I was a little apprehensive about working with this unusual type of fabric but I’ve been trying to push my fabric boundaries so jumped in at the deep end! I’m so pleased I did as this treated silk is just wonderful. It’s got a gorgeous sheen to it and I absolutely love the proportions of the dots; from afar it almost looks like a plain classic trench but move a little closer and you pick up on the added pop of fun!
Being silk it’s pretty lightweight and despite the waterproof coating has a nice drape to it. It’s definitely weighty enough to make up into a very elegant coat on it’s own but I felt in the rather temperamental London climate I wanted a little extra warmth and protection. I chose to underline the entire coat in a mid weight navy cotton sateen to match those polka dots! I love cotton sateen for the vivid colours it is available in and Mood has a great range here. The decision to underline did add a whole lot of work and time on to this project but it was so worth it; the combination of the two fabrics feels so luxurious! With the exception of the pocket linings and the underside of the storm flaps I cut all the pattern pieces from both fabrics and then hand basted each pattern piece together within the seam allowance so I could treat them as one throughout the rest of the construction.
Another bonus to the underlining was that I could apply my fusible interfacing to the wrong side of the sateen, preventing any wrinkling in the silk over time and also meaning I could sandwich the interfacing between the fabrics and completely hide it even though this coat is not lined. I made sure to trim down my interfacing pieces to keep them out of the seam allowance as the double layer of fabric made some areas pretty thick to sew through. I also chose to only interface one of each pair of pocket welt pieces and leave out the under collar interfacing to prevent these aspects from becoming too stiff.
I just love the unexpected flash of rich blue inside and how the ecru and blue look together.
This special silk does require a little extra care and attention when sewing. It’s a little bit like sewing with a very lightweight oilcloth. I tried to use as few pins as possible and was careful to keep them within the seam allowances as much as possible as any holes from pins or unpicked stitching will stay put. I used a medium heat on my iron with a pressing cloth as the coating will melt and stick straight to the iron if heat is applied directly. I used a sharps needle in my machine and I would recommend using a teflon or walking foot as a coated fabric like this will want to stick to your regular foot. I don’t have either of these so tried out the trick of putting masking tape on the bottom of your foot; it wasn’t a perfect solution but still made a huge difference.
I had a few issues when it came to the topstitching as the sateen under layer was running smoothly through the machine but the coated silk was sticking slightly and therefore running through a tiny bit slower. Over the course of a long seam this started to create those dreaded twisted wrinkles. To combat this I lengthened my stitch slightly and reduced the pressure of my presser foot which really helped. I was worried about the fabric sticking when it came to the button holes but they turned out to be the best I’ve ever done!
Once I’d worked out how to best handle this new to me type of fabric it all came together very smoothly with the exception of the belt loops which were a bit of a nightmare. The double thickness of fabric combined with the sticky top of the silk meant turning through the long skinny loop as instructed was nigh on impossible. After struggling with it for a fair while I decided to go my own route with them! I still used the belt loop pattern piece but treated it a bit like bias binding, except cut on the straight grain as I didn’t want them to stretch. I pressed each of the long raw edges into the centre, pressed it again in half so all raw edge were concealed then topstitched as per the instructions which worked out great.
As I’ve made the Robson Coat before I knew exactly how much I needed to shorten it. This time I shortened it at the ‘lengthen or shorten here’ markings rather than taking it off the hem. This means the pockets are in a much more natural place to put my hands in. I’m 5ft 3 and took 2.5″ off the length and 0.5″ off the sleeves. If you are going to adjust the length of this coat remember that you’ll need to re-space the button placement markings and notches to mark the belt loop positions as they are both intersected by the alteration line. Apart from this I sewed up a straight size 4 as I did before and the fit is spot on with enough room for a jumper on colder days. I used just under 4 yards of the dotted silk and 3.5 metres of the cotton sateen (although if you cut the belt in two pieces instead of on the fold you could get away with 3m in this size). I also used 14.5m of navy bias binding to finish all the seams and facing, much more than the 12 yards the pattern envelope calls for.
I’m absolutely delighted with the way this turned out and feel a lot more confident about using tricky fabrics in future. I’ve already tested just how water-resistant this fabric is as we couldn’t even get a few snaps without being rained on this weekend. I don’t think I’ll ever be pleased to wake up to rain but at least it will give me an excuse to wear this beauty!