Tips for making winter coats.

I was recently asked this question, so I thought I’d share my answers with you all.

“I’d like to make my first winter coat. Do you have any tips for sewing with bulky wool and how to insulate/line/underline the garment?”

Making coats for yourself is a fantastic sewing project for more advanced stitchers.

  • A great way to approach the sewing of bulky fabrics, is to use a walking foot. As a walking foot doesn’t slide along the feed-dogs in the same way as a regular foot, it makes sewing bulky layers a doddle, and the top layer won’t slide or stretch as you sew.

walking foot

You may also want to lower the pressure on your foot too, if your machine has that option.

 

  • If you’re new to coat sewing, make sure you press well, as wool can create lumpy seams. You’ll probably need to take more care to grade all the seam allowances as you go along too, reducing the bulk in the seam allowances. I use a wooden iron “clapper” to smooth out all the areas I press- it helps the steam escape from the fabric. Wool is a little like hair, and it’s extremely malleable when warm, take time to let all seams cool after pressing to “set” the fabric.

Tailor's clapper/pressing tool

Depending on what type of coat you’re making will depend on the insulation you use.

  • Traditional tailored coats often have a layer of padding attached around the chest area, to ensure the front of the coat retains it’s shape. This can be a layer of felt, dommette, ice wool or even a thermal layer, and it’s sewn to the interfacing or inter-lining rather than the outside of the jacket.
  • A classic way of adding warmth to a coat, is to quilt the lining itself, a technique Coco Channel was extremely fond of!

quilted channel linings

If it’s your first attempt at sewing a coat, see if there are any online sew-alongs you can follow to learn new techniques, or grab my favourite book on tailoring which has lots of techniques for coat making- Tailoring: A Step-by-Step Guide to Creating Beautiful Customised Garments

Need some inspiration for coat patterns? Here’s my 3 favourites

Silvia Coatigan
bamboo coat
Shawl collar coat

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