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Wool coat plans.
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A wool coat for winter, part 1: Planning

My big project for this autumn will be a long and warm wool coat. My old winter coat is getting a bit worn out and my fingers are itching to make a replacement for it. I am trying to document the whole project very carefully, just like I did with my trench coat project before.

This time the coat making project feels less scary since I have already completed the trench coat and made wool coats for my kids (here and here). However, as with any new pattern, there is always something that requires extra thinking.

Inspiration

My old wool coat is a dark green fit and flare coat with a big shawl collar and a belt. I have got tons of compliments when wearing it and I want to make my next coat in a similar shape. The coat needs to be long enough to cover my vintage-style skirts.

I really feel that double-breasted coat suits me the best. The buttons don’t necessarily need to be visible, but the double front looks nice. However, a proper closure is a must. There are many coat patterns which are just tied on and those won’t really work during the coldest months.

I need to have pockets and I tend to carry a lot of stuff in them. I think that this fact excludes patch pockets since those may stretch in an ugly way. No matter what kind of pockets I choose, I will make them extra roomy!

I am planning on using some traditional tailoring methods with this coat. Compared to my last coat project, this time I actually have a real tailor-made coat to use as a reference point. Remember this one I found from the flea-market:

My Harris tweed coat.

This coat is Harris tweed and it’s in a different style than what I’m planning to make, but this coat has been made in Finland and thus it has been designed for this climate. Let’s peek under the lining to see what’s in there.

Underlining.

The first thing you’ll see is the black wool interlining. Although the coat itself is 100 % wool (Harris tweed) the extra interlining is necessary to add warmth.

Another layer in underlining.

I was surprised to see another layer of interlining between the wool and the wadding. This is basic quilting weight cotton. Just the kind you could use in bedsheets. This is actually a genius idea since this layer blocks the wind. If you have ever been to Helsinki, you know that it is always windy in here.

Hair canvas interfacing.

Here is the hair canvas that supports the coat front. It has been done in a bit different way than what I did with my trench coat. The outer edge hangs free and has been beautifully bound with some bias binding. The other edge has been hand stitched to the front fold. And yes, the coat fronts are self-faced so that there are no seams at the edges of the front opening. The hair canvas has been cut straight and not in bias as I did.

I think that I will still use the methods that I used with my trench coat. My coating is much softer than the Harris tweed, so I think using proper facings gives the coat edges some strength. I will also need to off-grain my coat fronts to keep the coat opening closed. Besides, my hem will be so wide that I might run problems with my fabric width! (More of this later.) I will also tape the coat front opening edges with some ermazine tape.

However, I might make my hair canvas a bit narrower than the centre front pieces of my coat since the flare will make the coat very wide at the bottom. I have a feeling that the wide canvas would distort the drape of the skirt part.

Sleeve and the underarm of the coat.

The upper picture shows the armpit of the coat. It is probably hard to see, what is happening and not only because the picture isn’t sharp. Anyway, the cotton and the wadding layers have been cut away at the armpit to reduce bulk. I will definitely do this, too!

The sleeves are lined just like the rest of the coat with both the wadding and the wind-stopping cotton. The sleeve cap has been enforced with cotton tape. This might have also been used to ease the sleeve into place. I think I might use a strip of wool canvas for this since it worked so nicely with my trench coat.

What really surprised me was that my tweed coat didn’t have any shoulder pads! There are no separate sleeve heads either, but I think that the wadding and the cotton sort of do the job. This must have been a deliberate choice of the tailor. Or perhaps the original owner disliked the shoulder pads? I have finally learned that “shoulder pads” doesn’t necessarily mean the 1980s style masculine shoulders. In my trench coat, the shoulder pads are all but invisible but they give the coat some structure that makes it look polished.

Now that I have some ideas, let’s look at the pattern that I’ve chosen.

PatternVogue patterns V8346 that I'm going to use for my wool coat.

I have had this Vogue V8346 pattern for a while and it is exactly the kind of pattern I need. It has the fit-and-flare look, it is double breasted and it has the shawl collar I like so much. I think I’ll go for the view D but I may make hidden buttons like in the view C.

The wool coat doesn’t come cheap since I will need 4,7 m of fabric. Well, at least I’ll get something that I know I cannot buy from the high street!

Wool coat fabric and interlining

I spend a lot of time looking for a perfect fabric. My previous coat was dark green and I was really trying to find wool in that same gorgeous colour. However, this red wool-angora blend from Materials in Helsinki won me over. It is super soft and the angora and a luxurious sheen to it.

My angora-wool coating fabric.

One of the reasons I am really excited about making my own winter coat is that I can make it warm enough for the Finnish climate. I bought this wool-viscose interlining (I hope I’m using the right word here!) to put between the wool and the lining:

Winter coat, wadding.

I still need the cotton to stop the wind but that will be an easy thing to purchase. The more difficult thing is the lining. I have been browsing the shops and looking for something special. Luckily I will have plenty of time before my coat is at that stage where I’ll need the lining!

 

Thank you for reading! Subscribe to follow my progress with this coat and my other sewing projects! Happy sewing!

 

Katja

 

I am a mother of two. I sew, knit and create and blog about it.

8 Comments

  • Aurelie

    What beautiful fabric and from Materials, I can imagine the feel of it. Core Couture has just made an amazing coat with interlining if you want some inspiration. You may have to think about the weight and bulkiness?

  • Life of Janine

    Your cost is going to be beautiful! I am from Canada and my mom had a custom made coat when she was younger. To provide an extra windbreak in the back there was a thin piece of chamois as additional lining in he back. I don’t know if they ever used that technique in Finland. Her coats were very warm!

    • kk

      Thank! It was interesting to hear about your mom’s coat. Chamois would definitely block the wind! It would be heavy but well… you could make a whole coat out of leather, so… Chamois would also be pretty thin so ot wouldn’t show from the outside. I haven’t heard about anyone making something like this in here. Finland hasn’t generally had a lot of leather related industry. I think that most of the people that wanted a coat super warm would have chosen to wear fur coats, if they could afford it. I wouldn’t buy fur (unless it was second-hand) but I will swear that the only things that keep my hands warn in the coldest months are a pair of proper leather mittens!

  • Barbara Showell

    This is interesting as I am in the contemplation before actual planning stage of coat making. I appreciate the use of natural fabric, but when I think of trying to make a coat warm my mind immediately goes to an interlining called “thinsulate”. I’m sure there are probably more evolved modern man made ones today. I’m curious why in such a cold climate you chose the traditional wool.

    • kk

      I think that the main benefit on using thinsulate is that you can wash it more easily and the light-weight of it. According to my experience, thinsulate is not as warm as wool. I have had thinsulate insulates gloves but they are not nearly as warm as the wool lined ones. It sort of makes sense, the evolution has had millions of years of time to develop a material that keep thr sheep alive during the winter, but the man-made materials have only been developed for a few decades.

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