Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Sewing Diary: Brown Twill Cooking Coat

Project Category: Wearable muslin
Garment: Cooking coat
Fabric: Cheap brown cotton twill, probably from Fabric.com.
Pattern: Sewing Workshop San Diego Jacket

I'm under the illusion that I'm going to start logging my sewing projects in a standard format. I make resolutions like this a lot, and then I end up with a one-post series. But that's not stopping me. Whee!

I've been doing more cooking. And wearing more home-sewn clothes. These are un-mixy things, as Buffy would say, because I don't want fried chicken spatters on my painstakingly constructed linen shirts. My solution is painstakingly constructed cooking coats. I've already made one cooking coat, the goth daffodil coat from the Sewing Workshop Liberty Shirt pattern, but it wasn't altogether satisfactory. The neck isn't high enough to reliably cover everything underneath and, more important, it isn't big enough to easily cover another garment.

The solution seemed to be a jacket pattern. Sandi at Fabric of Vision was wearing a lovely jacket a week or six ago, made from the Sewing Workshop San Diego Jacket pattern--pattern picture above. I decided that I wanted to master that pattern, and realized almost immediately that the first try, the wearable muslin, would work beautifully as a cooking coat as well as a jacket. Roomy jacket, high collar, what more could I want? I had a big hunk of chocolate-brown cotton twill hanging around unemployed, so that was drafted. I didn't preshrink. Bad Martha.

I traced the pattern onto Swedish tracing paper, without alterations--I just traced the largest size. I would normally have checked and altered the hip circumference, but decided that if the pattern doesn't work over my hips, I'd just add a gusset or somesuch thing this time and do that alteration the second time around, probably along with tracing a smaller size for the shoulders. It would have been sensible to make the first cut at these alterations the first time, but, well, I'm lazy and exact fit isn't all that critical for cooking.

The jacket is finished, and I'm happy with it. I'm wearing it as I lounge on the couch, trying it out for comfort. (OK, and then I took it off for photos, complete with the wrinkles resulting from the lounging.)

Random comments on the pattern:

  • The largest size had enough room for my alarmingly large hips--though not an excess of room. No gusset needed.
  • The assembly was not remotely intuitive, but the pattern instructions and pictures took care of that just fine.
  • The sleeves go in on the flat, but more easing was required than I'm used to for in-the-flat sleeve installation.
  • The armholes hang well beyond my shoulder, not surprisingly given my choice to use the largest size. But the sleeve is flat enough and roomy enough that it's perfectly comfortable that way; there's none of that armhole-in-the-wrong-place constriction. I should alter to a smaller size at the shoulders, but for appearance, not comfort.
  • The seam between the odd facing/collar piece and the back of the back neck required a lot of easing. The pattern warns you to reinforce and to clip, but I had to clip and strain the short piece to within an inch of its life, and still ended up making a quarter-inch fold in the long piece at the back of the neck, to make half an inch go away. If I'd altered the pattern I would have assumed that I made a mistake, but I didn't alter. This is probably partly the un-stretchy twill and partly my limited skill; I'm hoping that in, say, a nice soft wool these pieces would ease together just fine.
  • I'm not sure if the button loops are worth the trouble. Of course, I didn't go to the full trouble - you're supposed to make a strip from the main fabric and fold it for loops; I used a piece of nicely gaudy ribbon instead.
  • It's really comfy. I can imagine making a few in that nice soft wool, lightweight for sweater-like warmth without the Stay Puft Marshmallow feeling of wearing a woolly sweater.
  • It covers a shirt and heavy sweater, and has a wonderfully high collar, so it will do the job of protecting my clothes against frying poultry.
  • The pattern doesn't call for topstitching. I topstitched it to death because I don't want to press a cooking jacket - I want the seams to lie where they belong right out of the dryer. I still want that topstitching for a street version, but my topstitching technique is lousy and I still don't have an edgestitching foot, so it's a thicket. 
  • The pattern doesn't call for interfacing. I find myself thinking that the collar/facing piece needs some, especially if I make the jacket out of a lightish fabric.
  • The lines of the jacket are too simple for a simple featureless fabric like the twill. No problem for the cooking coat, but I'll need to keep this in mind.
  • Wow, this thing is comfy.


  1. Like the colour, like the cut! I was once a bridesmaid in a similar shade - I'd call it crushed raspberry, maybe. Very well done! I can't sew for toffee, but have been doing a lot of knitting lately.

  2. Thanks very much! I've worn it three times now, and it's serving beautifully for the cooking purpose - plus, it's so comfortable that I forget to take it off when eating dinner. I should really sew more at-home clothes; they're satisfying and lack the "do I look silly?" worry.

  3. I'm so gosh darned impressed! I love the collar and the fastenings, and it certainly looks very professional.

  4. Hey, Natalie! Thank you! (And apologies for my being such a comment slacker.) Professional? Woohoo!