I love a trench coat. Practical, stylish and they never EVER go out of fashion. So although trends come and go you can always rely on a classic trench to have staying power. I have already made one of these coats here, the very loud and lovely cream one covered in yellow, grey and pink roses (subtle, moi?), which I've worn and worn well into the autumn last year. I've been eyeing up this same McCalls pattern (McCalls 5525 now out of print) ever since, with the idea of making another identical version in a dark blue cotton for the Spring. And here it is.
Made from a lovely cotton twill-type fabric in deep navy blue, from a wide, 3 metre piece I purchased from John Lewis, Birmingham back in November last year. I actually bought it from the furnishing fabric section as it was exactly the colour, weight and quality I really wanted and I just could not find elsewhere. I also had a gift voucher burning a hole in my purse and as the fabric was quite expensive (well, not huge amounts but definitely more than I usually shell out, being more likely to get fabric in the sales), it brought the cost down a bit. It has really good structure and body, but is still nice and soft to the touch and was lovely to work with.
All my coats have to be hard working garments and ready for all sorts of action. It is rare that I'm not toting around large bags, pockets full of bits the kids have collected, armfuls of coats, hats and gloves as the kids shed them, and usually with a dog in tow. They get chucked in the back of the car without much care. Out we march in smart boots for lunch and shopping, then afterwards smart boots get swapped for wellies and off we go again for a beach walk and a paddle. If you can't multi task, then you don't get a place in my wardrobe!
I wanted a navy coat as I often wear blues, clarets and plum colours and wanted a change from black when a dark coloured outer layer is needed. I also have a navy blue leather jacket which, despite being at least 20 years old, still gets wheeled out as it goes with absolutely everything. But it's not warm, or practical really. It is also, dare I say it, a tiny bit scruffy due to its decrepit old age! To give this new coat a unique twist I decided to put a bright cerise lining inside, which is only visible occasionally through the back vent. This was taken when I was attaching the lining to the front facings, but you get the idea of the hidden colour underneath. Punchy! It's a reasonably good weight too, so provides another layer of warmth, as I'm a bit of a delicate flower when it comes to spring weather and need a wind proof layer to brave the elements until at least June.
I wanted some embroidery, to bring the coat up to date and also because I love an embellishment somewhere about. It is very rare for me to make something 'plain' without adding a personal twist, and in this case it is a nod to the wonderful MacQueen embroidery used in his Fall 2016 collection, featuring flowers and insects. The high street has really jumped on this trend and you can see embroidered jackets, jeans, blouses and even boots everywhere just now. In my case I have two moths and a rather bold stag beetle to the collar, back and sleeve. I might be tempted to add more yet. You can see the cerise coloured topstitching here too, which was a bit of a challenge on my new machine! I'm quite pleased with it overall and the colour is great against the navy.
The embroidered insects are actually done on separate pieces of material, using embroidering cottons and a ring to the keep the area stable. Then I used a little bit of fabric glue (something like fray check) around the outside, cut as close to the stitches as I dare and hand stitched the piece to the coat itself. This way I can then remove them, replace them or add and take away as I wish, without having to unpick the whole design from the coat. There are some very nice ready-sewn patches in the shops and online too, which would be much less time consuming and easy to apply if you fancied jazzing something up in double-quick time!
The dress form pictures didn't come out well as my poor old phone was battling to accommodate a dark navy thing against a white background, without exploding with the effort to focus. Here's one of the back, where you can see the really nice shape as well as a moth and more top stitching around the back flap, collar and belt.
And the front. Why have I taken this at such an odd angle? I was clearly multi tasking while photographing, this and failed at this job. Either that or the dress form has had a sneaky wine or three. Anyway you can see the double breasted, button front. Also I was experimenting with embroidering the cuff bands too at this point, and then decided against it. The coat design has cuff bands, shoulder tabs and a collar tab to close the coat right up at the neck. Practical and functional and also provides some nice elements to sew. The buttons are very plain, matt navy ones. Personally I like coat buttons to disappear, as an overly characterful button can be too overpowering for my liking. Never thought I'd call an embellishment 'too overpowering' as usually I'm all for a design twist or decoration, but I usually drawn the line at shouty buttons.
It's a really great pattern and I can thoroughly recommend looking out for a second hand (eBay?) copy. This coat's first outing on the beach was a complete success and it has since come back home to the City for some equally successful urban trips. So bring on the Spring!