Three weeks or so before me and Phil left for a holiday in Reykjavik, New York and Boston, I decided to make myself a warm coat to wear.
I loved the Closet Case Files Clare Coat when it was released and had already bought the pattern, so this was the perfect chance to make it. By the time my fabrics arrived, I was actually down to two weeks before our holiday – with plans to be out of the house for both weekends – so made the coat in short evening sessions over those two weeks. Luckily, the Clare Coat comes together really quickly, but I was still finishing the edge stitching the night before we left. I also attached the press-studs that same night, but obviously wasn’t operating at full capacity since I sewed them all on the wrong way around (meaning they wouldn’t close…) and had to remove and reattach them once in Reykjavik!
My outer and lining fabrics were both purchased from Herts Specialist Fabrics, who specialise in reproduction fabrics for historical re-enactors. Both fabrics are described as being made in the UK, although I wasn’t able to obtain specifics.
Herts fabrics are very reasonably priced. The pink blanket pure wool cost £19.00 for two metres, and the gold satin I used for the lining cost £15.90 for two metres. Both are 60″ width, and I have enough of each left over for one more project.
As the store focuses on reenactment fabrics you don’t get the same service (in my opinion) as I would expect from a shop specialising in garment sewing. For example, the satin arrived in two cut lengths (without this being made clear in advance), and the wool arrived with some deep creases which I wasn’t able to remove. You can see some of the creases in the wool in my finished coat below – but some were no doubt added by me later! Given their prices and range of UK fabrics I’ll definitely be ordering from them again, but it’s worth knowing in advance.
Based on a recommendation by Heather Lou in the Clare Coat sewalong, I decided to add a layer of thinsulate as an interlining to ensure my coat kept me suitably warm in Iceland.
I ordered my thinsulate from Point North Profabrics. Two metres plus postage cost just under £30 which I was loath to spend on something that looked like quilt batting, but I still have a reasonable amount left over and it certainly made a difference to the finished coat. We were out and about in some pretty cold weather in Iceland and I never felt cold.
The addition of the thinsulate – along with the thick blanket wool – wasn’t popular with my sewing machine. I think I broke seven needles trying to stitch around the edges of the coat (through all layers). It didn’t help that I was doing this on the night before our holiday and didn’t have time to go slowly.
To me, the cutting-out part of coat and jacket making always feels like it takes longer than the sewing. I also had a lot of pattern pages to stick together, since I couldn’t find a reasonably priced copyshop print option in Birmingham or Coventry (If anyone knows a cheap local option for printing individual patterns do let me know). I was spending a weekend in Cornwall just after my fabrics arrived, and thought it would be the perfect time to get all of my pieces cut out so that I could start sewing once I was back home.
We were travelling to Cornwall on the train and I couldn’t find a bag large enough to fit all of the fabric in, so popped it in a bin bag. It seemed very logical to me, but Phil was NOT impressed at the thought of having to lug an overflowing bin bag of fabric all the way to Cornwall on the train. Obviously the fabric did come with us, and was cut out between strolls on the beach.
Based on the recommended size for my measurements, I graded between a size 2 at the bust, and 6 at the waist and hips. I noticed that other blogged Clare Coats looked quite fitted in the upper body, and was a bit worried about not being able to fit a suitably woolly jumper underneath. As a result (see if you spot the stupid error here), I decided to use a narrower seam allowance to add extra ease; when I got to the point of attaching the collar it didn’t fit, as I’d increased the length of the neckline… Sooo, I unpicked all of the neckline seams and sewed with the recommended seam allowance.
I’m really happy with the fit, and fancy making the pattern again in a less bulky fabric for a smarter look. But given that we’re finally getting some sunny weather, a second Clare will probably need to wait until the Autumn.
These photos were taken in Reykjavik, where my coat was put to good use.