Envelope Coat

To do this you need:

  • 2 meters of a knitted material 1.5m wide; as we are using a regular machine, a knitted material should not be too flexible and stretchable – avoid light knitted materials for sweaters
  • a tape-measure, a ruler, a pencil, a paper for forms
  • threads, tailor scissors, pins and tailor’s chalk
  • your T-shirt, blouse or coat; choose the fitted one but not too tight-fitting; it will be used as a basis for a form
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This throw is rectangular in shape, with sleeves; the secret lies in the fact that they should be sewn in the right place and at the right angle. First, you must prepare a form for a hole which you cut out in a rectangle; then you sew sleeves up to it.
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1. Press your T-shirt (or a coat) with an iron; spread it down on a paper so that a material stays not tightened or not gathered; You need to place holes for sleeves at such a distance, to fit the back between them (A = width of shoulders; B = width of the back; C = ½ of the chest size).
2. In order to cut holes symmetrically, you must work with a half of a form – copy a half of the upper part of a T-shirt back: outline a shoulder, a neckline and a side, mark the center of the back; a shape of an armhole at a back should be copied by densely spiking seams with pins so that there are holes in the paper that determine the shape – a black line on picture below (if you put a thick material under the paper, pins will be spiked deeper and the holes will be more visible).
3. Now, draw a mirror image to a shape of an armhole so as to create a teardrop shape – black lines.
4. In order to facilitate sewing, slightly widen a teardrop shape at a top and a bottom by drawing an ellipse; it is important not to change a shape of an armhole at a back!
5. A dark ellipse shape is a form for a hole, to which you will sew a sleeve in a coat; cut it together with a fragment of a T-shirt shape to determine how far from the edge it should be put on a material.
6. Prepare a material in a shape of a rectangle 150cm wide and 120cm long; its length is a sum of a height of a collar (D=30cm) and a length of a coat (E=90cm) including allowances for turning up a material (about 4-5cm); fold a rectangle in half (a knitted material should stretch across its width); place a form for a hole at a right distance from the folded edge (½A, ½B and ½C) and align with a collar, from a top edge (D).
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When you place a form in the right place, pin both layers of a knitted material around an ellipse; copy a shape just right by a paper form.
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Cut a shape of an ellipse adding 1cm seam allowance to the inside of an ellipse – see a picture below; now try a throw on – you can adjust its length and width to your figure; remember that while turning up edges, a length and a width will be reduced by 10cm; check whether opening for armholes are not too tight; if you want to enlarge them, deepen them downward and forward – a shape of back of the armhole must remain unchanged; at a final stage, measure a circumference of a hole (this dimension is needed for a sleeve form). Caution! It is very important to measure a circumference 1cm away from an edge – at a point where there will be a seam attaching a sleeve – measure a circumference along a purple line – as in the picture below.
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When the size is matched, fold back a rectangle in half and cut corners; cut them in a way to cut off an isosceles triangle with a side length of about 9cm, and the basis of about 12cm.
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Now press all edges with an iron of 1cm, apart from the cut corners
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Turn up a throw on a right side and fold cut corners in half diagonally, so that the edges of cut corners overlap one another; sew these edges at a distance of about 1cm from an edg
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Now turn up sewn corners so that a seam is hidden inside; similarly prepare all 4 corners for sewing edges of a throw; corners determine a width at which edges must be pressed with an iron (about 4-5cm).
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Turn up and pin all edges.
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Sew them using a regular stitch – in this case, although you sew a knitted material, you do not have to use elastic stitches, because these seams will not be stretched.
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You can prepare a form for a sleeve in several ways: by unstitching a sleeve of an old shirt or by choosing a model from a magazine with patterns; you can also copy a form of your clothes, but you must be precise and have knowledge of a shape of a top part of a sleeve; prepare a shirt or a coat and place it on a paper (light gray elements in the picture below are parts of a front and a back of a blouse).

1. Start with a front; carefully straighten a sleeve, a blouse must be slightly crumpled as a top part of a sleeve must be flat (a blue wave between a blouse and a sleeve); copy its shape by spiking it with pins – similar to copying an armhole of a back part of a blouse; outline a sleeve.
2. Now place a blouse with its back to the top, so that an edge of a rear sleeve is in contact with an outline of a front part of the sleeve (which you’ve just made) ; copy a shape of a top part of a back by spiking it with pins and outline a sleeve.
3. A sleeve is ready – make sure that the sleeve cap (wave on top of the sleeve) has a shape similar to the picture below; front and back of sleeve cap is not symmetrical (front is more cut), but a bottom part of a sleeve, after being folded in half, should be symmetrical – if it is not, center a shape of sides and a bottom so that they correspond.
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4. Measure a circumference of a sleeve cap (G) and compare it with a circumference of a hole cut in a throw.
5. If both measurements are not the same, you must enlarge or decrease a sleeve; in order to do this, mark its center vertically (H), and a horizontal line connecting the widest points (I).
6. The missing number of centimeters divide in 3 parts (J) and add them to the top part of a sleeve: a height (extend a H line) and a width (lengthen a I line on each side); draw a new shape of a larger sleeve cap trying to copy the original arc; if a size must be reduced, point a J size in the opposite direction and draw a smaller top part.
7. Finally, determine a length of a sleeve (K); remember that you will add cuffs so now you must deduct a length of cuffs from a desired length; set a width of a sleeve at the bottom (L) – it should be slightly larger than the hand size so as to freely slide your hand into it; draw new lines of sides of a sleeve – they should be symmetrical.
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Fold a remaining part of the material in half and cut out a form of a sleeve so that a knitted material stretches across a width of a sleeve; cutting through two layers, you will cut both left and right sleeve (they should be mirror images); when cutting, add 1cm seam allowance around a form; cut also two rectangles for cuffs; their height is 2 x a height of a cuff + 2cm for seams, and their width should be about 2-4cm smaller than a width of a sleeve form form at a bottom + 2cm seam – the more stretchable a knit is, the more you must deduct from a width of a sleeve; when sewing, you will slightly stretch cuffs and it will result in puller effect; cut cuffs so that a knitted material stretch out stronger across a width of a cuff; fold sleeves in half lengthwise and sew their sides; do the same with cuffs; turn up a sewn cuff in half so that a seam is hidden inside; there should be a right side of a knit both inside and outside of a cuff.
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Leave sleeves on a left side and slide cuffs inside them; slide them facing a folded edge toward the inside of a sleeve so as unhemmed edges of a sleeve and a cuff are in contact at an outlet; pin all 3 layers of a material inside a cuff.
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As cuffs are a bit narrower in size than sleeves, stretch them slightly during sewing; sew so that a presser foot is inside a cuff – then it is easier to control a seam; use a zigzag stitch, to make elastic seam; after sewing, turn up sleeves to a right side and press a seam with an iron.
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There is only one operation that needs to be done – sewing sleeves to a throw; pin them in a way that a front of a sleeve is pinned to a front of a throw; a front of a sleeve is the one where the sleeve cap is more cut; a front of a throw is where edges of holes are further from the center; spike pins inside a sleeve; before you start sewing, make sure that a sleeve is turned up to a right side.
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When sewing, a presser foot must remain inside a sleeve; use a zigzag stitch; If sizes of a sleeve and a hole differe, gently stretch a knitted material; if a difference in sizes is more than 2cm, you can adjust the previous seam on the sleeve to make it smaller, if a hole is too big, you need to make a fold under an armhole or prepare a new sleeve.
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Sleeves are sewn, a throw is ready! You can wear it loose, gathered around your neck… or as an envelope coat, fastening a top edge with a brooch and emphasizing your waist with a wide belt.
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Janek Leśniak – fashion designer who, together with JUKI, conducts dressmaking courses in Warsaw. He infects others with a passion for making your own clothes on his blog: janlesniak.wordpress.com, where he reveals the arcana of his trade. Combining craftsmanship and design, he builds an awareness of the quality and the fashion industry among people non-related with the business. He has aquired fifteen years’ experience working with such brands as Reserved, House and Big Star. He has independently created original collections and conducted lectures on fashion business at the Cracow School of Art and Fashion Design. He has rejected massive fashion in favour of passion and work under his own name. His official website is: janlesniak.pl