29 July 2014

Colette Albion Coat: Finito

So I'm sure the suspense has been killing you.... but lookie here I finished my coat!

In case it is not blindingly obvious from those photos, I will clarify that I am deliriously happy with this make.  I can see flaws, but it is entirely wearable, beautifully warm, surprisingly durable and I think, just plain cute.

I finished this baby over a month ago now, probably more, so already I am forgetting some of the specifics that went into the making.  I spent a good 2 or 3 hours I reckon on the cutting, doing my darnedest to get the checks to match.  I will go out and say its as close to perfect as it could have been.  (I found this tutorial super helpful if you are looking for a resource)  I did have a brain fart when cutting out the undersleeves so they don't match, but everything else does!

See, look at that boss matching at the side seams.  I was running out of blanket when it came to cutting the patch pockets, but I am very pleased with the off-centre part of the pattern I managed to duplicate for both pockets. 

Ok here's something that's irking me.  Look at those sleeve tabs (incidentally, what is the freaking point of a sleeve tab? But I digress).  Notice anything?  They are ass-backwards.  Now, I have been looking through the flickr group and it seems like I have read the pattern correctly as others have attached them the same as me.  And they match the pattern photos.  But they are WRONG.  And super annoying because they keep getting snagged every fucking where.  Just google "coat with sleeve tabs" and you will see.  Blerg.  Anyway, just putting it out there, you may want to consider flipping them so the button is to the outside of the sleeve.

And here's a flasher photo, so you can marvel at my lining skillz.  I was surprised that the lining was actually not that difficult to install.  Very clever really.  I did have to concentrate super hard when attaching the sleeves together, but then I clicked and everything was fine.

Another small annoyance is how it sits at the bottom.  I'm not sure if I've installed the lining slightly off or if the shell/blanket is just a bit stretched, but have you noticed that bit of sagging in the hem area?  I am being really picky here because I don't really give a hoot, but just something for noting next time.

Oh hey, wanna see the guts?  So I lined the sleeves with a silky fabric to help with slipping it on.  I really could/should have used a fabric with a bit more body but it does the job nicely.  And I get to say I used silk which I have not done so to date.

So for some strange reason I cut L for the sleeves with M body.  Don't ask me why.  I had no issues at all getting the shell sleeves in, they fit perfectly - probably because the wool stretched a bunch.  But the lining sleeves refused to behave so politely.  So I made a little pleat at the shoulder and was done with it.  No sweat. 

I would have finished my coat a lot sooner had I not been stressing out  about making my own toggles.  It took ages to settle on which part of the blanket to use, bias or straight?  Then what size and shape??  Finally I settled on making small squares.  I essentially used a piece of blanket and lining fabrics, sewed around the edge right sides together with the requisite length of cord and toggle positioned as shown.  The cord I chose was a bitch to sew through, and I discovered I had to fiddle with the tension a lot to stop the bobbin thread bunching up (ok that was not very technical, I really didn't know what I was doing and only discovered how to get through it after a fair amount of swearing and fiddling with my machine settings).

I sewed on the toggle things with a  design, partly to really secure it and partly to mirror the pattern in the blanket.  Pic below (with added bonus dodgy matching of the centre facing booo) - before I started this coat I was desperately trying to figure out when the toggles went on and how many layers you sew through.  So the answer is they go on last - and be prepared for the challenge of managing the entire bulk of your coat around your machine.  I pretty much could only do one line of stitching at a time, there's no way I could pivot to do a complete square to stitch these babies on accurately.

So I'm not sure if I can say much more.  Can you tell I totally adore my Albion?  It is a joy to wear, and I have worn it just about every day since finishing.  What is also a joy are the looks of astonishment I get from friends and colleagues when I tell them I made it myself.  No joke, there have been legit double-takes over my awesomeness.

Pattern:  Colette Albion.  I cut a M for the most part, but used L sleeves for some reason.  I think I was afraid, like, my arms wouldn't fit.  Which is ludicrous because they're quite baggy.  I don't think they look too ridiculous now.  

  • narrow shoulder adjustment (which I spoke about here, albeit briefly)
  • added 3 inches of width to the bottom hem, grading out from around the bust area
  • added zip customisation
  • fully lined the patch pockets (no big whoop I'm aware but still.  I don't know why you'd only do a facing)
  • lots of extra interfacing (which I spoke about here)
  • added raglan-style shoulder pads (some info again here)
  • made the hood a bit bigger, I believe I graded out to a L. 
  • used lining fabric for inseam pockets rather than shell fabric to reduce bulk
  • used lining fabric for underside of sleeve tabs
  • used toggle buttons for sleeve tabs, stitched directly onto sleeves (ie no buttonhole)
  • did a flat fell seam on the front arm seam (it is more traditional to do one on the back sleeve, for future reference)
  • Shell: woollen blanket.  Labelled 'Godfrey Hirst 100% Virgin Wool'.  Measured about 2m x 1.7m and I used all but very few scraps.  
  • Lining: cotton quilting fabric, 2m, chevron design from Spotlight and probably around 70cm of grey cotton/silk blend from Darn Cheap Fabrics

  • 5 x toggle closures, ebay
  • elastic drawcord from etsy
  • 22" open end metal zip
  • iron on woven interfacing
And the internet could always use a bit more of my stupid face :)

Many thanks to my little sis Jack for taking the awesome photos (and putting up with me demanding two separate photo shoots) and to Jenny for inspiring me with her gorgeous blanket coat!


Sewing pattern review here

Handmakers Factory here


  1. I love your new coat. What a great idea to use a thrifted blanket. I will definitely be looking more closely at blankets next time I go thrift shopping. The albion coat pattern is so great. I felt like a real sewist after completing mine - it gave me quite a confidence boost. DId you grade your coat to an A-line shape? I think it is really flattering.

    1. Yes, I graded out about 12 inches overall I think.

      I agree it was a real confidence boosting project, I think I'm an Outerwear convert!

  2. Ooh, what a great op shop find! I love the pattern of the blanket, and in such wearable colours, to boot! Matching the plaids was definitely the most challenging part of my blanket coat, but my pattern was pretty simple in comparison to yours. Nicely done!

    Have you thought of taking your coat to the dry cleaners for a professional press? A good steaming might shrink the wool a little bit & help it sit more smoothly.

    1. I love love love your coat and am looking for another blanket to make another :)

      Great idea re the dry cleaners, I will give it a go. The wool certainly responded really well to my little iron.

  3. I cannot believe you made a jacket. Are you secretly super woman?

    1. Yes, I do believe that sewing a lined coat does qualify a person as super woman. The secret is revealed!

  4. Simply amazing Tanya! I am not surprised people are doing double-takes - your are seriously so awesome!! The photos look great too, kudos to Jack!

    1. Thanks Lisa, I myself have become entirely narcissistic when wearing this coat, I love looking at my reflection a whole lot when wearing it :)

  5. Looks awesome and I love the idea of using a blanket for the material!

    1. The idea was entirely stolen from Jenny! But it is a good one so do share it around :)

  6. This is boss Tanya! Great job.

  7. Great job! I've always envied my kids having their Olive + S School Days coats, and have only now found the perfect pattern exists for me too! (always late to the party). You look great, and very snug.