April Showers Bring Tulips and Trench Coats
With so many amazing jackets and outerwear showing up on the runways for this year, I have been longing to sew a trench coat to add to my handmade wardrobe. With the pattern picked out (Deer and Doe’s Luzerne trench) I just needed to find the perfect fabric…should it be a classic neutral solid? Or should I spice things up with a stand out print?
Well, I found the answer about a month ago during one of our buying trips. As soon as my fingers landed on this stretch taffeta I knew…this has to be THE trench coat. It just feels like a designer trench coat…you know, kind of soft and slippery but still has some body and structure while also being somewhat drapey. Difficult to explain, but all around perfect! Now the question was, which of these awesome prints to choose?
It being spring and living right near the Skagit Valley (home of the country’s largest tulip producer), I quickly settled on the tulip bouquet print with the gorgeous navy background. Not only does it remind me of a Cézanne painting, one of my favorite artists, it is also the perfect celebration of spring! Lucky for me, the fabric arrived quickly and I was able to get sewing right away.
But first, a curve ball! We didn’t realize the fabric had about 20% stretch when we picked it out or that it runs the length of the fabric rather than the width, which is far more typical. A surprise but not that big a problem on both fronts. To adjust, I turned all the pattern pieces to run along the crosswise grain so that the direction of the greatest stretch would run across the pieces. This means more comfort and fit forgiveness in my finished trench. Double bonus!
After checking my measurements with the pattern size guide and finished garment measurements, I settled on cutting a straight size 42. I was a bit worried about the fit of the sleeves (my normal trouble area) but I had some extra fabric and could always recut. To finish the seams on the inside of trench as directed, I selected a cross woven bias tape with a similar iridescence and shine as the taffeta. With three colors to choose from, I settled on the berry to add a bit more interest to the inside. The reverse of the fabric is basically white, so the bias will really pop!
After getting all the pieces cut out it was time to start sewing and this pattern doesn’t joke around. It immediately throws you into the deep end with bound button holes! On Instagram, I noticed lots of Luzerne sewers doing test button holes with scraps—a great idea and something I totally copied. With very clear instructions in the pattern and an online tutorial, my first bound button hole turned out better than expected and gave me the confidence to continue on with the real thing, all FOUR of them! Even with the stretch of the fabric, I am really please with how they all turned out.
The rest of the sewing was pretty straight forward, very similar to other coats and collared garments I have sewn in the past. I wouldn’t say this was a quick sew, when you have to bind each seam it slows you down quite a bit. When it came time for the sleeves I basted one of them together to check the length and fit. The length was perfect as is, but I still needed to add the hem so an additional 1-1/4″ was needed. The fit was also a bit tight so I added about a 1/4″ to each side of the two sleeve pieces, adding about an 1″ totally around. After making all the changes on my pattern pieces and cutting out a new pair of sleeves I sewed them for real this time and attached them to my jacket. For the bound sleeve hems and sleeve openings I followed my normal method stolen from my days as a quilter, you can find these steps in a tutorial I posted a while back HERE.
I finished up my jacket with lots of hand work—blind hems all around and a total of ten button. Rather than top stitch the facing down as directed in the pattern down the front and across the back, I chose to hand take it down at the seams. I think this gave a much cleaner look to go with the blind hems and save me some unnecessary aggravation. I had my jacket finished over the course of a few afternoons and evenings. I did push thru one late night so that I could have it done in time for a special photo session with my best friend and her daughters. As I mentioned before, we are based in the heart of tulip country and these are the results…
So funny story, in the process of taking these photos a gentleman across the field called out, “Ever think you’d find a time where that was camouflage?” I still can’t help but laugh, obviously he doesn’t know any sewing bloggers or the effort we put into finding that perfect background to pair with our garments!
My “mad rush” to get my jacket done in time was well worth it. The photos turned out amazing and I love how my trench looks and feels. The stretch is a really nice added bonus and it pairs nicely with the more fitted design. I also really love the length—just long enough to cover my bum but not too long that the jacket gets in the way. The only change I would make on a future version would be to lengthen the bodice a bit and lower the waist about and inch or so, not a huge change and not something most people will notice with everything else going on with this jacket. Overall, the feminine flair of the Luzerne with the fitted bodice and waist pleats are a really nice touch and it shows off this taffeta coating beautifully! The movement and subtle shine paired with the gorgeous print is a match made in sewing heaven and the result are even better than I imagined!
P.S. Looking for other spring jacket inspiration? Check out our nylon twill hooded jacket and soft shell Kelly Jacket for two more great options. We also put together a Spring Outerwear collection with great fabric, patterns and trims to pair together when creating your own look.