13 January 2019

Sewing By Hand London's Rumana Coat - Cotton toile

About a year ago I had the feeling the word 'Rumana' was in everyones mouth. This classic, but extra long coat sewing pattern already had a big fanbase at its release. But while people where incredibly excited, there seemed to be a bit of fear in the mix...

To many sewists coat making seems like the ultimate peak of sewability - or at least, one of them. Honestly, me too!
But it's actually very doable and I assure you, you can do it too!
So this post is about my toile/muslin/test version for the Rumana Coat, the adjustments I made and how difficult it was for me, still a not too experienced sewist, who never made a coat before.

Minn's Things sewing By Hand London's Rumana Coat pattern winter classic gothic

The pattern: Rumana Coat from By Hand London

Most important thing first: The pattern pieces alone are about 100 pages (A4/letter). I strongly recommend not to print this at home. Seriously, don't. 
I usually have no problem with taping, but this is just insane. It's definitely worth it to have such a big pattern plotted. You'll save sooo much time and - unless you are a secret timelord (oh, but even then!) - time is the one limited thing. 

Another thing I wanted to point out, because it is always practical to have that: The Rumana instructions include finished measurements (bust, waist, hips as well as sleeve and coat length)! Yasss!

Minn's Things sewing By Hand London's Rumana Coat pattern metal steampunk buttons
Sneak peek - Buttons! I was very lucky to have found them @Haus der Stoffe (Salzburg, Austria)

Sooo, Rumana...
Rumana is a classic coat style, with extra long length for an extra touch of awesomeness. I read a few times, that it might not suit plus size women - I strongly disagree. In my opinion, it's the exact opposite: The classic seamlines and the slightly curvy shape makes every body look its best (nope, I don't get any money from them for saying that ;) ). Here's a few photos from Pinterest of similar coat shapes to show you what I mean: 

They all look beautiful!

Now that that's off my heart, let's get back to the pattern: Front and back princess seams, full lining, welt pockets, collar and lapel,... Rumana has much to offer. Though nothing is 'optional'. Of course you can always hack it as you please, but the pattern itself offers exactly one version.
In my opinion, at least another length option would have been nice (and probably not too difficult to draft and include in the many pattern pieces?). Rumana is my first pattern from By Hand London, but when I look at their shop, other patterns do have options/variations.
So my best guess would be, that they just want to offer this one unique (long) style. I do think a designer doesn't need to 'think of everything' and offer 'everything a person could want' or whatever. It's their choice what they want to design and offer. It's then the people's choice, if they buy that or not. And it was my choice to get Rumana and hell yeah, let me tell you, I was not disappointed.

Minn's Things sewing By Hand London's Rumana Coat pattern collar lapel topstitching
Sharp edges! #beingproudofyourwork

Instruction and construction: How to sew Rumana

Sewing Rumana is not as complicated as you may think, but you do need the right resources and time - a lot of time. Personally, I find the instructions that come with the pattern not the best. For this toile I used just those and I struggled at quite a few points. I even made a few mistakes, which I had to unpick (hello again, best friend & worst enemy seam ripper!). For example, my very first seam, attaching the front shell to the pocket. Yes, that was (at first) not clear to me - please feel free to laugh here.
At the point where you join the collar with the collar stand, I - for a change - totally understood the text instructions. But the picture was (in my eyes!) so wrong, very irritating. I consider myself lucky to have made this correct first try. Same when joining the collar with the front facing: I found the drawings more confusing than helping.

Minn's Things sewing By Hand London's Rumana Coat pattern vent
My first vent from inside: Different lengths, ugly stitching

And then the vent. I've never made a vent before, and this one turned out so bad, because obviously I didn't understand the instructions (at all). I just did something (can't even remember how I did it), and then I decided: This vent is finished! I am not going to touch this ever again!
(After that I did iron the vent, just to see if that makes it any better. It did! Anyways, it's fine enough for me)

Minn's Things sewing By Hand London's Rumana Coat pattern vent back view
Back view and a vent, that doesn't look like it's supposed too

Basically, if hadn't found what I'm going to tell you next in the meantime (between this toile and my second version), this post would have only been about all the things that didn't work for me. So finally, for once thank you, procrastination!

So fear not, there is help available! As I write this my second, final version of Rumana is finished and trust me, it looks way better (you will see it, I promise!). For the second coat, I made everything as By Hand London's Sewalong says and here you find the perfect instructions I wish were included with the pattern itself. Don't forget to check out the first posts too, which explain a lot about recommended fabrics, both for the shell and the lining, the interfacing and which needles to use.
But if you intend to use both, be careful. The two instructions do not share the same order. The pattern instructions tell you to first make the outer coat, then the lining, then putting the two together. But the sewalong shows the same steps for both layers (e.g. assembling the sleeves for outer coat and the lining). I'd recommend using only the instructions from the sewalong. Especially the vent construction is so much easier to understand with the sewalong.
And that is why I can totally live with my first vent, because the second one is - you will see! - just awesome. Perfect.

Minn's Things sewing By Hand London's Rumana Coat pattern inside label loop collar
I still added my label as well as a loop

My toile & my adjustments

As I said, this was supposed to be a wearable toile (which - yay - it totally is!).
I made it using cheap woven cotton and a cheap synthetic lining fabric. I knew I would make my real coat out of much thicker wool and either the same or another, similar lining fabric.

When I measured myself for the test version, I was in between sizes: Bust between size 8/12 and size 10/14; waist and hips between 10/14 and 12/16.
I then chose to make the size US12/UK16 as I wanted to use the final coat for winter and have enough space under it to wear thick clothes and/or several layers. I accepted, that my toile would most likely be too big, as the cotton fabric was much thinner than my planned second, winter wool version. Honestly though, it's not that bad and I still love to wear it!

Minn's Things sewing By Hand London's Rumana Coat pattern diy gothic black winter clothes selfmade
I'm pulling it down with my hands in my pockets, you can see clearly it is a bit too big

After assembling the outer shell I tried it on and made a few adjustments directly on the garment: removing 1cm where side back and center back meet; removing 1cm at the shoulders; removing 0,5cm where collar meets coat shell (neck).
Then I left all the pieces in a corner for a few months (hello, old friend procrastination!).
And then I finished it (in autumn).

Thankfully the classic style and the extra long length makes it look very slender.
Pretty much at the time of finishing the toile, I started to change my diet/lifestyle and do sports to reduce my body fat percentage and gain muscle mass. So since cutting out the pieces I have lost about 7 kg and along with that my measurements went down too. And I'm not even at my target point. But ya know, in case it starts to look wayyy too big, I'll just call it oversized fashion, hehe! 

Based on my toile, I made the following adjustments on the pattern itself before sewing my final version: removing another 1cm (total: 2 cm) at side back/center back, grading that out to the standard size 12/16 right before hips; removing 1cm of the center back pieces from neck to waist, also grading out to standard size before hips; removing 30cm of length to make it knee-length.

Minn's Things sewing By Hand London's Rumana Coat alternative fashion model pattern diy gothic black winter clothes selfmade
Sing with me: I beliiieeeve I can flyyy :-D 

If you made it until here, congrats! Maybe you wondered, why my lining is so damn wrinkly?
You deserve to hear the story:
I honestly didn't really plan on washing it. And as I said, the lining was pretty cheap and is not exactly the best quality - more on the opposite side. But when I had the coat finished, I kind of fell in love with it immediately. And I wore it to every possible occasion, one of that being a concert (Northlane, Currents, Being As An Ocean and more, thanks for asking!). While everyone had massive fun, a magical power pulled a cup full of whatever mix between beer and wine - pulled it up high in to the air - and probably because I was pretty thirsty, it decided to fall down on me and pour the drink over my head and my clothes. Gladly now I know, that this lining fabric absolutely hates to be washed - even more than I hate to iron :-D

Hope you found something to laugh here, and now over to you!

Have you made a coat or even several? Which of all those coat patterns out there would you die to make?



  1. I LOVE the coat! I have seen the Rumana popping up everywhere, but it looks very intimidating. Thanks for writing a detailed post about your experience with it. It will be really helpful when I get to sew mine.
    Looking forward to the next version :)

    1. Thanks again, Paula :)
      I really hope it helps someone overcome the fear of coat making - I remember clearly how nervous I was, when I started this one!
      And I am looking forward to see your Simplicity coat, and then maybe a Rumana too?! :D :D :D