I know this is an unpopular opinion, but I like cold weather and I’ve been excited to sew up some gear for frigid temperatures, Atlanta style.
Kwik Sew 4254 is a zipper front hooded coat – what we called a Parka in my part of the Great White North. This particular pattern appealed because it’s unlined, and where I live we don’t wear a lot of winter wear so time spent making something suitable for -30 would be wasted.
And it was easy to envision it in my fabric since the pattern picture showed a plaid!
This wool blend was purchased in August of 2017 at Sew Over It. I loved the bright colours and originally planned to make a jacket and skirt. The longer the fabric sat in my stash the more I realized I would never in a million years wear a pink plaid blazer but I would wear a pink coat. One of the things I hate about winter is everyone trudging around in their black, grey or khaki coloured winter coats. Blah. The days are short and dark. Why make them darker and more boring by wearing dull colours?
Plaid Matching is a challenge!
Many moons ago my mom showed me how to match plaid, but I only vaguely remembered how (I know there were pencil crayons involved) and needed some brushing up so I read various articles in books and online. It seemed easy enough – match the plaids at the top of the shoulder on all pieces, then match the horizontal line at a certain point on the pattern pieces. Nice in theory, much harder in practice.
One trick I did utilize so pieces had the same plaid layout was to work with a single layer, cutting the first piece then using that piece as the pattern for the second piece. For example, I cut one sleeve, then without removing the tissue or pins, I set the cut sleeve/pattern piece over the uncut fabric (wrong sides together), matched the plaid and cut the second piece. This worked really well and was an easy way to make the sleeves matched.
This is a Kwik Sew pattern, so it’s not particularly complicated. The zipper is inserted early on and although the instructions seem illogical, they’re correct. Once I had all 4 front pieces stitched (and topstitched) I realized that the plaid was mismatched in one section. No one will notice, right?
The next morning I took a hard look at the jacket and the mismatched plaid. Why do I do this? Why am I always in such a rush? I’d held onto this fabric for about 18 months and it was a reminder of a special vacation – why was I hurrying? I gave myself a shake and unpicked plenty of stitches, cut another front piece so the plaid actually matched and put it together right. Prior to this mishap, there was enough excess fabric to make a little skirt but unless I want a micro mini that ain’t gonna happen.
Once the zipper was inserted the rest of the project was pretty quick to put together.
The pattern doesn’t make any suggestions about seam finishes and I think that’s a real shortcoming. What do we do with coats? We take them off, we throw them over the back of chairs or on hangers where all can see the inside. I knew that I wanted this to look finished so finished the main seams with a Hong Kong finish using a fun pink polka dot cotton. And to keep the front facings in place I topstitched down the front seams and caught the edge of the facing.
The final step is shoulder pads, which I covered in the plaid and then stitched into place.
This was really easy to put together, and the wool stitched up well. This jacket has a lot of ease (a LOT of ease) but then I guess it’s designed that way to allow for layers underneath. If I was to make this again I would definitely size down (I sewed for my bust size, so an XL). There’s just an excess of ease across the chest, but that’s also how it looks on the pattern.
The plaid matches in the important places – the back, the front, the hood. One of the sleeves matches really well, the other not so much, and the shoulders don’t line up (and that was the one area I really focused on!). But the plaid is straight down the middle of the sleeve!
Although the jacket is unlined, because of the front facings and asymmetrical zipper, there are 4 layers of fabric over the chest, which does help to keep in the warmth. The hood is warm but enormous! I don’t see myself wearing the hood often, although I really feel a bit Dr Zhivago’ish when it’s pulled up.
The only real disappointment about the jacket is the fabric because it is just a little bit lightweight so doesn’t hang as well as it could. I suppose if it was much heavier I would be complaining that it’s too warm! If this was lined it would probably hang better. Oh well, now I know for next time!
I don’t see myself making this again unless we relocate somewhere cold! We have had some cold days this month and I’ve had fun being one of the few colourful people walking through the parking garage. Enough with the black coats already, people!