Sunday, January 30, 2011

The fur is flying

Remember my fur coat?  (Just ignore the actual subject of that earlier post and scroll right to the bottom.  The Sewing Lawyer will get back to that partially-constructed leather jacket a bit later when spring is in the air.)  "Furla" as the coat is known around here (obviously not the Italian high fashion leather products company), is partly deconstructed.  It's going to be the very luxurious inside to a weather-proof outside, using Vogue 1083.  The muslin-modification is in progress, and The Sewing Lawyer is gathering the inner strength needed to tackle fur coat sewing.  Removing the pocket bags and invisibly closing the openings in the coat fronts went very well, suggesting the project might actually be feasible.

Here are some in-progress photos.  First, introducing Furla.  

Here you can see the original smock-like cut of this coat.  I've removed the original line-backer shoulder pads.  The front and back are actually gathered onto the yoke.  The sleeves extend from the yoke, and are pleated at the cap for extra fullness, and pleated/gathered into fur cuffs.  The armscye is extremely deep (hits me at about waist level).  The back-neck length of the coat is a full 50" (127cm).  It hits me only a few inches above my ankles.  And it's very large - the original owner was clearly tall and a big lady!  This coat must have cost a fortune when new, there is SO much mink in it.

Now, introducing my first muslin of the pattern.  Here are some pictures from the Vogue site to show you what it's supposed to look like.
I see I managed to accomplish the look of stunned concentration that seems to go with the task of taking-a-picture-of-myself-in-a-mirror.

These photos show a couple of problems with the pattern.  It's too voluminous in a thin fabric.  I'm going to be using a thin fabric.
It won't fall beautifully like a wool coating, which is what this pattern is designed for - check out this photo (also from the Vogue site, and yes, the length shown here is more accurate than the line drawings - the back length of the coat pattern is 45" or 115cm).

I also found that the dropped shoulder sewn according to the pattern is not sufficiently dropped to get the graceful look on the pattern envelope - far from it, it stuck out most unattractively.  In the above photo, I have pinned a curved dart starting at the curve of my shoulder which will pinch out 3cm in total from the armscye at the shoulder.  There is also (surprisingly, since the cap is very flat) quite a lot of ease in the sleeve which contributed to the unattractive stick-outy look.  I'm going to have to take out a lot of width at the sleeve cap, but I don't want to lose the height since the angle of the sleeve is good.

So where am I going to remove volume?  First, from the lower front at the CB - I may take out about 20cm at the hem.  Second, in the front, I'm taking a vertical tuck of about 3cm in width to the outside of the bust dart, tapering to nothing at about the shoulder point.  I've pinned it out in the above photo.

The other adjustments to the pattern I'll have to make are dictated by Furla's neckline.  It is about 1.5 cm lower at the back and wider at the shoulder than the Vogue pattern.  I want the necklines to more or less match.

As for Furla, my plan is to leave as much of it as I can intact.  I'll let the yoke of the outer coat skim over Furla's gathers, for example. I have removed the upper collar for future purposes.  The under collar will line the Vogue shawl collar which I will wear standing for extra coziness.  I have to take the back yoke and collar in at CB by approximately 3cm because it's far too big in that area.  I am taking off the fur cuffs, which I will save, maybe for some leather mittens since they are quite small.  I will definitely have to remove width from the sleeve below the arm, and take the coat in at the sides, below the sleeves.  Hopefully this will have the effect of raising Furla's armscye enough to match the Vogue pattern, which is also pretty low in that area.  I will also have to shorten it.  My current plan is to simply attach the fur to the edges of the coat at CF and around the collar, which will let the fur peek out only slightly.

I'm taking this a little bit slowly since I have to think it through in terms of construction and inner materials as I go.  I expect to use lambs wool to pad the entire coat yoke, and I think I'll use fusible interfacing to stiffen the collar and front edges enough to support the fur.  Closures remain to be decided but I have some big buttons in stash.  Maybe round elastic button loops?  Should the cuffs be fur or fabric?  Any thoughts on any of this?

Wish me luck!


  1. I say: "Oh, I know what I would wear under this coat!! ;)"
    Now you, Kay, say: "Oh, RHONDA!! :-O"
    Well... It's going to be gorgeous, Kay!!

  2. I couldn't get too far into the post until I realized you're using Furla as a lining. The Vogue pattern is gorgeous, but you don't want to have the coat re-styled? It's a gorgeous fur.

  3. Looks so warm and fabulous! Are you planning on fusing interfacing to the back of the fur?
    Let me know how that turns out.

    I can't wait to see more pictures of the inside, than ks for sharing!

  4. Wow Kay...what an amazing project! But I have no doubt it will be as gorgeous as everything else you create.

  5. Sewing Lawyer = Fur Engineer! Your talents amaze me! Can't wait to see how this turns out. Fabulous for sure.

  6. Fabulous coat under construction! You will be the most elegant lawyer in all of Canada! Mind you I had a giggle looking at your design and imagining it on my 5ft1in rather stocky frame. The image that came to mind was not good.

  7. I think this will turn out stunning! I love "furla" and I can't begin to imagine how cozy and fabulous this coat will be once completed! Good luck!

  8. You have selected a beautiful fur and wonderful style for your project. Please use a traditional fur hook closure. A large button might detract from the elegance of your project.

    Another Sewing Lawyer in Texas

  9. I'm looking forward to seeing how you and Furla make out. I have an inherited fur that I have intentions toward, but other projects have gotten in between and it probably won't get tackled this year. So I'll live vicarously through your project for the moment.

    Good luck.

  10. what a great idea . When I was in Germany a few years ago my aunt took pity on me and gave me a coat which has an outer shell of silk and an inner Mink vest which is buttoned into the outer shell. The outer layer is rather dated and while the coat was so very lovely and warm I think that it might be a great idea to watch your progress on this . As I live in Australia however, I will probably never wear it again until I go back to Europe . The mink feels amazing though. When I was little we lived near a Mink farm and I have to say they are nasty little creatures as I might be if I knew I was going to be made into a coat I suppose