A year ago, the only clothing I had successfully made were simple T-shirts. If you’d have told me that in 12 months I’d have made a series of shirts, shorts, trousers, shorts and PJs… I’d have probably laughed you out of the room. But since lockdown began in March, I’ve thrown myself into the world of garment making, and I’m loving it.
And for my latest me-made garment, I’ve made a coat!! How crazy is that? And it actually looks like a coat, it fits me, it’s comfortable… I’m so thrilled at how this has turned out!
Disclaimer: this project was made using fabrics gifted to me by Minerva fabrics (affiliate link), but there was no obligation to write about it on my blog. However, I really wanted to write about it because I’m so happy with it! And I wanted to share my experience of sewing it with you.
Sewing the Foreman Jacket pattern in wool coating
I made my coat using the Foreman Jacket pattern from Merchant and Mills. I really like the utilitarian, boxy look – it’s pretty simple and pared back, with a cool vintage vibe. I’ve seen this pattern made in lots of fabrics: cotton drill, denim, corduroy, tweed etc. But I thought it would be great in a chunky wool, so it becomes more like an overcoat. I browsed the Minerva site and ended up settling on this wool coating (affiliate link). The charcoal grey colour and the subtle texture really jumped out at me, as well as the chunky weight.
I won’t lie, I was pretty scared of starting this project for a few weeks. The fabric sat in my spare bedroom for days, before I even mustered up the courage to pre-wash it! I’d never worked with such a large amount of wool fabric before. The closest I had come was small projects like these: wool felt coasters and wool felt Christmas tree. So the thought of handling 3 metres of the stuff was pretty intimidating!
However, when I finally started to sew, I realised it was way easier than I had expected. The wool sews like a dream – even on my patchwork sewing machine. I used bulldog clips instead of pins, as it is a pretty chunky fabric, but thankfully my machine had no problems in keeping up. Although it did shed a lot of fluff, so I had to clean my sewing machine regularly throughout! (See here for my guide on how to clean a sewing machine)
I made one slight amendment to the pattern, which was to cut the corners at the front of the jacket at a right angle (in the pattern, they are curved). I generally prefer straight, angular designs over more fluid, curved ones. But other than this, I stayed true to the pattern.
The hardest part about this make was joining the collar to the body. I ended up with around 6 layers of fabric to sew through, which was a challenge! Now I understand the construction a little more, I’d probably think of a way to adjust it if I were to make it again. But I managed to cope with it (after a few bent needles and machine jams… all my own fault though!).
Attaching the sleeves was a new technique for me. Unlike when making a T-shirt or shirt, the side seams were sewn before the sleeves were added. The sleeves were then sewn separately (to form the full arm), before being joined to the shoulder/body. I had to unpick one of the shoulder seams once, as it didn’t quite line up correctly – but it was actually a simpler process than I thought it would be.
The fit of the coat is pretty good. I made a quick toile before starting with the wool, which helped me choose the correct size. For reference, I’m 6 foot and slim, and I ended up making it in size 42. If I’m being critical, the back is a little baggy. I actually tried adding some darts, to see if that might help. I spent an hour or two adding them, making them as neat and perfect as I could… but they just didn’t work. They gave the coat a weird fit, almost like a woman’s jacket, and it just didn’t look right. So then I had the fun job of unpicking them!
Overall, this coat took around 2 days to cut, fit and sew. I’m pretty pleased with that! I also spent about an hour pressing the seams and hems once I had finished making it. I used a warm (not hot or it might burn!) iron, lots of steam and a clapper. It really helped.
I also added a “sewing is my self care” label from my friend Joy of Pink Coat Club (affiliate link). She sells really cool sewing accessories, and kindly gifted me a pack of these labels (with no obligation to share). I added it to the front facing – a little reminder to calm down and do some sewing whenever I feel stressed out!
I can’t wait to wear my new jacket out and about through the winter months! One day, I’d love to make this same jacket in a Harris tweed (I have a soft spot for Harris tweed). I have a dream of visiting the Isle of Harris one day, and buying £££’s worth of beautiful fabrics… and now I have something specific to make with it!! So watch this space. 🙂