Category Archives: Coat

Nenuphar 3, winter coat edition

So to start with some tragic news for this first new year post: I lost my latest Lysimaque Nenuphar jacket at my work’s Christmas party. After less than a month of enjoying it, it got swallowed by a karaoke room and I had no luck with the establishment’s lost property the next day. I’m really quite sad, I loved that jacket. Although at least on the plus side, the fabric was not expensive and it didn’t take too long to make so I’m pretty sure I will whip up a duplicate come spring.

And on another plus side, it gave me a kick to make a coat that’s a bit more appropriate to the current weather… using the very same pattern yet again.

To make the Nenuphar pattern cosy-coat-appropriate, I simply added even more length at the hem (the side seams are completely straight so it really doesn’t matter where the length is added). The total from armsyce to hem is 27″ for this one which is a nice knee length on me.

I adore the huge pockets on this pattern, and like my previous version I placed the baby pockets asymmetrically for some visual interest. The little one perfectly holds my iPhone and the big one holds my iPad – not that I walk around laden with Apple swag, but I’ve definitely loaded them up with assorted groceries when I’ve forgotten a reusable shopper bag.

I used a gorgeous charcoal wool from Woolcrest Textiles, a bargain as ever at £10/m. It’s kinda like a smooth, thick felted texture; the edges don’t unravel at all so I left the seam allowances raw and didn’t turn back the edges on the facings, which saved on bulkiness.

Neckline/placket facing, topstitched down

I decided to rework the collar area by drafting a neckline and button placket facing rather than the tricky way the pattern has you finish the collar by tucking the seam allowances under and aligning the edges perfectly with the top of the button placket – I felt I had no chance getting that neat and tidy in a bulkier fabric. My facing idea worked beautifully and was much easier to sew – it’s topstiched in place all around the neckline and down the fronts to the hem.

The nice marbled buttons are from Liberty: I confess I started wearing the coat before I’d added them (and took the picture above) but that meant I could wear the coat to go and pick the buttons out so I knew they’d match, hah.

Here’s a nice relevant picture of it in front of a tailor’s shop window in Marylebone at the weekend to finish. And I might just add a ‘return to’ address label to the inside so there’s more chance of getting it back if there’s karaoke shenanigans in its future.

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.

Fur Yona

Another coat project for a snowy day! This was a real impulse sew and perhaps a bit trend-led, but I really wanted a fluffy coat to call my own after seeing them on some of my friends and general cool girls around London and Instagram. Plus my Freemantle is a bit statement-y so I wanted a plainer and shorter coat for some variation.

I was tempted to buy a new pattern – the Oslo, Marcelle and Silvia were all contenders – but decided to rad my stash instead and reuse the Named Yona pattern which I made two winters ago. I do still really like that first Yona but the more tailored-looking finish doesn’t seem to be so much my style any more. Luckily it’s a real chameleon sort of pattern depending on fabric type so you wouldn’t really even think they were the same base pattern.

I used a faux-sherpa fur fabric from Minerva which is sold out in black but still available in some other shades. The wide lapels are perfect for a few of my favourite pins, which help it read more indiekid than P Diddy, ha ha.

The lining is a simple plain black viscose also from Minerva. Practice really does make perfect and this is my nicest bagged lining insertion yet.

The fur fabric is, as accurately described, quite stretchy and drapey so after consulting Instagram I decided to block-fuse it before cutting for my coat. If you haven’t come across the term before, block-fusing is where you iron interfacing onto your entire yardage before cutting out the pieces. I used a high quality knit interfacing from English Couture. The ironing process was tiresome as hell and took ages, but definitely gave the fabric a much more appropriate heft and handle will still retaining its softness. The coat feels really secure and like it will hold its shape for a good time so it was worth the effort.

A few other tips I found worked well for this fluffbomb fabric:

  • I made sure to line everything up in the same direction, with the nap running downwards, as the fabric has a slight directional pile.
  • I found the easiest cutting technique was to fold my fabric with the wrong side facing out, pin the paper pieces in place then cut with my rotary.
  • After cutting I shook each piece to remove most of the loose fluff then vacuumed it all up before I started sewing. I was advised on Instagram that a spin in the dryer removes all the excess effectively, but I didn’t try this.
  • I used pins instead of snipping notches as they would have got totally lost in the pile.
  • After sewing seams I trimmed them down and pressed open first from the wrong side (with a cloth to protect the interfacing) then gave a shot of steam from the right side and pressed a clapper over it. I don’t have a proper clapper, but my sleeve board works weirdly well for this purpose! Then I fluffed the pile back up and brushed it over the seam.
  • I used a walking foot to deal with the bulk and prevent the layers shifting, and used wonder clips instead of pins.
  • As my fabric maintained a slight stretch, I selected a zigzag stitch to prevent seams from potentially popping.

Luckily having sewn the Yona pattern before, as well as another coat recently, the sewing itself went really fast. The entire project was finished in one day, which might sound a bit mad but the Yona is actually a rather simple coat overall with no fastenings, easy-to-set raglan sleeves and patch pockets, and really good instructions for bagging out the lining, so I’d definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a first or speedy outerwear project.

I adore how this coat turned out! I only wish I had firstly made the pockets a bit bigger so I can dig my hands properly into them (my Freemantle has huge pockets and I basically use them as a glove substitute) and retrospectively I might have thought about extending out the centre front into a little overlap so I could add a snap fastening or two. Nonetheless it’s extremely cosy and warm, so I look forward to rotating both coats throughout this winter.

Ombre Freemantle

It’s been quite a long time since I tackled a coat project (and got outside for a photo shoot!). My Yona coat has happily seen me through two winters and it’s actually still good for this year, but I also fancied a new option. Once I clocked this awesome fabric and realised what an amazing Marilla Walker Freemantle coat it’d make there was no going back.

I actually first attempted this pattern back in 2014, soon after it was first released. Shall we say my skills did not match up to my ambition back then and the WIP wound up skulking on my mannequin for a long time before getting ditched. It’s a fairly advanced pattern to construct, especially as written with the insides underlined and bias-bound rather than a bagged/enclosed lining, and the cut-on square underarm gussets to wrap your head around. Marilla has actually discontinued the pattern from her shop as she felt the construction was too challenging to be saleable, but I’m sure she’d sort you out if you asked. Also word is she’s releasing some new patterns soon… :) EDIT TO ADD: Marilla is reworking this pattern to include a standard sort of lining, so keep your eyes peeled for the re-released pattern this side of Christmas! Great news, and would have saved me some head-scratching!

I did actually alter the pattern to have a standard lining, which is not that straightforward to do – it was one of the things that tripped me up on my first attempt in fact. The difficulty comes because the main body has raglan construction whereas the facing just has shoulder seams, so you can’t simply deduct the facings from the main body pieces to end up with the lining, if that makes sense. Marilla does have a tutorial on it, but it still didn’t click for me! Instead I made the lining as an exact dupe of the outer, then topstitched the facings on top (binding the raw facing edge with bias before doing so) and finally trimmed back the lining from underneath the facing parts. I then cut the inners down by two inches to form the jump hem and used a mix of the Yona coat instructions and this Grainline tutorial for a refresher when it came to machining it all together. Sounds complicated but still easier than making a neat job of all that binding in the underlined version, ha ha.

The star-of-the-show fabric is a very dreamy grey ombre wool and mohair coating from Fabworks that I totally bought with the Freemantle in mind. I knew that placing the stripes nicely would be key so bought 3m and mocked up some options in Photoshop before deciding on my cutting layout. The fabric was as wonderful to work with as wool always is, taking a steamy press beautifully, and I love the fuzzy halo that the mohair gives it. It’s quite lightweight and drapey yet incredibly warm and cosy. I’ve been wearing it as a coatigan indoors as well as out as it’s so soft and unstructured. I did apply interfacing strategically but may go back and add some twill tape along key seamlines as I’m a bit nervous of it stretching out with wear.

I’m especially proud of the welt pockets. It’s always terrifying making that big slice into your garment front, but these turned out so nicely and they feel really roomy and practical – plus the inner facing is in self-fabric so they’re all snuggly on my paws. I had the giant copper snaps in my stash, I think they’re from Macculloch and Wallis in Soho. I only had two but three would really be better, though I don’t think I will wear this closed very often anyway.

Little details of the collar and that underarm gusset, which is rather fun to sew, especially seeing the gradient fabric wrap around it. I wound up sewing the collar twice as the first time I got it backwards, and then I realised I didn’t like the placement I’d done so re-cut it in a darker area. I also interfaced it the second time, which made it easier to get nice crisp edges.

The motivation to complete this project came just in time really as it’s suddenly got a bit chilly here in London. I wore it out for dinner literally as soon as I did the last handstitch on the snaps as well as out the next day, so I reckon it will be on regular rotation this winter. Is anyone else planning a new winter coat? Word is Grainline is releasing her personal pattern for this dreamboat, so this might not be my only coat project of the season!

M-m-m-my sha-Yona

Yona coat

Oh hay! I’ve been struck down with a vile flu-type thing for over a week, but finally felt well enough to get out today and grab some photos. This is mah new Named Patterns Yona coat, a big tick off my winter plans list.

Yona coat

I’ve been wanting to make this up for a while to replace a similar old RTW coat, and when I saw the paper version of the pattern half price on sale I pounced. To be honest I was a bit trepidatious about using a Named pattern: I’m clearly not the tall willowy shape they draft for and I’ve heard rumours of patchy instructions and painful tracing processes. In the end, I dived into this coat sans toile, followed the instructions with no issues, and had the coat finished in a weekend. And I rather love it.

Yona coat
Yona coat

I was feeling impatient, so riskily cut a straight size 38 right into my good fabric. It’s too tight around the hips, as I suspected it would be and as indeed my old RTW one is, but I like how it looks both done up and loose so it’s not a problem. I’m happy with the fit around the raglan sleeves and back too: I like that the two-piece sleeves give my puny shoulders a bit of extra structure, even though there’s no real tailoring going on – just interfacing added strategically as directed.

Yona coat

I just made some small design alterations before cutting: adding two inches to the length to match my RTW inspiration, and shaving about half an inch of width off the lapels. It’s surprising how different it looks from Named’s sample just with a few small tweaks, as also evidenced by all the other lovely and varied Yonas in blogland: Ping, Sunni, Rachael, Julie, Lucinda, Morgan.

Yona coat

The construction was pretty fun and personally I found the instructions really good. I did just mess up the lapels first time round by not anchoring the collar ends onto the diagonal of the lapel – a symptom of rushing a bit and not double-checking the design sketch – but I fixed it with some crafty hand-stitching. You can see a pic of the incorrect ‘before’ here.

Yona coat
Yona coat

I especially like the jump hem method – it’s by far my best-looking yet, though it’s buckling just a touch as I think I forgot to add seam allowance to the lower edge of the lining, oops. I supplemented the instructions with a bit of extra machine bagging to cut down on the handsewing. You do have to add seam and hem allowances and trace off some overlapping pieces on Named’s paper patterns but I’m now prepared to forgive that, as long as you remember where to add them all.

Yona coat
Yona coat

The fabric is a very lovely darkest forest green wool melton from Miss Matatabi with a subtle diamond pattern. I cut the collar in a scrap of black ponte, inspired by Sunni’s three (!) versions of this pattern. Next time I’d do the collar stand and back facing in a softer fabric too as the wool is a bit scratchy at the neck.

Yona coat
I finished this a week or so ago and it’s gone right into rotation – it’s just right for the current weather and should see me through til spring. I suppose it’s not really a garment I need more than one of, which is a shame as it was so fun to make and I love the shape. Perhaps a shorter one in a lighter fabric for the warmer months might be on the cards.


Waver jacket

I was itching to get back to my machine after Christmas, particularly to try out some of my new toys (sleeve board! Pressing ham – finally! New pinks and snips and a snazzy pink mini cutting mat!). I wanted a low stakes yet slightly meaty project, so made a wearable toile of the Papercut Waver jacket. In fact it’s a very fast sew as it only took me one day end to end, and it’s wound up being elevated from ‘wearable toile’ to ‘really rather like it, actually’. I like when that happens.


I bought the Waver pattern with the aim of replacing a rather tatty old RTW khaki jacket I’ve had for ages but always seemed to be just right for heading out on semi-slobby, casual days when it’s neither overly warm or cold. Like the Waver it’s got a hood, roomy patch pockets and falls to high hip length, though I cut this one a bit longer: about halfway between the two views of the pattern.

Waver jacket

The pattern was really fun to sew, even with the tiresome chores of interfacing and cutting of linings that coat-making insists on. The pieces all slotted together really nicely: it was fun to make the gusseted hood, see how the neckline facing came together, and try a new method for bagging and finishing the hem. And like I said, it’s fast – I wasn’t rushing but still had it basically done in 5-6 hours over a single day. For a lined coat! There’s lots of handy shortcuts which make it a speedy sew like the simple patch pockets, the front facing being integrated into the main front pattern piece, and easy-set raglan sleeves.

Waver jacket
Waver jacket

I cut a straight size small and I don’t think I’d change much at all on the fit. Like other Papercut patterns it’s on the roomy side so sizing down would give a more fitted look, but with the raglan sleeves and elastic waist it’s supposed to be an easy fit.

Waver jacket

The only thing I struggled with in the construction is that tricky point where the lining, facing and hem meet at the front. You’re supposed to get a nice mitred point but mine was a bit out of whack so I had to do a bit of wiggling and poking to make a neat corner. Suspect a bit of practice and more accuracy will make this a simple and failsafe method for bagging out coats, though. The instructions have you handsew the sleeve hems but I bagged those too while the coat was still inside out. Despite the corner-fudging I think it’s still amongst the more professional-looking garments I’ve made, which is largely down to spending a bit on good quality notions.

Waver jacket

I used a pack of Prym anorak snaps instead of buttons and made a trip to Soho’s Maccullouch and Wallis for the elastic cord and toggles. Pro tips for hammering snaps: buy extras, practice on spare fabric first (you’ll always ruin the first few), and start at the bottom of the coat in case you, um, hammer one on inside out. Which I definitely did. Also I freestyled my positioning, but next time I’ll make sure one is horizontally aligned to the elastic casing as it gapes a bit there when fastened.

Waver jacket
Waver jacket

Amusingly, the notions cost more than the fabrics themselves. The outer is a viscose twill from Abakhan, which is quite lightweight with a tiny bit of crispness and sheen. Once I realised the coat would end up wardrobe-viable I decided to use some delicious Liberty tana lawn to line it. This print’s called Achilles (I have a much-loved knit dress in a different colourway) and I bought it at the same time as the outer fabric in a crazy online Liberty sale that Abakhan had on – it was £7.50 a metre or something. I like that the lining peeks out when the coat is undone or the cuffs are rolled.

waver hack

I’m so pleased with the fit and speed of the Waver that I want to make another one pretty soon, in the full-length view with no hood or elastic, and perhaps attempting to add a notched collar like these inspirations I’ve had pinned for a while. Shouldn’t be so tricky to hack a piece onto the neckline and I’ve got a lovely forest green textured coating in my stash I’ve been wanting to use.