Make | Opium Coat by Deer and Doe Patterns
As we are in the depths of the Southern Hemisphere winter, my instagram feed is full of pretty summer dresses of the Northern Hemisphere Summer. I have been longing for a ‘prettier’ make and so on a bit of a whim I made a coat! Not at all light weight and floaty, but the girliest swingiest kind of winter coat.
When I say it was a whim, that’s not entirely true. At the start of the year, I set out my ‘make 9’ with a Solar Coat. Not so long ago I had a plan to make that which turned into my Friday Pattern Co Cambria Duster Coat. Coming back to my plans once again for the Solar pattern, I found this gorgeous fabric, and the perfect matching silk lining, so it was ready to make a coat.
But, when it really came to it, something just didn’t feel right for me about the Solar coat. I scoured instagram to find ideas and hacks to make the Solar fit into my ideas better and then, from nowhere, I remembered that way back when I got started sewing I bought the Opium pattern by Deer and Doe.
This time last year I had just about completed my first few sewing projects when I optimistically bought this pattern. When it arrived and I studied its packet, it was clear to me that it was way ahead of my abilities and so it was relegated to the back of my cupboard.
Once I dug out the pattern, it was an instant decision and I set to the pattern prep. Without question, this is the most involved make I have sewn so far and so instinctively I took a very different approach to getting ready.
I typically jump right into a sewing project without too much cause for pause, but this was quite different. I started by reading all the instructions first. I never do this and am usually far to keen to just get started… and I have learnt that this is a good step to add, especially on a more complex sew.
On the downside though I did end up overthinking things a little and it ended up summoning up feelings I haven’t had for a while. I was intimidated by this pattern in the same way I was when I started out to sew and I almost thought I couldn’t do it. I had to remind myself that I just take one step at a time and I got to it.
Deer and Doe Opium Coat
Pattern Prep and Cutting
Pattern prep isn’t something I enjoy and so the amount of pattern prep involved in this make didn’t fill me with joy. But…. I think the fact that I really took my time has made a huge difference to the quality of my make so another learning for me.
The fabric I had purchased for this coat is (IMO) really beautiful and I didn’t want to mess it up. Cutting into it was daunting and with a check pattern I wanted things to match up.
The cutting process was a slow one. I pinned my fabric before I cut it so all the checks lined up and slowly got to the cutting. I was trying to be more precise that ever and so with a pattern matched check and a silk as shifty as water, this was a slow process. Add to that all the interfacing (there is a lot with this pattern) and it was pretty much a whole day of cutting and interfacing.
Had I known that when I got started, it probably would never had happened, so it’s probably good I didn’t read all those details too thoroughly!
There are two things in particular, aside from taking my time, that I feel really gave me some confidence as I was sewing this fabric.
I have never really pattern matched before. Not properly anyway on something that would really make or break my make. I didn’t really know what to do if I’m honest and so just followed my instincts. Having a check pattern helped actually. It created a grid structure naturally and so I made sure first of all when I folded for cutting that all my lines on the underside matched up. I pinned the fabric together before I laid the pattern on to make sure it didn’t move. Once I did this, everything else came together nicely, with me using the grid of the pattern to cut accurately.
Working with Silk
I have never sewn with silk before. I have sewn with some pretty shifty cupro and viscose fabrics, but something about the luxurious nature of this silk made me apprehensive. I know what to do – lots of pins, waking foot, the right needle etc, but I stumbled on a little hack that meant I didn’t need to do all of that.
When I say I stumbled on a little hack, I’m not sure if this is already a thing or not… did I make it up? I am sure other people have done this, but I have not seen it as a tip before and so for now I am claiming it as my hack.. haha!
As I was working to stay stitch the curves on my my silk it was fraying left right and centre. I decided to save my seam allowance I would serge to whole lot of my silk lining – all the edg
I set my serger tension onto low and slowly and carefully handled my silk through the machine. As I then went to pin my lining together, it quickly became clear that the serger threads had given me some very helpful friction – just like snow chains on a tyre.
This worked so well that on the straight edges of silk that needed to be sewn, I didn’t even use pins and my seams came out so straight as I was able to control my shifty silk with my hands. I still pinned the curves, but only a few pins which was great for not putting pin holes in my gorgeous fabrics!
Other than the pattern matching and silk, I also had never sewn a welt pocket before so another for me. I was a little nervous as I readied to cut into the fabric, but the instructions were so clear I just got stuck in and got them done. I think I could do a better job of this particular style of welt now that I have done them already, but although they aren’t 100% perfect, I am really happy with how they came out.
The rest of my coat came together pretty straightforwardly. The instructions are generally, really well written.
The ony time I got completely stuck and had to refer to something other than the instructions was for sewing the sleeve lining to the cuffs. I just couldn’t get my head around it and so I consulted the Sew Sew Live video on You Tube on how Saremy sewed this up ( a very detailed sew along if anyone wants the help!).
A Common Opium Coat challenge…?
There is one tricky element it seems with the Opium coat and that is the hem. Surely this is an easy part?
Well, just one look at the hashtag on Instagram and you will see many a beautiful coat that isn’t sitting properly at the hem. I assumed this was just where other sewers hadn’t pressed enough or sewn the lining too small. But, knowing just how much time I had spent with the clapper at the ironing board and if anything I have a bit too much lining, I was disappointed when my first hem looked the same.
I do think this is a bit of an issue with the pattern and instructions, but nothing a bit of adjusting can’t fix.. which is what I had to do. You can see the problem with my first hem which followed the steps given to a tee…. after my adjustments it’s much better!
And so there you have it – my Opium Coat by Deer and Doe Patterns. I’ll be really honest, I didn’t enjoy the making process of this coat overall. Too much interfacing and the most amount of pressing ever zapped all my fun. I do however have the most phenomenal coat now and I love wearing it. It has the most amazing twirl making it a proper Swing coat!
Would I make one again…? I’m not sure, but for now I don’t need to as I have this beauty and that’s enough coat for an Auckland winter right now 😉
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