Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Striped Bouclé Coat

Hey! It's Shams of Communing with Fabric with another garment made from a beautiful Britex fabric! For this project, my assignment was to choose a fabric from the Wool category. I quickly settled on this beautiful bouclé, Coat-Weight Black & Winter White Wool Blend Bouclé (Made in Italy). It's 80% wool and 20% polyester.

I absolutely love this fabric! If you know bouclé, you know that it's more loosely woven than most wool fabrics, and it can ravel. And, yes, this fabric ravels, but that means that you can use it to make fabulous fringe! Its content is mostly wool, but I did not find it to be scratchy. If possible scratchiness concerns you, order a swatch.

I've been inspired by recent Chanel collections (and, of course, Chanel is famous for their use of bouclé). The 2018 Spring show was held recently in Paris. If you watch just the first few minutes, you'll see wonderful bouclé dresses, tops, pants, and coats featuring long fringe:

This fabric is perfect for one of these garments! I wanted a long coat with fringe at the hem and sleeves. To preserve the drape-y nature of the bouclé, my coat is unlined. It also has no interfacing or underlining. I had no trouble sewing this fabric, but here are a few tips if you are new to bouclé:

  • Since bouclé ravels, avoid giving it that opportunity. Use patch or inseam pockets, rather than welt.
  • Choose a pattern with fewer seams.
  • Bouclé often looks mostly the same on both sides, so MARK the right side of each pattern piece! You can use tape (such as painter's tape), or safety pins, but I use two straight pins arranged in a plus sign. I like to live dangerously. ;) (Do you want 2 left sleeves? If not, mark the right side!)
  • Once you've cut the pattern pieces, use a light touch. Don't over handle it. (Some people immediately overlock the raw edges with a serger, but I don't. If you do serge, be careful not to distort the edges.)
  • Stabilize seams, especially horizontal, curved, or diagonal seams, such as the shoulder and neckline. I stabilize with 1/4" cotton twill tape. (I bought an 800 yard bolt years ago and it's likely to last for the rest of my life.)
  • Contain the raw edges. As soon as I finish a seam, I contain it, in most cases with extra wide, double-fold bias tape.

    Did you know that this tape has a right side and a wrong side? The "right side", the side that faces you as you sew it, is just a tad more narrow, as you can see in this cream-colored bias tape:

    The slightly longer underside increases the likelihood that it will be caught by the machine needle. I find it's easier when I extend the tape so that it's slightly longer than the seam, and hangs over beginning and the end. I trim it down later.

    I move the needle position closer to the edge of the tape, but this isn't strictly required.

    Finally, I whipstitch the bias tape to the body of the coat. This is an optional step, but it gives the loosely-woven fabric more stability:

For the pattern, I used one of my TnT (Tried 'n True) patterns, Butterick 6328:

Butterick 6328

I successfully used this pattern for another Britex project, a Burberry-inspired coat dress. Using a TnT pattern means you don't have to spend time altering for fit—you can go straight to playing with the design.

I still spent time dithering on exactly how I wanted this coat to look. Some of the options I considered but didn't use: black sleeves, no trim along front and neck edges, fringe on the armholes, fancy (embellished) trim (instead of plain), bias fringe around the pockets. This pic shows the result playtime:

Besides the changes from the last time, I made some additional style changes:

  • Lengthened to mid calf length.
  • Outlined the neck, fronts, and armhole edges with a textured wool-blend, doubleknit fabric purchased at Britex. This fabulous fabric, alas, is not on their website.
  • Added self fringe to the hem and sleeves.
  • Closed with 3 toggles, purchased at Britex.
  • Added oversized, lined patch pockets.
  • Cut the sleeves on the bias. This means I don't have to match the stripe across the body, but that's not why I do it. I do it because straight lines that extend from arm to arm (the entire width of my body), creates visual chunkiness and emphasizes my width. The diagonal lines of the bias sleeves break it up a bit, creating a more flattering line.

Making self fringe

Here are a few tips if you want to replicate the self fringe:

  • I cut strips of fabric, along the selvedge, 3-1/2" wide. I used the selvedge because it is more stable, though this isn't strictly necessary. You could stabilize this edge in other ways. The selvedge edge is sewn to the coat. These are the strips I cut for the sleeves (the selvedge edge has the white seam):

  • I cut the strips along the grain. The cross-grain is not as pleasing because the warp threads are uniformly thin. The weft threads are more varied. This pic shows cross-grain fringe:

  • I use the blunt end of a substantial needle to ease out one or two threads at a time. I pull the threads from the center of the strip, as I find that works better than pulling from an end. The threads are less likely to break, but it also causes less distortion to the ends of the strips.

  • These two loops are the next to be pulled:
  • The strip for the bottom of the coat is ready to be applied:

  • Right sides together, I stitch the trim to the sleeve with a 5/8" seam. Once I open it up, it hangs like this:

  • Until I turn the raw edges up and secure:

I'm starting to pull together my wardrobe for Japan, and this coat may come along.

A few more pics:

That looks like an in seam pocket, right? It's a carefully applied patch pocket. I spent time dithering on whether to outline the pocket with fringe, but decided to stick with a cleaner line.

I like that the bust darts are placed precisely inside a black stripe

I purchased three of these toggles at Britex. I placed one near the top, another at my full bust, and the third at the waist. To make them less obvious (and preserve the clean line of the coat), I placed each one in a black stripe.

Did I mention there's a fair amount of hand sewing in this coat? I find hand sewing to be very therapeutic, and bouclé is wonderful for "absorbing" the hand stitches, but you don't have to construct it that way!

Thanks to Britex for this wonderful striped bouclé! I purchased all other supplies.