She wore a coat... of many colours (ah-ah-aaah)!

SEW... the first time I started work on this coat, it didn't quite go to plan... and I thought, rather than ignore it and cut to the 'good' bit, I'd share the not-so-good bits - so that, if you're thinking of customising something in a similar way, you can avoid the heartache I went through!!

This coat has recently been made fit to sing along with today's hope-filled blogpost soundtrack...Take Me Outside, Sit in the Green Garden... but it wasn't always the case!
My sister's coat - much as I was excited about it, and in spite of the fact I spent weeks planning it, buying fabric and buttons (including some from America, which weren't right for the coat when they finally arrived) - just didn't work out the way I'd hoped... That's not to say I've been beaten by it, just that I needed to tackle it twice, and win! I was determined to learn from the AWFUL mistakes I'd made the first time around...

So - starting at the beginning then, the coat is from Desigual - one of Rebecca's favourite Spanish shops (I think she'd buy her entire wardrobe from there, if she could) - but in spite of being from a colourful designer, it was completely black. I knew that Rebecca wanted something bright and colourful, with a Desigual patchwork feel - which you can see examples of on my Pinterest board, set up specifically to provide me with ideas and inspiration. I also knew she was happy with the black dress I refashioned for her a couple of years ago - and she said to go with my instincts, so that's what I did.
Here are a few close-ups so you can see the details;

It's a funnel-neck three-quarter length winter coat, buttoned off-centre through the front. The material is heavy-weight, but with an embossed flower pattern running through a fine corduroy weave - I'm sure there's a proper word for that fabric, help me out here! Is it devoré?! There were a few broken/missing buttons, which Rebecca wanted to change, and it was also fully lined, with an unusual 'lady-patterned' hardy satin/cotton mix fabric... 

Who IS the woman in the lining..?

I've been trying to tackle and finish this coat since last summer... I even sent an email to my talented seamstress pal, the Accidental Seamstress Laura, to ask her advice - and she was very generous with her reply, and provided me with plenty of tips. But, in true-to-me fashion, I ran out of time, and decided to take the short cut. In fact... I'm rather embarrassed to admit... I didn't actually sew the coat the first time around. Why am I embarrassed to admit that? Because there was ABSOLUTELY NO WAY that the pieces were going to stay put, with a little bit of interfacing, glue, and hope. NO WAY. I thought I could fudge it. But hey, I'm getting ahead of myself - let's go right back to what I did (get ready for plenty of pics!!); I found some beautiful donated upholstery fabric in a nearby charity shop, with a flower pattern running through it...

Having laundered it, I interfaced the entire two metres, and then cut away the parts I thought I could use...

before playing around with placement, to make it look as though it was climbing up the front of the coat...

I showed this photo on my phone to a lady in a haberdashers, when I was searching for new buttons, and she was like "oh... how lovely..." in an entirely unimpressed way. I started to explain that I still had to trim things down, but I could tell nothing was going to make her appreciate it... Horses for courses, and all that!

Actually, when I'd trimmed bits off, I felt there was still a bit too much going on (Lady Haberdasher might have had a point!) - so I cropped a lot from the design, leaving mostly just red and green pieces (the maroon berries got the chop). Once I'd decided where the pieces would go, I ironed the flowers on... and then, where the edges peeled a little, I glued them down with fabric glue. And that was my fatal error - I left it at that.

I honestly thought it would be OK... but seeing as 1) Rebecca wears this coat nearly every day, 2) she carries a heavy gym bag on her right shoulder which sits directly on and over this design AND 3) any egit seamstress knows a bit of glue won't cut it.... it fell off. 
But hey, that didn't stop me from hoping it would last! Here's a quick photo of the Desigual-inspired coat, on the gorgeous Paula, when I handed it over the first time...

That was before the flowers started to peel off. Within a week.

So - I asked for the coat back, and promised myself to do it PROPERLY this time. I mean, this isn't just a case of professional pride (!) - I also wanted her to feel happy in the coat she wears most. SO! When I got it back, I wondered (for a long time) how I was going to sew the pieces on. I wanted to use the machine, for extra durability, but wasn't sure how to get 'inside' the coat, what with the lining getting in the way. I didn't fancy re-lining the entire thing, so I made the decision to open up the lining, in the least obtrusive way possible, before sewing the flowers on, and re-attaching...

As you can see, the seam lines run down the length of the inside of the coat, but I thought I'd 'enter' using the hemline. My thoughts were that it's less visible, and takes less strain on a day to day basis, than the inner back body of the coat. So, I unpicked half a metre space at the hem of the coat - and worked my way between the outer fabric, and the lining, hitching up the fabric to squeeze the arm of my machine in to zigzag around every flower and stalk. It took a few hours, and about 200 metres of thread... I know, right?! It hadn't really occurred to me that the patchwork would cover that big a surface area - but I suppose the detail made it... 'expansive'... :)

Aside from the decoupage...patchwork...embroidery...whatever it is we're calling this... I also changed the black buttons to brass, to make them pop a little - and this came to be Rebecca's favourite part of the upcycled design.

So, yesterday I went to see Rebecca in her new flat, and was treated to a scrummy lunch (in her wonderful new kitchen...) - and finally presented her with a customised coat I'm proud of :)
(*one of the buttons is hidden, it hasn't fallen off!!)

Does Rebecca like it? Yes, thank the lord!! What do I feel mostly? Relief! Hey - "the man who never made any mistakes, never made anything...". Or maybe "A stitch in time, saves nine..," is a more fitting expression to use here? :)

In other news...

  • If you follow me on Instagram, you'll have caught a few insights into some crafty developments... Firstly, I'll be doing a class at Sew Over It next month, making a lined COAT, from scratch! (I know, wrong season, right? Haha!) Anyway, I'd still like some help choosing which fabric to go with, currently I'm leaning towards camel, as it's so versatile... which one are you drawn to?

  • On that note, another exciting development is that I'm about to become a part of the Minerva Crafts Blogger Network - the premise is that I choose the projects, Minerva provides me with the tools (up to a certain budget) - and I write about the process on their site... it's things like this that make this blog so worthwhile, I love collaborations!! I'm also going to make sure there's a green/ethical slant to each of those projects; the first is a gorgeous vintage pattern I picked up in a charity shop last year, coupled with gorgeous fabric from Minerva... here's a sneak peak!!

Wishing you a wonderful April, what's left of it! Speak soon,
Gema x


p.s. Rod makes me laugh when he gets 'stuck' in water that comes up to his chest, for some reason it always takes him by surprise that's he's low-lying... just look at that expression, haha!


  1. You would look amazing in that red. Just sayin'

    1. :)
      I do like red... it's just, sometimes I feel it doesn't mix as well with other stuff in my wardrobe... Hmmm... x

  2. Indeed it is a good use of the 'stitch in time' giving a coat nine lives.. Maybe the original design would have worked if it had been possible to scale it down, I'm sure Rebecca is proud to have such a talented and dedicated to her craft sister..

    1. You are right Brian - actually, Rebecca said only yesterday "You know, I would've been happy with a few coloured spots...", haha! But, I fixed myself on a goal - and that was that... And yes, she was grateful :)

  3. The red against the black does look very striking, does Rebecca get asked where she got it from? Must be very satisfying to have cracked the problem.

    1. I'll ask her if anyone comments on it... (good or bad!) and yes - I wasn't happy until I'd beaten it :)

  4. Looks amazing! Wish it was my coat!

    1. Thank you so much Amy Jo! So pleased you like it!! X

  5. The coat is absolutely gorgeous. It is too bad the glue didn't stick the first time, but I am so glad you were able to fix the problem. The results speak for volumes of what a great job you did. Cheers, Michele

    1. Thanks so much Michele :) I was rather embarrassed after the first attempt, but have made peace with it now!! :D

  6. I didn't realize this was your coat when I saw it on refashion coop yesterday! This really is gorgeous. I LOVE the climbing vine applique and think you "edited" the fabric/design perfectly to fit the coat's style. The new buttons are a nice touch too. Everything is really well done. I think it suits Rebecca very nicely. (She's super cute!) :)

    I was going to comment on your pic on instagram but I hate typing on my phone and then I kind of forgot... :-D I love the red, personally. But the camel would be more versatile, for sure. Maybe the red would be cool lining???

    Anyhoo, congrats on finishing the coat and on your new collaboration! That's exciting :)

    1. Y'know, if I'd just followed your advice the first time around - Rebecca would have had her finished coat much quicker! ;) Thank you so much for your comments, it means a lot X And maybe I'll go with the does seem to be getting more of a positive response....... :D


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