This winter Clare coat — my first winter coat! — was my chance to go hard into luxury fabrics and notions and to try a new type of sewing — coat making. Sewing a coat is a big investment in time and materials. Keep reading if you’re thinking about making YOUR first winter coat and want some tips for smoother stitching.
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The Facts: Pattern Description
The Clare coat from Closet Core Patterns is a mid-length, fully lined cold-weather coat with raglan sleeves. It has two views; I sewed View B. View B features a dramatic funnel neck and in-seam pockets. View A features a shorter collar and welt pockets. This coat is designed for heavyweight coating fabrics. The lining is bagged, and there’s minimal hand stitching.
The coat comes in sizes 0-20. I sewed a size 10 after testing two other sizes. I wanted a coat I could wear with a thick sweater.
Fast Takes on the Clare Coat
What I Liked
I love the drama of this coat. I’ve had my eye on it since it came out in 2015. Once I saw the funnel collar, it was all over for me.
I also liked the instructions; they were thorough and easy to understand. CCP also has a photographed sewalong for this pattern that covers both views. I felt well supported sewing this outwear project.
What Could Be Better
I think this pattern runs small. My measurements were most in line with a size 6, and when I made the 6 out of cotton muslin, it was clear that a coat in that size would be much too small. If you’d like to make a Clare coat, I suggest sizing up one or two sizes, especially if you want to layer with it. Muslin first!
What Fabrics Did I Use?
The fabric for this coat is luxe. I spared no expense, because I wanted to make a coat that will last for years.
The body is made from navy Melton wool from Pendleton — yes, the legendary wool blanket people. You can buy fabric (mostly wool and wool blends) from the Pendleton mill (online and in person), and Pendleton runs a generous sale in the fall. (I saw an ad for it in Threads magazine). I’d been itching to make a woolen Clare for years, and I took this sale as a sign.
The burgundy lining is flannel-backed satin (aka, kasha) from Vogue Fabrics. (I failed to photograph the lining in my coat — oops!) It was lovely to work with, and it’s super warm and slippery. An Instagram sewist I follow (can’t recall who — sorry!) made pajamas out of kasha. THAT is a baller move. I never worked with this fabric before, and now I’m a super fan.
Because Wisconsin winters are cold (and long — sigh; these pics were taken on a March day that saw snow) I interlined the coat with Thinsulate (also from Vogue Fabrics). I followed this post from Closet Core Patterns. I interlined the front and back lining pieces only and not the sleeves. I didn’t want extra bulk in the sleeves.
EXPLORE COATING FABRICS
Etsy – Melton Wool in Navy Heather
Etsy – Wool in Camel and Brown Windowpane
Fabric.com – Wool Blend in Royal Blue and Navy Buffalo Check
Fabric.com – Wool Blend in Pink, Blue, Gold, and Red Plaid
Minerva Crafts – Boiled Wool in Variety of Solid Colors
Pattern Alterations to My Clare
I lengthened the sleeves by 1 inch, because I have long arms and prefer my sleeves (especially coat sleeves) to be too long vs. too short. I lengthened the body of the coat 2 inches, because I wanted it to cover my bum.
The pattern calls for using snaps (invisible) or buttons as closures. I fell in love with this version of the Clare coat and knew I had to have an exposed zipper. I would rather have a zipper on a winter coat anyway; I think it does a better job of keeping out the chill.
The two-way zipper was another splurge related to this sewing project. It’s a chi-chi Riri zipper from Pacific Trimming, and I ordered it to length. It’s a $34 zipper, it’s heavy and shiny, and I have zero regrets about it. A two-way zipper makes sitting in a car significantly more comfortable.
Tips for Sewing a Coat
Here’s what I learned about sewing coats during my Clare journey.
1.) Use Wonder Clips instead of pins.
Using pins to hold together pieces of thick fabric is downright dangerous. You have to use a lot of force to get the pin to come back up after it’s punctured the fabric, and it’s extremely easy to severely jab yourself as you blindly work the pin to the top layer. And on top of it, your pin gets bent out of shape and you have to throw it away.
Wonder Clips are the only way to sew thick fabric, sewing friends. You can’t stab yourself with a clip, and you can’t misshape them, either. Plus, they’re kinda fun to pry open and bite fabric with.
2.) Use a hump jumper.
When you sew together thick fabrics, you get thick seams. And sometimes you have to sew over thick seams, and it’s awkward and your presser foot goes all weird and your stitches get ugly.
A hump jumper will solve these problems. Sewing this coat I used my hump jumper all the time. I tucked it under my presser foot on its backside and away I sewed. Definitely one of my favorite sewing supplies.
3.) Take your time fusing interfacing.
The instructions make a big deal out of thoroughly fusing the interfacing. If your interfacing isn’t properly fused, your main fabric can get bubbles (ew!). So, the correct fusing technique is to press, hold, lift, and let cool. DO NOT move the fabric while it’s cooling. Cooling down is the secret sauce to proper fusing and zero bubbles!
No lie, you interface pretty much all the main fabric pieces, and there are lots of them. Hence, interfacing took a long time. I used a press cloth to protect my wool and my iron’s soleplate from interfacing adhesive. I also used a wooden clapper as the interfacing was cooling JUST TO BE SURE the interfacing was flat and adhered.
And I still got bubbles! I was so careful. Luckily I inspected my wool pattern pieces before I started sewing them so I was able to re-fuse the interfacing that didn’t stick. Guys, I did everything right and didn’t use crap interfacing, and I still had problems. Take your time and check your interfacing work before moving on.
ALL ABOUT IRONS
Buying an iron for sewing: 5 irons less than $100 from Amazon
4.) Clean your sewing machine when you’re done.
Please, please, please remove the lint in your sewing machine after you’ve sewn a coat, and especially if you’ve sewn it in wool. As I sewed my coat, my fingernails turned blue from the navy dust; that’s when I realized that my sewing machine was a giant lint ball on the inside.
A little TLC with a lint brush and vacuum brought my machine back to fighting form. (P.S. Here’s an article about sewing machine cleaning and what can happen if you let lint build up.)
Would I Sew Another Clare Coat?
I don’t know if I’ll be sewing another Clare, and it’s not because I didn’t enjoy the process. It’s because I don’t need another winter coat! Although maybe I’d give view A a shot to make a midweight coat? It’s coat weather in Wisconsin a lot of the year… Never say never. (I’ve always wanted a plaid coat.)
Sewing this coat was a journey, and from where I’m standing, I’m OK with not taking that journey again (anytime soon). It was all the prep work that took so long — making multiple muslins; cutting the lining, Thinsulate, and wool; adhering the interfacing to pretty much every wool pattern piece… Once I got to the sewing parts, I was practically finished!
This is the most involved and expensive project I’ve made, and I’m extremely proud of it. I recommend this pattern to other sewists who are looking for the thrill that comes with crushing a super-involved project.
Over to you: Have you sewed a fully lined coat before or any outerwear? If yes, how did it go, and what’s your best coat-sewing tip? If no, why haven’t you taken the plunge? Thanks for reading!