The “Batik Beneath the Buttons” Coat
- Fabric: 3ish yards of blue corduroy & 3ish yards of batik
- Pattern: Simplicity 2057 (Project Runway, 40% off)
- Year: 2011
- Notions: 6 buttons (bought with gift card, so not included in the total price)
- Time to complete: approx. 15 hours (I think–I’m very bad at keeping track of this as I tend to sew in little bursts)
- First worn: January 12, 2012 (complimented by stranger within the first two hours of wearing it–score!)
- Wear again?: Yes!
- Total Price: < $15
I have a mother who is always on the look-out for cheap or free fabric for me. She introduced me to a friend of hers whose mother was going into a nursing home and had been a classic fabric hoarder for at least the past thirty years. I went through this woman’s attic room lined with shelves and closets FILLED with fabric and came away with 13 very generous cuts of fabric (ranging from 2 yards to 6 yards each) for I think $75 total. One of those purchases was this deep blue corduroy (6 yards of it for $5).
I knew I wanted to make a longer coat from it and I had been wanting to replace a few older, more drab coats in brown and black with something with more pizazz. And as coats generally involve buttons (up to 12 for this pattern depending on the style elements you include, though I kept it down to six), I figured this challenge fit it. I had to buy the pattern, my first Project Runway pattern, but I did manage to get it 40% off. As I’m committed to avoiding fabric purchases in 2012, I thought about what I had that might work as a lining and the first thing my mind went to was a batik I got for free from another hoarder relative of an acquaintance (those people do come in handy, don’t they?). I really didn’t know what to do with it, but it was so soft and I liked the colors. Still, I couldn’t envision myself draped in batik from head to foot. So, I thought, what a perfect way to use it–as a lining that would peek out now and then as a nice surprise. Only problem was, it didn’t quite go with the blue of the corduroy. So I dyed it with blue dye and I think it helped the tones match a bit better (or that’s what I’m telling myself because I didn’t keep a sample of undyed fabric to compare it to).
Now, while there are a lot of pieces in this coat and a fair bit of handwork, it did go together fairly quickly, despite me completely losing the second page of directions, (do I have to include all the time spent looking for this as part of the total time for the project?) which included all of the essential stuff I wasn’t sure about, like just how to attach the lining to the facing, just what to do with the two bottom hems in what order, and stuff like that. Lucky for me this is not my first rodeo. I could finish the sleeves, buttons and buttonholes, and fake the pockets just fine (I almost never put pockets in when they are called for, but a coat needs pockets) without directions. A quick glance at a 1940s sewing technique book (which I also received free just this last weekend) confirmed the correct lining techniques, and intuition carried me the rest of the way. This independence from a set of directions has me feeling very grown up indeed.
I guess the message to those of you who are new to sewing is to keep sewing–a lot–and at some point, you really don’t need directions, even on stuff you’re not sure about. So if you find yourself struggling with a technique, don’t try to avoid it. Search out patterns that force you to grow. You will be happier with the variety and details of your wardrobe and you’ll be building a skill arsenal that can get you out of tight spots when you manage to lose the directions!
What do I like about this coat? The colors: solidly in my favorites range of blue and green. The texture: ribbed corduroy that is top-stitched to create a more structured look mixed with a silky, smooth cotton blend. The surprise factor: the fun print hiding beneath a strong solid color. The length and weight: this turns out to be a very sustantial coat that will be great for spring and fall weather, and for the unseasonably warm January we’ve been having. The cost: seriously less than 10% of what you would pay retail for a coat like this if it was mass-produced. The speed at which it was made: normally I would make a big project like this stretch for a month and I can’t quite believe I did it in a week.
There’s really nothing I don’t like about it!
All of these photos were taken at Fenner Nature Center in Lansing, Michigan, not far from the campus of MSU and Potter Park Zoo. And I just have to say that I am THRILLED that it finally snowed. We have our proper winter weather and I’m glad. When it’s 50 degrees in January in Michigan, people start to get the funny idea in their heads that spring will come early. Newsflash, people: It won’t. And what snow we didn’t get in December and early January will hit us in March and April. So buckle yourselves in for winter and enjoy the ride.