Sunday, December 27, 2009

Au Bonheur des Petites Mains - Long Raincoat (#1233027)

(First, can I just say how grateful I am to have this week off work? Also, at the moment, the kids are away skiing, so I can really sew around the clock, or until I need a nap. I go back to work on Jan 5th. BLISS! :) )

OK, a little update on my progress.

I have finished the muslin of the raincoat. I used a twin-sized floral flannel sheet that DD1 has banned from her bedroom. (She used to have a floral theme but has recently decided she detests floral.) It's pretty sad looking, so I will spare you the pictures. But here is what I have learned:

  • The 52 is very generously sized.
  • Some of the fashion details result in sewing through many layers in certain key points, such as the side pocket facing, or the sleeve seam where that gusset is located. I would not want to use a thick or substantial fabric for this reason. Using a lightweight waterproof nylon, or something along those lines, is much more feasible. They used a thicker "quilted" fabric in the lining (matelasse), which is how one can give the coat some weight and warmth. Another approach is to leave it unlined and it will be a fetching, lightweight raincoat. This is my plan. :)
  • The pattern seems to be pretty well drafted. The pieces go together well, as intended.
  • There is a lot of ease in the armscye. Enough ease that I think it is intended to sit right on the shoulder point, though the garment in the photo looks like a dropped shoulder. When I re-pinned the sleeve at my natural shoulder, it looked much better. It is not too much ease, the pieces fit together, but it is more than you would typically see for a dropped shoulder.
  • Even after raising the sleeve on the shoulder, the sleeves are too long. Not too unusual for me, because I have shortish arms. But, in this case, I like the longer sleeve because I plan to roll back the cuffs. (And it may be they were intended to be extra long for rolling.)
  • I like the sleeve gusset, though the instructions for the snaps on the sleeve gusset still don't make sense to me. The only way they might make sense is if they are using a regular, sew-in snap, rather than a press-on snap that shows from the outside of the garment. However, I wouldn't want a snap there because it would constantly open from the natural stress on the sleeve and you really don't want the gusset to be unsnapped. What I did was to attach the upper to the lower sleeve by using a small tab of fabric, inserted underneath (after the gusset was installed and the topstitching completed). Then, I abutted the upper and lower sleeve at the marked point (over where the tab was hiding), and stitched in the same row of topstitching (both sides) I had previously sewn. Not sure this makes sense, but it looks pretty much like the garment in the photo and I like it. :)
  • The pocket is very interesting. I would not recommend using a wide elastic, as it makes topstitching very difficult through all the layers. I used a scrap of 1" wide elastic to test the pocket because it was lying by the machine and it was about the right length. :) I will either use 1/4" elastic (as recommended by the pattern) or I will use round elastic with toggles (as shown in the finished garment photo). But I wonder why the casing is so wide for such narrow elastic.
  • The darts seem to be placed ok. The coat is large and they may need to be shortened, or even raised a tad. I have to think on it.
  • The front band instructions were just bad. The front band attaches to the right side only. You cut one piece and it has a fold line down the center. The instructions say to fold it right side together and sew three edges. If you did that, you couldn't possibly turn it right side out. Even if you left an opening, it would have no raw edges to use to attach it to the right side. So I sewed only the short ends, turned it right side out, and basted the long raw edges, then basted the whole thing to the right front of the coat. That seems to be the correct way to do it. The only way the instructions might make sense is if you were to sew along the fold line.
  • The hood is great. I really like this hood. It stays on well and is a nice size. (At least in my muslin.)
  • The diagram clearly shows the back hem is longer than the front hem. However, the jacket in the pattern photo shows the front hem is fairly long. It turns out the diagram is wrong and the photo is correct. The pattern pieces are shorter at the sides than at CF and CB. I think it looks a bit strange, so I may to reshape the front hem to be shorter in front, as shown in the diagram. Having said that, the raincoat is much longer than I expected. It's mid calf or thereabouts.
  • The waist elastic starts 7" from the side seam, goes around the back, and then extends 7" from the other side seam. I think this extends too far for my shape, so I plan to shorten it. I will make the final length/placement in the final garment.
  • The pocket is nice, though placed pretty low - I can't easily reach the bottom of it. I may move it up a bit, if there's room after the waist elastic is in place.

In a nutshell? I'm not completely sure about the fit yet. In a yellow floral flannel, the muslin looks a lot like a bathrobe. ;) I have a friend dropping by tomorrow and plan to get her opinion. I have not inserted the hem or waist elastic, which will change the shape significantly, but I will probably just wing it from here. ;)


  1. You are one corageous woman! Sew on! And much luck.

  2. Go for the SWAP! I'll be following your progress with interest.

  3. Wow! I really appreciate these detailed comments--it really pays to walk through the pattern and make a muslin before you cut your fashion fabric. I can't wait to see what fabric you selected!

    Rose in SV

  4. I love your courage to try these French patterns. Please visit my blog at to see the Sugar Doll award I'm presenting to you.