A Coat in Hainsworth wool & Liberty twill

I think this coat combines two of the most luxurious fabrics I’ve ever used. It’s a shame that I’m a little disappointed with the final result :(

First of all, those fabrics, which are absolutely not the source of my ire. The main fabric came from AW Hainsworth, a Yorkshire-based woollen mill based with a Royal Warrant who produce premium cloths used for fashion, costumes, uniforms and military dress. Their apparel and upholstery fabric sub-brand Hainsworth challenged me to make something with one of their fabrics to help raise their profile amongst designers and costumers. (They don’t currently sell direct to consumers online, but will provide prices if you email them via the website.)

I received 2m of the Melton Doe Skin in the shade Fig, a tightly twill-woven 100% merino wool. A description from Hainsworth’s site: “The term ‘doeskin’ originated from the similar appearance and feel of the fabric to the skin of a female deer. Along with the practical purpose for allowing rain to run off the surface in the direction of the nap, the light is captured on the face finish and bounces off the surface to create a lustrous sheen.” So there you go, pretty and practical. As with all wools it was joyful to sew with, cutting easily and moulding willingly with steam and pressing.

I used the Avid Seamstress Coat pattern. I’d been umming and ahhing over making this midi-length partially-lined coat for spring for a while, then a combination of seeing Charlie’s (in a very similar shade to mine) and trying on a sample in Ray Stitch persuaded me to buy it. Manju coincidentally also just used the same pattern for her Hainsworth collaboration project.

Now here’s the issue, which Manju seemed to share: I was disappointed by the pattern and it was not a particularly fun sewing experience. She lists some of the issues I found; namely:

  • too little guidance on finishing seams – on an unlined coat! Not cool.
  • changing seam allowances so you have to constantly pay attention; in the case of the collar it changed over the course of one seam.
  • instructions too chatty/rambling in tone for my taste and photographed steps that are not always that clear to understand
  • confusion around the vent finishing; I ended up doing mine differently as it looked bulky and rubbish with the bound edges
  • to my mind, a poor design decision to have front-facing in-seam pockets that are always going to flap around and look messy. Manju switched to patch pockets, and I wish I had had too. There’s also nothing holding the facing in place inside so it tends to bend outwards.

Regarding the finishing, this wool does not fray in the slightest but I’m not the biggest fan of completely raw seams, so I made the somewhat stupid and self-sacrificial decision to bind them all using my lining fabric, a delicious Liberty silk twill in the ‘Minako’ print sent to me by The Fabric Store. Luckily this silk is incredibly well-behaved but still, that’s a lot of binding to cut and stitch and it felt like a real slog. While it looks quite nice it’s not my neatest work in places as I was losing steam. It would have been much more straightforward and neater to line the whole thing!

Like Manju I decided to line the sleeves in my silk as well, to make them more slippery to get on and off. This was pretty simple: I just used the sleeve pieces less an inch or two for folded-back hem allowance. They’re sewn bagging-style to the cuff and attached to the half-lining around the armsyce. Fit-wise I sewed a straight 10 as that was the size of the one I tried on in Ray Stitch and the fit seemed good. I do question why the armsyce has a pretty pronounced curve at the head when the shoulder is very dropped and non-fitted: it seems to produce a bump and puckers at that seam that I had to coax smooth with a lot of steam.

Time will tell if I end up wearing this coat. I think we need a little time out after the sewing experience, however it’d be a shame to not make the most of all that time and the beautiful fabrics. It’s a useful weight for this time of year as well and quite an easy throw-on sort of style, so I hope we make friends again. Thanks again to Hainsworth and The Fabric Store for supplying fabrics.

32 thoughts on “A Coat in Hainsworth wool & Liberty twill

  1. Manju

    Ha well I love the colour on you Katie. And the style suits you. I have actually been wearing mine lots whilst we still wait for warmer weather. Give it some time out like you say. You might feel differently in a while.

  2. oona

    the pattern sounds a nightmare but I think you’ve done the best you can with it. I always end up hating every single garment I sew. few weeks on a hanger in the back my closet most often changes my mind. 100% merino wool fabric must be amazing.

    1. Katie Post author

      Ha, it’s 50/50 for me, sometimes I don’t like something at first and sometimes (more often) i never want to take it off heh.

  3. Jessica

    I think this coat looks gorgeous and agree hopefully with other comments that you’ll probably like it a great deal once the making of it is a bit further behind you. Commenting coz I had a look at the one with patch pockets, and had a thought: could you not add patch pockets to this one as well? You’d then be able to attach the in-seam pockets to the front of the coat, as the patch would cover the stitching. And the slight extra weight might be enough to encourage the coat to hang in such a way as to prevent the facings swinging out; if not, they might also be attached behind the pockets, perhaps?
    This colour is stunning on you btw.

  4. Mary

    I too concur with the others though I might suggest you hang it somewhere you can touch and look at it. I did this with a project that tried my patience and later wore it until it was a sad rag. The pockets would make me crazy; is there nowhere you can catch them down to keep them from flapping!

    The colour looks terrific on you.

    1. Katie Post author

      Good idea, I’ll do that. It also needs fastenings of some sort and I will anchor down the pockets.

  5. Catherine

    Thanks for your honesty about this pattern! Chatty but poor instructions sound like my nightmare. The coat looks beautiful on you and I hope you come to like it, at least for the sake of not letting that gorgeous fabric go unworn!

  6. Gilly

    I saw something on a blog just this weekend that could help with the pocket/facing issues…. a centimetre-wide (finished) strip of your lining fabric which runs from the front curve of the pocket to the front facing. It should hold the pockets in place perfectly, and may just keep those front facings from flipping out. And the beauty is, it’ll only take five minutes to achieve.
    Great design and beautifully finished, but you have to wonder why isn’t it just fully lined? I’m sure it’d last longer, ‘seat’ less, generally wear better for longer, be warmer, and be sooo much simpler to construct.
    Hope you grow to love it 😍

  7. Linsey

    I’m so glad I read this as I’ve been thinking about starting this pattern and now I might leave it for a bit. Sounds like a crisis well averted! The finished coat looks great though x

    1. Katie Post author

      Ha well you may get on fine with it, I would just say read all the instructions first and decide how you’re going to tackle the seam finishes upfront. At least the fitting is quite straightforward.

  8. Charlotte E

    For what its worth I think the end result looks great. The style and colour really suit you if you can forgive and forget the construction. Hopefully you won’t have too much opportunity to wear it over the coming months and can reassess come September/October.

    1. Katie Post author

      It was 15% off day in the store luckily but yeah, I expected more attention to those details in an unlined coat.

  9. PsychicSewerKathleen

    I do think your coat is beautiful! I agree with everyone else that it will likely grow on you as you forgive it’s making shortcomings :) I did see someone recently had sewn a strip of bias tape to the pocket and joined it to the facing inside to keep that pocket from flopping around – you might want to do that too. She had seen it done in a RTW and thought the idea was clever so decided to give it a whirl and it worked fine. Wish I could remember who that was!!

    1. Katie Post author

      Thank you – yes, tacking the pockets inside the facing somehow is a great idea, I’m going to do that

  10. Diane

    Oh no, if you struggled with the pattern I definitely will (especially with very little coat making experience)! Yours still looks lovely though, hopefully you do manage to get some wear out of it.

    1. Katie Post author

      You may get on better with it, sometimes these things are personal preference or particular things I find fussy. It wasn’t difficult per se and would’ve been a lot quicker without the seam binding!

  11. Fiona

    Argh its horrible when you have a frustrating sewing experience but I think the finished coat looks wonderful and you did a great job Katie. Hopefully its one of those projects that if you put it away for a couple of weeks then wear it when the memory of sewing it has faded a little you’ll see it with fresh eyes. I think its a great piece of outerwear for Spring! Beautiful colour choice of the wool and the lining pairs with it beautifully.
    Thanks for giving an honest review!

    1. Katie Post author

      Thanks Fiona, yeah it’s a shame when a project doesn’t turn out how you hoped, but hey… got a lot of bias binding practice at least!

  12. poppykettle

    The soft plum colour of your fabric is beautiful and really flattering on you – the fabric looks almost suede-like! Not much would irritate me more than having the seam allowance change more than once throughout a pattern! Binding those seams would have been a long-haul slog, for sure, eep. It does look very pretty though!

    1. Katie Post author

      Thank you. It is a little suede-like, even a sort of nap so I had to be directional when cutting. I’ll keep an eye out for more fabrics in this colour as I really like it too!

  13. Sewingbyletters

    As always, I appreciate the warning on the not-so-great pattern! As the others have said, I think that your struggle paid off with a very on trend coat shape in a color that really flatters you. Hopefully its positive attributes with earn its way back into your good graces!

  14. Tracy May

    Such a beautiful fabric! I have some Hainsworth wool I bought in an end of roll clearance. It’s a perfect between-season weight but I’ve not yet found a pattern I love enough to justify putting my scissors through the gorgeous cloth.
    I think I’d leave this one for a while then go back and add a full lining. I’d choose one of the plain colours from the Liberty fabric and have a deliberately colour blocked effect. This expensive wool fabric deserves the respect of a full lining to make it hang better and it will also prevent the fabric ‘catching’ on your clothes when you’re wearing it. As it’s so narrow it’s disappointing that the pattern designer didn’t go for a two-piece sleeve that would make for a better look and fit.
    Also did you let the garment hang for two or three days before hemming the bottom?
    Well done on a great job with a difficult pattern and for persevering with it! I’ll continue my search for a pattern that the cloth deserves.

  15. Charlie

    I have to say I do like my coat, but I agree with all of your issues with it. I found the instructions overly informative in unnecessary places and not at all informative in others – especially seam finishes and the vent as you mention but I couldn’t articulate as well as you have. I feel partly responsible so I’m sorry about that. If it’s any consolation it does look lovely and I do wear mine a lot, so I hope you start to feel some affection for it. Charlie xx

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