Finally! A coat for Mr. Bug! Burda 7780

Morning beanstalks and affiliated vegetables! I’m happy to report that after a year-long standoff I have finally conquered Burda 7780 and provided a coat for Mr. Bug so that he no longer is forced to scamper off to work with his poor suit coat sticking out from under his much-shorter Carhart. He not only agreed to a photoshoot, but even indulged me by putting on my favorite cashmere sweater and jeans to properly show off my camel-colored masterpiece! What our poor men do for us!

Ah… where to begin? Well, as I’ve mentioned a few times over the past year, Dan picked out the wool and lining so that I could make him a coat sometime last spring. Actually, I think it was March, so it really HAS been a year. I’m so naughty. He picked out a very nice dark black (navy?) suit weight wool with a windowpane pinstripe. And some great lining material! Here’s his original choice, along with the pattern…

I stared down that wool forever. Finally spurred on by the lady grey sewalong, I managed to get a muslin made from some very stiff twill. That was last October. In my (very weak) defense, I was distracted by starting working at my new job, which involved a lot of other sewing, and then the Minnesota winter kicked in and I realized that I’d missed the fall window of opportunity for making a wearable coat (at least, wearable with the underlining I had bought! – this is a 30-50 degree coat!) The muslin has been hanging in the sewing room since then. I finally returned to it last month, thinking that it would be a good Valentines present. Ah well. At least it’s done now!

You’ll note that the final coat is NOT in the wool Dan chose. I just couldn’t bear making a coat from that wool, thus the foot dragging over the whole project. First, I was a bit intimidated by the pattern matching with those tiny little pinstripes. I’m not a big fan of the precision required for pattern matching, and my perfectionist tendencies are SUPER magnified when making things for others, especially Dan. My second, much larger, hangup with the wool he chose is that we own a white basset hound who sheds like a maniac. I didn’t even think I’d be able to protect the coat during the sewing process and once done, I didn’t think Dan would like it much, as it would show off every single white hair. I finally dug through my stash and found a lovely camel wool flannel that I’d been hoarding for a pair of trousers. It was a good sacrifice – the color looks nice on Dan, is flexible enough for weekend and work wear and doesn’t show off those pesky basset hound hairs! Would it be wrong to slather my hound in nair? Do they still make that? Here’s Dan with the felon herself…

So. Construction. The Burda pattern was full of typical Burda looniness. And to make matters worse, I somehow convinced myself that if I followed the pattern, then I could skip all the little tailoring extras that really were necessary for this coat. I did a few extras, adding a back stay.

As well as shoulder stays and taping the shoulder seams…

Some might recall my welt-pocket experiments of last fall. While the pattern called for double welt pockets and had some very bad instructions as to how to do those, I ended up going for single welt pockets, thinking it’d be easier to get them perfect. In the end, I’m not sure that it was a good idea. For one thing, I followed the instructions in the tailoring book that a lot of you probably have on your own bookshelves, and there’s somewhat wrong in the instructions, I think. The stitching line on the welt is a full inch away from the center of the pocket opening, when I think it needs to be only a half inch away. I got the pockets to work, but there’s a lot of hand stitching and steam involved, and they’re still pretty wavy. Not my best effort. I need to just take time to do more practice pockets at some point.

I did a few other things that caused me problems as well. I underlined the coat with a cotton flannel underlining I bought in the drapery section at Hancock. I just attached the lining and underlining pieces by basting (by machine, really, best done by hand!) and treated as one piece. In general, that worked well enough, but I had to cut full lining pieces rather than the half lining included in the pattern. I just used the front and back pattern pieces to cut the lining, not paying much attention to the length, thinking that I’d just hem it to look good. Turns out, it’s not that easy hemming a super slippery lining attached to flannel in any way, shape, or form. It would have been MUCH better to decide how long the lining should be and adjust the pattern piece accordingly to do a lot of my ‘hemming’ while cutting out the pieces. I ended up doing a LOT of hand basting and stitching to wrestle the lining hem into a seemingly straight line.

The other self-inflicted problem I had was the collar. Like I said, I blindly decided that if I just followed the directions, I could skip any tailoring techniques. The collar is a two part collar and the instructions don’t do anything to deal with the extra fabric left over on the undercollar due to the turn of the cloth. That, plus the kooky markings that Burda uses equaled a pretty wonky collar. I ended up ripping the points of the collar, realigning everything and handstitching from the right side to make sure there was at least some semblance of symmetry. Again, if I’d have ditched the Burda instructions and followed the barest minimum of the instructions from the tailoring book I would probably have spent half the time and experienced half the stress. Ah well, live and learn. Slow sewing should be the ticket, I guess!

One technique that I did use from the tailoring book was their method of inserting the lining by machine. Usually when I do linings I construct two versions of the coat – one is the shell, the other is the lining with the facings. Attach along the center front and hem, turn and then attach the sleeve hems. This time I constructed the coat from the wool, attached the facings, then attached the lining body to the coat and basted the arm openings together. Then I attached the sleeve hems by machine, turned up the sleeves and sewed the lining arms to the body arms by hand. While it was super satisfying to slipstitch the lining arms in, I’m not sure why this is the preferred method in the book. It seemed to take a lot more time with not a lot of upside. what am I missing? Here’s a closeup of the lining arm seam…


Here’s Mr. Bug wearing the coat with his work clothes and working the buttons!

I’ve been making an attempt at cleaning up my machine buttonholes better lately – all those pokey little threads look so messy. Of course, my handsewn buttonholes aren’t really much better looking. Anyone have any hints on getting buttonholes to look nice?

The coat design is nice and simple. There’s a centerback seam, although I’m not certain why it’s there! I cut a size 40 for Dan and removed an inch of length from the sleeves, three inches from the body and I moved up the pockets about an inch and a half.

All in all, it’s a great coat! I think Dan looks very handsome indeed! And
since we’re finally warming up (to the low 30’s, people. It’s so cold here!) it’ll be a great spring coat for him!

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  • [patty the snug bug]
    March 13, 2011

    Thanks all! Good tips on the buttonholes – I saw a buttonholer attachment at a antique shop a while back, perhaps I should go see if it's still there and if it works with my old singer!

    And I KNOW I have two bottles of fray check somewhere, I shall search them out!

    Quiet and small – I made the labels. The drawing is our basset hound – I originally did the illustration for our wedding invitations (yes, we had a basset hound on our wedding invitations. And she walked up the aisle too. She did not wear any special clothing or collar, though). In my previous life I did quite a bit of graphic design, enough to be dangerous!

  • quietandsmalladventures
    March 13, 2011

    oh my gosh, that coat is gorgeous!! i love how smooth the lining looks on the interior and i LOVE your labels! where did you get them?

  • Heather
    March 12, 2011

    What a great coat! Looks like a great fit!

  • gingerthread
    March 10, 2011

    Great coat! I second Alicia regarding the FrayCheck for neater buttonholes; use it on both sides of the buttonhole (inside and outside) and let it dry before cutting the buttonhole. Claire Schaeffer also suggests clear nail varnish, in her Fabric Sewing Guide. Good idea to check these products on some practice buttonholes first though. In one of the Palmer and Pletch DVDs (the tailoring one, I think) Marta Alto shows a neat way to apply the FrayCheck – squirt a blob onto some wax paper then use a pin to transfer small amounts to the buttonhole (a bit like using a dip-pen). One other thing you could try after cutting the buttonhole, is to go around the stitches again with a zig-zag stitch, and set it up so that the needle falls into the buttonhole on one of its swings. That should trap any last straggling threads. (I haven't tried this yet, but I'm sure I read it somewhere!)

  • Sue
    March 9, 2011

    Wow, fantastic coat!

  • Karen in VA
    March 9, 2011

    What a great looking coat….I will not make anything like that for the BF, figure it's too closely related to the knitted sweater curse….

  • Nicola1968
    March 8, 2011

    I love the coat, Mr Bug seems very pleased with it. I'm allergic to dogs but as I love them so I have a poodle – he doesn't shed …. sorry :)

  • K.Line
    March 8, 2011

    Awesome work!! He is such a cutie and he looks great in the coat.

  • Tanit-Isis
    March 8, 2011

    It looks great! Camel is such a classy colour. I, too, need to learn a lot of things the hard way…

    Oh, and if you're looking for a good home for that black wool… ;)

  • Alicia
    March 8, 2011

    Peter at Male Pattern Boldness posted the best tip I've seen for making buttonholes look neater: put Fray Check on them before you cut the holes. Keeps all the little threads in their place.

  • Sigrid
    March 8, 2011

    Looks fabulous ! Buttonholes ? Can't help you–they are my nemesis.

  • Elle
    March 8, 2011

    The coat looks amazing, and I love the camel color on Mr. Bug. Alas, I also have one of those shed like a maniac dogs. I was thinking about a tight fitting outfit for him to hold the hair on. No?

  • Anonymous
    March 8, 2011

    What a beautiful coat (and handsome gentleman)!

    Buttonholes…I was so excited to buy a sewing machine with "automatic buttonhole stitch" about 15 years ago, only to discover that the attachment slipped (producing buttonholes of varying lengths), that the single round of stitching just didn't look very nice nor stay, and it was nigh unto impossible to go around a second time. Similar results on the Janome machine I purchased last year, sigh. So now I mark carefully and do "manual" adjustments to the zigzag stitch width and length, which is better but still not wonderful (instructions from a Threads magazine issue several years ago).

    The very best machine buttonholes I've done were in the late 70's early 80's on my mom's old Singer Featherweight using a Singer buttonholer attachment – they came out nicely every time, and as the attachment used cams for the length, the same size each time.

    I've actually got one of the attachments procured secondhand, just never tried to use it on either of my machines…might have to give it a go!

  • Psycho Sue- Sew Misunderstood
    March 8, 2011

    whoa Mr Bug is looking hot in his new coat; must be because his hot Mrs. Bug sewed love into it!

  • Laurwyn
    March 8, 2011

    Ok, tonight, my Mister is not going to be allowed to flicker through my blog pages! Because he would see that coat, and would ask for one as well!

    You did SUCH a great job! I think that the coat looks very simple and classy, the way most of menswear look the best. And even if you see the little details you are not happy with, very few other people do…

    Now, about Burda… I actually like to use their cute patterns, the ones that have something specific. However, what saves me is that I do not read their instructions. They are written in Dutch, and are very technical. And Dutch is not my strong asset… Therefore, I avoid! It's like playing LEGO without the booklet…

  • Stevie
    March 8, 2011

    I second Louise on that one! I always am really aware of what i've done wrong and forget what I did right. The coat looks awesome. I'm having to leave my lady grey for the same reason. 100% wool is not so appropriate in summer…

  • Louise
    March 8, 2011

    Thats fabulous, I know we remember every tiny flaw and pucker in our sewing and are convinced that they stand out a mile but I bet anyone looking at that coat would just think what a splendid coat! Well done you, I'm very impressed with it, I can't imagine even in 10 years time or a million years time attempting something like that.

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