Friday 6 September 2019

Navy Cambria Duster

I made a jacket! I've never previously tried making a proper coat, not particularly because I was intimidated by the skill involved (though I would find that hard) but because I don't tend to have the attention span for large complex projects. I am becoming more ruthless (and honest with myself) and I know that if I can't, If I can finish a project in a day, maybe with some follow up time, say a weekend, I’m not going to make it, because I won't finish it.

Thankfully, this is actually an extremely easy pattern and very quick! It's the Cambria Duster by the Friday Pattern Company. I was considering making a duster, and I looked on The Foldline (an online sewing pattern database) and just loved this one right away! It has side ties that can either be worn loose (see above), tied at the front (see below), or tied behind (see further below) for three different looks. It has a large front collar/lapel/facing thing that makes it very elegaant and flexible. 

I made my life difficult by forgetting a few steps and I did a lot of hand sewing but even then I could have sewed the whole thing in a few hours had a chosen to.


The main issue I had was fabric availability. When at home at the bank holiday recently, I was rummaging through my mum's extensive fabric stash (other people do this too right?) and spotted this perfect navy fabric. I think it's some kind of thin twill - it's got a woven in texture and was probably made for thin curtaining. (I think Mum was using it for a sturdy bag lining). Not sure about composition- it's cool and soft and holds a crease ok when ironed but is not too creasy in general. It was also very easy to work with, despite being in theory quite slippery, so overall an excellent lucky choice!

Cutting out

So far, so good. The snag came when I bought the Cambria and realised it asked for almost 5m of fabric at my width. I did not have that much. I had maybe 2.75m?

That's never stopped me though (I never seem to buy enough fabric-plus proper cutting layouts always leave so many weird shaped pieces!). I was reflecting on Instagram the other day that while I hate cutting out fabric, I really get a kick out of pattern Tetris (ie fitting it all onto an impossibly small/odd shaped piece)! On this occasion it was really quite tricky and took several hours of reconfiguration to work out (told you I enjoyed it!), possibly a similar amount of time to the actual sewing! 

(Not the final layout!) 

The only reason it was possible is that the Cambria is made in panels. Apart from the front lapel pieces (which are big bits you need 4 of, the primary reason you need so much fabric), it's all cut into two at a waist seam. Those front lapels/facings also attach to a princess seam down the front, which allows you to sew the inner bit in neatly (as it may be seen). I realised however that all these seams are actually pretty straight, so I just overlapped all those pieces a d cut them as one, saving loads of seam allowance. I also shortened the coat by a few inches. To get it all to fit I did need to cut the font facing bit (that makes the lapels) upside down, but the pattern isn't really directional so that was fine.

Sacrifices did have to be made - I couldn't fit the patch pockets, or the ties. I found some similar colour fabric and made a side seam pocket instead. For the ties, I pieced them together from the scraps. These were all pretty small and so each tie has 5+ different scraps - they probably took longer than most of the coat! At the end, I didn't have any scraps bigger than my hand, and most much smaller so I'm calling this as an almost zero waste project!


As I mentioned, the sewing was very quick. This is a very well designed straightforward pattern. I had also saved myself a lot of time by my cutting - about half the steps are sewing together the panels that just cut as one (I'm actually not really sure why they aren't like that anyway). The only tricky bit is a neck seam where you sew the whole lapel/collar bit on. I could not get that to look right at all, however it's not visible at all as the collar covers it completely so who cares! The inside of this area I just handstitched so that looks fine.
The awkward seam (I had to move the collar to show it)

As I had not cut that front princess seam, I had to handsew down the fill length of the inner facing but this was very easy and I found it quite satisfying. I then did the same for the hem and sleeves. It wasn't clear if I was meant to top/edge stitch round the collar but I did to make the edge sharper.

(No show inside facing seam)

Overall I love it! It looks very slick for something that was so easy, and I can imagine it getting a good amount of wear.

Thoughts on fit

I forget what size I made, but it was the size my measurements recommended. I didn't make any fit adjustments, except to lengthen the sleeves slightly (the pattern ones didn't look quite full length to me). 

I would say (and this seems to be similar to what other people gave found) that this coat is not roomy through the back and shoulders. Given a magic wand I would give myself another inch across the back for sitting/reaching. The sleeves are also snugger than I might have expected for a jacket, particularly through the shoulder/arm scye - I wouldn't be able to wear this easily over a medium/thick jumper. Luckily I don't really own any, so not a huge issue for me, but if you want more space then add more ease.

Overall I am very pleased!

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