Sunday, December 22, 2013

DIY : Red Wool Coat w/ Shawl Collar

It's been exactly one year since I've started DIYing, it's amazing how time flies! My very first project was a circle skirt and I was naive enough to think that I could actually make a circle skirt with no sewing experience. LoL. At least I tried, and this time I'm going about it with a different perspective of DIYing my very first coat. I learned that you have to do a bit of research and planning before diving in to save yourself time and heartache (like ruining your expensive fabric).
For those of you who are interested in making your own coat, I'll direct you to a few resources and what foundations you need before sewing your final piece. This is a project that I started Thanksgiving weekend and just finished a few days ago, so it took me almost a month (spending a few hours each day). Keep in mind, I pattern and sew at a snail's pace so don't get discouraged by how much time it took me to do this....I'm sure most people can do it a lot quicker.

Making a coat your size:
1) You need to create a bodice, skirt and sleeve sloper to create a dress sloper. I used the dress sloper (you can also use a jacket sloper) and added extra room all around to accommodate for layers underneath. There are numerous tutorials on how to create those slopers, so just Google those terms and you'll be on your way! More info about slopers here.
2) Then I added princess seams (tutorial) to the front and back and also pleats (tutorial) to the side of the coat.
3) I first drafted an asymmetrical collar, but ended up not liking the look for this coat and decided on the shawl collar instead.
4) After drafting my coat pattern with princess seams and pleats, I wanted to line my coat for extra warmth. Here's a really easy tutorial on how to draft a coat lining pattern. Most coats are lined with a thin slipper fabric, but I wanted something thicker and cozier. I initially bought a medium weight satin, but thought it wasn't thick enough to keep me warm in this unusually cold winter in SF. I decided to use flannel instead since it's thicker and insulates better. I also remembered that my J. Crew coat was interlined with thinsulate and wanted to try that. I did some research and eventually decided not to go that route, as I was unsure if you sew the thinsulate to the fashion fabric or to the lining. Before I forget, here's also a tutorial on how to sew a lining into a coat -- watch after the hour mark. The sleeves were lined with the satin fabric instead of flannel. Satin fabric is slippery and it makes getting your arm in and out of the coat much easier.
5) After your pattern is finished, you'd want to sew up a sample first using a cheaper similar weight fabric. It's always good to sew a sample so you can see if your garment fits. If it doesn't, then you can go back to your pattern and makes changes (which I had to do). For my sample, I used a cheap wool that pilled up in no time so don't use cheap wool for your final piece! You can get very basic black or grey wool blend for $10 a yard (they are on the thin side), but most coating weight wool that is not black or grey will run you about $20+ per yard. For a coat this length, I bought 4 yards (60" width) and ended up with about 1 yard leftover.
6) The buttons I used below are self covered buttons from Jo-Anns. I thought they would be expensive, but ended up being only $1 a button. I was going to send out my coat to get the button holes professionally put in, but I ended up doing it myself. Helpful resource here about buttons and button holes.

Making a coat is a lot of work and definitely not a cheap process. An alternative you could consider is buying a commercial pattern because the majority of my time was spent developing the sloper, patterning my design and correcting the pattern after the sample fitting. The sewing part felt like a breeze compared to the pattern development. SPG wrote a really good article on when to buy or DIY and on her list of things to buy are coats....after making a coat and understanding the process, I can definitely see why one would buy instead of DIYing. But overall, I did really enjoy the learning experience and am happy with the end result and would consider using my pattern again (since I've put so much work into it) to make this coat in another color. 
DIY Red Coat. (similar here, here + here)
 Nine West Flax Pumps. Size 5. Runs 1/2 size too big.

DIY enthusiasts - would you consider making a coat? If you have already, please let me know your thoughts and the challenges you faced!


  1. That coat is awesome, Ping!! Red is the perfect choice! I love the lining, too.

    Happy holidays to you and Tim! :)

  2. The coat looks amazing on you. It's so perfect for the holidays and yay for outdoor photos =) Wishing you and T a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year!

  3. It's so beautiful, Ping - I love the bright color and lining! Wow on all the steps involved to make it truly your own. Hope you and Tim have a very happy New Year!!

  4. Did you take a lot of sewing classes? Everything you make is gorgeous!

    1. thanks Cathy! I took a sewing class recently at my local city college. I loved it and def improved my sewing skills tremendously!

  5. Wow! That coat looks great, I love it! I wish I could make something like that. :)

  6. the lining! ping, you really outdid yourself w/a coat. that's an extremely hard task! and you are always soooo incredibly detail oriented.


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