Fari Coat by Ralph Pink

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I present to you, the Fari coat by Ralph Pink. Ralph Pink’s website is all new and improved; such inspiring designs. Free ones here, and patterns for purchase here. Ralph’s aesthetic really appeals to me but this pattern was not without it’s challenges. Some I will outline below, but some have now been fixed so lets not dwell! The Fari coat is rated intermediate to advanced, yet it tripped me up time and again. Some details just alluded my logic, that may not be the case for everyone!

Stephanie of My Vintage Inspiration started all this red coat business. She got me thinking about some lovely red wool twill given to me by my awesome friend G, part of a stash left by her dear departed Mum. On stumbling upon the Fari coat I thought I’d matched the perfect wool to the perfect coat.

The household left me for 8 days over the easter long weekend, blissful solitude. I snatched the opportunity to whip up what at first glance looked like a quick and easy coat for my not too stiff twill. This coat might be best described by Natalie Bray as a dressmaker coat I think. In that it doesn’t have the usual coat elements – shoulder pads, canvassing etc, but is a loose interpretation of a coat in every sense of the word.

More loose than expected in fact due to my ridiculous oversight. Generally a size 12-14 AUS fits me nicely but the finished measurements on The Fari had me erring on a size 16. I didn’t question myself, just went with it, blindly cutting into the precious red twill. Too late it dawned on me that the finished measurements of course, must account for a large separation at centre front and so naturally the finished measurement would be far less than my girth – derrrrr!

This was a big cutting job, almost an entire day chiselling away at outer, linings and fusible. Every time I fuse by hand I threaten never again, but then I repeat the trauma! G’s Mum very conveniently had the forethought to purchase the same wool twill in black, which I used for the contrast bands since there wasn’t enough red for the entire coat and besides, black and red… what could go wrong? I tried, I really tried to avoid mistakes. I’m sick of mistakes, that sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach is all too familiar. Keen to better myself,  I coloured up the Fari coat line drawing with those topic markers of my daughter’s. Somehow, I managed to completely miss the fact that a red coat with black bands could look like this…

Buckingham Palace Guard

or this…

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I don’t know what it is about red, but look at Pinterest for red coats with contrast and they are few and far between. Phew, I’d only managed to attach one sleeve band on one side before spotting the red/black disaster – yay!

By this time I was distraught. The black bands were a disaster, they had taken FOREVER to cut and fuse and ‘alone’ time was running out fast. I wracked my brain for an alternative from the stash but every single dark colour now brought to mind military uniforms or worse – Santa. I turned to fleuro colours, you almost never see fleuro on military uniforms! Days were spent sourcing fleuro coloured wool for the bands… I could have sworn I saw some last year at Tessuti – alas, none to be found and even the helpful design students visiting Tessuti couldn’t convince me to use grey (grey is apparently the answer to every colour dilemma!). After scouring fabric shops all over Geelong and Melbourne as well as online I came up with this, I think its blanketing – from Rathdowne fabrics. Moth eaten, I can only wonder what is crawling out of it. Rathdowne wanted $20/m but this shrewd bargaineer got them down to $15/m. Honestly, in retrospect they should have paid me to take it away for fumigation! I hope you’re sensing the desperation here!

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moth damage along the entire centre fold of this fabric and both edges too!

Ralph Pink’s suggested fabric…

we’d recommend constructing the stylish cocoon shape by using a heavy-thick wool, but you can switch this wool out to a lightweight alternative as we’ve done with our sample; particularly if you’re planning on wearing the coat during summer evenings.

Well, I’d describe my red wool twill as leaning toward the lighter side of coatings and I liked Ralph’s sample, so I went for it. Never pays to second guess oneself when a full week of uninterrupted sewing is in sight. WRONG. My wool was far too lightweight.  I’m still in love with Ralph’s version, or is it his gorgeous model? Go on, have a look for yourself here.

The cocoon shaping means the coat billows outward just where you will be making an incision for the pocket. Despite my having interfaced behind the pocket incision, the result is less than stellar. The outward cocoon shape has become a cowl and the pocket sags sadly. Now the pockets are stitched closed; they still look a bit saggy.

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The mitred corner detail was what convinced me to purchase this pattern, beautiful but not without its challenges. To improve sewability I suggest you complete all mitred corners (x 8) stitching them to the body and facing at the corners, then stitch the remainder of the band to the body and facing easing evenly. Much better than starting in the middle to find the ease pulls a little when you finally reach the corners.

Oh and check out my triangular bound buttonhole!
Oh and check out my triangular bound buttonhole!

Sorry the photo above is a tad blurry, but does anyone think that buttonhole looks like this? Eeeuw! Barnacles on my coat!

 

An issue arises as to how to secure the inner and outer mitred bands together – no pattern instructions for this. There cannot be a ‘stitch in the ditch’ because both sides are highly visible and accuracy is tricky on a squishy lofty wool with generous turn of cloth. Possibly if the coat colour were dark the stitching might disappear. Bear in mind that these bands require stitching opposite curves together, much like a princess seam.

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To secure the inner and outer bands together I  hand backstitched the entire circumference. Later, when it became clear the lining was ‘hitching’ the back coat (there is no allowance for a jump hem) the entire circumference was unpicked and restitched from inside the coat.

The instructions have you complete the outer shell and the inner shell, then bag the lining, closing at the CB hem by hand. I think it would be better to do a traditional bagged lining, somehow machine stitch the inner and outer bands together from inside and close at the lining sleeve seam. Topstitching is another alternative but again, accuracy on a bright/light colour may be difficult.

The collars are cut on the bias, I think this causes some bias-y pull and I would prefer next time to cut at least the outer (public)collar on the straight grain and use much stiffer interfacing. Some strange instructions to cut the collars on the ‘bias fold’ have now been amended. In fact there have been 2 revisions of this pattern’s pdf due to feedback!

What went well? OMG I love this red coral patterned silk and I’d been saving it forever knowing there was the perfect project waiting for it somewhere. In fact the coral patterned silk is so good I was tempted to make the coat like a kimono and just wear the lining/facing unit. Watcha think of this as a wearable piece? I’m tempted!

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So far, the Fari coat has sat in my wardrobe awaiting PTSD to subside. Perhaps The Wizard of Oz tomorrow night will be it’s outing? Can my inner perfectionist turn a blind eye to the less than perfect finish?

If you want more tips on making this coat, don’t hesitate to contact me at rolledinglitter at gmail dot com. I’d be very happy to help someone else perfect this potentially lovely coat. In fact despite the many pitfalls, I’d be tempted by Ralph Pink’s patterns again – forewarned and forearmed!

 

 

 

 

30 Comments

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  1. I love your colour combo (much better than santa)! The shape of this is really interesting, I’m sorry it was such a traumatic sew but I really hope you wear it! (And that buttonhole is amazing, definitely not a barnacle.) I had a bit of drama with the instructions for the Ralph Pink shorts that I made, good to know that it might be an issue with more of their patterns. I have the Sula blazer pattern awaiting my attention, so I hope it isn’t too tricky…

    • Thanks Kirsten, yes I think my red was saved by the hot pink blanket! Looking at the Sula, I’d extend the front facing down to the bottom of the jacket and join it to the hem/ hem facing further toward the side. That way you won’t get the join seen down the front facing. Also I’d be adding plenty of extra at the hem edge of the lining. There doesn’t look to be any ease in the hem length and I’m wondering if the lining has any vertical ease allowed? Its a pretty jacket, looking forward to your review! Best of luck!

  2. I was looking at that coat just last night on the Ralph Pink site. I was tempted to buy, but then couldn’t figure out if there was any closures. I can’t see myself making a wool coat if I can’t close it to stay warm, so I might pass on it! I love your version, pink and red look great together,great bound buttonhole too-but it sounds like it needed a lot of patience!

    • Honestly the bound buttonhole was a 4/10 for difficulty. There are some great tutorial on a triangular bound buttonhole.Try Rhonda Bhuss’ blog post with youtube video – she’s a whizz and a great teacher.
      The beauty of this jacket/coat is that it will keep your shoulders and back warm but the front still shows off that fabulous sheath you whipped up for the opera! I think quite often in our Aussie climate we really don’t need a coat but it looks classy; so we insert the perspiration shields and wear it regardless! Thanks for popping by Chris.

  3. So pleased when I woke up this morning to find you had posted an entry! I miss you when you are AWOL!

    As usual, this was a great read and I thank you for sharing your superior sewing skills. Such a great save with the flouro pink trim (moth-eaten or no!). I have always loved red and pink together (like those cinnamon hearts I always eat too many of and burn the inside of my mouth!) and the combo brings this to surprising and interesting from something that would have been a bit drab (grey, no!). You are lucky that you look so beautiful in that bright, true red.

    I can understand why with your exacting standards you were a bit stressed out by this; it’s challenging when you get to the part of doing something where you want things to be perfect and it doesn’t quite turn out in every detail the way that you want it to (by the way – definitely wear it inside out, too – beautiful). I have less exacting standards with my sewing now because I have less skill, but I think I have a similar personality type in the end. You’ve honestly made me tempted though to try this myself in a dark blue or maybe green with contrast trim (though I see more blue)…or maybe blue and green together. This is interesting: http://www.thesartorialist.com/women/on-the-street-greenblueteal-paris/

    You also sent me down the rabbit hole looking at the Ralph Pink patterns.I think it would be good for me to try a couple of these. I find the details on so many interesting, though likely difficult to execute well (even his samples give that impression in quite a few places). The trousers look pretty interesting though and the Tommy waistcoat, or even a dress. Incidentally, are you still thinking of making white shirts this year? I really want to make some men’s style white shirts myself http://www.thesartorialist.com/photos/on-the-street-a-white-shirt-milan/

    Sorry, long comment. Sorry about the PTSD but I think you made a very cool coat in spite of the trials.

    • Steph, you are such an inspiration to me; not a virgo are you?! I was only today moving fabric around the house – as one does… forest green boiled wool crepe (cooked by me!) and some long forgotten teal cashmere scraps jumbled themselves. I played with the colours together for a while in wonder. What is this fab new combo I’d never considered and yet there in your first sartorialist link – KAPOW! I love it!
      I always think of making white shirts; love white shirts. If you want to do something in tandem, let me know. Right now I’m tailoring the tuxedo jacket for Princess; the process is so slow not because its difficult but because I’m so petrified of making a mess of it!
      Oh and how is that stunning blue skirt in your second link? Fresh and fabulous.

      • Yes, I think it’s a really awesome colour combo. I definitely didn’t think of it myself! 🙂 Not a Virgo but another earth sign. 🙂 Woah…lucky princess!!! I can’t wait to see that one. She will be stunning in a tuxedo jacket.

        I really want to take a page from all of your books this summer and try some unusual things and style lines so I would love to play with the white shirt concept. Looks like I will have time in June and possibly early July and early August! Fun, and very doable! Yes!

        Oh and yes – the blue skirt is very pretty.

  4. I’m too small to wear jackets in that shape, I would look like a balloon, so I avoid them. The jacket looks great on you and your detailing is fab. I never understand why people sew beautiful fabrics as linings! I much prefer to get an extra garment out of such fabric and in this case that fabric would be perfect for a kimono!
    I don’t think I’m tempted to try his patterns, but never say never! Great save

    • Ah yes Linda, I was tortured as to how to use this eBay purchased silk. But when it arrived it was tissue thin and I really struggled to make it into anything, not sure how long it will last as a lining! I was just so taken with the design. Note to self: watch the mommes on silk purchases in future!

  5. Love the red and pink. No closures down the front, though, brrrr! Or would be brrr, except for those hot hot colors heating things up.

  6. pearlredmoon 07/05/2016 — 9:59 am

    Hi Lesley
    I think the coat looks fabulous in itself and equally as good on you. Thanks for introducing me to Ralph Pink designs, I’d not heard of him before. Despite the trauma of this creation process you wrote about it very entertainingly and I could relate to your experience as some projects can be just one difficulty and challenge arising after another…well done to work through it and get a splendid finished result. Worth the sweat and tears in my opinion!

    Pearl

  7. Oh Lesley, I can relate so much to all the work you have put in and not getting the desired end result. Been down that route too many times myself. Looking at the model, I see that the coat is worn undone in all the photos. I am sure that if you wear it the same way, you’ll look as good. Seems to be beautifully sewn, so wear with confidence.

  8. The coat looks absolutely beautiful on you & I love the colour combination. The lining as a kimono, brilliant. Without reading anything, just a quick look at the pictures , I thought it was a separate garment – go for it , would look great on you.

  9. What a great looking coat. Love, love, love the colour combination. I always have a desire to put a bit of green with red and then I feel like a Christmas cracker. I once had a coat that was red, trimmed with animal fur – browns and blacks – that looked nice. Pink is much safer, despite it being radical. Well done. I also love unusual button holes too. Lovely to see you tailoring skills Lesley – you are so accurate and precise, getting excellent results through perseverance.

    • Red is funny like that Kate, it just wants to be an event. Of course here in Victoria you don’t have to go far to be branded with team colours; they’re AFL mad! Random strangers talk about their teams and my eyes glaze over! Thanks for your kind comments Kate.

  10. Sounds like one lonely week! I tried to imagine how I would feel if that was me and I sincerely think I’d need a long holiday – from sewing. I’m struck by how great red is on you and this is one combination of style and colours that no one else is going to have so on balance, the gruel was worth it. I am as ever impressed by your knowledge and high standards and thanks for sharing your tips.

    I always think bound buttonholes – if you focus closely – look like lips of monsters so it’s extra freaky to see them in cartoon colours!

    Look forward to the tuxedo!

    • My husband has been working from home for the past 2 weeks and he is going mad without outside interaction. Strange, I almost become used to it but then cabin fever sets in and when I see a human I get verbal diarrhoea! You may have noticed that!!Totally get what you mean about monster’s lips, I too find them a little disconcerting but it usually takes a coupe of gins!!
      Pad stitching the lapels today – arrrgh!

      • Leatherface, that’s who they remind me of (no, don’t google that if you don’t know it: too orrid!) Good luck with the padstitching! You haven’t mentioned the pooch: I hope she’s behaving!

      • She’s a doll that pooch, so much easier than any predecessors. Eeeuw, you certainly have eclectic tastes in cinema Marijana, I’ll never look at those buttonholes in the same way again!

  11. I love the coat, the colours are gorgeous, but you make me hesitant about looking at Ralph Pinks patterns. I love time alone but can understand the possibility of cabin fever!

  12. Interesting design and I love the red and pink together. Moths and wool are an evil combination- cedar balls are the only known exorcism.

    • not sure fabric wholesalers use cedar balls but this pink blanketing looks like it might have come from a back room in deepest darkest Timbuktu – though not sure they have need of pink blankets there!!

  13. Anne in Melbourne 25/05/2016 — 6:54 am

    The result is just gorgeous.

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