outer-wear wardrobe

Named – Yona Wrap Coat

I made my first suit when I was 17 years old for a friend, a fellow theater nerd, who everyone knew would end up on Prom Court as the Prince of Style. It was super casual, made in denim and inspired by that denim dress worn by Britney Spears in 2001 (and, only by extension, JT’s denim suit. Let’s be real, every gay high school boy had a girl-crush on Britney, and it wasn’t because she was a babe; it was because she was utterly fabulous). For the blazer, I used a Vogue pattern that I still have stuffed away at my parents’ house, paired with a simple Burda jeans pattern that my friend, even years later, insisted was the best fitting pair of jeans he’d ever owned. I even took the project and my sewing machine on a theater retreat trip, where one of the chaperones called me a child savant for the simple skill of sewing. And while that’s a compliment I’ve kept in my back pocket for nearly half my life, I don’t know if it’s altogether befitting. Child savant or not, as an adolescent, I just didn’t know what to be afraid of until an adult told me I should be afraid of it. It’s a mindset I’ve been busy unlearning for the past few months, and, as a side note, the unlearning has provided me with more creative freedom and joy than I could have ever imagined. If you haven’t yet, I heavily recommend you get busy unlearning it, too.

In any case, a jacket and pants combo is a huge undertaking, and even now, over a decade later, I’m still amazed at the fact that I took the project on without even blinking, unselfishly no less. But I think the most amazing part is that, having checked off a fitted coat and a pair of jeans at such a young age — both things that I hear murmurs of fear about within the online sewing community — my past self gave me permission to approach these kinds of projects without intimidation. Even if this 2003 denim blazer was also the only collared jacket I’d ever sewn.

Enter the Yona coat for #sewmystyle, the first collared jacket I’ve sewn in 14 years. I wasn’t afraid to botch it up or come up against a technique I wasn’t familiar with, but leading up to sewing it, I was teetering on that fine line between excitement and dread. I was excited to do all the technical bits that only exist in something like a collared coat, I was excited to work with a more structural material, and I was excited for all the plaid matching. But I really didn’t want to spend several days (five full in total) sewing up this pretty wool plaid in a coat I wasn’t sure I’d love.

Ultimately, I’m trying to start seeing my sewing projects as iterations, rather than successes and failures or as potentials for loss. This has been a miracle cure for the anxiety that surrounds my making; if this one coat doesn’t work out, I have lost nothing. This world is not scarce in beautiful plaid wool, and more will come into my hands again someday. If I’m lucky, our lives are long, and I’ll still have tomorrow to try a different creative project. I’m not in a race to see who can create more, better, faster. I won’t embarrass myself publicly with a coat that perhaps isn’t the best of the bunch.

Similarly, I’ve been having a bit of a shift in paradigm as far as using my stash fabrics go; at the end of the day, I’m mostly okay with using stash fabric for impromptu projects, but I’ll hem and haw over its initial intended use VS its actual end use, and I’ll use that as an excuse to procrastinate actually cutting into it. I won’t deny that my stash has given me some extreme cases of Analysis Paralysis. And this Yona coat is actually the mark of a conscious shift in the opposite direction. The plaid wool was earmarked for a cape or similar, the navy wool was earmarked for maybe a secret surprise suit (sorry John), and the cotton was a drapey summer dress. But I realized that I just don’t have time to mourn the imaginary garments these fabrics could have been, and instead I should just be celebrating the fact that I made a wonderful, practical, beautiful garment. I mean, why not let yourself love what you do?

And, it turns out, I do. I love it.

The Pattern: Yona Coat by Named Patterns
The Fabric: 100% wool plaid shell from Mill End, 100% wool twill facing from Joann Fabrics, 100% cotton lining from Mill End
The Size: 32

The fabrics I used for this coat were all sourced in Portland, and, as per usual, they were checked-in in what was basically an entire extra suitcase of textiles on my flight over to Germany. Call me crazy and self-indulgent, but I think having the fabrics that you want to work with on hand makes a silly thing like an additional 50 lb suitcase worth it. The 100% wool shell was sourced from Mill End as a NY Remnant (and while I’m not entirely sure what that means, I can assume it means off-cuts that no one in all of NY was willing to buy), and it came with a funny interfacing already attached. I’m particularly fond of this plaid for a reason that isn’t even really noticeable; the dark stripes alternate between black and navy blue, creating extremely subtle gradations within the pattern. Thus, I chose a dark navy for the facing and another, lighter navy over-dyed plaid for the lining in the hopes that it would make the color differences pop.

The navy facing was actually an extreme deal I picked up in the Joann’s red tag section several years ago; for reasons totally unfathomable to me, this 100% wool twill was marked down to $8/yard, so I snatched up all of what was left, around 5 yards. While I don’t frequent Joann’s for fabric often (which goes to show how spoiled one can be when living in Portland), it definitely pays to scour all the markdown sections everywhere you go. As for the lining, I had picked up a couple yards of this over-dyed cotton voile plaid with other plans in mind, but I really needed something — anything — to use as a lining and this is the thing that fit the bill the best.

Somewhat surprisingly, I made virtually no alterations to the pattern or construction of this coat. The only two “alterations” I made were shortening the sleeves by an inch and ignoring the belt loop and pocket placement suggestion. Instead, I pinned the them on once the shell was constructed so I had a good idea of where they should fall on my body. During construction, I steam-pressed every seam and fold in the coat to ensure a crisp blazer feel, though if I had a clapper I think I could have made some of the folds even more crisp.

While I really adore their designs, I’m not the biggest Named fangirl. I’ve had some experiences with their patterns in the past that have left me shaking my head. And while nothing in this pattern kept me from successfully making a garment, I just couldn’t help but eye roll sometimes:

  • If you look closely at a lot of the Yonas shared online, you’ll see that the collar begins way above the divot in the lapel. This isn’t the case in the Named sample or in the line drawing, and it’s because the collar needed a lot (~4+ inches) of easing into the neckline of the coat. This wouldn’t be an issue if the ease were mentioned anywhere in the instructions, but because it isn’t and because it’s so extreme, this is a step that is apparently commonly skipped and sewists end up with an unintended swooped lapel. I had actually noticed this trend in the other makes before making my version and made a note-to-self to pay attention once I reached this step.
  • There are no notches indicating what direction is up or down for the collar stand, and it’s not made clear in the directions. I made an assumption on which way was correct (an upside down U), and from the way the collar stands when popped, I’m still baffled about whether or not I did it “right”.
  • I measured as a 34 for this coat, but if I’ve found anything about Named sizing, it’s that it’s inconsistent. For tops alone, the Kanerva blouse was way too small in the shoulders in a size 34 and the Inari top was way too big in the same size and place. I decided to play it safe and make a Muslin for a size 32, and lo and behold, it fit on the larger side. If ever I were to make this coat again, I’d even narrow the shoulders a bit, but as it stands, I’m just frustrated that I can’t consistently fall into a size based on the single body measurement it features (i.e., bust for shirts vs hip for pants vs waist for skirt).
  • Step 22 of the instructions tell you to leave a gap open in the seam between the facing and the lining to be able to turn the garment inside out, but in reality you don’t need to leave that gap open if you are leaving open the entire bottom seam. It’s not a big deal, but it adds some extra hand sewing that doesn’t need to exist.

I feel like there are commonly skipped steps in Named pattern instructions, and in the past I’ve chalked it up to losing some things in translation and also as something that doesn’t matter for me personally, as I use the instructions as more of a loose guideline than for actual instruction. While this isn’t something that would keep me from making a Named pattern in the future, I also think that, at the scale that Named produces, I want to expect a little more in pattern testing and editing.

As mentioned in my Instagram stories, I was a little afraid of this coat looking a little too Smoking Jacket/rich man’s bathrobe. But it turns out, when styled properly (as John puts it, “going out for cocktails with girlfriends,” or as I put it, “Pretty Little Women… that’s the movie about Julia Roberts as a 90’s prostitute, right John? I haven’t seen it, but…”— John clearly wins the High Brow contest today), I do really love this coat. I think the masculinity of the cut and plaid actually lends itself really well to a more feminine style. And I’m particularly proud of my plaid matching throughout, including down to smaller details such as the sleeves matching the bodice.

Well folks, I’m excited to see the rest of the Yona coats pop up throughout the rest of the month! Until next time, thanks for reading and have a great week!

7 Comment

  1. Saki, beautiful coat. I think you can wear it with anything and it won’t look like a smoking jacket. You have a personal stylethat will carry the coat.
    Thanks for sharing your sewing anxieties. I can appreciate everything you said. Outerwear is my favourite to sew but winter coats seem to envoke the most anxiety. I have a gorgeous wool coat that took me about 5 winters to make and I changed so many times that it didn’t end up fitting properly (though that doesn’t stop me from wearing it:-).
    I have another wool duffle coat 1/2 done, heading into its third winter season. I will use your words to inspire me to finish it this year!! Thanks.

    1. Tyrion– thanks for such a thoughtful response! I think a lot of us makers, no matter what kind, can relate to this anxiety… I’ve only recently begun kicking it out, but it feels great! Your wool coat sounds fantastic— where can I find a photo of it? And I’m totally rooting for your wool duffle coat too!

    1. Eli, thanks so much! I’m so happy with it… and this might be the first time I’ve finished a coat BEFORE winter. Can’t wait to wear it all the time!

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