Tag Archives: Winter Coat

Splurgey Splurgertons

It’s almost my birthday. I can justify it. Right?


My favourite was this red sweater knit. It was NOT cheap, but none of the cheaper alternatives had this fabulous colour. But I got two yards; I’m hoping I can get a warm topper and a long-sleeve shirt out of it (I may be overly optimistic). I also got a couple of yards of a much more reasonably priced plain black knit, from which I hope to get a long-sleeved Lydia that could be worn under nearly anything as the weather gets colder, and maybe a better version of one of my cowl-necks. Ichigogirl has a tutorial on Burdastyle for putting cap-sleeves on her cowl neck top, and they look great. What really broke the bank (it is, after all, a very small bank) was the 4m of black Kasha lining I picked up for my Lady Grey (I haven’t picked a fabric yet, but linings were 50% off and black seemed a safe bet for whatever. I want it in red, of course, ideally with a black hem- and cuff-stripe and points across a lapel 🙂 )

Self Stitched September (day 5): Fall Arrives

Sept. 5

Sept. 5

If it weren’t here already, anyway. The forecast daytime high is like 11C.

Top: Cowl Neck Top

Bottoms: Jalie 2908 (black, skinny version)

On the plus side, I finally made some progress on the winter coat!!! And I might even love it after all.

Winter coat!

I don’t think this picture really does it justice… I love how long and full the skirt is! Of course, now I need to get the sleeves on, which is going to be where the fit hits the shan, as I’m using a different sleeve. I cut it with lots of ease in the sleeve cap, so I’m hoping by dint of a lot of basting I can get it working. It would be a lot easier if I had a dress form. I’m really glad I shortened the upper chest of the pattern—the bust fits in a better spot now and I think the armpits won’t look so droopy as they do on the pattern envelope. The waist seems really high but it actually hits at my natural waist, as opposed to an inch below it where most stuff hits.  I also have the lining partly cut out. Now I need to do a no-seam-allowance version of the bodice for the interlining.

But I’m probably going to work on a Lydia instead.


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I cut out my coat!

Yes, that is what you think it is.

It’s what, until a few hours ago, was 5 m of 60″ wide “unknow fibre” coating. Yup, this stuff.

Winter Coat Supplies

This is Progress On The Winter Coat. The project that, really, started it all.

I might just pass out with excitement. Or is it exhaustion?

I’ve probably rambled about this before, but not in a few months, so here it goes:

I wear long winter coats. Now, I live in Canada. The climate I grew up with is very similar to the climate of Siberia. The area I live in now is somewhat more moderate, but still, a nice warm winter coat is a must.

A nice, stylish winter coat, on the other hand, is almost impossible to find. Those which are warm enough are mostly down-filled parkas with all the flair and panache of the Marshmallow Man, and those with an ounce of style are never, ever, ever warm enough.

All right. I admit—I have not worn a full-length fur coat out in real cold. It’s possible that would be warm enough, and still stylish, depending on how much you wish to enrage the PETAns. But even this delightful, and very Canadian, Hudson’s Bay Blanket coat I had in University wasn’t really warm enough. Shortly after I

Old Winter Coat

tearfully acknowledged that I had worn it to death, my mom scrounged the coat to the left out of a duffel bag found in an alley. Thrifting at its best, right?

It’s lovely. (Well, it was, except for the sleeves being too short).  I would call it a fall weight, however; it’s a single layer of medium-weight wool coating and a thin lining. No tag indicating fibre content, but it certainly feels like wool. Made in Belarus, if that’s of interest. I’ve worn it for the last four or

My worn-out winter coat

five years, through two sets of buttons and some serious pocket surgery. I got through winter by the practical but not overly stylish method of layering two to three hooded sweaters underneath it, at least one as long as the coat itself, depending on the temperature. By this past spring, however, the back was getting… a little worn out. I won’t even show you the lining.

But—I had a plan. After Christmas, when I was searching out patterns for my girls’ coats, I had also stumbled upon this:

My Winter Coat Pattern

Butterick 5425. Everything I could possibly want, as far as I could tell, in a winter coat. I was going to make my own! It would be lined, underlined, interlined, and super-duper warm! It would be classy and stylish! It would have long enough sleeves! And really, considering that the kind of coats I like really cost hundreds of dollars, and still wouldn’t be warm enough and would have too-short sleeves, I could spend an awful lot of money on fabric and still come in cheaper.

Now, I will make a confession: if I were picking a pattern now, I might not choose this one. I’ve seen a lot more patterns for coats now, and having made the muslin I’m not totally thrilled with the armscye of this one. But I still love the princess seams and the full, long skirt and the pattern was almost twenty bucks, so I’m going with it. I made some alterations to the upper bodice (shortened the whole thing a touch) and I’m going with a different, two-piece sleeve. With any luck this will fix my dislikes, although given my recent track-record with jackets I’m not feeling as optimistic as I was a few months ago.

This spring, in the depths of the spring clearance at fabricland, I found my fabric. Like the pattern, it’s probably not perfect—I don’t think it’s pure wool, for one thing—but it will do. At least for this first coat. More recently, I finally got my other materials together. So for the last month or so I’ve been dodging around actually starting the damn thing.

But—as of today—it’s cut. Progress! I actually gave up on tracing the pattern, as that step was blocking me too much. Yes, I confess, I cut a pattern. I’m disappointed, too; I’m sure I’ll regret it later. I’d like to have it finished by the end of September, so I’ll be able to devote my full attention to the Lady Grey Coat Sew-Along!

(I know, a little weird to be making the winter coat before the fall one. Sorry, can’t be helped.)

All right… that was a lot of words for not a lot of actual progress. But it is progress, nonetheless.


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That’s it.

I want a duct-tape double.

Not that I’d scoff at a fully-fledged dress form (most duct-tape doubles are a touch ugly, and not always as accurate as you would hope) but I’d rather spend my money on fabric (speaking of, the linings at Fabricland were on sale buy 1m, get 1 free last week, which is the sale I need to get my lining for my winter coat—and I had no money. Hopefully it will still be ongoing come payday. They don’t have black, but they do have oodles of a light grey that would work. Alternatively I could go for a crazy colour—burgundy, say, or teal—and have an awesome surprise inside my coat. I like that thought, actually).

So, doubles. I want to be able to fit stuff (especially in the back!) and that’s just hard to do on yourself. And I’m going to need something to hang my coat on for hemming—that big skirt is going to have tons of bias stretching out at the hem that will need to be trimmed before hemming. Not hard to do when someone else is wearing the garment, but hard to do yourself. If I make one over a coat-hanger, I can hang it in the closet and keep it out of the way when not in use, too.

Also, I can spend way more time than I can possibly justify reading about tailoring.


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Coat “Muslin”

So I made (finally) a hip-length muslin from that Value Village wool. Nice fabric (except for the colour). Really nice. I was hoping the muslin might turn out nice enough to make into a coat for my mom, but at this point I’m thinking not. At least, not without a crapload of re-sewing. Maybe.

Winter coat muslin

I decided to cut a size 12 (the largest size in my pattern packet). According to the measurements on the pattern, I’m in between a size 10 and 12. (Technically speaking, I’m a 12 in the bust, a 14 at the waist, and a 10 in the hips, but anyway).

The 12 was huge. I mean, I know it’s a coat, it’s supposed to fit OVER clothes (I’m wearing my sweater under it in the pictures because that’s what I pretty much ALWAYS wear in the winter. I made it through the last 3 winters with a fall-weight jacket (Canadian winters, mind you… REAL winters) just by increasing the numbers of layers under the coat. At times I did look like a stuffed sausage, but you look like that in a parka, too ;). So I took the muslin in by a 1/2 inch at each side seam (so a total of 2 inches less around). This improved it a lot; it might be a trifle too snug at the waist (I tend to underestimate things like overlap, as we discovered from the “Anna top” disaster). Anyway, I think I will cut the 10, and go with that.

Sleeve caps:

The other thing I did was shorten the sleeve cap (basically I blended the sleeve cap from the 12 width to the 6 cap height). I did that to both sleeves. However, when I went to sew them on, I was in a quandary, since by taking in the side-seam I had made the armscye a full inch smaller. (In hindsight, perhaps I should just have taken it in along the princess seam. Ah, hindsight.) So I had two alternatives—sew the sleeve narrower by the same amount, or sew it with a normal seam allowance and see how much extra puff that generated. Since I was planning to sew the 10 next time (but with the same 6 sleeve cap), I figured this would at least show me the range of puff I was going to be dealing with. So the left sleeve has the normal seam allowance (more puff) and the right sleeve has the increased seam allowance (less puff). I think I might actually want even less puff than either, but they’re both tolerable. (I shudder to think how pouffy the original ones are)

Right sleeve---less pouffy

Left sleeve---pouffy

Sleeve length:

I had measured the sleeve pattern and was pleasantly surprised at how long it was. In the photos it’s very long, but I hadn’t folded them up to the hem length; even folded in an inch for the sleeve hem, they’re not bad. I could probably increase the length by half an inch, but not much more than that, and even at their current length I think they’d be better than any other coat I’ve ever owned… and with an inch of fold-over to play with, I could probably just lengthen them a bit out of the hem allowance (cuff allowance?) if I decided they really weren’t quite long enough. Decisions, decisions…

Shoulder Pads:

The pattern calls for 1/2 inch shoulder pads. Now, I have broad shoulders to begin with… 1/2 shoulder pads is getting me into 80s territory, which is not really where I want to go. In the muslin, I don’t have anything in. I looked at the shoulderpads in my current coat (which was a pretty awesome coat, as I may have mentioned, before I wore it to death) and the “pads” in there are really just a thin, thin layer of foam sandwiched between some iron-on interfacing… enough to smooth the lines but not really adding much bulk.  I think a double-layer of thinsulate or something would be plenty (plus I am planning on doing a sleeve-header, if I can get the sleeve cap nice and smooth). I do want the coat to look like it has some structure, but I still think, for me, 1/2 inch pads would be overkill.

Other issues:

The skirt widens really abruptly below the waist, which I’m not sure I like, but hopefully with a full length to pull on it that pouffiness will be toned down, as well. I don’t think I’m going to try and mess with it at this point (though it would be really fun to draft a pattern that was fitted down to the hips and then flared from there… maybe some time in the future when I am better at this.

I have a small issue with the bust of the princess-seam as well; it seams really low. Like, droopy low. It doesn’t stand out to me as badly in the pictures as it did in real life, so maybe it would be fine to leave it, but… I think I’d like it if I lift it up a bid. I wouldn’t need to move the curve really, just cut off the lower portion of it, I think.

But, in general, I think it’s looking promising. I had cut the variation for the round standing collar, but I’m still thinking for the final I might go with the traditional fold-back lapels. Although that would look nicer with a black wool or something for the facing… I think lapels in my patterned grey might be too busy (or just fade in with the rest of the jacket). Have to think about that, too.

Still, progress, however halting. Next things to do: find lining and interlining. The lining won’t be too hard, though it will be pricy unless I can catch it on sale (If I end up paying more per metre for my lining than my coating, I might have to kill myself). There’s apparently an outdoor textiles store downtown that I want to check out for insulation options, although their website appears to be non-functional. I hope they’re still there… otherwise I’m stuck with what I can find at Fabricland :P.

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Apparently tenacity pays off. Today was my fifth (or something like) trip to a Fabricland within the last month. And I would’ve sworn I’d looked over every coat-weight bolt in the store. Apparently not, because today I discovered this:

Tucked on a bottom shelf under a bunch of other stuff. Description: “Coating”; fibre: unknown. Regular price: $20.00, 50% off. Yes, I got the entire bolt for $10/m. It’s thick, warm, soft, doesn’t seem to ravelly. It’s not wool (no scratchy) but it’s nice, and the price was awesome. Only problem, as far as I can see, is that there were only 4.5 m left on the bolt, and the pattern suggests almost 5 1/2 yards… According to google, 4.5 m equals just under 5 yards. The cutter also usually gives a teeny bit extra every yard… so maybe there’ll be enough to make up for that last 3/8 of a yard. So we’ll see. Worst case scenario, I can only make the knee-length version.

In any case, it’s not quite was I was envisioning, but I think it will be just fine. A real wool would’ve been extra nice, but I’m not going to complain.

So I guess I should quit procrastinating on that test version…

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Baby steps

This is going to be a slow process.

Went home over Easter and took the opportunity to visit a couple of fabric shops with my mom (who knows a lot more about this kind of thing than I do). There’s a fabric and lining at Fabricland that would work… and they’re on sale… and there’s no WAY I have money for it this month. /sigh. Maybe next. The plus side is that every Fabricland I’ve been to has had that same fabric, plenty of it. It’s not exactly what I want—it’s a purple boucle, for one, and the more I look the more I realize I really want a dark charcoal grey/black with some kind of texture or fleck of lighter colour (basically the fabric of the coat I have right now, that’s on its very last legs. But the purple would be nice, and I haven’t found a black or grey that really sings to me. And I really don’t know my fabrics well enough to order online.

So that was informative but basically frustrating. I’m also still up in the air about an interlining… Thinsulate (assuming I can figure out where to get it) appears to be the default, but I read somewhere about a stuff called microfleece they make for active gear that is warm and thinner… I’m just not sure if it’s warm enough (or where to get it, either). My mother also suggested a layer of chamois in the bodice to break the wind, which seems like a really good idea too. I’m not too worried about a *bit* of bulk—I want a winter coat, warmer than my current one, which is really a fall weight (I’m in Canada, remember) that I end up stuffing two or three sweaters under to make it work. But I also want a nice drapy skirt, so while I can interline the crap out of the bodice I don’t want to stiffen up the skirt.

But I did mention baby steps, right? At Value Village (the VV in my hometown is SO much more satisfying to shop at than the one here. Possibly because it serves the whole city, while this one just serves our little patch of suburbia) I scored three yards of a 60″ wide jacket-weight wool for five bucks, that I can use for a test version of my coat bodice. The colour’s not me, so I told my mom if it works out I’ll make one up for her. There’s not enough to make a full skirt, but I should be able to manage something hip-length, get a sense for the fit, the sleeve cap (which I’m shortening to remove the visible gathering) and whether I will actually need to lengthen the sleeve. I was thinking I would need to lengthen it, as all my ready-to-wear jacket sleeves are always too short, but having measured the sleeve length on the pattern (yes, minus the seam and hem allowances) it’s at least an inch or two longer than the sleeves I’m complaining about, so maybe I won’t. We’ll see how the test goes :).

So I have the outer portions of the pattern traced out, and the test fabric washed. It’s probably still not as heavy as I’d like (and it will be quite a bit different if I do go with the boucle) but it’s a start. It really is a nice fabric, except for the colours. With any luck I’ll get a test shell sewn up this weekend. Now, I’m off to think about shoulderpads. I’ve been reading up on sleeve headers and how Armani finishes their jacket shoulders… lots of fun… 🙂

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