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July 14

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.

Floral Faux Leather Robson

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.

Robson 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.

Floral Faux Leather Robson

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.

Floral Faux Leather Robson

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.

Floral Faux Leather Robson

I found some black vintage buttons from Soutache – my go to place for buttons in Chicago.

Buttons

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.

Floral Faux Leather Robson

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.

Floral Faux Leather Robson

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.

Floral Faux Leather Robson_Insides

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:

Faux Leather Tools

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.

Floral Faux Leather Robson

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.

Floral Faux Leather Robson

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.

Floral Faux Leather Robson

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.

Floral Faux Leather Robson

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…

Floral Faux Leather Robson

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.

Floral Faux Leather Robson

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

University of Chicago

Most images courtesy of my honey, Felix.  *Thanks*

Floral Faux Leather Robson

Feel free to ask me any faux leather or Robson trench questions in the comments also.  Cheers & happy sewing.

  1. Tasha / Jul 14 2015

    That looks amazing, Liz! Wow. I’d really never even thought about a patterned faux leather until I saw you posting this fabric on Instagram. Such a special piece, worth all the extra effort to work with a fabric like that. What a stunning coat!!

    p.s. when you’re back from Paris I’ll have to get some tips, we’re going about a month after you. ;)

    • Liz / Jul 14 2015

      Thanks Tasha! I’m soo excited for Paris (and a few days in each Amsterdam & Bruges). Yeah I never considered faux leather until I saw that floral pop up – so glad I got the swatch of it as it’s really not what I imagined.

  2. Marie / Jul 14 2015

    Oh my word! I’m nearly speechess…nearly! This is marvelous Liz…such an excellent fabric choice and what a stunning result! It looks designer in my opinion and I’d kill to have one in my wardrobe!

    • Liz / Jul 14 2015

      Aww thanks Marie. :D Fall can’t come soon enough as it’s just sitting all alone in my closet right now. heh

  3. SeamstressErin / Jul 14 2015

    This is DIVINE!

    I wasn’t too into the idea of faux leather until seeing this amazing coat you’ve made. I ADORE it! And I am seriously, seriously tempted to get the fabric myself and make my own jacket.

    • Liz / Jul 14 2015

      Tell me about it! A motorcycle jacket would be totally amazing wouldn’t it?!

      I have no idea how it happened but I actually have like 2 yards left. Don’t like overbuying but I totally have enough for a cropped jacket or even an A-line skirt.

      • Sophie-Lee / Jul 22 2015

        How much did you end up needing? This is just GLORIOUS and I want one almost exactly like it!

        • Liz / Jul 22 2015

          Oh dear… I’m rubbish at this. I ended up ordering 1.5 yards too much – and have no idea how much I ended up using. I’d say to take your pattern pieces out and lay them on another piece of fabric to be your guide as to how much to purchase.

  4. MarrieB / Jul 14 2015

    Absolutely gorgeous!

  5. Michelle / Jul 14 2015

    Fun Fact: University of Chicago was modeled after Oxford University. Hutchinson Hall, was inspired by Christ Church Hall (which is where they shot the scenes for the dining hall in Harry Potter). :-D

    The coat is AMAZING. I hope we have a nice long fall so you get to wear it constantly!

    • Liz / Jul 14 2015

      Oooh thanks Michelle for the History lesson. (Sounds sarcastic, but totally not meaning it to be.) I do hope we have a nice fall – the way this summer is going I think we will.

  6. Meg / Jul 14 2015

    OHMAHGAWD ITS SO AWESOME!!!! I love it. I absolutely love it. It turned out PERFECTLY. Fingers crossed you get to take it to Paris!!

    • Liz / Jul 14 2015

      heh Thanks Miss Grand. :D

  7. Evie / Jul 14 2015

    This coat is fab!! I’ve got a water resistant twill version I made last year, but I’ve been really hankering to make another one in something else. This is so tempting!

  8. Sally / Jul 14 2015

    Awesome Coat!!!! That fabric is stunning and you can tell it was a labor of love – it looks perfect! Also congrats on going to Paris :) I am traveling there THIS WEEK in fact with my Minoru jacket – let’s hope it isn’t tooooo hot ;)

  9. aunt debbie / Jul 15 2015

    When I see your beautiful sewing I think of Mom and all the sewing she did. She would really be so proud of you and in awe of what you do. Love it all! Love you!

    • Liz / Jul 16 2015

      Awww, thanks so much Aunt Debbie! I do wish I had a grandmother around still to sew with and to learn from.

  10. Sonja / Jul 16 2015

    This looks amazing! I love it! And it looks like the kind of project that is just so fun to dig into! Fantastic work!

  11. Allison / Jul 17 2015

    I have to disagree- I was a student at UofC about 10 years ago and we talked about the Hogwarts resemblance all the time!
    I was so excited to see your back drop. I miss Hyde Park and Chicago so much.

    That coat is just great. I have the pattern as well, just haven’t made it up yet.

    • Liz / Jul 20 2015

      Oh nice, Allison. I’m new to the area so I don’t know the lay of the land yet nor what maaay offend UofC folks. Glad to hear we’re all on the same page. ;D

  12. bonita / Jul 18 2015

    Um… WOW! This coat looks like a million bucks ~ or a Schiaparelli design at least! It’s sooo beautiful! I love the bold flowers teamed with the classic trench style; everything about this coat is awesome. You did such a great job Liz, I can’t even! (?°?°???*?*?*?*?*?*?

    xox,
    bonita of Lavender & Twill

    • Liz / Jul 20 2015

      Aww thanks so much! Any mention of me and Schiaparelli in the same sentence = best comment ever. :D

  13. Lori / Aug 12 2015

    Amazing jacket.

  14. Helena / Aug 13 2015

    That is beautiful! Looks great paired with the nude heels. I’ve made the Minoru but now you’ve got me considering the Robson too!

  15. jessyka / Aug 22 2015

    This one is hit!!! How was Paris? Hope you had a blast!!!

  16. Annabelle / Aug 31 2015

    Liz, I am sorry that it has taken me so long to comment on this gorgeous coat! You did an absolutely amazing job, I bet you feel so stylish when you wear this. It’s so great that you have this one-of-a-kind statement coat in your wardrobe that everyone on the streets of Chicago is eyeing up, but will never be able to find in a store. Can’t wait to see the rest of your Paris wardrobe ;)

  17. Breenah / Oct 27 2015

    I am IN LOVE with that coat.

  18. Emily / Nov 26 2015

    This. Coat. Is. AMAZING! I am in awe of your skills and the thought that went into your choices here!

    http://blog.breadandrosesvintage.com

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