In this post, I write about my process of sewing the Haremere Coat from the Merchant and Mills Workbook. This coat has fast become one of my all-time favourites – but that is not to say it is free from mistakes. Read on to find out more…
Whilst I usually sew with original vintage patterns, I am constantly inspired by modern day pattern companies and designers. During the summertime, my love of Merchant and Mills patterns commenced. Once I had sewn-up the Factory Dress (read my review here), I was smitten. The ethos of the brand, styling, articulate details – and of course the actual patterns themselves; all really appealed to me.
The Haremere Coat is one of six patterns contained within the Workbook. Most of the patterns have variations, for example, the Curlew can be made as either a bias cut dress, or a long sleeved top. The Haremere pattern given is actually for a jacket, with the variation option available to lengthen the pattern into a coat. Even though I liked the look of the jacket, for this version I wanted to make the coat length.
Haremere Pattern Details
The pattern is printed over three separate sheets, all of which are double sided. In addition, some of the pattern pieces are nested within each other – making tracing the pattern pieces absolutely essential. I understand this cuts down on printing costs, and thereby the retail price of the book, but so many pattern books seem to do this, I find it slightly infuriating. Maybe I am just very impatient, but I want to get started on a pattern straight away, without having to trace it (and then maybe trace it again after making a toile to apply any changes). But anyway.
The Haremere coat is a masculine styled, oversized jacket. Style details include a relaxed fit, dropped shoulders, a shawl collar and an interesting cross-over back yoke lining. The pattern is sized in Small, Medium or Large – a departure from the usual UK8-18 Merchant & Mills sizing. Handily, as the coat variation is listed in the Workbook – so too are the corresponding fabric requirements (so I didn’t have to just guess how much fabric I would need). For the size Small Haremere coat, 2.6metres of fabric was required, at 140cm wide. Also required is interfacing for the front facing pieces, hems of the sleeves and jacket pieces. This was listed at 1.6metres – but I found I only needed exactly 0.6metres, so I don’t know if the extra 1metre was a mistake/typo in the book? The lining required was listed at 1.25metres which I think was about right.
I found the variation instructions easy and straight-forward to follow – the pattern contains horizontal lines at which to cut & spread the pieces in order to add the additional length. This did, however, mean I had to trace the pattern pieces yet again! This time with the lengthened, blended pattern pieces. But at least I have the pattern for next time 🙂
As coats or jackets go, I would say the Haremere is an intermediate project. The instructions are very clear, with both text and images in order to explain each stage. One of my favourite features of the pattern is the cross-over back yoke lining – it just looks so unique.
I have actually seen this back yoke style on 1940s men’s shirts, so I was impressed to see it utilised by a modern pattern company. I would definitely say that this is a long sewing project – I completed it over maybe two weeks, doing a bit here and there when I had time. (I know for some people two weeks may hardly count as a long sewing project, but compared to making a blouse or trousers, this project seemed long to me).
The collar can be tricky – it takes a bit of easing into place for it to sit correctly. I particularly liked that instructions for an internal hanging loop are included in the construction stages – making the coat look and feel very professional.
Things I Changed
I actually completed this jacket back in July, and have worn it LOTS since then. The first few times of wearing it, I realised that I wanted it to be more ‘closed’ – rather than just fastening with the two buttons as directed. So I went back and added an additional three buttons – one above the existing two, and two below. Other than that, I didn’t actually change anything. BUT – this brings me onto my next point:
Things to Note for Next Time
The main thing that IRRITATES the heck out of me each time I wear this coat is the back collar. You can’t really see it too clearly in these pictures – but the back collar shows the join line of stitching of the under collar – which should not be happening.
And each time I wear it, a small part of me feels a bit downcast about this. But – this can be avoided for next time! Gill at Ditto (where I work and spend my days surrounded by beautiful fabrics), advised me that to prevent the back collar from showing the stitch line, trim the under collar piece so that it is fractionally smaller than the top collar. By doing this, the top collar will always roll more to the underside – hence preventing the ugly stitch line showing on the outside. And trust me, no amount of pressing is going to amend it! I have considered unpicking the collar to trim the under collar, so I may just do that (or I may just ensure I do this for next time). Anyway, we all live and learn.
*EDIT – since writing this, I have actually unpicked the collar, trimmed the S/A’s of the under collar, and re-attached it. However, these pictures were taken before I did this.*
Also – I will know not to buy so much interfacing for next time too.
Overall, I love this coat. It does niggle me that the collar isn’t 100% perfect – but then sometimes I don’t mind making mistakes if I know I have learnt/grown for next time. And often, I think sewing is one big learning curve – each and every time I sew something I learn or expand on my skills that little bit more. It’s ok to not ‘know it all’. It’s ok to admit ‘hey, this isn’t perfect, but I have learnt from it for next time’. And yes – it’s ok to share these moments! I must admit, that part of the reason it has taken me from July up to now to write this blog post, is because I was down on myself about the back collar. I mean, how utterly ridiculous is that? So, dear readers, by me sharing my experience of this pattern, hopefully you can go forth and not repeat my mistakes! 🙂
- Coat – Haremere Jacket (coat version) Merchant and Mills Workbook
- Fabric – Best British Canvas Merchant and Mills
- Lining – Ditto Fabrics
- Buttons – 1940s vintage
Until next time dears!