Thursday, September 9, 2010

Doing My Research - Winter Coats

Thank you everyone for your very useful suggestions and ideas in response to my questions in the last post about winter coats for my girls. I am always amused at how, after sewing for decades, I still don't know the names of fabrics. I am perfectly at home in a physical fabric shop where my fingers can help me discern thickness, content and texture, but in these online shopping places, I am useless.

So wool melton it is! I am eyeing the pink - but at $13 a yard, I am thinking I'd better at least sketch out my coat designs before pulling out my credit card.

When I first thought of sewing these coats some months back, I collected a couple of useful webpages with useful information on lining and interlining and, and of course can't find them now. But just quickly browsing in google a couple minutes ago I found one on
interlining and an entire blog on coatsewing. I haven't read through either, but I will later in the fall when I start the whole coat process in earnest. And here is the link to the ehow article on making a pea coat, that Mom2TwoWonderfulKids (thank you!) shared in the previous comments.

Our winters here in the upper midwest get quite unkind - not uncommon to have minus 30 days and no feeling in our noses and ears for weeks on end. So most of the time we go around in unfashionable but very practical nylon ski jackets and unmatching thermal mittens. Still, for those occasional trips out when we actually wear something dressy, like when we go to church or a party, a proper wool outdoor coat would be nice. This is why I'm thinking so seriously about the thermal-lining aspect of these coats, I guess - can't play around with hypothermia.

Of course if I can find lovely pea coats in a store that fit the kids well, I am so buying them. I may sew and enjoy sewing, but I'm all about weighing time now. I'd rather buy something (unless it is exorbitant) than make it, if it means I get to use that time to actually be with the kids (shhhh.... and make cardboard stuff)!

Speaking of kids, someone small is right this minute at my elbow, asking for help to put rubber dresses on 4 plastic Prettyrellas (what the small someone calls all her plastic disney princess figurines) and one imposter Polly Pocket. So off I go!


  1. I'll be watching the coat sewing with interest. I am right with you on feeling the stuff in the store and being clueless online. In fact, I have never bought fabric online, so I am limited to what I can feel :)

    My girl has a lovely red wool coat for good right now and when she grows out of that, I am going to sew her a wool cape. I have a pattern already and I know where I can get gorgeous wool - we have a fabric outlet nearby that gets stuff from NYC garment district. If you ever head east, email me and I'll tell you where it is. It's worth a trip!

  2. Love your attitude about sewing and weighing time! :-)
    I would love to make a coat one day for myself ... one day when I am retired and bored ... or just retired probably ... :-D

  3. Oh, you will definitely want an interlining then! I used a heavy 100% wool and it was perfectly fine here but you will be dealing with much colder weather. I would wait and see the weight of your fabric before deciding though.

  4. Prettyrellas - I love it!

    Thanks for all the links and information. I have so many plans of things I want to make, but don't have time - maybe I'll get some of them done for my grandchildren some day ;)

  5. It took me a long time to remember, but the standard lining for a wool coat used to be millium-backed satin. The millium is sort of metallic and resisted the wind and kept more of your body heat in. I couldn't find it on-line tonight, but I did find Insul-Bright Fabric at Nancy's Notions:

    This should work as an interlining...

    I have made winter coats for wear in the kind of weather you describe, and I used Thinsulate, sandwiched between a cotton outside and a poly or nylon lining. It worked great.

    Another point -- If you can't find Melton at a price you're willing to afford, you might want to try felting wool (not the washable sort) by running it through your washing machine in the most dramatic way you can. Hot water wash, cold water rinse. It is best if you sew the cut ends of your cloth together before washing. Keeps the shrinkage more uniform, for one thing. You can do tests on small (6" x 6") pieces of wool to see what shrinkage you get and what treatment will get you the texture and thickness you want. It is worth noting that loosely woven cloth made of short-fiber wool will felt more thoroughly than the finer wools!

    Good luck!

  6. I have ordered the wool melton from and it goes as low as 7.95 a yard at times. Keep a look out. They are running a sale right now on total purchase. Good luck.

  7. I made a coat for myself my first Fall in Minnesota... I guess I was a little scared to be cold. I used flannel-backed satin as lining, and added lambswool and a light windbreaker as interfacings. It's a VERY warm coat, but it's also heavy. I use it a few times every winter ! I remember having read somewhere about quilted lining for a child's coat, I'll keep looking and will give you the link. I think it was on the Purl Bee.

  8. I don't know if my previous comment worked. But here is the post I was talking about, on interfacing a coat to make it super-warm:
    and the links in there are full on great ideas as well.
    I can't wait to see your coats !


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