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Timeless & Chic Outwear for All Occassions

Updated: May 18, 2023

Some sewing projects take time, they can't be rushed. It is definitely a slow journey to wonderful destination.

This project was just that. It started with this luxurious camel boiled wool coating from Minerva Fabrics. I chose the fabric with a full length coat in mind; something classic and timeless. I wanted to make something special that would last me for years so the pattern choice needed to be carefully made. I wanted a modern cut but not too trendy; something chic. When Seamwork released the new Denise coat pattern, I knew it would be perfect. I was particularly drawn to the simple lines and scoop neckline, a great choice for a thick boiled wool as there is no heavily layered collar to construct.

Boiled wool has a wonderful texture to it. It looks and feels a bit more casual than a finer wool. It is very warm and durable; resistant to water and wind. It is primarly used to create coats, jackets, vests, and berets. The yarns can either be dyed or left their natural colour and some boiled wool is embroidered or embellished.

Boiled wool coating is a fantastic choice for a winter coat because the wool yarns are knit together creating a thick wool fabric. After "knitting" or felting the fabric together it is boiled in hot water and an alkaline solution. This agitation creates a scaly surface so the wool fibres stick together, producing the felted fabric. The result is a much tighter, denser material that actually shrinks up to 50% from its original state. It resists fraying and further shrinkage and holds it shape well. For this reason it has been used for 1000's of years to create a wide variety of outwear. It has an element of tradition and heritage dating back as far as the Middle Ages. It is now produced industrially and used around the world.

The Denise coat is a lined coat with curved princess seams that intersect at the neckline. It is a knee length coat so it can be paired with many different outfits. It can be worn layered over a jeans, skirts and dresses and accessorized with a variety of scarfs, bags and shoes. The outfit options are endless and the styling is definitely chic and classic.

The bodice construction for both the coat and lining is created with narrow, curved side pieces attached to the center back and front sections. They sew together quickly after attaching an inseam pocket constructed from the lining. The pocket lies flat and is hidden within the center front seam in keeping with the simple lines of the coat.

I have never sewn a pattern with a bagged lining before so this pattern was an ideal choice. The coat and lining construction are not complicated. The instructions, accompanied with fantastic illustrations, guide you seamlessly through the construction of both. Attaching the lining to the bodice is straight forward and intuitive. Attaching the sleeves to the lining is more complicated because of having to match the sleeve ends when the coat is inside out to avoid twisting the lining inside the arm, then turning the coat right side out to pin the lining to the sleeve. I had to read the instructions carefully and definitely follow them step by step relying on the illustrations to help me to visualize what I needed to do. The construction went well and the lining joined up perfectly with the sleeves. I have to admit I cheered when the first sleeve was done, I was pretty proud of my efforts.

The coat itself is sewn in two main stages. First you construct the outer shell sewing all curved bodice sections together, then attaching the shoulders, side seams and sleeves. I was a bit concerned about the thickness of the boiled wool but it sewed together relatively easily. I used a more substantial size 14 needle for most of the bodice, changing it to a heavier guage denim needle to understitch the facing seams. I did break a few needles, which is unusal for me, but the texture of the boiled wool can sometimes send the needle through the fabric at an akward angle. This is definitely a slow sewing project, take your time as you sew and you will have success!

For the lining I wanted to add some hidden drama so I chose a contemporary leopard print rayon. The colour of the wool is echoed in the colours of the print and all of the other colours are within the same colour family and hues. I bought extra fabric so that I can create a fun blouse to wear with the jacket as well as scarf. I made a tie scarf that matches warmer days to keep the chill out. On cold days it can be worn with a turtleneck and a wooly scarf to ensure that you stay toasty warm, enveloped in soft boiled wool and a scrumptious lining.

To hem the coat, it is turned inside out, sewing right sides of the lining and the coat together along the hemline leaving a good size opening at the center back. You use this opening to turn the coat right side out then slip stitch the lining closed. The front facing is tucke under, pressed and also slip stitched closed. Before adding the button holes I practised on several two layered scraps of the boiled wool to ensure I was using the right guage needle and that the thread tension would remain conisistent. Two layers of boiled wool creates a thickness I was not used to, so practising was important. In the end I used a denim needle and slowly sewed my way through all 5 button holes successfully. To add to the timeless feel of this coat I chose to use vintage abalone buttons gifted to me by a friend. They are from her grandmothers garment shop based out of Montreal in the 60-70's. Proof again that classic and chic are indeed timeless.

I made a size 14 across the chest to allow for mulitple layers in cold weather then graded down to a size 10 through the hips and across the top of the arm syce. I added 3" to the length of the coat and 2" to the sleeve, subsequently adding the same length to the lining to keep the proprotions of the jacket exact so that the bagged lining would sew together perfectly.

I highly recommend trying this wonderful Seamwork pattern. The Denise coat is fun, creative make and you will feel incredilby proud wearing a fully lined coat that you have made yourself! I am already thinking about a making a dark denim version for the spring lined with something fun.

After all... there is Sew Much To Design!

Happy Coat Sewing,

Lou Sheffer

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