Hello, I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas. I’m easing my way into the New Year gradually, January is by far the most miserable month of the year. Over the years I’ve found a good way to get through it; basically I pretend it’s still Christmas! I don’t deprive myself of anything, I don’t force myself to go running in the freezing cold. Instead I go into hibernation with a couple of good books, some sewing, a bit of knitting and Netflix. It’s going great so far!
I haven’t blogged since November so I’ve got a fair bit of catching up to do. The whole of December went by under permanent cloud making the prospect of half decent blog photos remote. When the Sun did peek through I decided to be adventurous and go to the park for a photo shoot. I felt ridiculous amongst the dog walkers and the photos were terrible. I think I’ve scared myself off of location shots for life so it was back to the safety our North facing garden.
I started working on the Cascade Duffle at the beginning of November. I’ve never made a coat before so I wanted to take my time. In the end it took just over three weeks of steady stage by stage sewing. This is likely to be a lengthy post so I’ve tried to break it down a bit.
Fabric and Notions
I was torn with the main fabric, apprehensive to spend too much in case I messed it up. With no local sources I had to buy online. I turned to eBay, searching for ‘heavy wool coating fabric’ I found a listing for 3 metres of a heavy navy wool cashmere blend for only £30. I was a little sceptical about the fibre content but figured I could always use it as a wearable muslin. I was pleasantly surprised when it arrived, it was very soft to the touch with a lovely hand. I folded it back up and left it in the bottom of my wardrobe until needed. When I got it out a month later I’d been wondering what the best way would be to get rid of the inevitable creases it must have. I was amazed when I unfolded it that there wasn’t a single crease, having a chance to look more closely the quality was impeccable. I found two stickers pointing to barely noticeable faults but the rest was perfect.
For the lining I scored some heavy satin from eBay for £7. I expected it to be a very dark bottle green as the picture suggested but when it arrived it was much brighter. I went for the heavier lining fabric for a bit of added warmth. As a contrast and to tie the two colours together I used some leftover blackwatch tartan for the hood lining and zipper band.
I’d been worried about how to make the toggles when an instagrammer gave me the heads up about some she’d bought on eBay. The seller makes them himself and to be honest was my knight in shining armour as I wasn’t looking forward to making my own, I think they were around £10 for a set of four.
I bought a paper copy of the pattern from Guthrie and Ghani during SewBrum which was £14.50. With the cost of fabric at £37 and toggles the whole coat cost £61.50 ($88.64)
I opted to go up from my usual Grainline size 14 and went for the 16. I shortened the sleeves by three inches (I have never owned a coat with the right length sleeves!) I was in a quandary about which view to make. The full length would be too long on me, drowning me like most ready to wear coats. The shorter option seemed too short. I wanted a coat that would just cover my bum so after lots of measuring shoulder to bum ratios I lengthened the shorter version by four inches.
Oh my, the cutting out! There was no way I was going to try printing the PDF. I didn’t trace it either, there are so many pattern pieces, at least 30 , so I just cut straight into the tissue. The cutting out was by far the worst and most time consuming part of the project, taking a whole day. I can’t emphasise how important it is to label every piece. I left everything pinned to their corresponding pattern piece and also pinned another label on each just to be safe.
The construction process launches you straight in at the deep end by completing the whole front of the coat first: pockets, zipper and toggles. Sewing the toggles on was the scariest bit, I really didn’t want to bugger it up as a mistake would be really noticeable. I stuck them in place first with fabric glue and used a leather needle which cut’s through the leather rather than piercing it, making a channel for the thread to pass through. The stitching isn’t perfect but thankfully they all went on first go. Once you get past this part it’s plain sailing!
I used a 110/18 needle to sew the rest of the coat. I manged to get through 5 as there was a lot of bulk in places which resulted in bent needles. Using my walking foot definitely made things easier, I also put the extension table on my machine which helped to support the weight of the coat. The fabric was reluctant to hold a crease with just the iron so I used a block of wood as a makeshift clapper. Using a pressing cloth I pumped as much steam as possible into the crease and pressed down with the clapper until the fabric cooled which worked perfectly. The rest of the coat came together easily, there are lots of little steps which makes it an ideal project to potter away at. I was sceptical about the final part of bagging the lining. The whole coat needs to be turned out through a six inch gap in the sleeve lining, there was a lot of coat but miraculously it worked its way through to the right side. The final touch was adding a leather coat hook (by Hemline) and the Sew Brum meet up make label that was part of our goodie bags.
These photos have been taken after six weeks of regular wearing so you can see it’s holding up well. The most amazing part is that it fits, it’s the perfect length and the sleeves don’t need turning under! It’s also very warm, it’s been tested in wind, rain and freezing temperatures and nothing has manged to get through it so far.
I’d highly recommend making a Cascade if you’ve never made a coat before. There’s a full sewalong which was useful when I was a little unsure about the written instructions. It’s a step by step process, none of which are difficult.
I’d definitely make another, most likely a collared version. I’ll be keeping my eye out for some fabric over the summer, I’m thinking red would be nice.
I had a bit of a quick sew splurge after finishing my coat, with two more Moneta’s and three Linden sweatshirts. I’ve also made a couple more dresses, hopefully I’ll have chance to get some of them blogged in the next few weeks. I’m really enjoying my spontaneous short term sewing too, it’s lovely to ponder all the possibilities, waiting for inspiration to strike and really getting excited about a project. Maybe I should adopt this philosophy in other areas!