Gerard Part II: The Deets

For those who are interested, I thought I would share where I got all of my supplies for my Gerard coat.  I am in no way affiliated with any of the companies or products, just giving recommendations based on what I found while searching around for myself 🙂  I’ll also share some of the on line resources that helped me with the construction.  All of the prep took a lot longer than the actual making of the coat, so I hope this helps a little.  Let’s start with the fabric!DSC_0005Wool coating- I debated which side to use as I really liked the back as much as the front!

I chose this medium weight wool blend with a large herringbone weave.  It is super soft and has lots of drape- a little too much, which is why I decided to underline it.  I’m not sure exactly what the blend is, but it is a little furry.  I would think you want to go with something 100% wool or at least all natural fiber, as a poly blend is not going to press as nicely- something you need to make the collar and lapels look good.  I got this at a local store (Mill End) where they have a large selection of wool, it was $25 a yard but they let me use a Joann’s coupon for 20% off, score! On line, Mood Fabrics has  lot of nice wool at reasonable prices- for something more spendy have a look at Britex.  I would definitely recommend ordering swatches first if you are going the on line route, they are usually only $1.00 each and could save you spending a bunch of money on fabric you don’t like.  I pre-shrunk the wool using this method, which basically involves throwing the fabric in your dryer with a couple wet towels so it will steam up and shrink the fabric a bit.  I measured before and after and there was a fair amount of shrinkage!

I mentioned that I added an underling, I felt like the fabric was perhaps a little too drapey and wanted to add a bit of body.  I think it added some warmth to the coat as well.  I used some black silk organza, very reasonably priced at $5.15 a yard from Dharma Trading Company.  I machine basted it to all of the main fabric pieces, with the exception of the pieces that would be interfaced.  DSC_0010Silk organza

For the lining I originally ordered some stripey rayon/acetate lining fabric, but eventually decided to go with a black silk charmeuse.  I am so glad I did!!  It is amazingly soft and feels so luxurious.  Definitely worth the extra cost.  I got mine from Dharma Trading Company for $13.25 a yard, and the quality is very nice!  They only have black and white, but it’s definitely a lower price than I found anywhere else.  I recently ordered more, some black and white, to make a few slips and camisoles.  The white is actually a nice soft ivory color, and not a harsh bright white.  I am going to experiment with dying some of it with tea to hopefully get a nice beige color for a slip.DSC_0013Silk charmeuse

Interfacing!  A new concept for me- I usually avoid interfacing, at least the fusible kind.  I just don’t like it!  I usually use a bit of self fabric, muslin, or voile (depending on the weight needed) where interfacing is called for, and machine baste it to the main fabric.  But I felt like I probably needed the real stuff for this jacket, and went on a search for some good quality interfacing.  The name that kept popping up was Fashion Sewing Supply, so I decided to try their  Pro-Weft Supreme medium interfacing, and their Pro-Weft Supreme light interfacing.  They are $11.79 (66 inches wide) and $7.75 (60 inches wide) a yard, but since they are wide you get a lot of interfacing for that price.  And they feel amazing!  They feel like fabric, not the crazy stiff, rough interfacing I was used to seeing at the store.  They have a swatch set of all of their interfacing for $13, I may get it to try out some of the other weights.  I tested both weights on some scraps of my coat fabric, and found that I liked the feel and weight of the light interfacing the best.  I wanted to maintain a casual, relaxed feel to the coat so I didn’t want anything to feel too heavy or stiff.  I only interfaced the parts that were recommended in the pattern- the facings, the collar, and the bottoms of the sleeves.DSC_0008Two weights of interfacing

I decided to do a hand sewn, corded buttonhole.  I think a bound buttonhole would be nice also!  I ordered Gutermann silk buttonhole twist and buttonhole gimp from Bay Tailor Supply.  They were super nice and carry all sorts of thread and other tailoring supplies.DSC_0016Buttonhole gimp and buttonhole twist

When it came to the actual construction of the coat, I needed help!  Looking at the pattern instructions as a whole was pretty intimidating, but like anything when you break it down into the individual steps it’s not so bad.  The first thing I did was watch this video.  Yeah.  It’s over an hour long but you get to watch someone sew a lined jacket, and it just gave me a bit of understanding of how it would all come together.  Then, the printing and tracing of the pattern which was a bit of work in itself!  The pieces didn’t come together perfectly in spots- I did the best I could and hoped it would work out OK (it did!).  There are lots of pattern pieces!  18 actually…DSC_0029The pattern pieces are in french, so as I traced them I wrote in the english translation and checked it off my list to make sure I had all of the pieces.  Then I added 1 cm seam allowances, as they are not included in the pattern.   Then I cut cut cut…main fabric, lining, underlining, and interfacing.  Phew!

I read through the pattern instructions as I went and generally tried to follow them as written, but when I needed more detail I went to the RTW Tailoring Sew Along on Pattern Scissors Cloth- a blog that is not active anymore but holy wow, there is a wealth of good information over there!  I want to print out the whole thing because I am afraid it will disappear, ha.

This is a well drafted pattern and everything came together very nicely.  I had some difficulty in a few spots where my notches disappeared- the fabric frayed a bit and I just couldn’t find them!  Next time I will find a different way to mark them, maybe with a bit of contrasting thread.  When I was putting the lining together there were a few places that had extra ease- in those spots I just made a little pleat and hoped I was doing the right thing.  When it came time to sew the lining in I used Jen’s tutorial over at Grainline on how to bag a jacket lining. The best, as usual.  Thanks Jen!

The pattern shows two buttons;  I opted for one because I like how it looks, and I didn’t relish the thought of trying to get two hand sewn buttonholes to match up exactly 😉  I watched this video, it is amazing how fast he sews that perfect buttonhole!  I glanced through a few other tutorials as well (this one is good, I printed these instructions out to use on the plane).  I loved this awesome article about hand worked buttonholes in tailored suits, you have to check it out for the pictures if nothing else!  I used a 1 inch button- I think 1 to 1 1/8 inch is a good size for this coat.

Overall I would say that this coat was much easier to sew than it would seem just by glancing through the pattern and instructions.  There are so many resources to be found on line, and I am sure there are many books out there on the subject as well.  Not to mention, if you have sewn a tailored jacket before it would all make a lot more sense.

I hope that covers most of it!  Don’t hesitate to ask questions in the comments if you want- I’m sure I’ve left something out.  And keep in mind that I am far from being an expert on the subject- I’m just sharing what worked for me.  There may be better materials and methods out there!

 

  • Susan

    Thank you for all the groundwork you.ve done for your fellow Gerard sewists. Having already spent the weekend assembling, labelling and adding seam allowance to this beast I feel exhausted; ready to pack this away to the archives. Now, having read both you Gerard posts, I feel that perhaps the hard work has been done and hopefully smooth sailing from here on. You have done an amazing job on the coat, thanks for the inspiration and motivation to keep on with this pattern. I am actually using an Emerson fry drop shoulder opera coat as inspiration and changing the pockets to welt pockets. Wish me luck.

    • Kelly

      Oooo, good luck! I just had a look at your inspiration coat, it is beautiful! I love Emerson Fry, my mother-in-law bought me a top from them back when it was called Emerson Made and it is one of the only RTW pieces that I still love and wear 🙂 I do think you’ve got most of the tedious work behind you, and hope you can power through to finish- it will be worth it!! I want to make another and perhaps change it up a bit with the pockets too, can’t wait to see yours!

  • dharma trading has such awesome prices on silks, i need to order from them sometime! love all the buttonhole links, i can’t imagine making a whole suit and then cutting into it for those buttonholes… too scary!

    • Kelly

      I seriously felt a little sick to my stomach making that cut, ha.

  • I’m going to watch that hour-long video sometime when I pick up my coat project again! Thanks for sharing.

  • Jennifer

    Great information, thanks for all the trailblazing and links, so helpfull!

  • Stunning coat and I love reading all the deets! I’m glad you chose the silk charmuese lining as the rayon/acetate who not have fought with the natural wool. It’s never a good idea to mix the two when it comes to self and lining.

    • Kelly

      Good to know, thanks Maddie! I am so glad I used the silk, I don’t know where that acetate will end up-maybe lining a bag or something 🙂

  • Really nice coverage of the construction and supply info. This is the good, juicy stuff I love seeing on sewing blogs!!!

    • Kelly

      Thanks Kathy, that’s good to know- I always figure this stuff is too boring but it’s good to know there is some interest in more details 🙂

  • Fantastic post, thank you very much. I’ll be saving it so that I can return to it later when I make a coat myself. Thank you! Rachel ☺

  • This is a great post and I will make sure I pin those videos for future reference!! Still love that coat of yours. So great.

  • I appreciate the explanation of the supplies and choices you made. I love Dharma Trading. I recently tried to make decent hand sewn buttonholes, but had to undo them and use the machine. I didn’t have the right thread and didn’t have it locally.

  • Wow, thanks so much for sharing all of this! I really love the Fashion Sewing Supply interfacing- it’s really great for coats, but also in things like buttondowns that you launder a lot. Sometimes I’ve noticed that my garments with cheaper interfacing start looking awful after a few washes, but I’ve had great luck with the stuff from FSS.

  • Great job with the hand sewn button hole! I found that same video very helpful also when I sewed up mine. Thank you for sharing all of your resources!

  • This is great! Hunting down all the necessaries can become a huge project in itself! Thank you so much for sharing your resources.

  • Thank you for sharing these wonderful resources. It’ll save me a lot of time and tears when I come to make my own Gerard. The tip about putting wool in a tumble dryer is brilliant.

  • Claire

    Very interesting post! Gérard coat is a real challenge and needs some preparation before but when you suit it, hummm, you forget everything! I work on a Julia jacket ( 27 pattern pieces! No, it´s not a joke!) and I am sure it will be hard but, when it´s easy where is the pleasure?

    • Kelly

      I love that Julia jacket, it’s definitely one I want to make in the future! And you’re right, when it is such a challenge it is very satisfying 🙂

  • Holy cow. You are amazing woman. No wonder that jacket looks so spectacular, all the home-work gone into it!

    • Kelly

      Awwww, thanks 🙂 Definitely spent more time thinking about it than actually making it!

  • Loving your Gerrard coat, so classic and cosy! And, these tips are going to be very helpful for my next coat!

  • This is all such great information, Kelly! Thanks for sharing!

  • I love that coat! Great job!
    I had no idea this pattern company existed, and yet they seem to have everything I’ve been wanting to make lately. And the smallest size seems to match my measurements, and that’s rare. I think I’ll start with Ludivine while waiting for the English translation for Julia. I looks like there’s so much detailing in the jacket that I’d rather not guess what goes where.

  • First of all, your Gerard is gorgeous! Having just downloaded the pattern I was getting very intimidated looking at the instructions. Luckily, I found this post! Thank you so much for all the amazing info you’ve provided. It’s definitely made me feel better about the whole thing.

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