If I may be so bold, it was a mistake for you to accept promotion. Commanding a starship is your first, best destiny; anything else is a waste of material. – Spock, Wrath of Khan
If ever there was a project I was simultaneously proud of and so glad to have over, it’s this coat lol. It wasn’t THAT hard to put together just very time consuming and, yet, it’s one of those projects I couldn’t stop thinking about. You know you’re dedicated to your craft when you wake up at 3 am determined to find out the best way to add in a zipper to a pattern that doesn’t already have one. But, what can I say. All in all, I am in love with this coat and I put a lot of work and love and maybe even a few curse words into it. I tend to be very self deprecating about my sewing and extremely self critical. I often look at projects and can only see my mistakes. This time around, though, I am happy to focus on how I got it right from conception to finish.
I’ve already posted some about the infamous collar. In the end, I HATED the first collar I sewed up. It just never worked right and I had trouble getting it to lay the way I wanted it to. In round 2, I backed the cream suede with a scrap of satin that I had in my stash rather than a piece of thinsulate, stuffed it, and then sewed it to the undercollar. It still didn’t come out 100% perfect and there is a lot of ease in the undercollar but I couldn’t get the it to behave with the padded upper collar without getting it way off grain. Once I got it in, though, it did it’s magic and looked totally badass…just like the original.
“Dammit, Jim. I’m a doctor not a tailor. Oh, wait. No. I actually am a tailor and not a doctor.”
During the process of permanently sewing on the collar, I took the first step in adding the lining by sewing the top facing to the collar line just as you would with a traditional coat. The lining really turned out amazing. This was my first time lining a jacket of any kind so I watched quite a few videos on how to sew the sleeve seams internally and then pull them through. I still think I got it wrong in terms of lining length vs. sleeve length as the lining likes to peek out a little at times but it’s nothing a little internal tacking can’t fix. I LOVE the color of it though. It’s been very much a love/hate thing with people who have seen it. Once I explain that I chose it to represent the Mutara Nebula at the end of the movie they understand the choice but it is still a bold color. Good thing for me I love purple so it really gives me a lot of joy to open up the front and see that flash of color.
“You can’t go there!!!”
Outside of the collar, the one thing on this that I was adamant about changing was converting the pattern from a button down to a zipper. Here in Chicago, button down coats in the winter just don’t cut it. When it gets brutally cold, the zipper closures really help to keep the wind out. While converting the coat from a peacoat style closure to a more standard center front closure took away some of the lovely features of the collar (especially how it was designed to lay open) it was really a necessity.
To add the zipper, I put my coat shell on my dress form and marked on each side where the center front was and where I wanted the flap to end. I ended up chopping off about 3 inches from both flaps. Once those seams were done, I laid the coat flat and marked where the top flap overlapped the front of the coat. This gave me a guide line for zipper placement.
To create the zipper flaps, I purchased a separating zipper and sewed scraps of the faux suede outer fabric to each side depending on which part of the coat it was attaching to so that it would blend right in. I first laid down the zipper tape that would be attached to the outer fabric (the burgundy side of the coat). Pinning that in place, I attached the other size of the zipper and tacked that down with a pin to give me a measurement for where to place the tape on the other side. Each tape was then sewn onto the corresponding coat side by first sewing it with the teeth away from center front and then folding the tape back on itself and topstitching down into its final position. This allowed me to give it a really strong finish that will last a long time.
Once the zipper was added, I could close up the coat. As I mentioned before, this was my first time really lining a coat so sewing up the sleeves was a bit scary. It was also a bit cumbersome with all those layers. I did a lot of praying to the sewing gods before sinking my needle in this seam.
The problem that I ran into here was that I was so terrified I would mess up the lining that I cut it really conservatively. It ended up being a bit TOO conservative so I really have too much length in the sleeve lining right now. Tacking it up on the inside will likely fix the issue but I may go back and try to resew it. Or I could just leave it which is what a sane person would do. Honestly, I was just happy it turned out and didn’t look like something that had gotten lost during a transporter accident like those people in Star Trek I.
The only thing left after sewing the sleeves was turning up the hem and closing up the lining. Rather than doing a simple turn up, I turned up the bottom of the coat like you would a traditional jacket where you sew the hem behind the facings and then go back and attach the lining to the top of the hem. I turned up the burgundy suede about two inches, trimmed the thinsulate to meet the turn so that it didn’t fold on itself, and then attached the lining to the hem. I have developed a mean blind stitch so I find hemming to be quite relaxing these days. I can get it done quickly and it’s nice to sit and sew while watching old episodes of Star Trek on my sewing room computer.
The last task was to add the snaps. Those took A LIFETIME. UGGGGGGH. I never want to sew snaps on again! In retrospect, I really should have attached them before I closed up the lining and top stitched but LESSON LEARNED! I spent hours sewing on those square snaps. That being said, I love them as a design element especially on the collar. It had really bothered me that I couldn’t work in the front flap turn toggle from the crew uniforms as I had hoped. I was so afraid I would bash myself in the mouth with it at some point if I had a metal closure hanging off the collar edge. These were a great compromise and having them be square instead of round gave them a more modern edge.
In fittings I was just so unsure of the look of the coat. It just didn’t feel…right. It wasn’t until I got the snaps in and everything top stitched down that I felt I had gotten it right. That final try on was so rewarding. To look in the mirror and see that I had taken an idea and made it happen in such glorious nerd fashion (pun intended) just really made me feel so much more confident in how far I have come as a seamstress. Is it fine Italian bespoke tailoring? No. Is it an amazing piece that I am super proud of? You bet and you can also be sure that there aren’t any others like it right now.