut above the pocket and added seam allowance at either side.

Front layout_0183See fancy black arrow (above)….

My next super exciting item is the Swiss Army authentic brass buttons I found on Etsy.  I wanted to incorporate tabs so here is how they came into play, first on the sleeve placket:

Sleeve tab_0205 Chris tab_0239An then, above on the tab closures, which are brown and red so they can be flipped around for fun and variety.. if by chance you could handle the craziness.

Well, let’s see what have I missed.?  The lining!  Such a beautiful plaid flannel that seemed to be the lively counterpart to the serious outside. I really slashed quite a bit off the lining sleeve since my muslin seemed to have too much and it kept bunching up.

A full flip to see the inside,

Inside Out_0198 open to inside 076

I loved this project.  Every time I steamed, it released a beautiful earthy smell and every step was like putting a really great puzzle together. So far, the best feedback I could get is from the man that now owns this coat and just look at his smile!

Chris smile 089

I did have a couple other photos that I took and wanted to share:

door front_0207 elements_0210Thanks for stopping by, I hope you like it!!

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Albion Holiday Test

I tested the Albion (Colette Patterns) and I feel so proud to have made a coat!.  Oh, sure there are places for improvement but my man wore it to work today and he got ambushed at the door!  My goal was to do a sort of muslin but I did not think it wise to use thin material to test the fit so I decided to use all the coupons I could and broke down on a trip to the local fabric store in which I normally only buy notions and thread.  Since I needed to make an XXL…that is a lot of fabric to work with but I was able to get shell and lining for $50.

The pattern is incredibly easy to follow and actually the toughest part is cutting all the pieces of fabric out, once that is done you are home free and the fun begins.  There are only two areas to watch out for,  one is the pocket positioning.  Make sure you do not creep too close to CF like I did. I  was not as careful in marking my fabric as I should have been.  The result is that my fourth toggles had to be buried under the pocket!  The only other choice was to seam rip and move; it did not take long to decide to snuggle the togs under the pocket a bit; so watch out on the positioning.  The second item is that if you are using a heavy fabric for the shell, I would consider using the lining fabric for the under piece of the pocket flap.  It is less bulky and lies better overall.  That is it!  It was so smooth and easy!

Albion test coatalbion on chrisMy man, sporting the  coat in front of the tree.  Ya know, for a test coat, to have your loved one be so proud of your work–well, that makes it all worth it!

I want to talk toggles.  There was only one at the store and I decided then and there to buy it, deconstruct it and make my own.  I searched and searched for the three things needed:  Horn, Leather or suede background, leather or suede strings.

tog suppliestogHere are the three items needed.  A piece of leather or suede; I searched for over an hour and then stumbled upon suede patches!  Just enough suede to make eight plus half moons without breaking the bank and needing to buy a bigger piece!  Then in the jewelry section I found this nice suede 1/4″ cording in several colors, (Naturally Chic).  The last thing was the surprising selection of horns from Italy in Hancock Fabrics!!

So, I measured my test toggle and determined that the strings were six inches each and were glued to the back of the half moon. I set out cutting the suede strings and half moons:

horns and  stringsuedeI used a glue that is called Tear Mender that I also found at Hancock.  It works really well and here they are coming together:

finished togsThe backs of the toggles are shown above.  Pretty simple process, I set a glass jar on top of the glued strings for a couple of minutes until they dried.  So, here is a close up of the sewn tog…I like how they turned out.

albion toggleIf you do not want to buy a toggle for the pattern, just bring a piece of paper and pencil into your store and draw around the half moon shape to use as a stencil!  I hope that helps, just think of all the shapes and colors you have at your fingertips when you get to decide!

I did not show the lining!!!! Here it is, bit of an awkward photo, but I know you will understand.

lining

Love and happiness to everyone and to those that may be challenged with pain, keep your spirits up and take a lot of time to rest this holiday season!

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