polka dot coat

It only seems fitting that I post about a coat that I started, well, a year ago, on the first day of the new year! Last year, I had an idea to create a course on how to make coats and this was the coat pattern I was going to use as my example through the course.  I cut this pattern out in January, but by the beginning of February, I began panicking because I hadn’t started the sewing on my wedding dress.  So, I put aside the pattern pieces and the idea of making a course, and worked on my wedding dress up until May.  With my first semester of grad school winding down earlier in December, I needed something new to work on.  Well, I dug this out of my closet and got right to sewing everything – all of the pieces were cut out, interfaced, and interlined!

polka dot coat

I had a close call with this almost not fitting and turing into a disaster.  Like, it barely met in the center when I tried everything on with the lining installed!  I made a muslin previously and made some adjustments to the fit in the hips since McCall’s describes this coat as fitted and it was a little snug on me.  Heck, when you look at the model wearing this coat on the McCall’s website, it’s pretty tight on her!  Even when I tried on the wool shell of the coat, it fit.  I believe what caused the issue was that I didn’t think that the lambswool interlining I added was going to take away that much ease since it seemed so thin.  Plus, I used a double-face wool that was a bit thick.  After assembling everything, this is how my coat fit:

This coat barely fit!

Eeeek!!  To fix this, I ripped out all of the seams up to just below the armholes in the wool and lining and restitched all seams with a 3/8″ seam allowance.  This gave back about three inches around the circumference of the coat, which allowed me to properly close it.  Whew!  I also intentionally tried to fit this coat wearing something a little bulky like a sweatshirt since I always wear something like that in the wintertime, not a thin t shirt.  That ensured that the fit of the coat would accommodate at least some layers underneath.

I mentioned earlier that I interlined this with lambswool – it’s good stuff!  I bought it from Steinlauf and Stoller over the phone – all I did was call them up, tell them what I was looking for, and I received it in the mail from NYC in a few days.  They’re great to work with if you need to order tailoring supplies like hymo that aren’t readily available locally.  The lambswool interlining is attached to the all of the lining pieces except the sleeves, and let me tell you, it really makes this coat warm and doesn’t weigh anything.

polka dot coat

Because the coat is so fitted, I changed the type of pockets.  The in-seam pockets at the side seams did me no favors and bulged open at the hips.  Instead, I took a patch pocket pattern from McCall’s 6172 (a blazer I still need to make!) and spent quite a bit of time with my dress form trying to figure out a good placement on the front and making both sides symmetrical.  It’s a great patch pocket size for a coat, I can fit my iPhone 6 in them comfortably.  The pockets are lined with flannel to keep my hands nice and toasty.

polka dot coat

I used hymo interfacing (aka horsehair canvas) for all of the interfacing in the coat, it’s really my favorite for coat making since it shapes so nicely with steam.  Per the recommendation of my beloved tailoring book, I opted to add top stitching along the collar and the front edges of the coat instead of top stitching down the center front of the coat like the directions called for.  I also opted to hand sew all of the hems on the sleeves and bottom of the coat, it looks much nicer that way than by machine.

polka dot coat

Sadly, when ripping out all of the stitching in the lining to let it out, I got all sorts of pulls along the old seam allowances.  At least it’s a fun purple color!  The pattern has a pleat drafted into the lining pattern piece, but in my opinion, it’s not generous enough of a pleat to allow for movement of the lining and wearing ease.  If I made this again, I’d go back and redraft the center back piece with a better ease pleat.


polka dot coat

How I love big buttons!  The pattern calls for 1″ buttons, but the ones I bought seemed kinda weeny down the front of the coat, especially since there’s only supposed to be four total.  I found these 1.5″ buttons at Pacific Trimming earlier in December that were exactly what I was looking for for this coat.  However, my automatic buttonhole feature on my machine only goes up to roughly 1.25″ buttonholes, and I wasn’t about to try and manually make the buttonholes (I’m truly terrible at doing that, and the automatic buttonhole feature on my Bernina was a big selling point).  Plus, after doing some reading on buttonholes, the bigger the buttonhole, the more prone they are to stretching out and looking wavy.  The only solution seemed to be sewing on giant coat snaps to close the coat and sewing the buttons to the outside of the coat.

I mentioned earlier that this coat is more of a “coat-igan” than a coat because since it’s so tight, the snaps at the bottom pop open when I sit down in the car or bend over to pick something up, rendering this more of a super-warm cardigan.  I think if I made buttonholes, there would have been a lot more strain on the coat closure and seat, so at least the snaps allow the coat some ease even though it means my coat popping open at the bottom.


polka dot coat

Here’s a view of the back – it’s a little roomy in the back waist, but if you look at the photos on the McCall’s website, it looks like there’s some ease with the way the belt cinches in at the waist (I opted to not make a belt, obvs).  I can move ok through the back and shoulders of this coat, but if I was to make this again, I’d cut a larger size in the back to allow for better range of movement.

Now I’m working on – surprise – another coat!  I’m about 50% of the way through making up a blue wool melton Cascade Duffle Coat and I’m thrilled with how it’s turning out (I’m obsessed with coats, if you haven’t guessed.  It’s the one good thing about New England winters).  I also have some videos I made for my coat course last year that I’m thinking of releasing in chunks throughout the month – I want to get back into making videos for Youtube like I did last year for my wedding dress, they were a lot of fun!  Maybe doing some pattern reviews and actually wearing the garment so you can see how it moves etc.  Depends on how crazy I am next semester with school, I guess!

Pattern: McCall’s 7058
Marc Jacobs double-face wool from Mood Fabrics
Poly lining from Mood Fabrics
Lambswool interlining from Steinlauf and Stoller
Buttons: Pacific Trimming
Coat Snaps: Dritz
Sweatshirt: Linden from Grainline Studio (not blogged)
Jeans: Paige Denim
Boots: Nine West


yona 1

Pattern: Yona Coat from Named Patterns, c/o Indiesew
Size: 6

All Materials For This Coat:

  • Outer fabric – cashmere wool from Metro Textiles
  • Lining – coat-weight lining from Fabric Place Basement
  • Diaper Flannel Interlining – Fabric.com
  • Interfacing (hair canvas, sew-in) – Steinlauf and Stoller
  • Fusible weft interfacing – Fabric Place Basement
  • 1″ Button – Fabric Place Basement

Sweatshirt: Linden (just made, unblogged)
Jeans: Gap
Boots: London Fog
Hat: Topshop

To quote Led Zeppelin, I come from the land of ice and snow…no really, we have seven feet of snow here in the Boston area after this weekend’s little Valentine’s Day storm (10″ more, woof) and there’s major icicles of doom hanging off of every single building.  I had a fear that once I finished this coat, which I’ve been chronicling since early January, the weather would turn and it would become too warm to get some wear out of it this year, kind of like what happened when I made my Anise wool jacket last spring.  Seeing that we’re going to have the coldest temperatures of the season this week (it was 16 degrees in these photos) and there’s, of course, more snow on the way, I don’t think it’s going to turn spring-time with daffodils blooming anytime soon.

yona 6

This is my “I’m tired of this winter shit” face…seriously.

Even though I went through the whole “how to tailor a wool jacket” thing last year with Anise, I still learned a ton more this year making this coat.  I pretty much threw away the instructions after I glanced through them to get a general idea of construction, and exclusively followed my tailoring book for every step of construction.  Sure, you can make the coat following the included instructions, but it may not drape how you want it to, the collar may not roll right, and the lapels could flop around instead of staying put.  There’s really a lot more to making a coat than just sewing the seams together – there’s a lot of secret engineering inside the coat that gives it shape and makes things lay just right.

yona 3

I am so damn happy with the lapels and collar, especially since this is the first time I used hair canvas and padstitching.  Taping the roll line made a world of difference with the lapels laying flat – it’s a little puckery underneath, so I may not have adjusted the ease as best as I could, but you can’t see it so it’s ok.  Adjusting for the turn of cloth of the collar ensured that the seam line doesn’t roll out in the back.

yona 2

With the drape factor of the cashmere, it was definitely a good move to add a back stay and shoulder stays for the raglan sleeves.  The sew-in interfacing didn’t make those parts of the coat too stiff, but there’s noticeable, light support through the back and no sag lines.

yona 5

I drafted welt pockets in place of the patch pockets, since welts are a lot easier to sink your hands into when it’s cold, or for stashing  your keys and phone.  Kinda wish I placed them a bit higher, since the pocket bags are about six inches and hang down very close to the hem.

Yes, let’s talk about the length…it’s three inches shorter than it should be.  This is due to the fact that I didn’t notice that the facing piece wasn’t drafted long enough for the front of the coat…grr.  Because I didn’t want any exposed raw edges inside the coat, and I didn’t want to bag the coat lining, I had to shorten the length of the coat by quite a bit to finish the lining correctly by hand.  It’s not ideal, but at least the coat still keeps my behind covered and warm.

Edit 2/20/15Allie from Indiesew contacted Named Patterns about my feedback – apparently, the coat has a wider turn-up at the hemline than what I used, and that the pattern drafting was intentional.  Good to know if you plan and finishing the hem by hand vs bagging the lining. 

yona 4

For the lining, I called B&J Fabrics in NYC to get some purple samples of their Sunback lining fabric (it’s a rayon lining backed with flannel), but when they arrived, the samples seemed so flimsy and I didn’t think I’d get the level of warmth/insulation I wanted.  Instead, Fabric Place Basement had coat linings that were a thick, heavy rayon fabric with a brushed back that seemed like a good option if I interlined it with diaper flannel.  Testing this coat out yesterday in 16 degree weather with a windchill of -1 confirmed that yes, this is indeed a warm coat!  However, it’s also a really heavy coat because of the weights of all of the coat layers combined.

Something I didn’t take into consideration was the design of the coat vs. the drape of my version of the coat.  Using all of these layers (diaper flannel, heavy coat lining, cashmere wool) made the coat a little thick and fairly structured.  The bulk of the coat didn’t lend itself well to wearing it closed with a belt, as it’s designed – it just looked really awkward and made my midsection look chunky.  Had I known this beforehand, I would have redrafted the front overlap to be wider than 1″ to better accommodate the button closure I had to end up using (I originally wanted to use coat snaps, but they were too big).

yona 7

This pattern has some definite flaws that weren’t apparent when I made my muslin, but if you like the shape of the coat and have a couple of blazers or button-down shirts under your belt, it’s do-able to work through some of the issues.  Morgan wrote a great post on all of the changes she made to the pattern, it’s a great reference that I wish I could have used when I made my coat.

So yeah, I made a winter coat!  Now I can look all cool and stylish like the street-style city girls on Pinterest in their oversized coats, skinny pants, and Stan Smith sneakers (I’ll sub in my Classic Leathers instead).  I also had plans to make the Grainline Cascade duffle coat this winter, but for my mental health, I think I need to start thinking warm thoughts and work, optimistically, on my spring wardrobe.  Thank goodness Chris and I have a trip to Florida coming up in two weeks, we gotta get out of here!

Be sure to check out my other posts for coat construction details and tips:

Disclaimer: I received this pattern from Indiesew as part of being an Indiesew Blogger Team member, but all views and opinions of this pattern are my own

yona wip1

You’ve been warned…there’s some serious geeking out about tailoring in this post!  I’ve been using Evernote on my iPad as a brain-dump to keep track of all of my thoughts and the different methods used in this tailoring process, and I’d like to share them with you, dear readers, in case you’d like to make a tailored Yona Coat of your own.

I alluded to this in one of my earlier coat posts, but there’s a lot to consider when you’re working on a tailoring project on this scale – do you custom, machine, or fuse tailor, or a combination of the methods to achieve the desired result?  What types/weights of interfacing are best for the fabric you’re using?  Do you interline or underline, since you can’t do both?  And if you’re interlining, will you have enough wearing ease after the fact?  These questions just skim the surface of the types of things to think through before cutting out a coat, it all starts with having a clear plan in mind of the processes you’ll use before you begin.

If you’ve ever sewn a blazer or a jacket, the basic construction of the Yona Coat is pretty straight-forward.  I quickly skimmed over the instructions to get the general gist of construction, but heavily relied on the book Tailoring: The Classic Guide to Sewing the Perfect Jacket for all methods of tailoring and construction outlined in this post.

yona wip3

The Coat Front

Pockets – those patch pockets had to go, I want to sink my hands into some nice welt pockets when I wear this coat.  I drafted a pattern for an angled welt and pocket bag (7″ deep) and inserted it before sewing any seams.  I also interfaced the welt pocket opening with fusible tricot interfacing for stabilization (this was before sewing any of the welt and cutting open the pocket).

Interfacing – I opted for a partial front interfacing with lightweight hair canvas.  The reason for not interfacing the entire coat front is because I was afraid that the hair canvas would make the coat too stiff and bunchy when closed with the belt, and it’s also what the tailoring book recommended for coats, lol.  To attach the interfacing to the coat front, I basted it by machine in the seam allowances.

Lapels – As much as I liked the idea of custom tailoring the front and lapels all by hand, I just couldn’t bring myself to spend that much time hand-sewing all of the hair canvas in place (I don’t enjoy hand-sewing very much, to be honest).  Using the machine tailoring method, I applied the twill tape on the roll line by machine, and then marked my pad-stitching lines with pencil and pad-stitched the lapels.  I believe it took me about two nights total to finish all of my pad-stitching, and then I steamed the heck out of the lapels and let them dry overnight.  I’m glad I didn’t skimp on the hand sewing on this part, the pad-stitching makes such a big difference in the lapels rolling out and staying in perfect place.  It was so cool to see this process happen as I stitched!

yona wip2

The Sleeves and Coat Back

Sleeves – raglan sleeves require neck and shoulder stays to keep the shape and drape of the coat uniform and prevent the coat from looking droopy in these areas.  Plus, if you’re using shoulder pads (not sure if I will or not yet…), the stay disguises them from showing through to the front.  I used a lightweight sew-in interfacing from Steinlauf and Stoller – the stays were drafted off of my sleeve pattern and extended down 8″ from the top of the sleeve cap, cut on the bias.

Back – a back stay is also important to prevent the upper back from collapsing.  The drafting process was the same as the sleeves, I used the back pattern piece as my guide and drew a curve about 3″ below the armhole for the bottom of the stay pattern piece.  This piece was also cut on the bias out of the sew-in interfacing.

yona wip5

The Collar

This was a little tricky to figure out how to execute.  The traditional tailored collar consists of an undercollar and top collar, with the undercollar including the collar stand in the pattern piece.  Then, the undercollar is padstitched to create and shape the roll line of the collar stand.  However, for the Yona Coat, there are separate pieces for the undercollar and the collar stand.  I was torn with how to proceed: do I try to redraft the undercollar with the collar stand attached?  Do I just throw caution to the wind and cross my fingers it will work, drafted as is?

The Threads article about Armani jacket interfacings mentioned how to handle this type of collar construction and interfacing weights to use, so I cut the undercollar on the bias, hair interfacing for the undercollar on the bias, the collar stand on the straight grain, and lightweight sew-in interfacing on the straight grain.  Cutting the undercollar and interfacing on the bias helps the undercollar roll under when it’s attached to the top collar.

yona wip4

Now you can see what the collar looks like with the top and undercollar joined together at the neck.  There was some significant turn of cloth that I needed to adjust before sewing the two units together along the collar seam.

yona wip6

And here’s what the front of the coat looks like before sewing the side seams!  I waited to sew them up until I applied interfacing to the hems, which I did the other night.  Again, not wanting to do more hand-sewing than necessary, I thought it would ok to use fusible weft interfacing cut on the bias for the hems.  It’s not such a critical area that it would be detrimental if the fuse application didn’t hold well, like in the lapels, but it seemed to fuse nicely with no problems.

As a side note – yes, this is a notched collar, and it’s not sewn correctly in these photos.  This was before I realized that, d’oh!  The collar and lapel weren’t connected at that critical seam at this point.  I went ahead and sewed the collar and lapel facings and graded the seam allowances before realizing this, and I got a really funny looking coat afterwards!  It wasn’t anything a little seam ripping and hand-basting couldn’t fix, and now my coat collar is correct, whew.

All that’s left is the lining, and if Mother Nature decides to not dump more snow and let UPS deliver my flannel interlining, I’m hoping to complete the coat by the end of the week.  My ultimate goal is to have a new coat to wear by Valentine’s Day (no particular reason, it was a month out from when I started planning all of this in January) and I think that may be a reality!


Yona coat supplies

There’s a snow storm heading up the east coast this weekend, and staying inside to sew a coat while it snows sounds like the perfect way to spend my day tomorrow!  I think I’ve finally gathered all of the supplies I need for my Yona coat:


Wool cashmere – obviously what the coat is going to be made out of!  I think this will be warm enough, it’s a little lighter weight than a regular wool fabric, but after doing some research, I learned that cashmere is one of the warmest animal fibers.  Plus, I did the “wind” test: I held up the fabric near my face, blew on it, and couldn’t feel any air pass through the fibers.

Rayon coat lining – originally I bought a coordinating rayon lining for the coat, but since it’s pretty lightweight and I want to be able to wear this during the winter, I thought it would be prudent to upgrade to this hefty lining fabric.

Diaper flannel – yes, this is what people use to make cloth diapers!  But seriously, this stuff is nicer than regular ol’ cotton flannel – it’s a little thicker and much more plush.  I’m using this to interline the coat for extra warmth.


Hair canvas – I bought lightweight and heavyweight hair canvas for this project, since I wasn’t sure what I’ll need, but I think I’m going to go with the lightweight hair canvas for tailoring the coat front, lapels, collar, and interfacing for the sleeve and body hems.  Part of me wants to padstitch/custom tailor the coat front, the other part of me wants to machine tailor…

Sew-in interfacing – the cashmere fabric is sooooo nice, and I’d hate to ruin it with a fusible interfacing that doesn’t really stick.  So, I’m going to safe route and using sew-in interfacing for shoulder stays, back stay, facings, and maybe interfacing the front of the coat instead of the hair canvas.


Coat snaps – for keeping the front of the coat closed and the cold air out!

Buckle kit – I thought it might be cute to make a belt with a buckle to tie around my waist instead of just a sash of fabric.

Poly and silk thread – the poly thread is for sewing the whole coat, the silk thread is for any hand-basting I need to do.  Nothing like silk thread for hand-basting, it glides through fabric like buttah.

Thread conditioner – I’ve had this stuff kicking around since my jewelry-making days.  It’s great for strengthening your thread and keep it from getting tangled, and necessary for hand tailoring.

I think that’s everything!  My Friday night now looks like I’ll be watching some episodes of Breaking Bad on Netflix while I slowly cut out all of my coat layers…


yona muslin 2

Hey hey, I had success with my Yona “muslin!”  On the day after my failed attempt at fitting Vogue 1365, I went out to pick up some more muslin fabric so I could try out the Yona pattern, but the idea hit me to try to make it out of some legit Malden Mills Polartec fleece I spotted at Fabric Place Basement.  It was so nice and soft, came in a heavier weight suitable for outwear (300 weight), and I thought it would closely emulate how the layers of my wool, interfacing, interlining, and lining would behave.  Plus, it would end up being a “wearable” muslin – what a nicer alternative to wearing my big red bathrobe to stay warm in my apartment!  A stylish house coat that I wouldn’t be embarrassed to be seen in when the FedEx guy drops off my boxes…whoops!

yona muslin 1

So yes, I’m very happy with how the fit turned out – it has the perfect amount of ease for a slouchy coat, and the subtle cocoon shape is perfect.  I cut out a size six, which was almost spot on with my measurements, and I really don’t need to adjust a thing – that’s the perks of making an oversized coat with an adjustable closure.

yona muslin 3

I was a little concerned with how the back would fit since this coat is roomy, but the belt cinches everything in nicely and I don’t have “bubble butt” with pooling, excess fabric; it’s actually quite fitted in the rear.

 Have you ever sewn with Polartec?  It’s really easy – you get a warm, lightweight garment and you don’t have to finish any edges or seams.  For this muslin, I cut out the body and sleeve pieces, the undercollar, and the belt using my rotary cutter to give everything a nice, clean edge.  Heck, in warmer weather, I may even wear this out of the house to run errands, it’s that nice!

I’m getting close to starting the real coat – tonight I’m testing out some options for interlining with my cashmere wool, interfacing, and heavy rayon lining fabric.  Once that’s final, I’ll gear up to cut out alllllll the layers and pieces – it’ll be like cutting out four coats when everything is said and done.  I’m a little bummed that I’m not going to be making a super-tailored coat like I was originally planning this year, but I’m pretty stoked about making Yona and I’m going to use quite a few tailoring techniques anyway.

Well, I better get a move on this – Jen just released her Cascade Duffle Coat pattern today and I’d love to make that as well this winter!  Having a wardrobe of coats is what makes winter in New England a little bit more bearable.