Tuesday 4 June 2019

V1564 - Sandra Betzina raincoat in oilskin

Settle in and buckle up, this is going to be a long one!

I've finally finished my Vogue 1564 raincoat.

The idea of sewing this pattern and the initial muslin fitting goes back over a year when I was convinced I could sew it in this vintage gifted fabric. I couldn't.

And I realised why I thought I could: The pattern I was working from was missing a whole sheet of pattern tissue and so my first layout on the fabric looked promising. Once I came to sew the muslin and realised a pattern sheet was missing, I was in trouble. 

Until I realised I had inadvertently bought the pattern twice. Well of course I had, it was such a good idea after all. I had all the pieces needed to make a muslin, but now knew I needed a different fabric. The idea got shelved until autumn of this year. (meanwhile I returned the faulty pattern copy, scored a second good one and have now on-gifted that one)
Excited to be making the coat last year I had already tracked down some closures at Jimmy's Buttons. The closures were brown leather and so that would dictate my new fabric choice somewhat.

It seems that sourcing closures one likes is about the hardest part of this whole coat and there is a blog post dedicated to just that problem on the Sandra Betzina website.

I had decided that the Merchant and Mills Dry Oilskin was going to be my fabric. I just had to get my head around the $60/m pricetag.... Armed with my Christmas work shopping giftcard I hit up Fibresmith. I was looking at the different colours of the Merchant and Mills dry oilskin and then commented on the one bolt of the oiled oilskin.

It turns out that that had been an order in error, but it's lovely. It looked like it would age with a really nice patina and be quite awesome. I was about to buy it when I said, in passing, to Leslie that I could only be happier if it were to be dark brown (I don't even remember what colour it was).

She let me in on a secret: There was a bolt of fabric in the storeroom that I might like. It's an Australian made oiled cotton. Probably that famous brand that keeps you "dry as a bone", wink wink. She didn't have it on display as everywhere this fabric bolt leant, it left an oily mark. Do you remember Soul Glo? Think of this as the fabric equivalent! :)

The drape was so much better. Holding up a couple of metres of each fabric it was clear that it had to be this one, unless I wanted to look like a scrunched paper bag. Bonus for being cheaper too!

So I had my fabric and my closures. I just needed a lining. 

I grew up wearing the quintessential Driza-bone drover's coat. I set my dad the task of trying to find a photo of me from the early eighties at horse riding school in a Driza-bone, but that might have been too big a challenge. I'll add it if it ever turns up.

My memories of those coats is that they were always lined in a flannel or cotton, never a slippery lining. And I figured this coat should be a cotton lining, not a slippery synthetic. I wanted an abstract, geometric print that wouldn't require me to match plaid or stripes and that was in grey or brown tones. How perfect is this Stof cotton from Fabric Deluxe?!

I set to work sewing.

The pattern calls for every seam to be flat felled and since the coat is lined, that could feel like a waste of time. But I really like a flat felled seam. They're not hard to do, they have a satisfying thickness to them and they're just so neat. (Here's a tutorial if you've never tried it before)

Flat felling the seams of sleeves is never quite as much fun, but when the sleeves are adult sized and in a regular fabric they're not so bad  (never again flat felled seam blog post here!)

The other pattern instruction I had to take literally was to "press" my seams. Usually we interpret that to mean "iron" them, right? Not with this fabric. I did test iron a scrap for a laugh and instantly soaked a press cloth in warm oil!

I used my bamboo point turner and "pressed" every seam. In making this coat my hands have never been more moisturised and the backs of my dining table chairs have never been better polished!

Eventually I had the outer coat constructed and the lining made. The only changes I'd made to the construction was to sew the sleeve closure tabs to the sleeves before closing the inner sleeve seams, and likewise to sew the back flap closure on before constructing the rest of the coat. Just much, much easier that way.

I'd also added some corduroy flat piping to the facing/lining seam just cause I had it in the stash and thought it looked good. I suspect it was a gift from Emi ages ago? There was exactly the right amount too!

Then just before I sewed the lining in I had a flashback to how awfully cold that oilskin coat of my youth had been. A cotton oilskin, lined with cotton does very little to keep you warm, even if it is keeping you dry and free from windchill.

This coat was already so long in the making, a day's delay to buy some wool batting and insulate the mother wasn't going to kill me, or the budget.

Spotlight had this pure wool quilt batting on sale and it was so wide I only needed a metre. Not only would it add some warmth, but I figured the wool would help soak up the oils and stop the lining from turning into a greasy, stained mess. Have you got the impression this is an oily oilskin yet?!

There's just a tiny peak of my Kylie and the Machine "Yes I Made It" label that I added.

I simply cut and sewed another lining and then basted them together around the periphery.

I was nervous about a batting underlining causing it to be thick and doona-ish, but I think it's just thin enough. I can feel the insulating quiltiness, but I don't get the feeling that I'm looking like the Michelin man due to the extra layer. I'm SO glad I added it.

In sewing in the lining I machine sewed the sleeve lining using that weird technique where you put one inside the other. It's hard to describe but always reminds me of an intestinal intussusception. Medical folk will get it from that description (and understand that it's fatal if you don't get it turned out correctly!). I tried to follow the pattern's instructions for the hem lining but I'm not entirely sure what was going on where the facing met the turned up hem. It worked, but perhaps not as it was intended to. 

I'm pretty happy with the coat worn open, open but not belted, or belted. It's working for me every which way!

The pockets are welt pockets which were well explained in the instructions. I do rather wish I'd edgestitched the welt flap. I wonder if that was in the instructions and I missed it, as I did see another reviewer of this pattern who edgestitched her welt flaps ("welt flaps" is making me laugh, I keep mis-typing it as 'wet flaps")

Those belt loops are reminding me, I reached for my little plastic shim thing for sewing those on and it worked a treat. Otherwise I did nothing too special in this sewing of this fabric. I started out with a denim needle for most of the coat construction. Then I switched to a universal 70/10 for the lining cotton, then forgot to switch back to finish the coat and even to sew on the leather closures and you know what, it made absolutely no difference. If you give the little Janome a bit of verbal encouragement she can do anything. I think we get too hung up on technicalities in sewing sometimes. Just have a crack.

little bits of wool batting fibres stuck to everything!

To sew the closures on, I used my zipper foot so I could get in close, lifted the top flap of the leather closure and stitched a horseshoe shape under that upper circle. It's nice and secure and perfectly hidden. The clasp side is simply sewn in a curve V shape from the free edge to a point just before where it folds back on itself then back to the free edge on the other side of the press stud.

To mark all the pattern markings on the fabric I had to do tailors tacks as there's no chalk or pencil that would mark this fabric and with flat felled seams I didn't want to cut notches into my seam allowance. I have said it was a long, slow sew, haven't I?

Fitwise, the pattern is pretty good with a few points of note. It is described as oversized, and oversized it is. The sizes are given as letters A through to J. I measured at the bust and hips of a D (typical Vogue 14/16) with the waist of a C. Yet this is essentially a size B.

I did grade out about one size over the hips as I wanted to be sure it would close comfortably over my hips and that is noted on the pattern to be the one part that is fitted.

I would add the lower sleeve. They really narrow down for a coat sleeve.

The upper raglan part of the sleeve is roomy, but the cuff is relatively narrow. The sleeves are also short (emphasis necessary!). I'm aware I'm well endowed when it comes to arm length, but my muslin suggested I need at least 2 inches extra sleeve length. I added 1 inch at the lengthen line and another inch just before the hem allowance, and then maybe an extra 1/3" in a lesser hem turn up. Given how the sleeve narrows it would probably be wiser to add it all at the lengthen line which is around the bicep/elbow area.

I also gave the whole coat 2 inches extra length. One inch of that I added above the waist (and then remarked all the closures accordingly), the other inch I added at the hem. Thankfully I'd made all those notes for myself back when I sewed the muslin last year.

The hood essentially forms a nice collar. Given the oiliness of my fabric I probably need to wear a scarf most of the time! At risk of a bit of Soul Glo hairstyle I popped the hood up for a photo. I wouldn't plan to wear it like this, but at school pick up yesterday in a sudden squall of rain I did, and it worked a treat!

I'm delighted with every choice along the way with this coat. I expect it will last for many years and it will be fun to watch it age, dry out and change over the years. Meanwhile it has it's own coat hook in the hallway so it doesn't rub against anything fancy in the wardrobe.

I'm feeling well prepped for our Melbourne winter drizzle now, and I feel like I nailed the inner-urban-country look :)

Pattern: Vogue V1564
Size: B, graded out 1 size over hips
Modifications: 2 inches extra body length, 2 inches extra sleeve length. Interlined. Piping around facing
Fabrics: Cotton Oilskin from Fibresmith, Stof cotton lining from Fabric Deluxe, wool batting interlining from Spotlight
Notions: Closures from Jimmy's Buttons
For interfacing I used a cotton muslin from stash. The facing and hood are fully interfaced, and sections of interfacing were basted behind each welt pocket, belt loop attachment, closure etc before they were sewn on.
Three ( seriously!) x 100m spools of Gutterman thread.


  1. Beautiful work, love the closures. Yes you've definitely nailed the inner urban country look, all you need now is the Toorak Tractor! 😁

    1. Ha ha, never! one of my many pet peeves are large SUVs in the inner city! But, having said that, this coat is not particularly bicycle friendly with it's narrow bottom hem. I'll just have to walk everywhere.

  2. I think you've outdone yourself with this one! All those fabulous details... three spools of thread... and so beautifully sewn. Great idea to add the batting. What happens to the fabric over time? Does it become less oily?

    1. Thanks Marisa. It already seems less oily than when I first bought it. Yes, over a long time it really dries out and needs re-oiling to maintain its waterproofness. Think of Jack Thompson in The Man From Snowy River - all cracked and dried up! :)

  3. Fantastic work! Congratulations.

  4. An amazing coat, stylish and urban, you will be dry and warm.

    1. THanks Sharon. I've been wearing it quite a lot and I am so pleased with myself for putting that wool batting layer in there :)

  5. Thank you for this! I am going to give it a go- not in oilskin tho! Yours looks fantastic!!!


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