english girl at home

A Sewing & Knitting Blog, Made in Birmingham, England


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FreeSewing Carlton Coat

FreeSewing Carlton Coat

Back in 2015, I made a coat for Phil using Thread Theory’s Goldstream Peacoat pattern. That coat has been fantastic (and I would highly recommend the pattern), but after five years of continual wear it had started to look a little tired lately. Phil began asking for a replacement around a year ago, and I decided that it would be an ideal opportunity to finally try out a pattern from FreeSewing. I love the ethos (and the coding genius) of FreeSewing and support the site as a patron, but was yet to try out a FreeSewing pattern.

FreeSewing Carlton Coat in progress FreeSewing Carlton Coat in progress

If you aren’t familiar with the site, it is community-based, entirely free to use and patterns are generated based on your specific measurements. The FreeSewing pattern I used, the Calton Coat, was released on the site in 2018 and is based on the coat worn by Benedict Cumberbatch in the Sherlock series. It has some really nice details, including a large turned-back cuff, 6 pockets (2 exterior patch, 2 internal patch, 2 welt), and a pleated coat tail.

FreeSewing Carlton Coat in progress FreeSewing Carlton Coat in progress

Due to the nature of FreeSewing (i.e. free and community-based), there aren’t currently any instructions for the Carlton Coat (although there are some for the women’s version, Carlita). Some of the more unusual pattern pieces did bamboozle me slightly, but the pattern’s designers Joost and Anneke kindly helped out when I got stuck! I was planning to write up a detailed tutorial for the construction process, but due to having a one year break in the middle I’m afraid that I don’t remember it well enough.

FreeSewing Carlton Coat in progress FreeSewing Carlton Coat

FreeSewing can generate PDF pattern files in A0 format (yippee), so I sent the pattern pieces off for printing and began making this coat roughly a year ago. The main fabric is a wool blend from Barry’s Fabrics here in Birmingham, and the lining is a Liberty cotton purchased from the “Liberty Man” (The Little World of Fabric) in Birmingham Rag Market. I interfaced pretty much every piece of this coat using a coat weight interfacing from the English Couture Company. It’s a great quality interfacing – I’ve seen similar inside RTW outerwear that I’ve refashioned. I used a hair canvas to stablise key areas of the coat (as shown in some of the construction photos above and below), and referred to an old tailoring blog series from Gertie when pad stitching the lapel and under collar. While on the subject of tutorials, I referred to this Thread Theory tutorial when constructing the welt pockets.

FreeSewing Carlton Coat FreeSewing Carlton Coat

I didn’t make a toile for this coat, and I spent ages on alterations as a result. When sewing for myself, I can almost always get away without sewing a toile, tweaking the fit of a garment until I’m happy with it. I shouldn’t assume that I can get away with the same when sewing for others. I also think that it’s a good idea to always toile a pattern, such as this one, which is generated based on the size information you input. The fit of the version you sew isn’t going to be the same as anyone else’s, and it’s always possible that you could have made an error in the sizing information input.

FreeSewing Carlton Coat in progress FreeSewing Carlton Coat in progress

I originally set myself an arbitrary deadline to get this coat ready for Phil to wear during a trip to New York in March 2019. I had long enough to finish it if, and only if, there were no fit issues. Of course, there were fit issues, so Phil carried on wearing his Goldstream Peacoat. With the weather warming up, I then put aside the in-progress Carlton Coat until the start of this year.

FreeSewing Carlton Coat FreeSewing Carlton Coat

As first sewn, the coat was generally too large, particularly around the armholes and sleeves. I reduced the length of the sleeves (I didn’t want to mess with the cuffs so took height off at the sleeve caps), narrowed the width of the shoulders, narrowed the sleeves, and raised the armholes (adding in underarm gussetts). I also reduced the length of the coat, and took in the coat at the side seams (which meant needing to detach and reattach the exterior patch pockets). My approach to the alterations was to trust my assumptions on what needed to change and to cut into the coat. It could have backfired, and at one point I did think I had made the coat too small, but the extra effort to get the fit right for Phil (admittedly retrospectively rather than via a toile…) has paid off in a successful coat which I’m sure he’ll get loads of wear out of.

FreeSewing Carlton Coat FreeSewing Carlton Coat

Phil has worn the coat daily since I completed it, and has reported back that the (Prym) covered buttons (used in two sizes, on the front and back of the coat) are not very sturdy. Two covered buttons have already been lost, partially (I think) because Phil is hard on his clothing, and partially because the metal loops used to attach the buttons to the coat are thin. I’m planning to swap the covered buttons for standard buttons, ideally before any more are jettisoned. Phil has also requested an additional button lower down on the coat, claiming that the current button positions left him with a cold belly button while we were walking around cold New York!


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Coat Sewing

Thread Theory Goldstream Peacoat

This may be the first ever time that I haven’t blogged in a while because I was too busy sewing.

Sewing and blogging are quite closely linked for me, and, typically, if I am quiet on the blog it’s because I’ve not had the time and/or energy to sew recently.

Thread Theory Goldstream Peacoat

The community element is a big part of why I sew regularly. Before this blog, and before being conscious of the sewing community, I did sew, but without the inspiration of fellow sewers, and the added incentive of sharing my own projects and plans, it was intermittent, and just one of many hobbies.

Thread Theory Goldstream Peacoat

Thread Theory Goldstream Peacoat

The project which has kept me away from the blog this time is a coat for Phil. It isn’t the coat you can see in these pictures – which is the Thread Theory Goldstream Peacoat I made for him back in 2015. Apparently I only make him coats, as this Peacoat was the first thing I sewed for him, and the current coat is the second.

Thread Theory Goldstream Peacoat

The coat I’m currently working on is the Free Sewing Carlton Coat and I’m looking forward to sharing the coat, and lots of details about its construction, once ready. I was really hoping to have the coat ready for our holiday to New York last week; nothing like an arbitrary sewing deadline to keep you busy! I started the coat just after Christmas and thought a late February deadline would be realistic (ahem, I was actually aiming to make myself a coat too), but it has taken me many, many hours and I’m committed to getting it right.

Thread Theory Goldstream Peacoat

In the interim I took some photos of Phil in his Peacoat last week, in New York Botanical Garden. It was the first coat I sewed and I made various small errors during its construction, but the coat has worn really well despite them. The wool, from Barry’s Fabrics, has worn brilliantly with the occasional removal of bobbles from areas where he has carried a bag.

Thread Theory Goldstream Peacoat

I do like re-photographing and celebrating long-standing garments, and it was nice to get some updated photos of Phil in this coat, particularly as he looks so young to me in the previous blog post pictures now. Phil wasn’t quite so fond of being photographed – as demonstrated below!

Thread Theory Goldstream Peacoat


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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