The Louisa Coat: Pattern and Construction Process

As I said in my previous post about this coat, I modeled it after a favorite well-worn coat that I have had for several years.

I’m sorry for the horrible quality of the pictures, I was sick the day I took them. However, they work for showing you what the store-bought coat looks like.

The store-bought coat is an extra-small, so it has always been difficult to wear anything too bulky underneath it in the winter. Therefore, I sized up just a tad for the pattern, to make it more like a size small.

My biggest complaint with this jacket has always been the sleeves and armholes. I can hardly lift my arms in the jacket, especially when it’s buttoned. It’s so bad, I’ve always had difficulty extending my arms out in front of me, parallel to the ground.

Why in the world did I get the jacket in the first place when it didn’t fit properly? Well, it was deeply discounted and I loved the style too much to pass it up. Be honest, you know you’ve done the same thing once or twice.

Anyway, I made the sleeves bigger and a bit longer (I like longer sleeves). I have pretty good range of motion, even with the jacket buttoned.

One of my neighbors chose this exact moment to walk out and be unabashedly nosy. Hence the frustrated face. I was pretty embarrassed, but I was already mid-pose waiting for the camera timer to finish. I can’t imagine what goes through the minds of my neighbors when they see me out there taking so many pictures of myself.

There were some other changes. I widened the welt pocket opening a bit because I could hardly fit my hand into the opening on the store-bought jacket (and I have small hands). I also changed the placement of the welt pocket.

I made the collar a bit bigger, because I love large collars on coats. I topstitched along the bodice piece seamlines and along the collar seam lines.

I added elastic at the back between the two outside pleats to give the jacket a better shape. But for the final coat design, I’m going to take the back bodice pieces in just a smidge, and add a buttoned on belt, just as Lauren suggested in her comment on the last post. I didn’t have enough left-over fabric to add any details in the back. But, I think details are what make an article of clothing really stand out. Don’t you agree?

To make this post a bit more bearable (hopefully, better than bearable), I’ll show the construction process in photos with relatively brief explanations.

The fabric and a few pattern pieces. Yes, the skirt pattern is incorrectly placed in this photo. But as you can see from the finished coat, the pocket is obviously not right along the edge of the coat fronts on the finished product. Good thing I realized my stupidity before I cut the fabric…

Just a note: between just about every step in the process, I was at the iron pressing everything into submission. Pressing is an extremely important step, but I didn’t want to come across as a repetitive sewing snob.

All of the front coat pieces had to be interfaced prior to any sewing. Before sewing the bodice pieces together, I also added interfacing along the seam allowances for stability. Once the bodice pieces were sewn together, I topstitched along the seams. Then, I added more interfacing along the bottom edge of the bodice pieces. This sucker better keep its shape for a long time!
For the lining front, I sewed a dart in the bodice piece, basted a pleat in the skirt piece and attached the skirt and bodice pieces. Next, I sewed the lining and facing together. Oh, and the facing is interfaced.
Once the bodice pieces were sewn and top-stitched, I basted the pleats in the skirt back and fronts. I added interfacing along the top edges of the skirts and bottom edges of the bodice pieces for added stability, and joined the bodice and skirt pieces.
I also added the pleats on the lining skirt back and sewed the back lining pieces together. It isn’t pictured here, but I sewed the back facing piece to back bodice lining, as well.
I sewed and finished the lining side seams and shoulder seams…
…and sewed and finished the coat side and shoulder seams.
The collar pieces are all interfaced. I sewed the collars and collar stands together, and topstitched along the seamline. Then, I attached the collar pieces to the lining and the coat and topstitched.
Before sewing the collar to the lining, I added a loop for hanging the coat. I also sewed a tag with my old logo to the back facing.
I sewed the welt and first pocket piece along the pocket opening line, and sewed the second pocket piece (with the facing sewn on) along the other side of the pocket opening line. Then, I cut the welt opening on the inside of the coat and pulled the pocket pieces through.
I sewed the edges of the welts to the triangles at the edges of the pocket openings. Then, I topstitched along the edge of the welt, making sure not to catch pocket piece #2 . To create pockets, rather than pieces flapping on the inside of the coat, I sewed the two pocket pieces together and finished the edges.
As you no doubt noticed, I forgot to add interfacing to the skirt front before sewing the pockets, like a complete dunce. So, I had to add the interfacing after the fact, fitting it snuggly around the pocket openings. It looks so much better with interfacing, and I’m glad that I decided not to be lazy.
I sewed and finished the lining and coat sleeves, and topstitched the back seam of the coat sleeve.
Oops, I forgot to say that I added stay tape along the coat shoulder seams. I basted a shoulder pad in place along the armhole seam allowance and hand basted in place around the shoulder seam. Before sewing the sleeve to the armhole, I added interfacing around the armhole for stability. I basted and gathered between my markings for the puff sleeves. I had to really mess around with the fullness and placement of the gathers. To get a good fit, I tried it on with the sleeves pinned, and found that I had to move the gathers so there was a little more fullness toward the back of the shoulder seam.
So, the armhole has a shoulder pad, interfacing around the armhole and extra interfacing on the sleeve side of the armhole seam for added stability and shape.
Here, the lining and outside of the coat are pinned together along the collar and fronts, right sides together. I sewed the pieces together along the outside edge, and along the bottom of the fronts on the inside facing only, stopping before the lining.
I turned the jacket right side out and topstitched along the collar and front edges.


I turned the coat inside out again and sewed the collar pieces together on the inside along their seam allowances.

For some reason I don’t have pictures, but I made the fabric covered buttons and sewed the buttons and buttonholes on the jacket fronts.

I added interfacing along the hemline and bottom of the sleeve, in preparation for folding under and finishing.
I tacked the lining armholes to the coat armholes, and the edges of the pockets to the jacket facing and lining seamline (Next time I’ll use little rectangles of fabric to attach the lining and pockets to the coat). I folded and pressed the lining sleeves and sleeves under and folded and pressed the hemline and lining under and hand stitched them together.

After many hours, to my total surprise, I had something that was not only wearable but lovable.

More pictures of the completed coat here, if you’re interested.

Now I’m off to make some changes and start on another coat!

  1. The Louisa Coat | Creative Notions

    November 15, 2012 at 1:53 pm

    […] Life & Writing ← Thurlow muslins and reverse-engineered trousers The Louisa Coat: Pattern and Construction Process → […]

  2. Andrea from

    November 15, 2012 at 3:39 pm

    I laughed so hard at the comment about your neighbors! I do a lot of product shots outside on the ground and I’m sure my neighbors wonder why I’m always photographing my grass!

    1. Becca

      November 30, 2012 at 1:42 pm

      Haha! Yeah, who knows what our neighbors think? I like to take pictures of things like insects, flowers, frogs, turtles, etc. So, I’m sure it looks like I’m taking photos of the grass sometimes, too.

  3. Sarah Lewis

    November 15, 2012 at 10:56 pm

    This gives you a great opportunity to meet your neighbors and let them know what you do. I’ll bet you have a wonderful neighbor who might actually become a kindred spirit!

    1. Becca

      November 30, 2012 at 1:25 pm

      Haha! That’s true. He was leaving, though, and he’s hardly home. I’ve met several of my neighbors, but they mostly keep to themselves.

  4. Jackie

    November 16, 2012 at 8:16 am

    I am new to your blog and I came here from Sew Retro. I have spent the entire afternoon reading your previous posts. You have yourself a new follower/stalker. I love the coat.

    1. Becca

      November 30, 2012 at 1:22 pm

      Oh, wow! Thanks for stopping by and spending time reading my posts. I’m flattered and happy to have someone interested in my sewing projects. 🙂 Thanks!

  5. prttynpnk

    November 18, 2012 at 7:57 am

    I saw your coat in sew retro and had to come over and say how great it looks!

    1. Becca

      November 30, 2012 at 1:20 pm

      Thank you so much! 🙂

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