New test: The Chaval coat from Liesl and Co.

My season of coats continues! I tested the Chaval coat for Liesl + Co. towards the end of October and really enjoyed the process, not least because the usual excellent instructions of a Liesl + Co. pattern really gave me a good grounding for the other coats I wanted to tackle. The pattern is available now, along with two lovely A/W dresses, one of which I may also have made (more soon) 😉

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The Chaval coat is a slightly oversized, masculine-influenced coat, which has definite traces of the workwear trend that’s currently to be seen everywhere. It has lots of lovely details, which really appealed to me: a notched collar/lapel, welt pockets with flaps, a full lining and two-piece sleeves. Some of the outerwear I’ve been making has been fairly simple, which is absolutely fine and I love those pieces, but this one is the real deal when it comes to a full-length jacket. There’s no advanced tailoring or anything, but you won’t be knocking this out in an afternoon. I think it took me about 20-25hrs in total, although I could do it a fair bit quicker next time as it was my first time for some of the techniques.

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I found this Marc Jacobs clearance wool/cotton blend suiting at Fabric Mart for some ridiculous price: maybe $8/yard? At the time I figured I could use it to make a wearable muslin of some sort, since that’s pretty hard to do for a coat, but when it arrived it was actually of a rather nice quality! It reads a little lighter in tone than I like, as I’m more of a jewel tone person, but it’s definitely not a bad fabric. It’s also a little lighter in weight than a coating would be I suppose, but it’s not actually lightweight and definitely hefty enough for this coat, if perhaps not for a polar expedition.

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My usual sizing for Liesl + Co. patterns is a 14 at the shoulder with a full bust adjustment of around 1.5″ and graded out to a 16/18 at the waist and hips. There is a fair bit of ease in this pattern as it’s a coat, so I decided to go for a straight 16 and see how I got on. Well, I probably should have made the 14 at the shoulders again as they’re a little too wide for me. I think you can see it more from the back as it doesn’t hang amazingly. There are probably a few small issues there, but since I carry most of my weight on the front, I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s really just a size too big for me at the back.

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I didn’t take anything off the length (I’m 5’6″ for reference), but I did remove 2 inches from the sleeves – a fairly common adjustment for me. The length is good like that, but I think I would taper the sleeves a little more next time as they’re a bit roomy at the wrists. Of course, taking the 2 inches off the appropriate place in the pattern, rather than lopping it off at the end would help with that shaping itself, I’m sure.

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Construction-wise, the instructions were fantastic, as always. I did get a bit confused at the notched lapel part, but I know the instructions were still being finalised and I’m sure they’re even more explanantory on the final pattern – Liesl is planning to run a sewalong for this coat as well early next year I believe, so that will be well worth following if you’re interested in the coat. My final lapels aren’t 100% even and one side is much neater than the other, but I think you’d have to be a sewist to notice and it certainly doesn’t bother me enough to redo it! For a first attempt, I’m satisfied.

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The banana stand is a lovely feature and you can’t see mine too well, but take a look at Liesl’s contrast version here – very cool! She also posted a fantastic article with all her inspiration photos and there are some truly lustworthy coats featured there. I adore some of the colour-blocked ones and am quite tempted to add yet another coat to my queue (!)

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A couple more things to mention are the double-piped pockets – so elegant – and the back vent. I cut my pocket flaps on the cross grain to break up the coat pattern a little. The last (and only) time I tried a back vent in a coat it was something of a disaster, but this one sits so flat and smooth – so I was really pleased with those instructions.

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I chose these pink pearlised buttons for the coat. My coat fabric is a light red with pink and white running through it – although it reads almost as a pinky red in some lights, so the pink buttons were a perfect match for me. I wanted some funky buttons and I think the almost girly button colour offsets the masculine lines of the coat quite nicely.

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I had a little trouble right at the end with the lining. It was my first time handsewing a lining at the base and sleeves of the coat and I was pretty pleased with myself when I finished. Until I tried it on, that is! I used too much tension I think and had lots of little pulls at the hem where each stitch was situated, which looked terrible. I unpicked it all and actually still haven’t quite decided whether to give it another go, or just hem the lining separately and let it hang freely (you can see it poking out a bit in some pics – rest assured that is not the final look!). If anyone has any suggestions, please fire away, as it’s not been the easiest thing to find info on.

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All in all, this was a great project to test and I’m keen to try it another time – perhaps in a thicker wool – to perfect the shape and get it to hang just right. There’s always space for a classic coat like this in your wardrobe, so I’m sure this pattern will pop up again in the future!

PS. Did you spot the slug?

7 thoughts on “New test: The Chaval coat from Liesl and Co.

  1. Hi Claire,
    Just a few suggestions about the the Chaval Coat. If you add 1″ shoulder pads, they would make your shoulders more square and alleviate some of the drag lines in the front and back of your coat. To make inserting a lining into a coat and/or jacket go to (http://www.fashion-incubator.com/archive/22692_bagging_tutorial_2/). This tutorial explains the process of “bagging” a jacket lining perfectly. When you are finished with a lined jacket or coat, take it to the cleaners and have them press it for you. This pressing will make a difference in how your coat looks.

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    1. Thanks so much for your comment – I appreciate it! 🙂 That is such a great idea about the shoulder pads – I have some in my stash I think, so I’m going to try that out. It makes total sense and I can’t believe I didn’t think about it, lol. For the lining, I have bagged out a lining before, using the machine mostly and it was ok (I think I might have referenced the link you sent actually :)), but this method involved more handsewing and I haven’t done much of that. I think the part I’m not sure about is actually the handsewing part – should I use lots of little stitches or fewer looser ones? I cut the slippery lining a little off, which didn’t help (!) as I couldn’t quite turn my edges up as the instructions would have me, so I’m also trying to work out the correct allowances. Basically I need more even tension I think…

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  2. I’ve just found your blog on Bloglovin’ and I enjoyed reading this and some other posts! You did an excellent job on this coat and it looks like a coat you’ll enjoy wearing when you don’t need full-on armor for winter months!

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    1. Oh thank you so much! That’s much appreciated – I really enjoyed making it. Funnily enough, I just got the Sew Expo brochure through for our big sewing show here in Seattle and they have a class on finishing hems with handsewing – so I think I might sign up for that one! 🙂

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  3. Hello. I’ve just ordered this pattern, as I love the style of it, and haven’t been able to find anything similar ready-made in wool fabric. I’ve done a lot of sewing, but never made a coat before, so I found your comments interesting and confidence inspiring. I thought you made a lovely job of the coat, and it looks great. I honestly couldn’t see any unevenness between the lapels – although I did manage to spot the slug! Thank you for sharing your experience: it is invaluable.

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