Monday, October 28, 2013

Oh, the Pea Coat: A Tale of Heartache and Redemption (sort of)

Yes, I agree, the title is a little dramatic, but not incorrect.

I purchased this book on the recommendation of Dana from MADE.

I trust her judgment, I really do, but I should have read the reviews on Amazon beforehand.

It's still a good book, though, and has great patterns--and that alone is worth paying for it. But, it has issues. It could use some improvement. Like some editing improvement in major ways...from the pattern the the photos for the instructions. Part of it I am sure I can attribute to reader error, but it could be better.

I really wanted to make this pea coat.

It is labeled as a Boy's Pea Coat, but I figured it would work just as well for a girl. I printed out the pattern pieces and read the instructions before beginning this project. Then, I got ready to start this thing. And that's when things started to not add up. The issues became apparent, and the person on the Amazon review was absolutely correct.

So if you have this book and/or want to make this project hopefully the work I have done will help you to complete it with good results. I don't go into great depth as I am assuming you know how to piece together a basic shoulder seam, and add sleeves, and attach a lining. If not, please find a tutorial that will help you with that. There are some really great patterns out there for pea coats that probably have better instructions so those might be your best bet.

Apparently the previous book to this one is a really good starting point for beginners. It has good reviews. I do not own that book nor have I tried other pea coat patterns so I can not say for sure if they are good/helpful.

One...there is no size chart anywhere for the pea coat. You have no idea which size you need to cut out for your pattern. I chose to do the largest size because if it ended up being too big, eh, the girl could grow into it. Sizes, and size charts are our friends.

Two...the pattern instructions and the book instructions don't match up. Cut on the fold...? back seam....?...wait...which one is it? I have no idea still. So I cut the back piece on the fold. No seam down the middle.

Three...the instructions say to match notches. Umm, there are no notches on the pattern so you kind of just have to guess/eyeball it/match the centers to make sure it goes together the way you want so it doesn't turn out wonky. <Technical sewing term, y'all.

Here's what I did:

I bought the fabric I wanted to use from Joann's. Cute polka dot flannel and gray corduroy.

I cut out the pieces, but let's back up a bit and look at the pattern pieces.

You can't tell from the photo but there are no sizes listed on the pattern marks or a size chart on the pattern anywhere. Also, no notches. The back piece is on the fold.

I cut out the pieces and started assembling the jacket. The gray corduroy pieces turned out fine when I put them together, but the lining pieces...well, it got complicated.

So, we have a jacket front lining and a jacket front that says cut two of lining. Hmmm. How does that work? Four front lining pieces seem a bit much.
If you cut out all the pieces and start to assemble them, well it will look something like this.
The jacket front lining and the corduroy lapel piece can go together, but the jacket front piece...umm, if everything was supposed to go together the lining lapel piece would be covered up by the jacket front pieces. Don't think that is what is supposed to happen. Instructions would have been nice here.
This is what it would look like if all three pieces were put together: front and back.
I think we have options, but it doesn't say so in the instructions. One option is to cut 2 of the lining fabric using just the jacket front pattern piece.

If you choose this then when the lapel opens after it is buttoned up you will see the lining on the outside. Could be a really cute pop of color against the outer color. Also, you wouldn't need to cut two of the jacket front lining or lapels for the inside. See how it fits the outer jacket? Good match. Remember this would be on the inside with the dots popping out against the gray. I just wanted to show how it would match up.

The other option is to just cut the front lining pieces, and the lapel lining pieces in the corduroy fabric so that when the lapel flips over you don't see the polka dot lining I am using. You will get the corduroy lining piece instead. This is the option I chose. No need to cut out 2 lining pieces from the jacket front pattern.

Then I started putting the lining pieces together to finish everything up.

Starting to look better. Next up sleeves, where there are no notches to match up.

The collar:
I'm not sure what these photos are supposed to accomplish other than to show that I need more practice at attaching collars.

You need to make sure that you match up the lining and outer collars well. There are no notches or marks on the pattern to help with that, like it says. It may look kind of weird, but it should turn out ok. Again, just takes practice.

I'm not sure why the photos in the book show the lining and the collar like this. Mine doesn't quite look like that. I don't understand it either. I did the best I could with my limited knowledge of attaching collars.

Assembling everything:
I attached the lining to the outer jacket and stitched from the jacket front opening, up to the collar, around the collar, and back down the other side of the front opening. When you turn everything around so that the right sides are where they are supposed to be, the seam stitches should between the outer jacket and the lining, hidden.

The book instructions here are pretty good. It also makes it easier if you already have an understanding of how to attach a lining to a garment. If not, you can find a lining tutorial online as well.

Next was to start sewing the hems of the sleeves and the waist.

I ironed the lining under a tiny bit more than the corduroy. I didn't want it to be visible. Then, stitched around both sleeves in matching gray thread so that it would almost disappear on the outside.

I did the waist hem the same way trying make sure it was even all the way around. Here's the outcome.

Not too bad. There is a little issue where the collar meets the lapel. That little corner that goes in is not quite right.

This is the first time I have made this particular project and I have very little experience with collars and lapels. Those notches sure would be handy for this.

If you tried to make my lapel and collar look like it is supposed to you can see that the serging threads will show. There is also a lot of bulk there because of the amount of fabric in that area. Since I made this project for my girl, and not for someone else, I am not going to worry about the thread showing. I did my best with what I had.

Now I had to decide what buttons to use. The instructions say to use the pattern for button placement. Will do. Oh, wait. Button placement would have been nice if that had been included on the pattern. I didn't see any marks for buttons so I just had to figure it out.

The pattern calls for 1 inch buttons. The white, and black buttons are 1 inch. They just don't look big enough though.

Other color options...

Oh, the many choices. Which to choose?

I didn't have enough of any one color to use for the jacket.
No problem, I'll just have to go buy more buttons from the store.
Button shopping trip...
Pretty colors. Bright or muted? Both good options.
But which color should I use? Four buttons or six buttons?
Maybe a combination to match the lining? Bring the dots to the outside?
I like the six button look.

The light brown or dark brown button?
Do I make six button holes or three?
I'll have to have her try it on to see which one I will have to do. I don't want it to wrap around her too tightly. I want the buttons to be in the right place as well.

A sneak peek at what it might look like when it is completely finished. Photos sans buttons. I wanted to see how it would fit.

Aww...cute lining! Seems like a good fit. My best guess is that the largest pattern size is around a 4T. The girl is wearing a 3T shirt. I try to buy her a jacket a size bigger than she is wearing so that bulky winter clothing won't get all bunchy in a jacket the same size as her clothing. My girl is on the very average side, according to her pediatrician's office growth charts.

I had a friends' girl try on this jacket. She wears 18 month clothing and it swallowed her up. She's on the tiny side.

Our photo shoot with a coordinating outfit. I use the term coordinating loosely.

Front and back view.

Definitely a 4T-ish fit. I tried to jacket on her and decided to do six buttonholes! Trying to make sure they are spaced nicely, and even, takes some patience and time. They are not perfect, but you can't really tell. Also, according to photos online the buttons go on the opposite side for a girl jacket than a boy jacket. But if you get it wrong, no big deal, as long as it buttons up and keeps the kid warm that is all that matters. My buttons are opposite from what the book shows for the boy.

Unbuttoned and inside view: Love it.

A few cutesy photos. Trying to make sure the model and the outside lighting work together was not easy. It was a cloudy day, perfect for photos, but the sun was on the decline so the flash would come on and wash her out. I edited some of the photos to help with that, but I need more practice in my photographing abilities. Maybe I should take a class?... When would I have time? The focus is on the jacket and not the model so no need to be so concerned on my part.

She does make a pretty good model. She's got that distant, far away look on her face. And then she changes to a silly face. Love that face!

So, if you have this book and have been wanting to make the Pea Coat, I hope this helps. If you are a very beginner sewer you might want to rethink this project and find another pea coat pattern to try first, then come back to this one if you decide to try it. I've seen several cute pea coat patterns online that say they can be done by beginners, so they do exist.

Again, my best guess for the largest pattern size you can cut out is a 4T. My girl is wearing 3T clothing and the jacket fits nicely and she has a little growing room, and room for the thicker winter clothing as well. Like I said, I try to buy my kids a size bigger in coats to account for bulky winter clothing, and any growing they may do during the season. Something to keep in mind.

Despite the confusion that occurred with this project, it had a good outcome. I love happy endings!

Good luck on your projects!

1 comment:

  1. Well, regardless of the cruddy instructions your pea coat turned out GREAT! I love the colorful buttons and lining. And your little model is tooooooooooo cute!!!