Thursday, October 4, 2018

Cicero in Shoft shell

In the week that I sewed this dress on request, I also sewed a coat on request. I hacked the Cicero jacket, a Sofilantjes' pattern for knit fabrics into a true fall/winter coat from Soft Shell. In this blog post I will give you some tips and tricks in case you want to go on a similar endeavour.

The Cicero is intended as a jacket to be worn over a thinner long sleeve, not as an outside layer over a thick sweater. I therefore measured the chest of our daughter while she was wearing a sweater, this way I automatically took into account the fact that her chest would be wider. I decided to size up one size above the measured size with sweater because Soft Shell does not stretch. In our case that meant that I sized up two sizes in total. I only sized up width wise. I did make her regular length, because she would not become taller by wearing a sweater. I also decided to use the neckline of the size that she usually wears, which also meant that I could use the hood of her regular size.

Sizing up a jacket is of course not the same as using a coat pattern. I expected that especially the sleeves might cause some problems. It is important that a coat gives you enough freedom of movement, so I decided to widen the sleeves. The Cicero sleeves are cut on the fold and I widened half of the sleeve by making a vertical cut (at about the middle of the pattern piece) and spreading the sleeve pieces such that the extra line that you have to drew at the top was one centimeter long. If you remember your geometry that means that you actually put slightly less than one centimeter between your sleeve pieces. To make sure the bigger sleeve would fit I drew the arm whole one centimeter lower. Setting in a non stretching sleeve is harder than setting a stretching sleeve. You need to pin and go slow to avoid puckers. The sleeves on our coat are wide enough for sure, a slightly narrower sleeve would also have worked, but I do not feel that they seem too wide.

I lined the jacket, so I cut all my outer pieces both in Soft Shell and in my lining fabric. Except for the pockets (those I only cut in lining pieces) and also all pieces out of ribbing were cut only as often has the regular pattern prescribes. I lined the coat with jersey. Sewing jersey to a non stretching fabric is not the easiest thing, but again, if you pin and make sure that you are pushing the jersey a bit faster than you woven, it is totally doable. If you have not done it before, I do recommend choosing a non stretching lining. I lined the sleeves with a silky lining fabric such that she easily slides into her coat.

I wanted both a hood and a collar, Anne had shown us that it can be done. I had made a different type of hack before because I feared a lot of bulky seams, but this turned out to not be an issues. If you sew a collar and a hood, this trick is to change the construction a bit. First finish the hood (without needing a turning whole) expect for the bottom of the hood. Then you place the outside coat (the one that I sewed in Soft shell) on the table in front of you with the outside of the coat up. Then you place the hood with the outside of the hood facing the outside of the coat. You align the necklines. Because Soft Shell does not stretch, your hood will be slightly shorter than the neckline. This is not a problem, just center it nicely, with a bit of open space on the side where the zipper will come. Now place the collar on top of the neckline, on top of the hood. The wrong side of your ribbing should be face up, meaning that the right side of your ribbing is facing the lining of the hood. Keep the collar open, do not fold it. Now sew all three items together, outside coat, hood (already completed with lining) and collar (unfolded). I then sewed the lining coat to the other side of the collar, the one that remained unsewn in the previous step. Now you can also sew the bottom waist band first to the outside of the coat and then to the lining. Make sure that you always put the pieces that you are sewing together such that the good sides of the fabric are facing each other and that nothing is twisted.

The most complicated step of sewing a fully lines garment is sewing the sleeves. There are several tutorials out there on the web that can explain how to strangely interlock the sleeves together to create the end result that you want. If you pin it correctly the garment will end up looking like strange octopus. I always forget how to do that exactly, so I use a different method. I just put the sleeves in each other the way that they have to end up and pin the layers how they should be sewn. I pin only a small piece, just 2 centimeter (you will not be able to pin the the entire top anyway from the right side). Then I put my hand through a turning hole somewhere in a side seam and grab those 2 centimeter that I pinned in place. I then pull the top of the sleeve through the turning hole and once that it is through that hole you can relatively easy pin the rest. I use the same, pull through the turning hole trick when I have to sew in zipper in a lined garment. It goes beyond the scope of this blog post to create pictures on how to sew the lining pieces, so I hope my simple trick will totally make you just see the light.


  1. Oh waw! Wat een mooie jas!
    Ik zat hierop te wachten sinds ik jouw aankondiging las in jouw week SoS.
    Ik zie het licht nog niet helemaal wat de voering betreft, maar dat wordt waarschijnlijk veel logischer als je de stukken effectief kan vastnemen terwijl je leest. Er is zeker nog drempelvrees, maar ik sta toch al dichter bij de drempel.
    Dank je voor de uitleg!