Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Dotty Duster Coat - New Look 6656

Pattern: New Look 6656 (2006)

Pattern Description: Collar-less, unlined, above-knee duster jacket.

Pattern Sizing: Size A (10-12-14-16-18-20-22) I made view A in a size 14 at the shoulders and bust increasing to a 16 at waist and 18 below.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing it? Yes, yes it did!

Were the instructions easy to follow? Extremely, it had a very simple construction, with no tricky or difficult steps involved.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? What I appreciated the most was the inclusion of a center back seam for shaping. Also the waist shaping of the side seams match my body type (10" difference between waist and hips) although it might be too much of a difference for a slimmer-hipped woman.

Fabric Used: 2 yards of black, white, and gray polka dot print moleskin from Jo-Ann Fabrics (on sale for $7.49 per yard, orig $29.98), Pellon SK135 Sheer-Knit fusible interfacing, 2 packages Wrights 1/4" double fold bias tape in Black, vintage Wright's Trims non-shrink seam binding in Navy #55, and Gutermann 100% polyester thread in Black #10.

Pattern Alterations or any design changes you made?: I first made some changes to the paper pattern: I cut View A out in size 14 at the shoulders moving out to a size 18 at hips.

Comparing the pattern pieces, New Look 6656 had a strange drafted protrusion at the upper back that I cut off leaving the back straight above the curved "swayback" shaping. I found the back neckline uncomfortably high on my neck so ended up cutting both necklines and their facings in a size 12.

The sleeves for this design were meant to be cropped or extended with a contrast cuff. Instead, I combined the two pattern pieces and cut my sleeves out at full length.


First thing, first, I discovered when I checked and straightened the fabric grain by pulling a thread that the print was slightly off grain.

 Correct => Incorrect

Second, when finally confronted with cutting out this fabric I realized that I had misrepresented the fabric's orientation to myself all these years. I had imagined a coat with vertical lines when in fact the fabric has the dots running horizontally! Which now meant that I should really try to match the seams, right? That resulted in me spending a lot of time lining up, marking, and cutting out all the pieces in a single layer.

I then attempted to match the side seams, though the bust darts made it more complicated. The moleskin was a but stretchy which made matching a little difficult as I had to keep tugging the rows into place. Eventually, I was able to have white rows of dots line up across the seams; however, if you look close, you can see that the two adjacent rows of gray dots weren't matched correctly and different shades of gray were lined up! Luckily, the most important seam, the back seam, came out perfectly.

However, I shouldn't have had that problem though because the fabric was a bit translucent making the matching pretty easy.  I was able to lay a piece atop another piece and see the design on both. Oh, wait... I could see the design/shapes but not differentiate between the very close shades of gray. Okay, I feel better now.

Later on, I also added stay tape to the shoulder seams to combat the possibility of them stretching. It just happened that I received this vintage seam binding in navy (from a giveaway) that I could use for this "vintage" project.

Turning out the squared lapels was very important to this jacket looking great. Therefore, I trimmed the seam allowance to eliminate bulk. Of course, later I remembered I had tips and tutorials saved on the best ways to do this. Ugh!

In fact, right after this jacket was completed I saw this very promising technique on page 73 of the February/March 2017 issue of Threads magazine.

I finished the raw edges on the facing by turning under and stitching. At this point, the fabric had revealed that it frayed extensively and since this coat would not be lined I wanted to finish as nearly as possible the other raw edges that would be subject to regular friction.

Side A or B?
I had the choice of going with my typical finish of simply turning the seam allowance under or I could be daring and try something more decorative like a bound edge or a Hong Kong finish.

Because of the graphic look of the jacket and how precious this project had become over time I chose to use bias tape to bind the exposed seam allowances.

On the back, I bound the seams separately so they could lay open and flat; but I chose to bind the sides and sleeves together as one flat seam. I am so happy with how this turned out.

I'm extremely proud of my sleeve caps. The ease allowed in the pattern was perfect, I was able to achieve a smooth cap but it was not effortless. I first machine basted the sleeves in but my turquoise staystitching (absolutely necessary!) showed that they didn't go in exactly on the seam line. I then unpicked the seam and basted them in by hand and stitched directly over those stitches. Voila!

That success was followed by more bound seams for the underarm and shoulder seams before attempting the most difficult, the binding of the armscye. Luckily, that went well too and I am in love with all of my bound seams and how professional the whole thing looks!

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?  Yes, I would. The alterations I had to make were needed for my particular body and didn't seem too bad to me. The difference between my waist and hips was perfectly accommodated for in the pattern. Otherwise, the construction is perfect for a beginner. I also love the slight bell shape of the sleeves.

Images: Calvin Klein and @meccok on instagram

J. Jill duster

Conclusion: I have had a few inspiration pics for this type of coat over the years and I have finally made one for myself. The J. Jill pic above is from their 2010 catalog and is the original inspiration for this duster and shows how diligent I was in getting all the details right despite going with a woven versus their knit version.

I think this will be a great addition to my wardrobe, easily able to transform a simple top and bottom into a chic ensemble. I hope to use this pattern many times and definitely want to make an evening coat out of a patterned satin brocade.

Duster History Posts:

The original idea from 2010!!

The first try

The second try