Updated: Nov 15, 2022
with your host Jacqui Blakemore
If I ask you "do you fancy making your own coat?", what thoughts go through your head? I remember the first time someone suggested that to me and it was way out of my comfort zone.
Have you already made one? Or are you thinking - I'd love to do that but it seems way too difficult?
Whether you have already made a coat or if it's one of those projects you keep putting off until you are "better at sewing" then I'm hoping to dispell any fears and motivate you to give it a try.
Like with all garments there are different types of coats and some are definitely more complicated or involved than others. So today I want to talk about a pattern for an unlined coat that I actually made a couple of years ago but that I think can be a great starting point for anyone wanting to have a go without it being overly difficult.
Why make a coat?
The last coat I bought was one that I happened to stumble on when not really looking for a coat. I'm not a big shopper and I find clothes shopping a real challenge.
Coats, like dresses, are one of those garments where being a different size on the top to the bottom always seems to mean a compromise when trying to find a good fit.
I also find that whenever I do find a coat I like it is invariably in black and wearing black really doesn't suit me. So when my favourite coat starts to wear out I used to dread having to find a replacement.
So that's why I ended up biting the bullet and making my own.
There's lots of great benefits to making your own coats and there is a growing range of great coat patterns out there to choose from.
better quality result for a lower price: Coats can be a higher ticket item when buying them from the shops. Whilst coating fabrics can be more expensive than say, dress fabrics, this is one of the makes where I think you can create a garment with better quality fabric for a lower overall cost.
features to suit your style preferences: You can also decide what features you want - not a fan of double breasted coats - you can make yours single breasted. Not a fan of loads of pockets or bulk - or do you want more pockets - well you can be the designer, you can choose.
choice of colours and fabrics: Want to have your choice of colours and fabrics that you love and that go with your wardrobe no matter what's in fashion in the shops? Making your own gives you more choice and variety,
better fit: not to mention the much greater control you have when you make, over how it fits your body shape and proportions.
Don't just take my word for it!
After listening to the podcast and my shout out to see if anyone else had made this pattern, I had a message from the lovely Sava Andric (@sav_i_na).
Thank you to Sava for sending me this photo of her gorgeous version of this unlined coat to add to the blog post.
I love this fabric and you can see how the collar looks when made as per the pattern.
Butterick B6244 - Lisette Draped collar coat and dress
So the pattern I used for my unlined coat is a Butterick pattern from their Lisette range. It's the B6244 and the name on the pattern looks like it says Drapped collar coat and dress but i think that should maybe be draped collar coat and dress.
I got this pattern with a magazine but the pattern is available from a number of different online shops including Amazon: Butterick B6244 Coat and Dress Pattern
The description reads: semi-fitted, unlined coat (wrong side shows) has front extending into collar; flat fell seams, narrow hem and shaped front hemline longer than back.
I would describe it as a coat with a collar that extends into a waterfall front. The rest of the design is fairly plain with straight sleeves and a slightly A-line silhouette which finishes just below the knee (although it is longer on me).
The pattern includes a dress too. The dress is described as a lined dress has shoulder yokes, fitted bodice with side front and side back seams and invisible back zipper.
The size range of the pattern I have is limited, going from size 8 to 16. Unhelpfully the sizing is not included on the envelope and is only shown on the instructions but I have copied that here:
There is also a version of the pattern that goes from 18W to 24W.
If you need a larger size range then the Friday Pattern Company Cambria Duster pattern has a similar look but goes up to size 4XL.
In terms of fabrics the pattern is designed for light to medium weight woven fabrics and it suggests "Double faced wool" for the coat.
Because of the waterfall style of the collar, the design means that you do see the wrong side of the fabric quite promninently so you need a fabric that looks good from the right and wrong side (also known as "double faced").
There are no fastenings or linings on the coat so you just need between 2 and 3m of fabric depending on your size.
If you want to find fabrics that are suitable for this type of pattern then you can google "double faced coating fabric" and that will show you what is available.
The coat pattern consists of just 3 pieces - the front which includes the collar, the back and the sleeve.
Because there are no linings or facings the construction is relatively simple. There is a dart on the front from the shoulder pointing to the bust which helps the waterfall collar to sit in the right place and you sew that first.
The whole collar is built into the front pieces so you sew the collar sections of the two front pieces together and then it instructs you to flat fell that seam.
There is a picture and instructions on how to flat fell the collar seam in the pattern instructions. The pattern has a 5/8 inch seam allowance and to create the flat fell seam you trim one of the seam allowance and then fold the other one around it.
The only challenge I found with that was that my fabric was reasonably thick so it was a bit tricky to get it to co-operate.
So I'd recommend trying out the seam on some scraps before even cutting the garment out because if you realise you need a slightly wider seam allowance to allow for the thickness of your fabric you want to add that before you cut it all out.
The tricky bit
The next step I found a bit tricky. When you join the front pieces to the back at the shoulders and the back neck it forms 3 sides of a rectangle. Stitching them was fine and I used my tailors tacks to help me line up the markings for where they should all line up.
But then it tells you to then flat fell that rectangular seam. Making that flat fell go around a corner with a thicker fabric took me a few goes to get it to look neat.
So again that is an area where I would have a practice beforehand by cutting out a bit of those pattern pieces and trying it out.
On reflection I think I would have given myself more chance by increasing the seam allowances of the front shoulder and the collar part and the back shoulders and neck.
I have included photos from my finished coat here so you can see.
In truth no-one else ever really sees that bit so I'm happy with how it turned out.
And if you follow the rest of the pattern it's really plain sailing from there.
Sew your side seams,
sew your sleeve underarm seams,
insert the sleeves
and then hem them.
It suggests flat felling the sleeve underarm seam but I didn't do that. I just neatened with my overlocker. It also explains how to add a narrow hem to the whole collar and front edge and then the bottom of the coat.
My coat and adjustments
I made my coat from a faux wool felt that I bought at a sewing show. I think it was about £15 per metre and at the time that was at the higher end of my usual fabric budget, but it felt so soft and I loved the camel colour.
It took me a while to pluck up the courage to actually make the fabric into something but I knew it would look great with this pattern. It is double faced which is ideal for this style and because it is more of a felt construction the wind doesn't blow through it so even though it feels relatively light it is surprisingly warm.
Because of that felted construction though it is a bit harder to press as it has a bit more bounce when you fold it over.
I selected the size 14 and I did make a toile to test the fit. I did make some adjustments to my version of the coat.
I wasn't overly keen on the length of the first drop of the waterfall collar as it finishes near the waist which has the effect of making me look even wider in the mid section. I don't have much definition at my waist so it's not an area I like to draw attention to. So I adjusted the collar so that the first point fell more at my bust level creating a bit more width at the top of my body to balance my proportions.
The front edge on the pattern is a straight line so I measured a point 5" in from the top corner and 3" in from the bottom corner and then draw a new line between them and that became my new front edge.
I also didn't want to try to do a narrow hem on my thick fabric. After experimenting with a few different options including single turned hem, not hemmed at all, binding etc.
I decided that I would just use a 3 thread overlock stitch using the right needle on my overlocker to keep the stitch quite small and neat. I found some thread that was a really close match in colour and finished the whole of the collar, front and hem with that narrow overlock stitch.
I did think it may not last but I have worn it a lot and it has stood up well to the wear and tear.
Rounded back adjustment
To help improve the fit on the back I did a rounded back adjustment of 1/2" but I didn't create a dart, I just eased the bit of extra fabric at the centre back into the collar. I also added two fish eye or double ended darts 12" long and 1 1/4" wide to the back to give a bit more shaping.
And when I tried on my toile I knew I was going to want pockets so I added in seam pockets. This changed my construction slightly from the pattern instructions as I wasn't able to flat fell the side seams as it recommended. So I overlocked them in a very closely matching thread colour.
I added two fish eye/double ended darts to the back after toiling. They are 12 inches long and 1 1/4 inches wide at the widest part. They helped give more shape to the back and make the coat feel a little more fitted.
So what do you think? Can you see yourself giving it a go? Are you itching to pick out one of those gorgeous boiled wools or coating fabrics that are all over the fabric shop newsletters?
If you still need a bit more convincing then let me tell you what I love about this pattern and my coat.
What I love about it
Firstly it's really easy to wear - I was worried that the waterfall would be a bit difficult to arrange so that it looked good but because of that dart into the shoulder it seems to go into the right shape really easily.
The pattern also has generously sized sleeves which I am finding to be more and more rare these days so I can wear it over other garments with sleeves without cutting off my circulation.
It's also long enough that I can wear it over my long cardigans without them peeping out of the bottom.
The fabric is warm and looks 'proper' - by that I mean it looks like a coat you would buy in the shops and when people compliment my coat and I tell them I made it they are often surprised which is always lovely.
It goes with my wardrobe. Because it is a lovely neutral colour I can wear it with a wide range of outfits. I have a couple of pashmina style scarves that I wear with it that make me feel really stylish when I am out and about.
Things I would change next time
But I want to reassure you that this is my second coat and it's not perfect. There are definitely things I would refine and change if and when I make it again.
It's a bit small across the back hip which I sometimes notice when I have my hands in the pockets so I would make that a bit wider.
I would take a bit more time and be more organised to do hong kong finish on the seams next time.
I think it's good to appreciate the things we love about what we make and to see everything else as an opportunity to take into our next make.
I brought the lessons from my first coat into making this one. And having now made the second one I have been able to do more research and will have new ideas to take into my next coat.
I have since seen tutorials on doing half back and sleeve linings on unlined coats. I'd love to do that but because this coat pattern doesn't have a front facing that's not quite as easy to implement. So that's a great opportunity to try another style.
I'd change how I did the sleeve hem too as I think that would be better with an invisible hem.
And I would practice some of the flat fell seam sections with my next fabric before I cut anything out to give me a bit more elbow room when sewing them particularly in the trickier sections.
But I do want to reiterate that I do love this coat, I do wear it a lot and it does get lots of compliments which often surprises me as it was a relatively simple make.
Alternative unlined coat patterns
If this pattern isn't to your particular taste I found a couple of others you might like.
In addition to the Cambria Duster from the Friday Pattern Company that we mentioned earlier there is also the Avid Seamstress Coat. I have this on my future makes list as I love the simplicity of the lines of the design - quite classic.
I did read some reviews though to say that the instructions were not necessarily very clear and the pleat at the back was a bit of a challenge but I think there may now be sew along videos and tutorials that cover it as it is a popular pattern.
There is also the Soho Coat from Tessuti Fabrics . This is a lot less fitted and has a drop shoulder with a lovely collar so that's another lovely option.
Sewing thicker fabrics
If you'd like more tips on sewing thicker fabrics then if you haven't done so already check out episode 52 where I give you 10 top tips.
If you have a favourite coat pattern or want me to give you a shout out about a coat you have made I'd love to hear from you and you can email me at email@example.com.
Thank you so much for reading/listening!
Links and resources mentioned
Episode 52: 10 Top tips for sewing thicker fabrics
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