The Winter Coat – construction

About a year ago I bought some gorgeous, ex-Burberry wool coating fabric from Ditto with plans to eventually make another winter coat. The muted turquoise wool has a patterned herringbone weave on one side but it’s also very thick and un-drapey but has the advantage of not fraying at all (almost like a boiled wool or Melton).

The fabric is so thick that I knew had to choose my pattern wisely, leaving out coats with lots of pleats or gathers that would’ve meant lots of bulk here.

As soon as I saw the Armani knockoff coat in the September Burda issue, I thought I’d found the match for my fabric, but as you recall, that pattern was just downright awful. So I started looking through my coat patterns again for something suitable, and Claire (Seemane) suggested I combine Patrones 285 #29 with some elements of the other coats in that issue, which is more or less what I ended up doing (though I need to change my tech drawing here to show the applied welt pockets I finally decided on rather than buttoned welts).

The Winter Coat

Hooray, my winter coat is finally finished! As you may have seen with all the coat sewing activity going on around the internet lately, making your own coat is no mean feat! While you’re perfectly able to take some shortcuts, it’s still a several week time investment no matter how you look at it. It’s for this reason that lots of us chose to sew them over the holidays, as it doesn’t feel like quite such a long ordeal if you’ve got several full days to devote to it at one stretch.

If you remember, I used Patrones 285 #29, but with the collar from #28 and major changes to the pockets so that I can easily put my hands inside while I walk to work (which I did today wearing it! yay!). After a muslin, the main changes I made were to lower the waist seam to match my natural waist, shorten and widen the front darts, add walking ease to the lower centre front, and change the pocket design.

I’ve already made a lengthy post about the coat construction and hair canvas interfacing, plus tons of HAWT handstitching action, so if you’re interested in the couture techniques I used or some interior shots of the coat shell, please click through before reading on…

Conquering bound buttonholes and interlining my winter coat

Cast your mind back to the heady days of May, when I decided to join hands with the internet and start in on The Great Coat Sew Along, with this beautiful long coat pattern from BWOF 09/2005 #102:

(There are two similar views – mine’s using the exposed buttons and sleeve tabs of 102, but the in-seam pockets of 101.) Anyway, I got as far as the material gathering, muslin fit and alterations, and even sewed together the body pieces of the coat before I lost momentum in August. The half-finished coat has hung in my sewing room ever since, taking up valuable space and making me feel bad every time I glanced at it, but the abnormally freezing cold temperatures we’ve had in London have made me jump back in with both feet to get this finished, because I could really use this on my daily walking commute to work. I’ve got a RTW long wool coat, but with the wind and extreme cold we’ve had, I can feel the cold through what I’ve got now (the papers are gleefully reporting that, at -10C, London is colder than Antarctica right now, and I’ve lost count of the number of Russian-style fur hats I’ve seen out and about).

A wool coat in July?!?

I’ve been planning on sewing myself a new winter coat for a while now, and I’ve been lurking on Marji’s Great Coat Sew Along site (currently members-only) for a bit, but after I saw her timeline, I finally realised I can jump right in and sew this alongside all my other summer sewing! So the month of May is where we’ll be gathering supplies, then doing muslin fitting in June, and finally starting the coat construction in July in order to hopefully finish in September.

The more I thought about it, the more I felt confident I could stick to that schedule, and now our renovation plans are looking likely to include the demolition of my temporary sewing room in the fall (to make way for our bedrooms and our lounge) so I may not have a place to sew my coat if I wait any longer!

As you know, I’ve already bought my exterior fabric – some gorgeous charcoal grey, 100% wool coating fabric from Rosenberg’s.

A wool waist pack for cycling

When swapping over my wardrobe from summer to winter recently, I realised that I have way too many clothes. Even after getting rid of 8(!!) bags to the charity shop collection, I still have a full wardrobe full of clothes that I adore and really want to wear. Which is great, but it means that I don’t really need to sew much, and I started thinking more on what I should make that would really serve a function, and trying to concentrate on needs rather than wants.

One of the needs I recognised over the summer is that I don’t really have any small bags that I can take with me when I cycle, when I don’t want to carry a full bag, and what I’m wearing doesn’t have enough secure pockets. So I settled on a waist pack (aka “bum bag” or “fanny pack”) but one that I could sew in a more casual fabric so it’d look nice when I arrived, rather than screaming “I cycled here”!

A reflective wool jacket

Buckle up, because the story of this jacket starts four years when I received a remnant of Dashing Tweeds “Urban Shadow” tartan coating from a friend for Christmas. Now, if you’re not familiar with Dashing Tweeds, they’re a really cool company who’ve revived old tartan and twill patterns and modernised them with great colours and even some reflective threads woven in. The remnant I received was one of these “Lumatwill” designs, and has reflective threads running along all the horizontal yellow lines in the design.

A cape in progress

I don’t tend to post about in-progress garment much anymore. I think part of the reason is that I tend to make projects quickly, so there’s not much to document and I roll any construction notes into the finished garment post, but also because I’m not not exactly light on garments to post about and it takes enough time putting together the ones I do share without adding any more to the To Blog pile!

But I’d been making a lot of quick garments in the past few months and decided I wanted something a bit more involved to sink my teeth into, so I started making a cape, using this Burda magazine pattern from 2011 (still available to buy as a pdf). I had some gorgeous teal wool coating a friend had bought for me in Tokyo in January, and I thought it paired really beautifully with some black and pink abstract tartan fabric I chose from Sew Essential as my #sewphotohop prize draw. It’s a lightweight John Kaldor satin with a lovely hand that you really could believe was silk, but alas, it doesn’t appear to be on the site any longer!

Burda magazine November 2015

I’m slowly working through my pile of magazines (another four more to go!) but I wanted to share my picks from the latest Burda magazine before it becomes outdated and off the newsstands. But the short version is that this is another pretty good issue, and a fantastic one if you’re in the Plus size range!

I really liked the choice of orange and camel in this feature, but for me the standout is this pullover, made in felted wool, which also has the colour illustrated instructions this month. It’s paired with an interesting skirt which was colourblocked in another example, really showing off the V panel. On the right we’ve got a cape, which is really similar to Seamwork’s Camden cape in the current November 2015 issue (except the length, obviously).

I’m not quite sure how I feel about the top on the left with its unsusual, gathered collar area, but the trousers look just a bit too 1970s to me. It’s easily overlooked, but the cardigan on the right has a really interesting construction that isn’t apparent from just the front tech drawing or the photos. Check out those pattern pieces!

A Green Skirt Suit

Happy Christmas! While not a holiday-specific make, I thought the colour of this outfit alone was rather festive and worthy of posting on Christmas Day itself. Enjoy! -melissa

Remember back in the summer when I made that cropped Manequim blazer with the matching wristlet to attend a friend’s wedding?

Well, I had a small amount of the textured green fabric leftover and I thought it might be nice to make a simple skirt to add to the jacket and bag so I could wear it as a smart skirt suit. Simple skirt patterns are a dime a dozen, but I really wanted to try out one in particular as it has a completely flat front and only two darts and an invisible zipper in the back. The only issue is that it’s unreleased, so I can’t tell you where it’s from yet, but I promise I’ll remind you and link back here when you’re able to buy it.

I don’t have many skirt suits as I don’t have much cause for business-wear, but I when I was making the jacket, I fondly recalled the silver cropped jacket and matching skirt I made back in 2010, and thought it might be a look worth recreating in green!