Good morning & happy Monday, sewalongers! Today, we are going to talk about my favorite part of coat-making (or, really – any sewing project :) ) – fabric selection! Forreal, I could spend all day perusing fabrics and never feel like I’ve seen enough!
(psst – if you’re just here for the discount code, it’s at the bottom of this post :) FYI)
Before we get too ahead of ourselves, though, let’s take a minute and look at the original garment:
A couple things that immediately come to mind when I see this picture-
1. As far as coats go, there is not a lot of ease in this guy. This is not your wear-everywhere-and-pile-the-thick-sweaters-underneath sort of coat – it’s very fitted and the shape is quite dramatic. Something to keep in mind while choosing your fabric!
2. To get that dramatic shape, we need a choose a fabric with quite a stiff drape and a very firm hand. The original coat is made of a sort of heavy wool garbadine backed with a stiff wool flannel. The resulting fabric is very substantial – stiff and sturdy enough to hold it’s shape. If you make this coat in a fabric with a softer drape, you will not get the same end result. This could be good or bad, depending on how you want the finished coat to look!
Still having problems wrapping your head around the whole drape factor? Don’t know if you even want a coat that’s this dramatic and structured? Go ahead and start your muslin, using a fabric that is a similar weight to what you have in mind (if you can’t find muslin fabric with a stiff enough drape, try inexpensive cotton twill or even home decor fabric). That will give you a good idea of the drape you need to get the coat you want. For more information on fabric drape, check out this post I wrote a couple months ago!
Now let’s talk about possible fabric choices! With all big projects like this, I URGE you to swatch before you commit to anything! You don’t want to spend a lot of money on coating fabric, only to find out that the drape wasn’t as stiff as you were anticipating (been there, done that! And you can’t return fabric most of the time, argh!). Especially when it comes to the contrast for this coat – you want to make sure the colors work together, that the coating is the right weight/drape/hand, and that you actually *like* the way it looks in real life. I’m recommending these fabrics based on the website descriptions, but please don’t take my word for the gospel until you’ve actually touched it in real life.
Also, please keep in mind that this coat is UNLINED. You will want to choose a fabric that can easily slide over your arms – or you will need to underline the coat with something that serves that purpose. As far as I know, there’s not a way to completely line this particular coat (with all the insides hidden and all that). We will be covering underlining in this sewalong, we will NOT be covering lining. Consider yourself warned!
FOR WINTER-WEIGHT COATS WITH A STIFF DRAPE:
For a dense and warm coat with a nice stiff hand, you can’t go wrong with virgin wool. This fabric is not quite as stiff as the original – it will still hold that nice bell shape at the sleeves and skirt, but with softer folds. Virgin wool is actually what I bought for my coat – in a beautiful lipstick red :)
Another great option that will provide lots of warmth and structure is wool felt. Definitely swatch this – you don’t want it to be too thick for all those seams!
Similar to wool felt but not as dense is heavy flannel coating. Check out that purple!
I really love wool twill for a nice dense coating. Wool twill comes in many weights, so make sure it’s heavy enough to give the structure this coat needs.
Here’s another nice, heavy wool twill – this one is from Marc Jacobs!
Classic wool coatings, such as this dark turquoise solid coating will also work, as long as they are stiff enough to give the effect you want.
This plum coating is pre interfaced!
Looking forsomething a little more fancy? Up the luxe factor with this italian velvet.
Another great fabric option for this pattern (one that I believe Meg is using for her coat – although hers is this beautiful double-sided brocade!) is brocade. I love this metallic brocade!
Also, this floral brocade if you’re dying to stand out a little more.
Or you could go all out with this bright pink ribbed silk brocade, because YES.
FOR WINTER-WEIGHT COATS WITH A SOFTER DRAPE:
How gorgeous is this silk wool? This fabric would give you a much softer drape than the ones above – think less of an exaggerated bell shape for the skirt and sleeves, and softer folds at the arms.
Of course, you can’t go wrong with black cashmere coating – a true classic!
Doesn’t this wool cashmere coating just look SO snuggly? It’d be like wearing a blanket 24/7.
For a lighter wool weight with a very soft drape, consider boiled wool. I just love this bright purple color!
FOR A LIGHTER-WEIGHT COAT:
Those of y’all with milder winters – no worries, I’ve got ya covered! You have a few options for making this coat in a lighter weight, while still retaining the dramatic shape. First up – consider cotton twill! I love this organic cotton twill – especially that hot pink color, yes! – but any cotton twill will work as long as it’s heavy enough to hold it’s shape. Try to avoid anything with lycra (or any stretch), as it will make sewing this coat more difficult.
You could also make a very beautiful, very dressy lightweight coat out of silk faille.
Want the shine of the silk without the price tag? Try cotton sateen – again, be sure you are getting one with no stretch and a heavier weight.
I’m thinking this coat would also look really cool (in a super casual way) if it was made up in denim! Am I crazy? Give it some gold topstitching and brass buttons and it’s like the fanciest denim jacket in the world. This heavyweight Theory denim even comes pre-interfaced!
Obviously there are many, many more options for coating – including non-natural fibers (I’m not linking these because I personally don’t like to wear or sew with polyester anything! Sorry!) – but this should be enough to get the ideas flowing. In the meantime, let’s talk about underlining and contrast fabrics.
FOR UNDERLINING AND/OR CONTRAST:
For my coat, I knew I needed to underline with something because I’d otherwise have a difficult time pulling the coat on. I initially thought about using silk chaurmeuse, because I just love it, but ultimately decided to stick with the stiff drape theme and use silk taffeta. Silk taffeta is also recommended for all the contrast (as is chaurmeuse, but just between you and me – I don’t recommend the latter. Unless you just looove sewing bias chaurmeuse binding; in that case, don’t let me stop you!), so I actually bought two colors. I love silk taffeta! Obviously, you can use poly taffeta if that’s all your budget allows – but I like the added warmth that silk provides, so that’s why I went with that. Anyway, if you are underlining – you will want to buy the same amount of underlining as you are coating fabric. For contrast, buy whatever the pattern instructs you to buy.
Check out this kelly green silk taffeta from Oscar de la Renta! Swanky! For something a little more understated, there is also this caviar black silk taffeta from Ralph Lauren.
Love the look of silk taffeta but hate the price? There are also some beautiful polyester taffetas available, including this cool checked taffeta. This coat really isn’t suitable for plaids as the outside fabric – but as far as the contrast is concerned? Go for it!
For those of y’all who are not underlining and only need contrast for the binding, you might also consider shantung or dupioni. On a super budget? Check out cotton sateen.
Another thing to consider with the contrast fabric – there is contrast on both the outside of the coat (for the bound button holes, belt, and pocket), as well as the inside (bound seams). Keep in mind that, while the pattern is written for all contrast to be the same fabric – you don’t have to sew your coat that way. Use the fancy stuff for the outside, and bind the inside with something fun (even a woven cotton, if that’s your thing.). You’re the designer here! Just make sure to swatch so you know that you like the way your contrast looks next to your main fabric.
Couple more things, while on the fabric subject!
– Concerned about warmth, but don’t want to make the coat too bulky? Stick with natural fibers (wool coating, silk underlining) and consider interlining your coat with silk organza for an additional layer of warmth.
– Found your dream fabric but it’s just a *smidge* too drapey? Get some good interfacing and block-fuse that baby! Fashion Sewing Supply has a great super crisp interfacing, or even fusible hair canvas. FYI, this coat does not call for interfacing at all – so you only need to buy it if your fabric requires some extra heft.
Whew! I think that’s enough fabric talk for today. For sticking through it this far, I’ve got a discount for ya! Use the code “lladybird1013” to get 10% off your entire order at Mood Fabrics (not including PV codes or dress forms). This code is good through 10/13/14, so you’ve got time to swatch :)
I promise I will share photos of my fabric as soon as I receive it (still stalking the mailbox, daily. Ha!). In the meantime – what about you? What fabrics are you eyeballing? Do you have any fun ideas for the contrast? Is your coat a lighter weight? Let’s talk!
One last thing – time to announce the Sewtionary Giveaway winner! Lucky number generator says:
Congratulations, Jin! Crossing your scissors apparently worked :) I’ll be in touch to get that book out to ya asap :) Everyone else – if you’d like to pick up your own copy of the Sewtionary, you can order a signed copy at the Sewaholic website. The Sewtionary is also available on Amazon!