One of the first patterns I ever tried sewing was Simplicity 5386, which was the duster coat copy from one of my favourite movies, The Matrix. Nice pattern. Horrible sizing. There was so much ease in the pattern I could have fitted a woman inside it along with myself, which would have been great for another type of garment but I digress…
After some resizing, I had a navy prototype of cheap fabric that caught the attention of many who saw it, and the source of envy of the occasional one among them. Not everybody walks around in a stylish duster coat, you know! Then, last summer, I turned it into a practical cosplay that I could wear as, both, a costume, and a raincoat, made from black, light rain wear that was waterproof. That was the envy of many more, many of them walking around in yellow rubber ducky squarish raincoats. My Matrix raincoat was also very useful one rainy parade, I can tell you.Sadly, I don’t have a full body pic to share.
With that raincoat, I immediately planned to do a winter version, lined with fleece for extra warmth, sandwiched between the outer layer and Bemberg lining to be anti-static. I had made a prototype in the Vampire Hunting jacket also done last summer, to test out this triple layering technique I was envisioning. I never intended to make a full jacket, but liked it enough part way through to finish it. Never being one to just copy, though, I waited till I found the right fabric (for the right price), and added a few features with this winter coat version. What resulted was below, and was the hardest garment I’ve made yet.
Before I go on, I should apologize for the lack of ironing in the photo. Was too keen to get a photo to share and don’t care to find time now for another. I’m sweatshopping with my free time and want to keep at it. I have steam ironed out those wrinkles that were caused from finishing such a big garment. The bottom front and side doesn’t have the greatest shape, but it wouldn’t flutter in the wind like a Matrix duster, one of its features I liked most, if the bottom were held tighter like a hoop skirt!
Basically, the winter coat design uses black fake snakeskin with a little shine to it. ‘Tis the year of the Snake after all! The coat is water repellent that held nicely in light drizzle for about an hour one night while I skated outdoors. It’s got silver trim that I’m going to have to replace with self-made white/grey rain wear bias tape next winter, because the silver bias tape I used frays too easily, and a lot of it is on the bottom that rubs stairs going down like a long dress. It’ll be next winter when I do this, though, cause the coat is good at -5 degrees Celsius (23 Fahrenheit) max, and we’re not getting much of that these days. I was actually sweating to death within minutes skating outdoors at -5, with the full thing buttoned up, so I’m thinking I would be most comfortable in it at -15C (5F), and be OK moving at -20C or so (-4F)! Now that, is a winter coat!
This coat also features a custom designed asymmetric collar very tight to the neck, and doubling up to keep heat inside. The look of this collar gives it a look of fashion seen in some anime, which is why I named this garment Animatrix. Slight asymmetry is a trademark of my clothing, and the collar is it in this garment, along with the slightly off centre bias tape on the zipper flap. I used a zipper to hold this coat together to avoid holes losing heat, which isn’t a good thing at -15 or -20 Celsius! The stars on the coat are just for decorations. They were hollow shells with pointy tips pushed through the fabric, and bent. However, they’re not terribly strong so now I have silver star shank buttons, held down by jumper rings on the underside. But the look is generally the same.
(Press play to start the video below and read on!)
Now, there are two katana swords and two sais in the photo above. Of course, I’m not wearing those around all the time. I’d only wear them when I go through the tough hoods in the increasingly violent city of Halifax where I live. There are two tight strips on the side, like belt holders, though horizontal. You can hang things from them, from sais to ID card clips that’s more practical for an office worker that I am by day. In the back, a flap yoke overhangs the real yoke and hides two larger strips of fabric sewn in horizontally, through which the swords can fit. And since there are no pockets on the outside of this coat, when you unzip the zipper, there are 3 pockets to each side for holding things, each pocket just a big larger than a credit card. For me, those would be for keys, credit cards, bus tickets, iPod, bills and change. Ironically, I forgot to make one for a cell phone… phones being so important in the Matrix movies.
So far, I’ve worn this coat only three times and have retired it for the cold season. Twice I went skating with it, which was awesome! And once I wore it to work to show some colleagues. It got a lot of good reaction from those who knew me, and a LOT of looks from those who didn’t. I put it on walking through a mall food court one day, with earphones on listening to Poker Face by Lady Gaga (video above), and it was like I was my own fashion show! Well, when I finish redoing most of my wardrobe by the end of 2013, I’m going to be my own fashion show every where I go!
And if anybody asks me, as one person did, if this coat were a cosplay… I’ll just smile and gently tell them, “No, I dress like this every day!”