Sewing with a Plan 2016 0.19 Starting the McCalls 7938 Courreges coat

I am making the double breasted coat for my SWAP. I like the contrast bound edge, martingale and loose back panels and the simple sixties style of this McCalls coat pattern.

Alterations and pattern

I didn’t make many changes, as I was lucky enough to find it was made for my size. I have already made the blouse, and a toile for the skirt, which both fitted with minimal changes. For the coat I took it up two inches in the length and reduced the shoulder by one inch. The sleeve was shortened one inch too – perhaps I should have taken out a second inch, but I will see at the fitting.

Fabric and materials

I have used a nice, Italian boucle wool for this coat. It has rather a loose weave, and it frays terribly. For this reason I used an iron on interfacing on the front. I wouldn’t normally do this, but I felt in this case the bonding would help hold the coat together. It may be a mistake but the lightweight of my interfacing also encouraged me – this is not a stiff tailored winter coat but a gentle, soft, summery coat. Look at Mia Farrow in her coat – it has a softness at the hem and sleeves that implies there is not much support behind the wool.

Leather binding

The  main issue for me was what to use for the binding. This makes or breaks the coat, and while I considered navy which would have given a nice clear definition to the edges, Once I decided on silver I considered different approaches. I had some silver bias binding, but that looked cheap. McCullough and Wallis have some faux silver leather binding at around £3 a metre, and in leather at about £14. I decided that I would use real leather from the piece. I bought a piece of silvered pig skin from Storm leathers in Hackney.

I cut 3cm strips, hoping that I would have around 1cm visible on the edges – subtle rather than dominant. I tried out silver leather on the welt pocket flaps.

Not very satisfactory. The binding looked bulky and too rounded. I tried an alternative technique that worked much better. If you ever want to do leather binding here are my tips.

  • Cut the strips as you go so as to use the minimum amount of leather
  • I found it worked best if I did straight runs and avoided corners
  • Sew the binding to the wool carefully as it stretches about 2/8th inch from the edges
  • Turn it over and press well
  • On the reverse don’t tuck it in
  • stitch the turn back to the row of stitching using a leather needle
  • At the corners cover the already attached binding with a straight cut (raw) edge


I had a similar issue with the proposed bound buttonholes. The suggested buttons are quite large (one and one-eighth inch). My fabric is lumpy (boucle) but also tender and loose. I tried a range of options.  The first one, using the boucle for the lips was horrible and raggy looking. I then tried (right at the edge of the fabric) a machine made buttonhole which looked huge and overlong, but also spindly. The best option was when I used silver leather for the lips. Neat and clean.

Now I know what I am doing I will be able to crack on with the coat.

In terms of SWAP I have completed the struck through items:

  1. Blue set skirt
  2. Blue set blouse
  3. Blue set dress
  4. Mauve set blouse
  5. Mauve set skirt
  6. Mauve set coat
  7. Combo skirt
  8. Combo blouse
  9. Pink wildcard evening dress
  10. Pink wildcard evening trousers
  11. Pink wildcard evening tunic

Only five more garments to finish by the end of April. Assuming the coat goes well this should be fine. How are you getting on?


18 Responses

  1. thedementedfairy

    Beautiful- that silver leather is wonderful, and you’ve cracked the technique. I had wondered about bulk with leather binding- now I want some lol! I have three items to go once I complete my lilac evening bodice. Finishing that off should be do-able this weekend, as I ‘only’ need to line, trim and fasten it. (Now it sounds un-do-able!) I’m taking my jodhpurs/breeches out for the afternoon today, let’s see if they behave…

  2. Ruth

    I would never have thought to use silver leather binding but it works perfectly. Great idea and this coat looks like it will be the best of the SWAP.

  3. Stephanie

    Nice bound buttonholes! So glad your SWAP is going so well. It’s so pretty and sparkly! I really like that mauve for a spring coat. I had a wool coat that was bound with leather at one point and I always liked the leather binding – it brought the coat up a notch for sure.

    I may end up bowing out of SWAP this year, although I will wait and see. I am planning some simple but fresh items that I would love to wear on my later-than-usual spring trip to Florence, as opposed to a more tailored set as originally planned. So far I have only completed one item (white blouse) and a half a blue shirt! I do have two sweaters half-done though, too and a toile for a shirt dress…we will see how committed I am in March-April, as I still think I could finish. In any case I’ll get close to finishing, which is good enough for me.

    • fabrickated

      I agree that it is not necessary to finish S – as you say you are making some items that you love and will wear – the structure is just there to encourage creative thinking and a little bit of gentle time pressure. I expect to finish this year but early on I didn’t expect to at all. It is such a mind game, at heart.

  4. mrsmole

    Normally adding such a shiny feature to a classy coat would cheapen it but you made it work…so beautiful!
    No SWAP in my sewing room…just booked in my 30th bride! Looking forward to all your next garments in the collection….we learn so much following you, Kate!

  5. sj kurtz

    Once again, your skilled and thoughtful work has reminded me I need to sample and rehearse techniques for new projects or new materials. Goof around with them, like knitting a swatch.
    That silver buttonhole makes me happy to be alive. I am almost grateful my machine buttonhole setting doesn’t work well.

  6. QPlourde

    Love the silver leather binding! And amazing to bind the buttonholes like that – I would never think to do that and it looks quite difficult. It looks really nice though. I can’t wait to see the finished product.

  7. Mags

    Love the silver bound buttonholes”. I’m really enjoying your SWAP and have been inspired. I’ve desperately trying to get hold of Vogue 1650 but no luck. It frustrating that so many of the vintage patterns seem to be in the USA. This is my first year of planning my seasonal sewing and I’m using pin interest. In fact I’ve already got a board for Autumn 2016. I’ve done pretty well and coordinated around a mustard, real and grey scheme.

    • fabrickated

      I use Pinterest a bit – for colour analysis and for our self build house project. Overall I now find the planning of the wardrobe at least as much fun as sewing it and I love that I get new ideas to make my plans better merely by having committed to something as an organising principle. The picture of the sweet peas in a silver pottinger has made me much creative than just relying on the fabric and the pattern.

      And I would be happy to lend you my Nina Ricci Vogue 1650 pattern Mags. Please send me a message with your address to

  8. Abbey

    The pattern is simply lovely, and your take on it is quite inspiring! I cannot get over that leather accent work–it is sensational. Can’t wait to see it all finished!

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