What to do when you don’t have enough fabric

So there I was, in December in Pennsylvania without a winter coat.  A friend hands me this gorgeous lump of black wool (feels like it has some cashmere in it!) and tells me to have at it.  I joyfully spirit it back to my lair only to find that what looked like a big bunch of wool was only a little over three yards.  What kind of coat can you cut from three years?

As it turns out, a big damn coat!

I started out with around three and a half yards of 60″ wide wool.  But the pattern I’m using calls for 6 yards.  Now I always round up when I put yardage amounts on patterns (that way you won’t get mad at me if you buy too little).  The red coat from that pattern that I added gores to last month took 4 2/3 yards.  But I didn’t know if I could get the same coat out of 3 1/2 yds.  As you can see, I couldn’t even fit the four body pieces on it.  And that isn’t counting sleeves!

 

See?  The Side Back piece is never going to fit.

 

Then I got an idea from my gore adding experiment last week.  What if I trimmed the pattern pieces so that they fit on the fabric and used the triangular scraps — that always result from cutting this type of coat — to add the width back in?

So I carefully folded the Side Back and Side Front pieces to take away some of their width.

The Side Back piece rather conveniently folded along its grain line so I could run the piece right up against the fabric’s selvedge.

I added a seam allowance to the Side Back piece (marked in the photo below with a dashed line).  I also added seam allowances to either side of the Back piece so I will have something to add to on the Center Back and Side Back seams.  This isn’t as critical as adding width back to the Side Back piece since the Back wasn’t very flared to begin with.

As you can see in the photo below, I saved so much fabric by cutting the Side Back piece this way that I didn’t have to narrow the Side Front piece after all.  I cut it, the Back, and the Front at full width.  I also cut two Sleeves from the folded up fabric at the far end of the table and my Collar and Collar Facing out of bits between the other pattern shapes.

Do you know that that is there?  That’s the perfect rectangle to add onto my Side Back piece.  And because the fabric is folded in half, there will be two of them of identical size.

What about facings?  Yes.  It’s true.  I didn’t have enough fabric to make facings.  And a coat needs facings.  But facings can be a little decorative, right?  As long as your base fabric is similar in thickness and drape to the rest of the coat, you can use a contrasting fabric to face the coat.  I’m thinking about using this dense cotton velveteen I have in my stash.  It would make a subtle but lush accent to this coat!

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