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…
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!