A most enlightened coat

I’ve made this coat a couple of times before, but never to such a high level of completion before. I’m including all of the buttons (apparently twenty-eight of them — ten on the front, four on each pocket (8), two on the back godet, and four on each sleeve (8).  IMG_6329.JPG
It’s proof positive that the first ninety percent of every project involves ninety percent of the work, and the last ten percent of the project involves the other ninety percent of the work.

Getting the buttons properly placed, sewing them down through several layers of fabric and interfacing which helps lock the coat’s interior facing in place), and other final bits of project work are taking up a lot of time. The buttons to finish the project finally came in today, and the first ten buttons are sewn in place: eighteen to go!

This is Simplicity pattern #4923 — a coat, a shirt, a vest, a pair of pants, and a neck cravat.  It’s perfect if you’re mounting a production of 1776 at your school, college, or theatrical company, or anything set between the late 1600s and early 1700s.  Or if you’re playing a pirate for Halloween, or Ben Franklin.  This material is essentially the same kind of canvas they make Carhartt pants out of.

IMG_5792.JPGIf the pattern has anything particularly tricky, it would be the sleeves. The directions don’t say to build a left-hand sleeve and a right-hand sleeve — but you do have to do that.  It’s a good idea to put the fiddly bits of braid on the cuffs, too, before you sew the sleeves to the coat.  It’s also really important to match up the dots on the sleeves so that the pieces all fit together properly — it’s NOT shoulder-seam to upper seam, and it’s NOT underarm seam to lower seam.  That’s not how they match.  And it’s important to recognize that early enough in the process.

The owner/commissioner of the coat at one point asked me to leave the sleeves off.  We discussed making an end-cap more similar to a 15th or 16th century men’s doublet, but the patterns that I had were awkward and messy — ultimately I decided that I couldn’t leave the coat unfinished, and I couldn’t design sleeve caps to match the armsceye, and I couldn’t just put in grommets to attach the sleeves; they had to be on the coat. So, I had to attach the sleeves.IMG_6236.JPG

At this point, though, we’re down to the buttons.  I got ten done today; I’ll probably get ten or twelve done tomorrow, and the rest on Sunday or Monday. So… I think this coat will go out to it’s new owner on Monday, or Tuesday at the latest.

I also think I found some ways of doing it faster, next time.  The real bottlenecks are the construction of the sleeves and the sewing of the buttons; but I can sew the buttons on to the pockets and sleeves during the construction of those items, and then it’s less weight in the lap later on as I’m assembling the coat.

Do you want me to make you one?  Be in touch.

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