I’m nothing if not persistent (some might call it stubbornness).
After encouragement and advice from Liz Haywood of The Craft of Clothes blog, I took another stab at making a bog coat.
I used the tweedy fabric I cut out during my last experiment. This is fabric I really liked, but the lining fabric I had cut out for it did not line up properly. I didn’t want to abandon that tweedy piece of fabric, though I was certainly ready to abandon bog coats after the last few tries. (Read about those experiments here.)
Liz indicated that I was sewing the one seam across the bodice and bottom of the sleeve the wrong way. I was sewing the bodice portion by lapping the top right side (as opposed to the wrong side) of the fabric over the bottom right side and then starting a new seam to create the sleeve.
I should have been pinning the right sides of the fabric together for the bodice/sleeve seam, just like in standard sewing using seam allowances, and creating one seam with a narrow seam allowance, adjusting for that tricky armpit area. To do this pinning of right sides together, you have to turn the entire coat inside out. When the seam is done, the coat is turned right side out and the seam is nice and neat.
I still had some trouble with the armpit, but the adjustment I made was something I could live with in the finished garment.
In order to have extra thickness and warmth, I wanted to line the bog coat and I purchased a new piece of cotton fabric for this purpose. Liz gave me advice on how to manage attaching the lining, something that may be blindingly obvious to more experienced sewers but certainly wasn’t to me. I needed to attach the lining along the neck and front edges and leave the lining unattached and hanging freely from the bottom edge of the coat. This means finishing the hems on the lining and shell of the coat before attaching everything along the front and neck edges, so you’ve got to plan ahead.
I decided to use a wide contrasting binding for my neck and front edges. Rather than create separate binding pieces for the neck and front edges, I used one long binding (and a tiny little additional piece at the bottom of one front edge when I discovered the binding was not quite long enough). This meant being creative at the turning points at the front of the neck, so I’ve got these interesting soft folds at the neck corners that I quite like.
Every coat has to have pockets, so before I sewed the lining into place with the binding, I added two pockets on the front of the shell in the same fabric as the binding.
Once the coat was together and I tried it on, I knew instantly that I needed a couple of buttons. I didn’t want to make buttonholes, so I used metal snaps as my fasteners then put buttons on the coat in order to cover where I had sewn the snaps. This hid the thread I had used to sew on the snaps.
I used two, large, creamy white buttons to give the coat the feeling of being an artist’s smock.
I like how this coat turned out, even though I have discovered I am still not a huge fan of the bog coat. This is a deceptively simple pattern that has some trickiness to overcome in order to do it right.
Having tackled this sewing challenge, I have great appreciation for people in the past for their inventiveness, particularly because they did not have the same automated tools we have now.
I must say, I did use a standard needle and thread to sew the binding to the inside of the coat. This method made it much easier to adjust the fabric as I went along. This goes to show that older, non-automated methods may actually work better than today’s speedy solutions.
When it comes to thinking about our human ancestors, we must not slip into epochism, which is the assumption that those of past eras were somehow dumber and less civilized or refined than we are. Challenges such as making patterns from the past certainly show us our own ignorance.
(You won’t find epochism in a dictionary. I looked. The most appropriate reference I found to the term online is from this post on the Maverick Philosopher blog: Is Hegel Guilty of ‘Epochism’?)
Incidentally, as I was working on my bog coats and telling my husband my woes about the project, I kept calling this a “blog coat”. Somehow that seems fitting.