Recently several people have asked about making the Utility Coat but without the gathered waist. To totally remove the gathered detail, would leave a fairly shapeless garment but I thought I’d try a half gathered back and I’m very pleased with the result.
Here’s what to do if you’d like to recreate this look.
The original Utility Coat sewing pattern is designed to be a relaxed, generous fit. But as I’m removing a lot of the gathers, I’ve chosen to drop down a size; otherwise the coat will swamp me. I’ve also decided to raise where the gathered detail sits, to give an updated line at the back.
Finally I’ve decided to add a fishtail at the centre back, like a traditional parka coat.
To mark the new channel I’ve drawn two parallel lines, same width as before, 36cm down from the back neck and 18cm in length. I’ve chosen to make my detail 34 cm wide when un-gathered; this will go down to 20cm when gathered.
For the fishtail I chalked a curved line directly onto my fabric after I had pinned my paper pattern down. The base of the fishtail is 6cm longer than the original and curves as shown back to nothing at the side seam. The curve is not too extreme and therefore I can still create my hem channel without a facing.
Before removing the pattern piece, I’ve slipped a stitch through the two new points, so that I can correctly line up my tape for the channel.
Before making up my new coat, I make two small 1cm buttonholes on the back piece, in line with the stitches I’ve marked for the channel. Then I’ve made my coat up as instructed in the pattern. When it comes to attaching the waist tape, I’ve only added a length 34cm long to the back where marked. Stitching down close to the edge on both sides but leaving the ends open. I chose to use corded elastic for my gather detail. Once the channel is made, I insert this through the buttonhole, down the channel and then back through the other buttonhole. I gathered my channel to a finished length of 20cm and added two toggles to the ends.
If you do not have a corded elastic, you could insert flat elastic and stitch in place at either end to secure.
Another alternative would be to just add gathers at the side seams as illustrated.
This version was made with waterproof fabric. For tips on how to sew with waterproof fabrics, see this previous journal post