english girl at home

A Sewing & Knitting Blog, Made in Birmingham, England


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Pink Wool Clare Coat

Clare Coat, Karusellen Hat, & Cecelia Cowl in Reykjavic, Iceland

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!

Clare Coat

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.

Clare Coat

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.

Clare Coat, Karusellen Hat, & Cecelia Cowl in Reykjavic, Iceland

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.

Clare Coat, Karusellen Hat, & Cecelia Cowl in Reykjavic, Iceland

Clare Coat, Karusellen Hat, & Cecelia Cowl in Reykjavic, Iceland

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.

Clare Coat, Karusellen Hat, & Cecelia Cowl in Reykjavic, Iceland

Clare Coat, Karusellen Hat, & Cecelia Cowl in Reykjavic, Iceland

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.

In these photos I’m also wearing a Karusellen hat and Cecelia Cowl.

Clare Coat, Karusellen Hat, & Cecelia Cowl in Reykjavic, Iceland

Clare Coat, Karusellen Hat, & Cecelia Cowl in Reykjavic, Iceland

Clare Coat, Karusellen Hat, & Cecelia Cowl in Reykjavic, Iceland

Clare Coat, Karusellen Hat, & Cecelia Cowl in Reykjavic, Iceland

Clare Coat, Karusellen Hat, & Cecelia Cowl in Reykjavic, Iceland

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Coat Ogling

Max Mara Coats Book

It’s getting pretty cold here in the UK, and during January it’s Coat Month on IndieSew and Fancy Tiger Crafts are hosting a coat sew-along. Regardless, I’m resisting the urge to sew a coat as I don’t really need a new one (not that I normally let that interfere with my sewing plans), but that hasn’t stopped me from ogling outerwear.

I found this lovely book of Max Mara coats in the library at work. The book was published to accompany a travelling exhibition and features some gorgeous coats from Max Mara’s history, from its founding in the 50s until the 2000s.

If you’re also resisting coat making, one of these might just push you over the edge.

Max Mara Coats Book: F/W 1992-1993

Max Mara Coats Book

Max Mara Coats Book

Max Mara Coats Book

Max Mara Coats Book

Max Mara Coats Book

Max Mara Coats Book

Max Mara Coats Book

Max Mara Coats Book

Max Mara Coats Book

Max Mara Coats Book

Max Mara Coats Book

Max Mara Coats Book

Max Mara Coats Book

Max Mara Coats Book

Max Mara Coats Book

Max Mara Coats Book

Max Mara Coats Book

Max Mara Coats Book

Max Mara Coats Book

Max Mara Coats Book


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Goldstream Peacoat

Goldstream Peacoat - Thread Theory

So, after 9 (I think…) years dating, I finally sewed something for Phil;) To make up for lost time, I started with a fairly substantial make, a coat.

Goldstream Peacoat - Thread Theory

This is Thread Theory’s Goldstream Peacoat. I know Lauren has written about this before, but coat making isn’t necessarily that hard, it’s just looooong. The construction of this Peacoat is relatively straightforward, it’s just more time consuming than your standard sewing project. Even the cutting out takes ages. I normally always trace my paper patterns in case I want to use a different size in future, but I couldn’t face tracing all of these pattern pieces so I just cut out the tissue pattern.

Goldstream Peacoat - Thread Theory

Goldstream Peacoat - Thread Theory

Cutting out took even longer in my case, as I actually did it twice…

I originally purchased fabric from Coupons de Saint Pierre for this coat during Carmen’s Paris meet-up (In fact it was the second time I bought fabric for the coat during the meet-up, as Phil rejected the first fabric I bought, so I used it to make this Oslo cardigan for myself instead). Coupons de Saint Pierre sells pre-cut fabric lengths, but I did measure the fabric before buying. However, when I started cutting out the fabric I didn’t have nearly enough to make the coat, so I obviously didn’t measure well enough… I tried to match the fabric locally but couldn’t find an exact match in my local fabric shops. So, I did what I normally do and went to Barry’s and bought new fabric, the lovely soft wool pictured here, and started my cutting out again. I lined the coat with a printed cotton, also from Barry’s, and finished it with buttons from Birmingham Rag Market. Before cutting my fabric, I pre-treated the wool by putting it in the tumble dryer on a wool setting with some damp towels to remove shrinkage.

Goldstream Peacoat - Thread Theory

Goldstream Peacoat - Thread Theory

Goldstream Peacoat - Thread Theory

This is version 1 of the Goldstream, made in size XL. The only change I made during construction was to attach horse hair canvas to almost every pattern piece, as the wool I used was quite soft and drapey so needed the canvas for structure.

I actually made this coat over Christmas – I like to have a ‘big’ project for the Christmas holiday, and this was mine last year – and these photos were taken just after I completed it, on a shopping and sightseeing trip to London. After wearing the coat for a couple of days, Phil submitted some alteration requests! A couple of requests were fairly minor; I re-sewed the hem (which was riding up), and interfaced the pocket flaps (which were about the only pattern piece not previously interfaced). Phil was also finding the sleeves slightly tight around the armholes. The sleeves were slightly gathered, so I let them out to their full size and added a small triangle to the body of the coat at the seam line to accommodate the extra width. Obviously I would ideally have picked up this issue earlier. I did do a very basic toile for this coat and it appeared to fit ok, but I was a single layer toile in a cotton so didn’t replicate the thickness of the full coat and pick up the issue.

Goldstream Peacoat - Thread Theory

Goldstream Peacoat - Thread Theory

The first time Phil wore this coat he found a pin or two still attached, which made me think of this post by Rachel. I’m not planning to wait another 9 years to make something else for Phil (honest); I fancy trying the Newcastle Cardigan next.


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Vintage Paul Blanche Coat

Vintage Paul Blanche Coat
I wish I made this coat, but it is actually a vintage coat, given to me by my Nan when I was a teenager.
The brand is Paul Blanche. Is anyone familiar with the brand? Surprisingly I can’t find anything online.
Vintage Paul Blanche Coat
As kids me and my brother went on holiday each year with our parents and grandparents. One year the house we were staying in happened to have cushions, which I loved, in the same fabric as the coat, so my Nan gave me her coat when we got back home.
Vintage Paul Blanche Coat
Being a teenager at the time – and given that being a teenager is all about trying to fit in – I didn’t actually wear it. I think probably because it was unusual. Also, the zip was broken (it wasn’t possible to fully undo the zip meaning it couldn’t be worn loose).
Vintage Paul Blanche Coat
Anyway…. I rediscovered this coat in my parent’s loft a few weeks ago. I quickly replaced the zip and am finally wearing it. Sorry for the delay, coat!
Vintage Paul Blanche Coat
Vintage Paul Blanche Coat