IT. IS. DONE. Finally. For reals this time. It almost feels unreal to be saying it, and I still don’t think the the fact that this project has reached completion has totally registered. But my RTW Knockoff, #SewTheLook trench coat, lovingly dubbed The Forever UFO, is FINISHED.
Looking back at my records, this coat has been a long time in the making. Construction started in October of 2016, but really I’ve been planning this project since 2012.
I’ve been obsessed with this pattern pretty much since I learned about BurdaStyle Magazine, and found the Russian archives to look back at the older issues. The September 2006 issue is the real reason I spent so long scouring the wilds of Ebay to complete my collection dating back to about 10 years before I even bought my first sewing machine (tangentially, check out these versions featured on the Russian site – stunning!). And, honestly, no regrets. 2003-2012 Burda magazines really were the golden years.
The original inspiration for this coat was actually this Burberry coat that I first noticed in 2012:
Ultimately, the primary inspiration was the linen beaded coat, which sold for around $5000, though I also was inspired by the teal versions in leather that I had seen on the Burberry site around the same time. Of course, I didn’t spend nearly that much on my version of the coat; my main fabric was about $50, and once I include all of the notions, lining, and beaded trim, the whole project probably comes in under $150. Considering I was living on a grad student stipend when I bought these materials it was definitely something I considered an investment at the time. If I had to do it over, I’d probably make different choices, but honestly I have to say I’m so happy I saw this project through to the end!
So, without further ado, here is my version of the coat:
And here are some detail shots:
I did a lot of topstitching details, even though this spongy fabric really resisted the stitches at some points. I also did a lot of work to match the plaids in my lining; I’ve got to give 2016 me props for the care I took with cutting and preparing these pattern pieces; coming back to this project 3 years later I was actually sort of amazed at how well I’d planned things like the hidden button placket and pattern matching.
Here is my official pattern review:
Pattern Description: Fitted trench coat with classic details.
Pattern Sizing: Burda sizes 36-44. I made a size 40 at the shoulder and graded to a 44 at the hip. I’m sure I made other adjustments for fit, but it took me so long to finish this garment I don’t really remember all the adjustments I made on the test garment.
Were the instructions easy to follow? The instructions are pretty standard for mid-2000s era Burda; they aren’t the best but if you have some understanding of “Burda-speak” then they aren’t terrible. I also have to admit that I used the instructions from Burda 7360 to do the hidden button placket (and make the changes to the pattern for this), and that when I started this pattern 3 years ago I mostly followed the magazine instructions, but when I finished it (at the end of 2019) I basically ignored them and did my own thing because I just wanted to get it done.
Did it look like the photo/drawing when you were done with it? The parts that I wanted to look like the original pattern do, and the parts that I wanted to change to add the beading detail don’t. But basically, it turned out more or less how I had hoped, so I am pleased with it. I think that the pattern, for the most part, is really fantastic. I have things I’ll change in the future, but overall this is a really great pattern from Burda.
What did you particularly like/dislike about the pattern? I really like this pattern because it has so many classic trench coat details, and it has a lot of seam lines for creating a close fit. It is the perfect pattern for doing a Burberry RTW knockoff (as I attempted to some extend here), and I’m sure I’ll be doing more versions of this pattern in the future. I have to declare my undying love for these pockets because they are massive and perfectly positioned for shoving your hands into them. The one thing I didn’t like about this pattern was the cut of the sleeve, as the sleeve cap is insanely high. I think I’ll try adapting a two-piece sleeve in any future iterations, but I sort of chickened out of making this change on my first go with the pattern. It made setting in the sleeves really challenging, especially with this super spongy material. I also need to find a better method for lining the jacket vent; because I constructed this pattern piecemeal, over several years, I think I started off following one set of instructions (included in the magazine), but ended up following a different set of instructions (in a book), and ultimately just sort of fudged the lining of the vent at the end because I just wanted to be finished (because I hadn’t thought ahead to do a bagged lining and because of using the leather hem tapes and the nature of my lining fabric wanting to fray like crazy I just sort of gave up and hemmed everything by hand. Shout out to Dritz’s leather hand sewing needles because I never would have finished this project without them!).
Fabric used: I used a really strange faux suede that I got from Fabric.com eons ago. It’s got a really weird spongy texture, and feels sort of bouncy to work with. I’m pretty sure I sewed it wrong side out because I wanted it to be less of a fuzzy texture, so it’s got an interesting look to it. It’s a little hard to describe… it will lie perfectly flat under topstitching, but without that it really wants to puff up around the seams, and no amount of pressing, pounding, or praying will convince it to do otherwise. I used leather tape to create the hems and to flatten areas where topstitching wasn’t a practical or appropriate solution, and that worked fairly well for the most part. In addition to this weird suede fabric for the exterior, I also used a poly taffeta for the lining (because I was dead set on having a plaid), and an assortment of interfacings and muslin that are all hidden on the inside to give the coat some structure.
Pattern alterations or design changes you made: I made one major change, which was altering the front closure from a double breasted coat front to a hidden button placket so that I could utilize the beading detail, and I made the coat a bit shorter to better copy my inspiration as opposed to the original pattern which is drafted much longer. I also made some minor changes to the flap details to get the proportions I wanted. I’m sure I made other adjustments for fit, and I always have to make the sleeves a bit larger on Burda patterns, but it’s been so long since the original pattern drafting that I don’t really remember all of the minor changes. I’d also have to say that the fit of the bottom half of this pattern was probably a bit better 3 years ago when I did the drafting and cutting of fabric; now I need a touch more room for it to lie properly over my hips. I’m just going to accept that (1) I need to figure out a new/better exercise regime because that has been sorely lacking since I started my new job and (2) when I’m walking and moving around it won’t be so terribly noticeable anyway.
Would you sew this again? Would you recommend it to others? I will totally be sewing this again! I might opt for one of the more traditional double breasted front closures next time, and I’ll likely choose different details, but I definitely want to use this as a base pattern for more projects in the future. It’s a great pattern and I really enjoyed making it, even though it did stretch out to taking over 3 years to finish! I would definitely recommend this pattern if you can find it; but I would caution that the sleeves have some insane sleeve caps and that you might want to make a few adjustments there.
Conclusion: I love this pattern! It did what I wanted it to do. Of course, as always comes with hindsight, there are a lot of things I would have done differently if I were to start this project over again. I think I would have probably choose a different fabric as a starting point, because the spongy nature of this faux suede really wants to stand away from the body and creates a bit boxier of a silhouette than I had hoped for originally. I also think it looks a bit inexpensive, because, well, it sort of is. I bought this fabric very early in my sewing journey and I was under much tighter budget constraints at the time. Linen wasn’t an option, and I had sort of wanted to do a mash up of a linen and a leather inspiration, so I ended up with this teal faux suede. Doing it over, I’d definitely splurge on the linen and go for a much closer recreation attempt. Similarly, due to budgetary constraints, I was pretty limited in my selection of beads for the front of the coat. If I were to do it over I’d look for slightly smaller beads to use in the detail at the front, to better mimic the original design detail. But I think this project isn’t so much about the result but about the journey of making it. It was an idea I had from an inspiration I found very early in my sewing journey; my original screenshots are from circa 2012, and according to a search of my email history, my fabric purchase hails from February 2012, less than 2 years into my sewing journey. It took me several years past that to source the beads and lining fabric, and I didn’t really start on this project until the 2016 Pattern Review coat sewing challenge. Of course, life got in the way, and the half-finished coat hung out on my dress form for the better part of 3 years. Something about getting to the end of the decade really inspired me to finish up a lot of open ended projects, and I pretty much willed myself to finish up this coat in the last few weeks of 2019. So, yes, considering where I am now with my skills and tastes, this is probably not the perfect project. But overall I am really happy with it. It really has taken me close to 8 years to take this from idea to reality, and I am so glad it is done! I feel like I can really move on to other big projects now, like this has learned up a lot of mental space and also physical room in the sewing area as well. And I’ve learned so much from making this that that I know I can apply these skills in future endeavors.
How does this fit in with the Sew Your Kibbe Challenge? Does it work as well for you as you expected it to? I started this project way before I learned anything about Kibbe. But I would say that is has some elements of Soft Natural to it, especially in the textured fabrication and the detailing. It’s probably a bit too heavy for Soft Natural (probably better for a straight Natural), but I think I will enjoy it a lot anyway. It is pretty heavy to wear, but it is also pleasantly warm and surprisingly comfortable once you get used to the weight.
And that’s it! This is a post that has been years in the making, and I’m really excited that it is finally done. I hope I’ll get a lot of use from this, but more importantly, I feel very excited about the mental creative space this gives me to move forward. It allows me to feel like I’m starting off 2020 fresh, with no unfinished projects, a lot of unsewn fabric, and a lot of potential for growing and learning as I move into the next decade!