I have a confession to make. It’s kind of embarrassing just how often I finish a new project, thinking to myself: this is the best thing I’ve ever sewn! I have a tendency to get a little over-excited. But this time, I’m not embarrassed at all. Because I’m pretty sure I’m actually right. This Hemisfèric Coat truly is the best thing I’ve ever sewn!
This was my first time sewing a Pauline Alice pattern and it won’t be the last! I was attracted to the Hemisfèric Coat when it was released towards the end of last year. Once I looked into a bit more, I realised that the Quart Coat, also by Pauline Alice, was truly beautiful as well. So I procrastinated a bit because I couldn’t decide between them.
In the end, I let the fabric choose. Funny how sometimes the fabric choses the pattern and sometimes it’s the other way around.
Which way does it usually go for you?
I already had this lovely wool from Fabworks Mill shop that I wanted to use. It wouldn’t have held the pleats of the Quart Coat very well. Plus, I thought the herringbone pattern would look interesting with the design lines of the Hemisfèric Coat.
And so the choice was made!
Ice Blue, Spearmint, Teal, Turquoise and Royal Blue
Before going on, I want to gush about my fabric a little bit.
The shell fabric is this herringbone avoca wool. In addition to the interesting ice blue colour, it has these gorgeous little flecks of various other colours throughout: I would have said in various blue and pink tones, but the Fabworks Mill website describes it far more elegantly than I: “subtle but beautiful coloured Donegal flecks of spearmint, turquoise, lemon, pink, royal blue and teal”.
I have to say that the detailed descriptions on the Fabworks Mill shop’s website are one of the reasons it has become one of my favourite sources of online fabrics. There is usually more detail in the descriptions and the use-suggestions than you often find online.
And the photos are of great quality. I think we’ve all been there: you excitedly buy a fabric online, but when it arrives you think “bugger, that’s not the colour I thought it was!”. So far, this has never happened with a Fabworks Mill purchase.
Plus, there is fast and affordable international shipping and everything is soooo reasonably priced (this wool was only 14 pounds a metre!).
It’s not hard to see why Fabworks has quickly become one of my favourite online fabric stores!
And something special inside…
Now, my fabric gush is not over yet. Because the lining on my Hemisfèric Coat is also very close to my heart (and not just literally). Check out this Nani Iro for Kokka “Birdeye| quilted cotton that I got from Miss Matatabi. I think I bought the last of it though!
When I’d been planning a winter coat my aim was to make it very warm. I’d been imagining either a quilted lining or flannel. This particular Nani Iro print had been on my “Fabric Crush” pinterest board for ages cuz it’s pretty much just all my favourite colours incarnate. So when I saw that it was available in quilted cotton, I felt like this coat was destiny! I did all the lining, except for the sleeves, with this to-die-for fabric. After all, even for a cold blooded southern hemisphere creature like me, quilted sleeve lining might be a step too far.
I love this fabric so much that I also made some machine mats out of it – so I can look at it every single time I sew. Props to Sew Sarah Smith for the idea!!!!
OK, so back to the details of the fabulous Hemisfèric Coat pattern. This was my first Pauline Alice pattern and it was a great sewing experience. Since the coat PDF was big, I splurged on the printed pattern. It came printed on big thick sheets of paper, with very easy to see lines and detailed step-by-step instructions in English, French and Spanish.
At first, I was a tad disappointed when I opened my printed Hemisfèric Coat pattern to see that, for a few of the pieces, there was some slight overlay of the pattern pieces. Prior to that, I had been planning on just cutting out the pattern pieces directly, without tracing. I have never done this before, but I figured that a coat was very unlikely to be a repeat make. I was a little disappointed by the overlapping, as this meant I had no choice but to trace. But, in the end, it turned out for the best. I Iove this pattern so much, I think I actually will make it again – maybe next winter. Who would have thought?
All the specs
Since I was lining my Hemisfèric Coat with quilted cotton, I decided to err on the side of “too big” and cut out a size 44. Once I had made up the shell, I ended up taking it in a by a centimetre or so from the underarm down to the waist and then about 4cm in total at the centre opening. The construction method of the Hemisfèric Coat is excellent for this because you basically make the shell first, which gives you a chance to fit early on. Very useful if, like me, you never make a muslin!
The only change I made was to lengthen my Hemisfèric Coat slightly, just for personal preference. I lengthened by 10cm, but then my hem ended up being longer than usual. So I would say that what you see is about 7-8cm longer than the coat is designed to be. The pattern doesn’t have any “shorten/lengthen” lines marked on the pieces but there is a tutorial on the Pauline Alice website about how to do this.
Video tutorial goodness
Luckily, the Pauline Alice website has a detailed video tutorial for the Hemisfèric Coat. I found it invaluable, especially the last 5-6 minutes! It is in French but with English subtitles. The video also had a few handy tips that weren’t in the instructions, so I think it is worth looking over even if you have no problems understanding the instructions. For example, the suggestion that if you fabric is thick you may prefer to leave the opening to turn it inside out in the side seam instead of the sleeve was potentially life-saving for me. Because with heavyweight wool + quilted cotton, well, let’s just say “thick” is something of an understatement.
This pattern was a lot of fun to sew because it had quite a few things that were firsts for me. My first time inserting a separable zipper – what a piece of cake!! Oh and my first two-piece sleeves. It also had some techniques that were a bit different to what I’m used to. The darts were actually cut out of the pattern piece in a way I hadn’t done before. You actually cut out a thin triangle/line and sew the edges together, rather than joining of the dart legs and having a triangle of fabric to fold to one side. This really reduced bulk and gives the Hemisfèric Coat a nice shape! I wonder if it can be transposed to darts in other contexts? The centre back lining is also joined with an “ease pleat”, another thing I hadn’t seen before, which makes it very comfortable.
Speedy sewing (well, for a coat)
My Hemisfèric Coat was nowhere near as difficult to sew as I imagined. In all honesty, the preparation was the hardest part. By the time I had lengthened and traced out all the pieces (nearly 40 in total, if you include lining and interfacing) and then cut my fabric, I felt totally overwhelmed.
But once I started sewing, it came together quickly. There are actually a number of stylistic features which make this a relatively easy sew. For example, the raglan sleeves means there is no tricky sleeve setting. Plus, as a bonus, the raglan sleeves are also very comfy to wear with winter clothes underneath – tight sleeves on RTW coats is one of my constant problems!!. A zipper is also faster to sew than buttons and the funnel neck means no fiddly collar to sew.
So, I actually managed to sew my Hemisfèric Coat in about a week’s worth of evening sewing, once all the prep work was done.
Sewing machine essentials
The only step that I had trouble with had to do with the limitations of my sewing machine. My sewing machine is the cheapest one in the store as, when I bought it on a whim, I thought there was every chance it would go the way of my “no fat fryer”: used a couple of times and then forgotten! And its “free arm” sewing capacity is, frankly, rather shite! It is too big for most sleeves to actually fit around it. So I ended up having to sew the sleeves of my Hemisferic Coat on my overlocker, which felt like a high risk activity!
I’m started to slowly compile a list of “must-have” machine features for when it is time to upgrade to a better machine. So far, a usable “free-arm” for sewing sleeves and a decent automatic button hole function are highest on my list, together with the capacity to handle topstitching well.
What are your essential sewing machine features?
My beloved machine is kind of a sensitive issue for me. Even though she is super basic mechanical model, I have discovered my passion for sewing with her and, despite the fact that I have never oiled or serviced her, she’s never had any problems. Touch wood. So part of me feels I should just leave well enough alone. But another part of me feels that I sew constantly and could probably justify upgrading to something more sophisticated. But I’m terrified that I might do so and end up with a machine that’s actually more complex and therefore more prone to problems and breaking down.
Taking design to Hemisferic heights…
Anyway, I digress: back to the Hemisfèric Coat. I really couldn’t be happier with this coat. I feel that it is so well-designed. The lines and shaping are extremely flattering and feminine. I also think the design works really well with my herringbone wool, as I ended up with an interesting mix of vertical and diagonal lines. My hem is a bit wonky, but that is entirely my own fault and I’ll go back in and fix that. Eventually. For now, I was just so excited to blog my Hemisfèric Coat that I couldn’t wait.
The only tiny, minor detail that I might change next time around is that I prefer the pockets a tad bigger, but I really can’t emphasise just how “nitpicky” I’m being with that “criticism”.
Oh and some wooly accessorising…
Oh and finally – my Hemisfèric Coat has even inspired more creativity. Since I didn’t really have any winter gear in these colours, I have knitted myself a coordinating love boat hat (with a shortened brim) using the Wool and the Gang kit my other half bought me for christmas.
It was so speedy knitting with the super chunky crazy sexy wool that a coordinating scarf combining the below colours is now in progress…
I like to think, however, that even though I may feel a little Michelen-man-esque, I look a hell of a lot cuter!!!!