My projects,  Sewing,  Tailoring

A wool coat for winter, part 4: Smooth seams and warmth

My lining fabric spent almost a month on a trip from the UK to Finland, so my coat project was halted for a while. In the meantime, I have had plenty of time to properly press the seams I had already sewn. I even made a video of it! I also proceeded to make the coat underlining layers to block the wind and keep me warm.

However, now the lining is here and it’s gorgeous:

My lining fabric.

I got this jacquard fabric from Cloth Spot. In real life, the red is not as purple as it looks in the picture. This fabric was super had to photograph!

Anyway, before I could cut into this golden gorgeousness, I have to press the seams of the coat and add some warmth between the wool and the lining.

Pressing the wool

If you are planning to make a wool coat, take some time to learn how to press the seams. Pressing is the one thing that really makes a coat look good and not “home-made”. The good thing is that you don’t need expensive tools. Most of the items you need for making the seams really professional looking you already own or can easily make. Previously I wrote how I made tailor’s pressing tools and now I used them again.

I used the dauber to wet the seam. Covered the seam with a press cloth and pressed with a dry iron. After pressing I placed the tailor’s clapper on top of the seam to press the seam flat and to soak up the extra moisture. I placed the brown paper strips underneath the seam allowances to prevent their impressions from showing on the other side. The best way to do the pressing is to first press the seams flat and then open.

Here you can see the seam before and after pressing. The right-hand side has been pressed:


Pressing the wool coat seams.

At the curved portion of the princess seams, I used a sleeve roll and a tailor’s ham underneath the seam:

While I was pressing the seams I made a little video for those, who want to see how it’s done:


Supporting the back and the shoulders

The wool has a tendency to stretch, especially if it gets wet and well… Finland is pretty wet. Often it is either drizzling or snowing and the coat is damp when you go back inside. I don’t want my coat shoulders to stretch so I added a back stay.

I used the actual coat back as a pattern and cut a back stay on the bias from some cheap Ikea cotton. Then I basted it at the seams.

The back stay.

I also taped my shoulders. I hope I did this the right way! Basically, I just sewed a piece of ermazine tape just next to the shoulder seam.

Taping the shoulders.

Underlining the coat

I have been outside when it was -40 °C (This also happens to be -40°F, go on and check if you don’t believe me!) The Global warming already shows here so that it’s not really likely that I will ever see temperatures that low again, but still the temperature drops below -20°C (-4 °F) every winter. I also have to take the wind into consideration as I live close to the sea. So, my coat is going to have both a wind blocker layer and a wool wadding.

I selected very lightweight cotton batiste as the first underlining layer to block the wind. None of the underlining layers needs to reach all the way to the hem, so I was able to save some fabric:

Cutting the wind blocker cotton.

The wadding is very stretchy and unstable and it is not usually sewn without some kind of backing. Often the wadding is sewn together with the lining but I decided to attach it to the wind blocker layer instead.

I had 2 metres of the wadding. Since it is stretchy, I decided to eliminate the princess seams. Cutting the back pieces was fairly straightforward since there wasn’t much curve to the princess seams.


The front pieces were a bit more challenging. This is how I did it. I used my fingers to smooth the cotton over the wadding and kept on adjusting the layers until they laid smoothly against each other.


Sewing the underlining layers together was fairly easy after that.

Side seam pockets

Now I was anxious to try on my coat with the underlining layers to see whether it would feel too bulky. Before I could attach the fronts to the back, I needed to make the side seam pockets. This is why I needed my lining fabric at this stage.

This time, I kept the original pocket pattern pieces but I did add a little patch pocket to the right-hand side pocket. I made one for my trench coat and it has been very useful. I can use it for my bus card, a debit card or a parking slip and they doesn’t get lost. If I put my keys inside this little pocket I can have my keys in the same side pocket as my phone without scratching the screen.

Side seam pockets.

The pocket pieces were sewn to the sides of the coat back piece and the side fronts. Then, finally I could start putting the big pieces together!

The side seams and the shoulder seams

The current stage of my coat construction.

The back shoulders needed to be eased a bit before they could be sewn together with the front shoulders. This could be done just with some pins since the wool was easy to ease. The side seams were sewn without any extra fussing. I just left a gap where the pocket openings were.

This is how the coat looks now. The underlining is currently the wrong way around since I cannot try the coat on with the wadding against me. Until the actual lining fabric goes on, the wadding is better protected this way. I am pretty happy how it looks. The underlining layers don’t show visible bulk. I think I will have to attach them to the lining at some places so that they will move with the coat skirt and not bunch up on their own.


Thank you for reading and see you soon! Happy sewing!





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


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