Today I am sharing my review of The Avid Seamstress Coat pattern made up in a rather special fabric; a wool melton doeskin from A W Hainsworth. Never heard of them? Well, tbh, I didn’t know much about them either. But when they asked me if I would be interested in making something using their wool doeskin I did a bit of reading and didn’t hesitate to say yes. This Yorkshire based company has been in existence for more than 200 years and is an integral part of British industrial history. They supply some of the world’s leading designers – including Gucci – as well as fabric used in a number of Hollywood movies. Perhaps the most famous use for their cloth is the red uniforms of the British military, worn by both Prince William and Charles (and who, knows Harry, soon?!) at their weddings, and, not surprisingly, they hold a royal warrant.
My coat is made up using the shade “electric blue”. It does appear to run more on the purple side of blue, but I still like it. The doeskin is a dense, felted wool, much like other meltons I have worked with, and I pre-treated my fabric with a steam press. It cut, sewed and pressed well. It does not feel overly hot or heavy for this time of year (at least in this part of the world) and it has definitely been a welcome addition to my wardrobe.
Now on to the pattern. I used The Coat pattern from The Avid Seamstress, which is a fairly recent release. I would love to find my perfect Crombie style coat pattern…single breasted, fully lined, two piece sleeves and a notched lapel with undercollar and collar stand. I am still looking! This coat pattern brings you that type of style but, I think, is aimed at less confident seamstresses. It’s a bit of a mixed bag for me. I like the style, the fit out of the envelope (which was very good for me), and the fact it’s unlined means this is a lighter weight option for spring. But! I did not like the instructions. The instructions come in a colour photographed booklet, which in theory, is a great idea. However, the sample coat used in the photographs is made up in a dark grey boiled wool, which makes it incredibly hard to see what’s going on. No contrast thread is used. Add to that the fact that they chose to cut their back facing from boiled wool (?!) and it’s potentially very easy to get confused. The seams are left raw in the sample coat (which I think is a bit of cop out), but I chose to do a Hong Kong finish on my seams, using self made bias that I cut from a lining I had in my stash. I used the same lining to cut my back facing, and I also decided to line the sleeves, mainly to avoid having to bind or finish the armhole seam allowances, and also to make getting the coat on and off easier. It really wasn’t difficult to add the sleeve lining and it’s a shame this wasn’t suggested in the instructions. You will note that I also added patch pockets to my coat. I would probably have preferred the inseam pockets, but I was too scared of being able to get a neat finish on them and also I didn’t like the idea of them flapping around loose on the inside. Prepare for photo overload!
The pattern comes with separate pattern pieces to cut interfacing for all the hems, which is brilliant, but no mention is given of interfacing any other part of the coat. I chose to interface the front facing, upper back, upper sleeve and lower side front armscye.
Inspired by classic tailoring, we’ve created a coat pattern that not only looks fabulous but also is an easy, enjoyable make – without the time-consuming tailoring. With a slim, chic silhouette, The Coat offers a modern twist on the woman‘s winter coat.
Flattering princess seams feature a clever in-seam pocket, while the modern drop sleeves make for a relaxed yet stylish look.
The Coat sewing pattern is incredibly versatile, working well in a range of fabrics from mid-to-heavy weight coating material to lighter woven fabrics – great for an alternative spring trench-coat.
The three quarter length hem is perfect over dresses or trousers, offering both elegance and warmth on a chilly day.
Other features include a notched collar, 2 button front closure, kick pleat and buggy lining (fully faced).
UK 6 – 22.
I found the sizing to be generous and I sized down to a size 16 through the shoulders, arms and bust, and graded out over the hips. I did not need to do a FBA.
Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?
Were the instructions easy to follow?
The instructions are presented in a colour photographed booklet, which in theory, is a great idea. However, the sample coat used in the photographs is made up in a dark grey boiled wool, which makes it incredibly hard to see what’s going on. No contrast thread is used. Add to that the fact that they chose to cut their back facing from boiled wool (?!) and it’s potentially very easy to get confused.
Other things which I didn’t like:
- Changing seam allowances used throughout the instructions: a total of 4 different seam allowances used (note, some rather narrow).
- Separate pattern pieces are provided to cut interfacing for all the hems which is brilliant, but no mention of interfacing any other part of the coat. I chose to interface the front facing, the upper back, the upper sleeve and the lower side front armscye.
- I didn’t like the instructions to sew the back vent, and did my own thing. The instructions don’t seem to tell you to clip into the LHS vent but if you don’t, I don’t see how the vents will sit properly.
What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
I love the style of this coat. It’s modern and very easy to wear. I found the fit to be very good for me, and I didn’t have to do my usual FBA. I like the fact finished garment sizes are given. The collar is not a traditional notched lapel, but is actually a cut on shawl collar which gives the appearance of a notched lapel.
I didn’t like aspects of the instructions (see above).
The seam allowances in the sample coat in the instructions are left raw, which I think is a bit of a cop out, and I chose to finish mine using a Hong Kong finish. I made cut 1 inch bias strips from a lining I had in my stash, and used the same lining to cut the back facing and also line the sleeves (again, it’s a shame this wasn’t suggested/ included in the instructions, otherwise you have to think about how you are going to finish the armhole seam allowances). 18 metres of bias binding should be more than enough to see you through this project.
Wool doeskin melton from A W Hainsworth, Yorkshire.
Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
- 1 inch sway back adjustment with removed length added back to hems.
- 1 inch full arm adjustment.
- Shortened sleeves by 1 inch (in retrospect I wish I hadn’t).
- I lined my sleeves.
- Added 5/8ths inch to bottom of back facing to allow for a hem.
- Changed in seam pockets for interfaced, lined patch pockets.
- Hong Kong finish on all seams. I applied to the Hong Kong finish to each seam before constructing the coat. I used a scant 0.25 inch seam allowance to sew 1 inch bias strips to the right side of the fabric piece, before turning and stitching in the ditch to secure the bias strip in place.
- Interfaced front facing, upper back, upper sleeve and the lower side front armscye.
- Gathered sleeve heads to ease sleeves in.
- Handstitched lower hems.
Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
I might sew again. I recommend only if you are confident enough to know what you are doing without relying on the instructions too much.
Modern style; very easy to wear. I do love my coat and being as it’s unlined, it’s the perfect weight coat for now in my part of the world.
Trousers – Simplicity 8389
Top – Pauline Alice Faura top