Work in Progress: The Gertie Coat

I really should stop calling Butterick 5824 the Gertie coat, but this late in the game I can’t help it.  I think you all know exactly what I’m talking about when I say the “Gertie Coat”.

Anyhow… after finishing up 4 of my sewing WIP’s (all skirts) I was debating starting something completely new to change things up and to reward to myself for finishing up so many languishing projects.

Here’s a quick rundown of my outstanding projects list.

Sewing Projects:

Knitting Projects:

Instead I had an desire to keep working down the list of projects that are uncompleted and decided to start up my Butterick 5824 coat once again.  I started it primarily so I could at least wear it once before the winter is at an end… but we’ll see.

Where I left things:

  • The skirt was stitched up, but felt way too wide and dumpy on my short, pear-shaped frame
  • The bodice was completed, with the exception of the outer collar
  • All linings needed to be drafted from my bodice pattern, cut, stitched and attached


These are the main components that need attention before I can move on so I dug in late last week.

I first got to work on the skirt which did take me more than 1 day for sure.

I had the same issue on the skirt of this coat, that I did on my recent completed purple Dubarry skirt.  The width at the hem was too full for my short stature and created an out-of-proportion look that was not attractive.

I started little by little, taking out an 1″ at the hem (ie 2″ for both seam allowances) grading to nothing at the waist.  It wasn’t enough.  I kept reducing the hem by 1″ at a time until I got to 4″.

Again, this skirt has 6 seams, which I reduced each seam by 4″.  This all means that I took out a total width of 48 inches at the hem!  Even so, I feel like I could have gone a smidge narrower at the hem.

So while the hem started looking better, what this meant was that I had to unpick my side seam pocket and pocket facing that I had stitched (and graded the seam allowances already) and restitch it.  What was frustrating was that I had to unpick and stitch this pocket on 3 times, mainly due to my own error.  But still…. it’s really frustrating to have to redo your own work so many times to get it right.

After the skirt was completed, I basted it onto the bodice to see what it was looking like all stitched up.

The only issues I’m seeing after stitching the top to the bottom is:

1.) My bound buttonhole placement seems a bit too close to the seam.  Only time will tell if this is a make-or-break- on my bodice.

2.) The length at the center bodice back seems too short.

Instead of looking like a flat (or parallel to the floor) seam, it looks as if it’s curving upwards.

I stitched the seam with a 5/8″ seam allowance so I’m hoping that I can stitch it with 1/4″ and it will look much better.

But my backup plan, that makes me feel like all is not lost, is that I have always been planning on making a tie belt for this coat.  So if the seam does end up too high, the belt would cover it up in any event.

It’s not ideal, but it does make the coat wearable.  And like I said, I had been planning on making a belt anyhow.

What’s up next is the outer collar.  (Followed by all-things-lining and then all of the final construction.)  So really it’s not too much before I can have a completed coat.  But it’s always those little things that are unforeseen that end up taking the bulk of the sewing time…. I’m talking about you shoulder pads!

In: Sewing

Blogger for 6 years and counting, I am a passionate creator who loves to tinker.

Comments (20)

  1. Gail March 12, 2013 — 8:02 AM

    You do such beautiful, meticulous work, Liz!

  2. Meli March 12, 2013 — 8:13 AM

    Those are the most beautiful bound button holes I’ve ever seen

    1. Liz March 12, 2013 — 10:02 AM

      *Swoon* Thanks Meli!

  3. Maggie March 12, 2013 — 8:20 AM

    You really are working your way through that list! Great job! And I think the coat is looking realy good. Hopefully changing the seam allowance will let the center back drop enough to be level. Good luck :)

    1. Liz March 12, 2013 — 9:56 AM

      Thanks Maggie! I’ll know after tonight if letting out the seam at the back will work or not… *Crossing Fingers*

  4. those bound buttonholes are just amazing. any tips?

    1. Liz March 12, 2013 — 10:00 AM

      Thanks dearie. Unfortunately I really don’t have any top secret tips to give… I’ve always just followed the directions and they seem to turn out nice.

      I would say the best thing to have is a precision marking utensil of some sort. I always use those chaco pens which gets a nice crisp line to sew against. That and really good pressing.

  5. Rachel March 12, 2013 — 8:53 AM

    Well hooray for paring down the list at least. And Ack! on how much you had to take out of the coat! I guess it does let you know that, in the future, you should avoid the patterns with a very full LONG skirt!
    Here’s hoping the rest of the sewing on your coat is smooth sailing though :)

    1. Liz March 12, 2013 — 9:57 AM

      Heh Tell me about it! I know I have to shy away from long dresses, but full-skirts are new to me. I’ve made many a circle skirt and things have looked fine. I’m guessing it’s the thicker fabric that’s attributing to the *dump look* that was getting created.

  6. Great call with the skirt width on the coat. Just by looking at the coat draped on your dressform, I can tell it’s a beautiful compromise. You are totally killing your list of lingering projects!

  7. Wow! You’ve been so busy lately! I can’t wait to see your finished coat. Maybe you’ll get one more good cold spell so you can wear it!

    1. Liz March 12, 2013 — 9:58 AM

      It just snowed again today, which is promising. heh Our weather has been very erratic this year.

  8. Tasha March 12, 2013 — 10:02 AM

    It’s going to be gorgeous!! That collar will just be a knock-out. I’m torn between hoping you’ll be able to get it finished in time to get a little wear and hoping it warms up soon. ;)

    I started by making the shoulder pads first for my jacket since I knew I didn’t want to do it. I haven’t even cut the fabric yet (tonight). lol

  9. Marie March 12, 2013 — 10:42 AM

    You are steaming right through your list of UFOs…I can’t believe how fast you’re picking them off. And they’re all looking gorgeous, including the ‘Gertie coat’ ;o)

  10. Ah, I too am almost there with my tailored winter coat so this post was particularly fun to read. So glad I’m not the only one working on a wool coat this late in the season!! You’ve done some impressive work getting this coat to fit you better. :) My pattern calls for a belt and I really love the feminine touch it gives – it’ll look nice on yours! Best of luck finishing, I’m almost done myself and simply can’t wait to wear it around town!

    1. Liz March 12, 2013 — 11:41 AM

      Yay! We’re winter coat buddies in spring. heh

      I’m loving that black and white fabric you choose for yours.

  11. Ginger March 12, 2013 — 11:51 AM

    Ooh, I’m so impressed– you’re really knocking out your UFOs! I think you made some really smart alterations to the coat and all the time you spent making them was time well spent! Really looking forward to seeing this finished!

  12. Kelly March 12, 2013 — 12:53 PM

    I’m so impressed that you’re sticking to your list like this. When mine is that long I usually can’t help but get overwhelmed and start something that isn’t on that list, which I know makes no sense, a project is a project…

    Your coat is going to be stunning! Your buttonholes look fantastic, the color is perfect, and the collar rolls so beautifully. If you don’t finish it in time this year at least you will really have something to look forward to in the fall.

  13. I have all the faith in you that you can make this fabulous coat work! I’m seriously impressed with how well you are doing with your WIPs. I picked up one of my UFOs last night after reading this post on my phone! I’m excited to see your finished coat, and I think you’ll probably have several chances to wear it here before the season is over :)

  14. I’m not sure if I should be more jealous of that coat or your UFO progress. Fantastic, all of it.

    Also, I would happily roast to pieces in that coat in July. So whatever, weather.

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