Opium coat (Deer & Doe)

About a month ago, I started seeing mentions here and there of the horrendous winter we are apparently likely to have this year in the U.K. “FOUR MONTHS OF SNOW” screamed one headline. I mean, that’s a third of a year! “Right!”, I thought to myself, “we’re going to make a coat”.
Initially I had planned on using a different pattern, and a fabric from my stash (yes, it includes coating fabric – nothing to see here). I spent about a week preparing that pattern, researching interlinings, and reviewing various resources on tailoring and structuring outerwear. And then, out of nowhere, I saw a post about the Deer & Doe Opium Coat. I loved it – hello, have you seen those pockets?! – and downloaded the pattern immediately.
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I then happened to come across the coating fabric, the pattern and the rayon fabric for this project all within a few days of each other – it felt like a sign! I put the other coat project on the back burner and two weeks later, I had made this coat! There’s a lot of detail below so this review is a bit of a long one – sorry – but I hope it’s helpful! Feel free to skip to the photos 🙂

Project details

Main fabric: a wool coating from Pretty Mercerie (sold out, but I’m already drooling over these similar ones in mustard yellow and cypress green.
Lining: a rayon from Sew Over It, and acetate twill lining from my stash.
Interlining: heavy fusible interlining from The Lining Company
Other: two large snaps (I haven’t attached these yet), fusible stay tape, lightweight fusible interfacing, heavyweight fusible interfacing
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Pattern prep

I assembled the PDF print-at-home pattern (50 A4 pages) in order to be able to make a start on the project over the weekend. I use a rotary blade and cutting mat to trim several pages at once, so this step actually didn’t take as long as it might have otherwise. Assembling and tracing off the pattern pieces took me the best part of one evening (while watching a movie).
After much deliberation, I decided to go down one size from the recommended size for my bust measurement. There was just So. Much. Ease in the finished measurements table, it scared me, but at the same time I was conscious that it’s a swing coat, so that’s kind of the point! I was very tempted to go down two sizes but I didn’t want to have any issues with the fit of the shoulder.
I had traced onto some Swedish tracing paper because it was the only tracing paper I had to hand, so I decided to make use of its strength and do a tissue fitting rather than making a muslin. Swedish tracing paper can actually be sewn, but I just used pins to save myself the hassle of unpicking stitches. I decided to lengthen the sleeves by 1.5” but other than that, there were no fitting changes. I did think to myself “hmm, this looks like an awful lot of ease in the hem… but then it is a swing coat, that’s kind of the point. Plus, the fabric will hang differently”.
For structure, after much deliberation, I decided to do the following:
  • I interlined the main fabric front and back pieces with fusible thick interlining. I read somewhere that one shouldn’t line, interface and interline a garment, but should only use two out of those three things at a time. I’m not sure whether I remembered that correctly, particularly since I can’t find the source, but I felt that the front and back body pieces had enough support from the thick interlining to get away without using interfacing as well. The wool has a really nice weight to it and the interlining made it feel lush without being too stiff.
    Another option would have been to interface the coat pieces according to the instructions and attach or fuse interlining to the lining pieces instead. I had a quick look at my favourite RTW coat and it seems that the lining is untouched, and the main body pieces have a layer of either interfacing or interlining fused, so I felt like I was on the right track.
  • I also interlined one piece of the pocket lining (the shorter piece which is attached to the welt) so there’s a little extra warmth for my hands if it’s cold enough that I’ve put them in my pocket. A little OTT, but, you know… Winter Is Coming.
  • I followed the pattern instructions to trace off extra pattern pieces for the lapel and a 2″ layer of interfacing at the hem of the coat front, coat back and the sleeves.
  • I also drafted an extra interfacing piece to function as a back stay, across the upper parts of the back and back sleeve pieces.
  • I used a narrow fusible stay tape along the roll line and the armscyes.
  • I ordered a few different types of raglan shoulder pad, but none of them really seemed to work with this pattern / my shoulders, so I haven’t used any in the coat. The instructions didn’t mention shoulder pads anyway.

Preparing the pattern took a few hours.

Fabric prep

This is a wool coating so rather than sending it to the dry cleaners (which I’ve never done with uncut fabric), I just gave it a generous steaming.

Next, I fused the interlining to the front and back coat pieces (but not the sleeves), and proceeded to fuse my various interfacing pieces.

I used two different types of interfacing:

  • lightweight interfacing for the hems, facings, upper collar, and the whole of the under collar; and
  • medium/heavyweight interfacing for the lapel, the back stay and the under collar below the roll line (called the ‘stand’ of the collar).

In hindsight I think my medium/heavyweight interfacing was more ‘heavy’ than ‘medium’ weight and because it’s quite stiff, it crumpled the coating quite a lot in later steps of construction. I was able to press everything out again but it remains to be seen how this will act over time. Fingers crossed!

I took extra care when transferring the welt pocket and collar markings in hopes of getting a neat, accurate result, and this definitely helped me later, although I’m not sure I really understood the pattern for the welt pocket markings – I just used the end points and the midpoint line between them! In fact I got so carried away that I marked the welt markings on the wrong side of the coat fronts rather than the right side. Very helpful.

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It’s worth noting that although the pattern suggests just over 3m of fabric, I only used about 2.25m for size 36. It also mentions needing 2 1/2 yards of seam tape interfacing – I’m not sure what this is or where we were supposed to use it. Unless I missed it (which is very possible), it didn’t seem to be specifically mentioned in the instructions.

Assembly

This is probably the section I’ve got least to say about! I just followed the instructions, which are nicely written. I made a few mistakes through my own inaccuracy / lack of attention to the instructions, but that’s standard and I won’t bore you with those.

The most time consuming part was probably those welt pockets, as you might expect, but it didn’t take long to get to the point where the outer shell was complete.

 

The two issues I had whilst actually following the instructions are:

  • When attaching the pocket lining to the welt, the instructions don’t state whether they should be right sides together or wrong sides together. The diagram shows the correct shading, but I didn’t notice, and so on one of my pockets one side of the  inside is actually the interlining rather than the right side of the pocket. It’s the side on the outside of the coat so no-one will ever see it anyway.
  • I was happy with the bagging out lining instructions, except the bit that dealt with the sleeves. I felt like it was missing a couple of sub-steps or diagrams or something to explain more clearly. To resolve it, I turned the whole coat back out, tucked both the sleeve hem and the lining hem under as they would lie if the sleeve had been hemmed, pinned them in place like that, and then turned everything back wrong-side out, wrestled with the fabric to get the pins back out, and then re-pin and sew. It was as stressful as it sounds! I must have done this before on projects like my cropped trench coat or Francine Jacket, but I couldn’t remember how it was supposed to work. But I got there in the end.

I added a few ‘extras’ such as piping between the lining and the coat, a short chain for hanging the coat (from eBay) and of course, my ‘me-made’ label.

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Time taken

I spent a few hours researching before I started ‘coat making’, to decide on my approach to interfacing and interlining, remind myself how notched collars are supposed to be constructed, source the raglan shoulder pads, and make myself some crib notes for future reference.

I did the pattern prep and the fabric prep in bits and pieces, but I think they took a few hours. Assembly took roughly 8-10 hours. I had a good uninterrupted stretch of 6 hours and by the end of that, the outer shell was done and the collar/facings attached. The remaining time was spent tidying up the insides and bagging out the lining.

It sounds like a lot, but from starting the fabric prep, the coat was finished within a few days, mid-week. If you had a weekend to yourself, you could definitely do it in a weekend.

Verdict

I actually, really, love it! There were several points along the way where I was worried that there was just too much ease in the coat and it wouldn’t be flattering. Right up to the point of the final bit of hand stitching at the hem, I was considering taking a long wedge out of the back seam, tapering from nothing at the cross back to a few inches out of the hem – what held me back was worrying about having issues with the grainline along the centre back. However, the final coat now doesn’t seem as overwhelming as it did during construction! I really enjoy the ‘swing’ now.

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I would make this coat again, although I’d have to think about how to avoid looking like I’d just bought the same coat in a different fabric (because yes, I actually think this could pass for a RTW coat!). I will probably make versions for family members – if they’ll babysit while I do it – as it was a surprisingly quick and easy make.

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The pattern was very well drafted, and I think it makes for a stylish coat that will fit very nicely into my curated wardrobe. I never thought of A-line/swing silhouettes as being ‘my style’, but I was immediately drawn to the Opium pattern images and I’m glad I tried something out of my comfort zone. I definitely recommend this pattern!

 

6 thoughts on “Opium coat (Deer & Doe)

  1. What a great looking coat! It most certainly looks rtw and color is fabulous on you. Would you mind disclosing the source for the chain hanging loop you found on eBay? In looking for a source on the USA eBay site, I can’t find anything as nice as yours. Previously, I’ve used grosgrain for this purpose, I’d like to upgrade my next jacket!

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  2. Stunning! Such a beautiful coat. Thanks for all your tips on the making of it. They will definitely help me if I summon enough courage to give it a go!

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  3. your coat is lovely. I love swing coats. You did not mention your lining, but I saw it peaking out and I think it adds the most delightful touch to the coat. what did you use?

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    1. Thank you! It’s actually just a rayon, which might be a bit risky in terms of wear and tear, but it was so pretty! I’ll be careful with it and see how it holds up, but I used a rayon to line a cropped trench jacket last year and that has been absolutely fine.

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