Friday, November 19, 2010

Completed Project: Toddler Dress Coat

**Caution: Super Long Post Ahead**

I am so excited to finally show this to you guys. I finished it about a week ago, but was holding out to get pictures of Shawn in it. Well, Shawn is being less than cooperative. So, here it is, sans adorable model. I worked on it for about 3 weeks (not daily) & I cannot even begin to tell you how proud of myself I am.

When I started this project, I knew it was going to be worn often. I knew it needed to be hardy. I also needed it to look nice. It is, after all, a dress coat. Before I began it, I promised myself that I was going to take my time with it. If there was a seam I could do better, I would rip it out & do it over (and over & over, if necessary). I wouldn't take shortcuts. If I felt myself rushing, I would take a break. I would iron each seam. Before I took any major steps I would sleep on it & come back to it. And I did. I stuck to all those things. Which is part of the reason it took so long to complete. But it was worth it.

I got the pattern from an Etsy shop called DMK Easy Wear. I was surprised when I received it. The instructions & diagrams were computer drafted. This was the first pattern I had bought from Etsy that didn't have actual photos. And you know what? I like it. Very professional. Very easy to decipher. The actual construction of this coat was beautifully easy. Everything made sense & no steps were left out.

This pattern also left a lot of room to make 'personal preference' changes. After putting the lining on my little guy, I decided I wanted a straighter silhouette, so I took in the side seams, tapering out just a bit at the bottom. I also chose to hem it about an inch. Now, on the lining I made these adjustments after cutting out & sewing the pieces. So, before making the outer coat, I decided I would adjust the pattern pieces before cutting my fabric. After all was said & done, the outer coat was a little bigger in the back pieces. And I even figured out why. :) See, when I took in the side seams on the lining, I was taking fabric from both the back & the side piece. When I altered the pattern only, I took in only from just the back piece. It was an easy fix, but I took my sweet time fixing it.

Having never done it before, I did get confused when it came to attaching the lining to the coat at the sleeve ends. I convo'd Karen (the pattern maker) & she directed me to this tutorial. It was very helpful, and I have a feeling that I'll be using it often. So, I got the lining attached & went to turn the coat right side out, put my arm through the hole & sure enough, something was amiss. I panicked a bit thinking maybe I sewed the arm in backwards, but realized that if that were the case the other sleeve would be wrong too. Turns out I just twisted the sleeve lining when I was sewing it to the coat. Easy fix.

See the hand-stitching? No? Good. It's for the best.

I had to do some hand-stitching on the hem to close the opening used to turn the coat right sides out. You'll be glad to know that my slip stitch has improved but once again, it wasn't good enough. So, I used transparent thread. It wasn't the funnest thing to work with--it's just like fishing line--but the end result is....well...invisible. Exactly what I needed. When my mom gave it to me out of her stash I didn't think I'd ever find a use for it. Now, it seems, the possibilities are endless.

Then came the buttons. My sewing machine makes the ugliest, most inconsistent buttonholes. They would not do. I had initially decided to hand stitch them. Can't be that hard, right? Wrong (duh. I can't even do a slip-stitch pretty.). Turns out I'm even more inconsistent than my machine. So, I did them "manually" on the sewing machine. I referenced the Reader's Digest Complete Guide to Sewing, but didn't like the way the bar-tacks were turning out. I practiced a good 20 buttonholes. In the end, I did a very short straight stitch &I liked the results well enough.

Buttons were also a a challenge. It was surprisingly difficult to find just plain ol' brown jacket buttons. So, I grabbed a button cover kit from JoAnn & used left over fabric to cover them. Looks great. Speaking of fabric, the outer shell is a brown minky. Soft & warm without being bulky. The combination of a bulky coat & a car seat is such a hassle, and more importantly, not safe. The lining is a cotton shirting I got from my MILs fabric stash (which I refer to as my Fabric Library) I initially wanted something fun, but nothing really struck my fancy at Joann, so I went for "nice" instead of "fun" and I really love the results.


  1. Wow, Jenna, you did awesome! I love how you took your time and finished well! I think there is the pressure of anticipating a new garment that makes me rush, but slow and steady does win the race...or at least it did in regards to your son's gorgeous dress coat!

  2. Jenna, this coat is absolutely adorable -- your son is one lucky kid! Really good job. I found your blog via Pattern Review; I am also a beginning seamstress so I am looking for good blogs to follow. I am going to check out that Etsy shop and see if they have any patterns I'd like to try.

  3. Sharky- Thank you for stopping by & commenting! Definitely check out the blogs on my sidebar for more blogs. Also, I've found Etsy to be one of my favorite places to get patterns. I haven't gotten any for myself per se', but DMK Easy Wear actually owns another shop, too, that makes patterns for women's clothing. Are you sewing for little ones, or mostly yourself?


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