A Review of The Opium Coat Pdf Pattern by Deer and Doe.
I'm trying to challenge myself a bit more with my sewing projects this year and also be a bit more mindful of what I really need rather than filling up my wardrobe. I had printed and cut out The Opium Coat a year ago while I was still living in Cyprus. I think I never continued to make it because the fabric shops closed during the first lockdown of 2020 and once they reopened it was too warm for a wool coat!
Swing coat with raglan sleeves and origami welt pockets, entirely lined. Version A is closed with snaps, version B includes a belt. Deer and Doe
I was attracted to The Opium Coat because it has a loose fitting style but with some challenges for me - lining, welt pockets and collars! I chose to make Version A - I didn't think the belted version would be flattering on me.
The Opium Coat Pdf Pattern is available in sizes 34 - 52* which is a full bust range of 31½" up to 45⅝" (*note - only the pdf pattern has this extended size range). Looking at the size chart my measurements put me in a size 46 which would be a finished bust size of 50¾". This would be huge on me! Of course, you need plenty of ease in a coat and this is a loose style but I felt that I would be swamped by that size. I checked out other reviews of The Opium Coat and it seems to be a general consensus that you need to size down. I ended up making a size 42 which has a finished bust of 47⅝" - this was a risk but I'm glad I did that as the sizing ended up perfect.
I quite often take a look at patternreview.com. This site is full of reviews of both paper and pdf patterns and the information can be very useful. They also have reviews of sewing machines and sewing books, etc. They have a shop, online classes, blog, forum, contests and a large knowledge base. Well worth a visit.
The Opium Coat is drafted for a height of 5'6" so I shortened all the body pieces by 1" - remembering to do the front facing too. I also risked shortening the sleeve pattern pieces by 1".
Recommended fabrics: Melton wool, boiled wool, Loden, wool gabardine. Lining: rayon bemberg, silk. Deer and Doe
I chose a wool blend coating fabric from Minerva Crafts. The wool blend is cheaper than wool - I felt too nervous to buy really expensive fabric but it was lovely to work with and is soft to the touch. The colour is described as 'Black and Plum'. I was pleased with this choice - not too plain but no stressful pattern matching required. The lining was also purchased from Minerva Crafts - its listed as 'Premium Anti Static Taffeta Lining in Dark Plum'. This was trickier to work with and I had to be careful not to over handle it as it frayed easily.
Instructions for The Opium Coat suggest using a steam iron on wool fabric to pre-shrink it. I decided to try another option which I read about on the Tilly and the Buttons Blog "Ten Tips for Sewing a Wool Coat"
The easiest way to pre-shrink wool is to chuck it in the tumble dryer with a couple of damp towels. Wring out the towels so they're damp rather than sopping wet, put in the tumble dryer and remove when the towels are dry. Tilly and the Buttons
Again more risks but I decided to put my beautiful wool blend fabric into the tumble dryer! It just seemed an easier way to handle that quantity of fabric (3 metres). I was nervous but it came out of the dryer without any damage and only the slightest amount of shrinkage.
Although I had already printed, cut and glued The Opium Coat pdf pattern there was still more work to do - I had to trace off all the lining pattern pieces and also all the interfacing pieces. I think the preparation for making The Opium Coat took nearly as long as construction! There are quite a lot of pattern pieces to cut out of both main and lining fabric and then there are many areas that need to be interfaced including applying iron-on seam tape to certain areas.
The first thing I did once the pieces were cut out was to sew the front and back together and check fit. This was only a rough guide as I didn't add the raglan sleeves which form the shoulders but it gave me enough confidence to continue - The Opium Coat has a generous seam allowance of ⅝" so I felt that I could of made some adjustments if required.
I had read other reviews of The Opium Coat and some sewists felt that the wool fabric was quite difficult to handle in places where there are multiple layers. Therefore, I decided to back the welt pocket pieces in my lining fabric rather than the main fabric. This worked well and my domestic Brother Sewing Machine coped well with sewing through all the layers.
The welt pockets are constructed right at the beginning of the instructions - good to get the hardest part done first! The instructions were actually quite clear, you just have to take your time and think things through if you haven't done welt pockets before. I unpicked a few times and re-sewed because I really wanted to get a nice neat finish but I'm happy with the outcome and the finished pockets feel secure and are a good size.
Once the pockets are in place, construction of The Opium Coat is pretty straight forward. I had to pause and think about the collar at some stages but it magically came together some how! Similarly with the finish of the lining around the hem - I didn't quite understand the instructions but once you think ahead to what you know the finished lining hem should look like you can work backwards and make sense of the instructions.
I was nervous about pressing my seams but mindful that a professional looking finish depends on it. A combination of steam and a pressing cloth worked well on the internal seams and I used steam and a heavy weight to press the hems flat.
It is intended that Version A of The Opium Coat is closed with two large sew on snaps. I sewed my snaps in place but didn't like how the coat looked fastened up. I tried a few different positions and different fastening options but still felt that the coat didn't hang right. I have therefore left my Opium Coat without any fastenings. Perhaps I'll add something in the future ....
A pleat is basted into the back lining piece of The Opium Coat and one of the last steps of construction was to release the pleat - this adds more ease and comfort into the coat. We're still in lockdown here so my only trips out are to the supermarket. I tested my Opium Coat on my most recent shopping trip and was delighted with how comfortable it is. First, the length is great for sitting in / driving a car and secondly there was no tightness across the back. The pockets are a good size too.
I'm really happy with the finish and fit of my Opium Coat - its so comfortable and easy to wear. Deer and Doe really push you to try out techniques to give a professional finish and I feel that this coat will last me for many years. For that reason I'm not sure that I'll make another one - unless I want a dramatic colour change of course!