Challenge Accepted: Sewing a Winter Coat

The task of making my own outerwear has been a bit scary. I have been dreaming about a couple of patterns over the last year or so and I finally decided to take the plunge. With winter coats popping up everywhere in the online sewing community this month, I couldn’t make any more excuses! Indiesew has highlighted some great outerwear patterns, Lucinda at Sew Wrong has been posting lots of great tips for sewing coats on her blog (she even has a special online course coming soon) and Pinterest and Instagram are filled with lots of amazing inspiration.

During this process of creating my own handmade coat, I thought I would post my progress here on the blog. Hopefully four of five posts updating you on my challenges, tricks I learn along the way and just breaking down a somewhat daunting task into smaller more manageable bites.

Let’s start with one of my favorite steps… selecting the fabric! There are so many amazing fabrics out there perfect for outerwear. Here are a few of our favorites and some great pattern choices to pair with them.

First, let’s take a look at boucles. The perfect choice if you want a more unique, vintage look with lots of texture. They come in a variety of weights and are typically going to be a bit cooler than a wool or other heavier fabrics- perfect for more temperate climates or to enjoy year round. For a winter coat, I would probably use a cozy flannel for the lining and maybe even add an extra layer in between for some added warmth. Here are a few of the textures you might find. <Learn more about the fabrics shown below HERE>

For this type of fabrics, we love the more vintage style coat. Elegant but simple, each of the patterns below have clean lines and a great sophistication, perfect to show of the amazing texture and pattern of the fabric weave.

1: Burda Style- Collarless Open Coat

2: Close Case Files- Clare Coat

3: See Kate Sew- Icon Coat

Next up, shearling! One of our favorites this season, shearling is a great choice for a variety of different outerwear garments… coats, vests, hats, etc. Available in a variety of different styles and thicknesses, the most common is probably faux wool shearling on one side and faux suede on the other. This is a great fabrics to play around with exposed seams and showing off both sides of the fabric. You can also find faux shearling by the yard with is perfect to pair with just about any other type of fabric. Make it a lining on a jacket or hood for some added warmth and a fun added texture. Here are a few samples <Learn more about these fabrics and others like them HERE>

1: Burda Style- Lambskin Waistcoat

2: Make it Perfect- Hero Vest (this version by Straight Stitch Designs)

3: Named Clothing- Mai Zip Jacket (this version by House of Pinheiro)

Last, let’s take a look at some of our other favorite coat fabrics. Wool, sweatshirt fleece, twill and other wovens. The options really are limitless. It is always a lot of fun to think out of the box and use fabrics in an unexpected way. The most important thing to think about when selecting a coat fabric is how you plan on wearing the coat. How will you layer it with other clothes? What season or seasons will you be enjoying you handmade coat? How will your new coat fit into your current wardrobe? Answers to questions like these will help you pick the pattern and the fabric.

Maybe a sweatshirt fleece for a fall jacket or thick wool for a snowy, winter coat. Here are a few more examples of coating fabrics to look at and some patterns they would look great in.

1: Grainline Studio- Cascade Duffle Coat (Perfect for this thick wool plaid)

2: Vanessa Pouzet- Eagle coat (Try a lighter wool or plush woven)

3: Hey June- Evergreen Jacket (this version by Wally and Grace, great use of sweatshirt fleece)

After looking through a variety of patterns the one I kept coming back to was Closet Case Files’ Clare Coat. Released earlier this fall, the silhouette is like nothing I already have in my closet and I am a big fan of Heather’s patterns (I am still obsessed with my Carolyn Pajamas). With clearly written directions and a step-by-step sewalong on her blog, I can’t wait to get started. After settling on my pattern selected this beautiful Wool Blend Tweed for my fabric.

Wool Blend Tweed Texture Coating
Wool Blend Tweed Texture Coating

Now to just get my pattern ready and gather the rest of my supplies. I will keep you posted on my progress! Until then, check out our Pinterest Board with all kinds of outerwear inspiration and happy sewing!


2 thoughts on “Challenge Accepted: Sewing a Winter Coat”

  1. Michelle,
    I’m concerned about making sure the sleeves of the coat I chose will easily accommodate a sweater and shirt underneath. How do I make sure. I’m planning to underline wth Thinsulate or use a heavy lining. Any suggestions?

    1. Bobbie-
      There are a couple things I would try- first maybe make a muslin of just the sleeve with all of the layers planned for the final coat and give it a try. See how it fits. I have done this on other tops, as I have found that usually around my elbow things fit tighter than I would like.

      Another options would be, if you have made a coat in the past that you know works, compare the sleeve pieces- See if they are similar width. If this is your first coat… try measuring one of you store bought coats in a similar weight that you like, add a bit more for the seam and you should have a good estimate.

      I would also be sure and pick a silkier, softer lining that will let your sweaters slide right into the sleeve. Something like flannel or cotton will stick to the sweater and you will have a hard time getting it on : )

      Great question. Hopefully this helps!

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