Sewing: sew along M7585 part 1

I am going to be sewing view B of McCall’s pattern M7585.  As I do so, I plan on posting about 4-8 blog entries about how to go about doing various parts of the pattern.  This is a learning experience for me, but I want to learn to write as well about sewing as Christopher Schwarz writes about woodworking. This may take some time.

This is a 17th century style 3/4 length coat. I have a chance to wear white at this event later this spring, so a court coat in white seemed appropriate. I had this beautiful fabric that I wanted to turn into an 18th century style French royal-court coat with big cuffed sleeves. There wasn’t enough fabric for such a coat, though. That design needs around 6 1/2 yards. But I have too much for only the long vest design. I may have to make a short vest or two to go with this garment. I also decided to line it with the same Indian export print that I used when learned to make an 18th century women’s bodice a few months ago.

I’ve made similar coats before. The Simplicity pattern that parallels this one is Simplicity 4923, which features a Johnny Depp-lookalike as a Captain Jack Sparrow – lookalike.  It bears thinking about that ideas have people, not the other way around.  Some people decide to make a movie about pirates in the Caribbean, and before you know it everyone is dressing up as the fictional captain for Halloween, and it changes the outlook for how the spirit world and the human world interact with one another.  In any case, I’ve used this Simplicity Pattern for a quite-cartoony Captain Hook coat, and my own Enlightenment Coat,  and the prototype.  I’ve made this (Simplicity 4923) pattern three or four times now.

But this is a McCall’s pattern, so I expect that a few things will be more complicated. After reading the pattern, I’ve also decided that the View B, the long vest, is more attuned to my actual skill set than the full coat, anyway. So we’re ready to go.

When you make a new pattern for the first time, the first thing you should do is read all the directions on how to make it the first time. Mark the places where you expect to have difficulty. Then cut out your pattern pieces. I think it’s valuable to cut out all the pieces, even the sleeves of this pattern’s view A: the full coat. I’m not making the full coat right now, but it helps give me a sense of what these pieces and their relevant armscyes look like.

Now it’s time to cut out your fabric — you should pin each pattern piece to the fabric so that the pieces of the pattern and the fabric with its pattern are all oriented the same way.

In general you’re going to cut out three types of material for a project like this: the fabric of the garment, which I tend to call the shell; the lining of the garment, and the interfacing.

The design of this piece calls for some large swaths of interfacing to be applied to the front of the coat’s shell on the inside. I’ve chosen to skip that bit. I don’t have that wide a sheet of interfacing and I don’t want to fake it with two narrower sheets. This may lead to some strangeness later on in the makery process but I hope not.

In the first photo, you can see that I’ve started assembling the pockets. They’re the glossy white fabric in the lower left of the photo. These are patch pocket flaps: two sheets of fabric pinned inside out and sewn together on three sides, then turned outside-out and sewn to the body of the garment. There’s no pocket under this pocket flap in the design; I’ll have to decide eventually if I want to change that. Adding a pocket to a garment like this, especially with a dart in the way, would be somewhat annoying.

A few words about patterns: in general I’ve done Simplicity patterns, which generally have 4-10 parts for their costume garments and no linings. They’re Halloween costumes, maybe suitable for small theater companies. McCall’s costume patterns are closer to the real deal, though; they’re often designed with more pattern pieces that are closer to historical models. They have linings built into the design. As a result I find that my sewing skills usually improve every time I do a new pattern — but McCalls’ patterns challenge me more than most.

You should also pay attention to the pattern numbers. I’d already ordered this pattern some months ago.  But it looks like the coat is more or less identical to the coat in another pattern I purchased without looking carefully. That pattern also includes patterns for a ‘fake’ men’s kilt and a vest, so it’s not a total loss… but it’s not ideal to purchase the same pattern multiple times.

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