A Floral Faux Leather Robson Trench
Oh boy, where do I start??? Back in… I dunno May let’s say, I saw the most fabulous fabric on Emma One Sock, this beautiful faux leather. It looked like art, like beautiful painting. I ordered a swatch in an attempt to see what I could make with this fabric, as I haaad to have it. After discovering it was waterproof, I figured why not a Robson Tench coat?! Well then it sold out.
I waited at least a month and a half for EOS to get more in stock. I was a good seamstress and took that time to make up a muslin to ensure I didn’t over-purchase the faux leather (which I did somehow anyways.) And as soon as it was back in stock I snagged that sucker up as fast as I could. But don’t worry, I didn’t buy it all as it’s still in stock if anyone else gets inspired.
I worked my muslin in a cotton twill that I had originally bought to use as my Robson fabric, but I fell out of love for it. With those fabrics I fall out of love with I’ll either donate, swap, or use them for muslins. I ran out of the blue twill at on the side panels so I substituted in regular cotton muslin.
The fit was fine – a bit shapeless but the tie belt is what creates the shape, imo. In reading lots of reviews of the Robson Trench pattern, most said to move up the pockets (which I did) so I made sure to mark them on my muslin, although I still think I could have moved them up a tiny bit more.
I had originally cut an 8 at the shoulder, 10 at the bust, and maybe a 12 at the hip line. I ended up taking in the princess seams at the front arm area as it was a bit too loose there. I also ended up reducing the hip area back from the 12 to 10 as it was flaring out just a bit too much for me.
This is still one area I’m not 100% sure on – the lower half in the back. I know I need room to sit, but I wanted it to be a bit sleeker in the back – it’s a fine balancing act: ease vs. fit.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the faux floral leather – but I think a whole entire coat out of it would have been a bit much, ya know?! So I purchased some coordinating black faux leather from EOS to use as contrasting pieces to break up the floral print a bit.
I found some black vintage buttons from Soutache – my go to place for buttons in Chicago.
She has a wonderful collection of quality buttons along with some vintage finds – so I always make it a point to stop in there first to see what I can find before going to my local Joann’s for buttons. I really scored big there as she happened to have the same vintage button in both the larger and smaller sizes – perfect for the coat front vs. the smaller arm band buttons.
Totally lightened up the photo so you could see the button (above).
I want local places like hers to stay in business so if I know I’ll be up on the North side of the city, I take whatever project that warrants buttons over there. I always rationalize the slightly higher price with better quality & my thought of ‘If I’m spending all this time to make something wonderful I might as well finish it off with killer buttons.’ But I will add – I always shop my stash first. Okay… I’m done with my button rant. heh
Lets talk fabric & construction, shall we?!
When I got all my yardage in the mail I was such a happy little camper. I was draping it on myself, when I was starting to notice just how drapey it really was.
It drapes as well as any fine linen rayon blend but it was thinner in density, not your usual faux leather. I suspected this was going to be an issue with the trench so I decided to underline the entire coat. I paired it with all manner of fabrics, but in the end I decided to interface the entire thing in this medium weight weft, iron-on interfacing. Don’t ask me why I had enough interfacing for a whole trench coat in charcoal grey – but I did. So I cut out the whole trench for the second time in the interfacing.
I wish I could say interfacing it was easy – but it was not. Too much steam and the faux finish got a ‘leather ripple’ look and too little steam meant it didn’t fuse properly – so it was tricky and I had to re-fuse a few sections.
After this, I decided I also needed to fully line my trench. I cut out the trench for a third time in bemberg rayon in black (yay for stash busting!) and pretty much cut out the same pieces as the outer, except I had to do some clever piecing for the back neck facing & the front facing sections.
The most time consuming part of my Robson was really the cutting and fusing of all of these pieces. Putting it all together was really a breeze. I found that even if I only had 20-30 minutes of sewing time an evening, I still felt like I had accomplished a great deal since there are all manner of small pieces to put together (belt, epaulettes, storm flaps, etc.)
New tools of the trade for faux leather:
My face powder & a lighter. Let me explain…
I used a walking foot throughout my assembly for the faux leather along with a size ’70 microtex’ sewing needle. The leather portions like to grip on metal surfaces so you can’t simply stitch the faux leather up like you do for normal fabrics. This means that your normal sewing feet are out.
I didn’t have a teflon sewing foot – but that would work also. I found that even when I was doing top stitching my walking foot wasn’t cutting it. One sneaky trick folks like to do is put a dab of vaseline on the seam and it creates a nice slick layer in which to stitch. Not having any vaseline in the house nor did I want to try that out (ick) – I came up with the next best thing – my face powder.
I’m not sure what it is about my face powder, but it almost feels like it has some silicone in it or something. It’s very smooth to the touch so I thought, why not try it on my trench. I tested it in a small spot and it was genius! It stitched up perfectly without any residue left behind.
Lighter Trick – This trick I learnt in a leather working class I took this past winter. Basically if you have poly in your thread when you burn it, it shrivels up. Not wanting to waste all my time pulling threads to the inside of my coat to make knots (plus its hard to do on layers of faux leather), I simply burned the bits down which also made the seam super secure. Now… I don’t think I need to tell you not to use this on your cottons, linens, silks, etc. Faux leather & leather only folks as it’s not going to ignite immediately & burn your sewing room down like the other fabrics might.
Felix and I took these photos over at the University of Chicago campus. If you’re sneaky you can see I’m wearing my Blue Swirls dress underneath.
It’s such a lovely campus and I think I’ll be heading over there a lot more this summer to explore as students are thin on the ground during summer break.
I had to say, I had to wait for a chilly day in order to model this trench coat. With all of the layers I’ve added as well as being made in a faux leather, this is not the 70 degree-rainy day jacket I’d choose. It’s more of a 45-50 degree cool day (with or without rain) when I’d choose to wear this out.
After having made this one, it’s actually got me itching to make a second one in a more light-weight & waterproof fabric for the warmer days. Perhaps I’ll get around to it next spring…
This trench is the first item I checked off on my Paris Wardrobe List for this fall. I’m sure I’ve mentioned it on Instagram, but I’m taking a trip with Felix & a few close friends to Paris in early September. So of course it means making new, fun clothes and I’m so excited to be traveling again. Unfortunately, France is having a heat wave and I fear this trench won’t be making the trip with me. Ahhh well, I’ll have my own fair city to wear this trench in soon enough I’m sure.
This was a funny moment – I scouted out another photo spot in the midst of taking photos in an already cool spot. University of Chicago is filled with such cool old buildings (they wouldn’t like me saying it but it reminds me of Hogwarts.) #Sorrynotsorry
Most images courtesy of my honey, Felix. *Thanks*
Feel free to ask me any faux leather or Robson trench questions in the comments also. Cheers & happy sewing.