With March being record sunny, mild and dry I honestly didn’t think there would be any opportunity to even show you this winter coat until next autumn but April rolled around, and wanted to have a good laugh at us fools, and with it the fickle weather, as well as the frost returned. I definitely wouldn’t have predicted my most winter-y photos this year to have come from April, but spring truly is the season which packs everything in a couple of months. So here are some winter-in-spring snow photos for you as I talk about my second handmade winter coat!
We met lots of confused and befuddled birds during this walk. Not so strange, since a few days before they had been building their nests in sunny heat and had been considering laying their first eggs. Although it now -again- is back up to warmer weather, those cold two weeks signed a pause in nest building and egg laying endeavours for many birds. We also saw lots of be-snowed early spring foliage, the odd blossom and spring flower here and there and plenty snowed in catkins that are typical of getting a cold spell during this time of year. This week it’s been the coldest it is been in a long time and winter for the most part has been mild as well so these temperatures were definitely something new to get used to again for a lot of us. Luckily I felt very comfortable in my handknit lopapeysa, mittens and hat, woven woollen scarf and of course my self made duffle coat.
When I posted about my plaid duffle coat in the autumn I mentioned that this was a wearable test version of a duffle coat I wanted to make later in fancier wool fabric. I have since worn that plaid duffle coat pretty much any cold day out and have finished said second duffle coat. A lot of things about this second coat are the same as that first coat; construction, size choice, coat versions etc are the same as well as my comments on the restricted size range of this pattern and my general love for duffle coats still stands so go read that post if you want to read more on that.
Don’t worry though (or do, depending on you stamina to read long form) there are quite some differences and things to be discussed yet so I’m not ending the post with the above paragraph just yet.
First big difference is in the fabrics used. I used similar fabrics for my first version, in weight and feel, to test the pattern properly. Still, there are small differences and those have a big impact. The outer shell is made from 100% wool, whereas my previous coat was made from a wool polyester mix fabric. The wool fabric, while similar in thickness, feels much lighter and makes the entire coat weigh less on me. Before I made the coat I had noticed it felt lighter, but I didn’t think it would be as noticeable as it ultimately turned out to be. Just goes to show that even when you make a toile there will always be little things and curve balls to find your way around (unless you are prepared to make the exact same thing in the exact same fabric which I think few people are prepared to do as it is very repetitive and expensive).
I received the fabric as a gift from my parents a winter ago with the specific aim to make it into a winter coat. So the fabric is 100% Shetland wool, I’m not entirely sure if it just refers to the sheep content or that it was also made in Shetland. I think the chance is higher that it is just the former but I know there are companies on the islands producing this sort of fabric and also working with fashion brands etc and I believe this was an off cut/deadstock fabric so who knows, the possibility that it’s truly from Shetland is there. The fabric was produced in Great Britain but I don’t know at what mill or for what company. It is woven in a twill pattern and slightly felted but not so much as a boiled wool and it doesn’t obscure the twill pattern.
As mentioned the fabric weighs less than the plaid fabric, mostly due to the fibre content I think, as I don’t feel much difference between the fabric. It feels the same in weight and thickness as compared to my old RTW winter coat, whose outer shell is also made of wool. This makes the coat more supple which makes a difference when I wear it. Because the fabric is made from 100% wool it is also more breathable and along with all the other wonderful properties of wool like how water repelling it is and how it regulates body temperature, will make this a very wearable coat I think.
A big visual difference is that this coat is made in a solid dark blue whereas my other coat was made in a woven pattern. In practise that means the seams and style lines are much more pronounced in this coat than in my previous coat to the point where my mum actually asked whether they where also present in the first coat when I send her photo of this one (they were!).
The lining is a cotton plaid flannel that I bought specifically for this project. I really love this type of lining for a coat and it instantly gives a coat more character and as a bonus makes it feel nice, warm and cosy. I also knew I wanted more colour in the lining of this coat compared to my previous one, with the outer shell being a darker solid. I was super pleased to find this cotton flannel, the colours are the perfect complementary palette to the dark blue and I love how they look together and brings some warmth to the colouring of the coat. Obviously with the dark blue, olive green and orange the project also becomes more me as those are some significant “me colours”. The fabric is woven in a twill pattern and had a fuzzy, brushed side and a smoother one, and for the cosy vibes I went with the fuzzy side as the ‘right’ side.
The plan for this coat was to construct my own toggles, but I ended up only halfway constructing my own. So the toggles are made up of my own picked buttons and cord, but I added pre made toggle triangles. I had meant to make those triangles myself from self fabric but struggled with it and my attempts at it were messy so I ended up just sewing on the triangles I still had from my previous coat, taking out the buttons and flimsy loops that were included in that set. The triangles are not my favourite feature of the coat and perhaps I should have just sewn on the rope directly and left it at that, but I don’t actively dislike it like this either so we’ll go with it for now and perhaps do it differently if and when coat 3 rolls around. I do love the beautiful dark reddish brown toggle buttons. I think it colours so well with the dark blue and mirrors the warmth of the lining nicely.
The pockets are constructed the same way as I did for my first coat, so double patch pockets, that you can read more about in that post. I did place them a smidge higher this time and I added pocket flaps. I did this mostly to add a bit more interest to an otherwise solid coat and to make the coat look a bit more polished. I drafted the pocket flaps myself based on the measurements of the pocket.
A small, but really practical difference is the addition of a loop hanger. I made this from the outer shell fabric and inserted it on the lining prior to joining the shell and lining together. In this way the loop ends are hidden between the lining and the outer shell between the hood and the back body. I also added a smidge more room to the sleeves, but this was all done in the margins of the already small seam allowance so the difference is marginally.
I added a hidden snap button to the top of the inside of the button band. When I finished the coat I noticed that the button band gaped a bit a the top. Because everything from construction and pieces was the same on both coats I think that the fabric difference is at play here. The weight of the heavier fabric of the plaid coat was enough to keep it shut, but the slightly lighter wool wasn’t. So adding the snap button was a decision made after the coat was already finished, and I didn’t really have other options to solve it. I was afraid the last minute snap button addition would make the coat look messy and less well made, but I forgot that retail coats have this sort of thing a lot and the effect was the exact opposite of messy and I think it looks really polished and suits the coat.
The sewing process was really smooth as I was essentially making the same winter coat back to back. Perhaps it is nitpicking but I even wonder if that familiarity made me slack a bit and therefore less precise and neat. Though this is quite possibly the intense perfectionist speaking and the weight of second coat expectations weighing on the project. Sewing this coat took a lot of time, not in actual sewing time as I think this one went as fast or faster as the plaid coat, but in the sense of time between starting and finishing it took longer than expected. I already mentioned that in the winter I went through a time in which I crafted less in general and then I had covid which knocked me out for the entirety of February. Once I picked the project up again in March and was feeling more craft motivation and energy flowing back in me the coat was finished within the month. That’s just how it goes sometimes isn’t it?
I didn’t realise the strong Paddinton vibes while making or planning the coat, and only realised the distinct similarities when looking at the photos. The connection is especially poignant with me wearing my red Skiff hat! Ahem, this was not intended when making the coat or planning and taking the photos but I’m not mad about it, there are worse things than looking like a cute classic literature character and of course I think it is undeniable that the bear has a good sense of fashion.
In many ways this is my dream coat, and while possibly not being THE dream coat, it is very close and that is a good and precious thing and I’m very happy to have made it now. I love the colour combination of the lining and outer fabric and the dark blue wool will make it very wearable and breathable. I feel somewhat like a polite, dreamy character in a Beatrice Potter book, or a stout hearted book character on the way to their secret garden and that is a very good thing in my book. I look forward to more wanderings in the forest and other explorations with this coat during these last few cold days of the year and then it will be waiting for more adventures when the colder weather arrives again in the autumn.
I see you next time when I’ll be talking in more detail about the mittens you’ve already seen glimpses of in these photos. Until then!