There has been a bit of a heat wave this week in Birmingham, which seems a bit ironic as I’ve been happily prepping my next winter project. I’ve been planning on making the lovely Clare coat by Closet Case Patterns since last winter but I had put it off due to my pregnancy – I felt like my sizing was all over the place at the time.
We have had some absolutely stunning designer winter woollen fabrics in recently so I knew it was time to pick up the project again. Years ago when I was a student, saw this beautiful pink coat in Reiss but couldn’t afford it and ever since then I’ve always wanted a pink coat. So I’ve chosen this ‘nude’ colour for my Clare, which is actually a really soft blush pink colour.
These other designer melton wools would also be great for the Clare.
Making a coat is quite an undertaking but as far as coats go this one is definitely on the easier side of the spectrum and pitched as being good as a first time coat. It has raglan sleeves, which are easier than set in ones and despite having quite a lot of pattern pieces, it’s not that many for a coat.
One of the great things about sewing a coat from an independent company like Close Case patterns is that there is a LOT of online support. Heather has put together a very detailed sewalong on the coat, which I would highly recommend using. It explains a lot of things in much more detail than the instructions. There are also lots of pattern reviews and blog posts from others about their experiences which is really useful too. Check out Charlottes version and I really love Beccas version too.
I’m hoping it won’t take me too long to complete once I get all the pieces cut out but I wanted to share my prep work so far.
- Sizing - Given my concerns about the fit that put me off making the coat last winter, I decided to make a toile and check the sizing before cutting into the wool. My measurements fitted the size 8 apart from the waist measurement (I was a size 10 for that) but on Heathers advice I went with the size that matched my bust measurement as the coat is a line and not meant to fit at the waist and hips anyway – meaning there would be enough ease built into the pattern.
Here is what my toile looks like on. I tired it on with a thick winter cardigan underneath so it would be more realistic – not the most fun when its 25 degrees plus outside. It's also a good idea to do some activities or things that you would normally do (for me that's picking up and holding the baby!) to check that you can move around ok.
I moved my arms around and felt like it was a bit tight in the shoulders so reduced the seam allowance to 1cm instead of the recommended 1.5cm at the back raglan seam and that extra ease felt much better. I think if I went up to the next size it would have felt too big everywhere else.
- Interfacing - My next stage was to work out what I wanted to do regarding the interfacing. The outer coat in pretty much all interfaced – and there are separate pattern pieces for that. After reading around what other people had done I decided to spot fuse a woven interfacing to the whole area of my fabric – this would mean that my whole coat was interfaced. Whether you do this or not will depend on the thickness and drape of your fabric. Mine isn’t that thick or stiff so I felt like it could do with a bit more support, especially to help hold the a-line shape of the coat.
- So instead of cutting out separate pieces of interfacing and then ironing them onto my fabric afterwards, I cut out the fabric and interfacing at the same time. To make this easier I ‘spot fused’. This means laying our your woollen fabric wrong side facing up, then putting the sticky side of the interfacing facing down, then at regular intervals ironing it on – just enough to make them stick together a bit. Once you have then cut out all of the pattern pieces, you then more permanently fuse the interfacing on. There is a great blog post about how to do this here. They recommend covering a large dining table for example with a thick woollen blanked to make it like a huge ironing board. I don’t have thick woollen blankets so instead, I laid out a quilt on the floor, put my fabric out and used a Prym ironing blanket to protect the floor and my quilt.
- The interfacing has changed the colour of the wool slightly and made it darker. I realised once I had spot fused it there was nice iron shaped shadow marks all over the wool but once I properly fused the full area of interfacing on they went away and overall there was a slightly darker even shade to the wool.
- Cutting - I tried a few methods for cutting out the fabric. The fabric was too thick to pin the pattern pieces on (which is my usual method) so I used pattern weights (cans of tuna!) and tired to cut it out with my rotary cutter. I was cutting though the actual pattern tissue as well though to save time and it kept shredding the edge of the paper to I reverted back to scissors. I'd recommend making sure your scissors are really really sharp!
- Fabric requirements - The pattern recommended 2m of 150cm wide fabric and I followed the cutting layout for my size 8 and basically there was just enough fabric and no more. My wool wasn't quite 150cm - probably just over 145cm wide and I was almost down to the last mm fitting all the pieces side by side as the layout suggested. Just don't start cutting until you have checked where everything best fits in!
I have also decided to interline the body of the coat with Thinsulate. This stuff will help to make the coat extra warm! It’s a specialised technical fabric so I ordered mine from Point North Fabrics.
I’m planning on doing bound button holes too so I’ll keep you up to date with progress!