Last week marked an epic sewing journey into the world of coat making when I decided to make the hubby a Colette Patterns Albion Duffle Coat.
Now, being a novice to coat making I looked at the pattern, looked at the number of pieces and thought to myself, "that'll take a day or two, no probs". It took so many more days than I thought! I should've had an inkling really when I saw there were 88 pages in the PDF pattern... Now part of that was just that I was being a perfectionist and the rest was because there's so many stages to it all. Now that's not to say I wouldn't do the whole coat thing again (in fact I definitely will as I'm still going to make myself a Closet Case Kelly coat), but next time I'll know how much time goes into it.
I started with a toile and found that the waist was really generous and although there's an optional drawstring (see the sewalong over at Colette if you're interested in adding one to your own Albion), the hubby didn't want one on his wool coat as he thought it'd look odd on the thick fabric. So I graded the pattern in, avoiding any curved bit on the inseam pocket area. I added 2" to the arm lengths as JK is tall and all tops are short on his arm area. I'd add a couple of inches to the length of the body if I did it again but he's happy enough with the length as it is really. I decided that since its a winter coat, I'd interface the flannel lining as well as quilting it and I decided to use some thermal curtain lining to do it with. It's a nice, sturdy, woven material but not too thick so doesn't add lots of bulk. It is, however, a little heavy! I did the customisation of adding a zip which was definitely a good move as it would be a little chilly without it.
For the outside of the coat, I used some Classic Navy Melton and for the inside I used a green and yellow checked brushed cotton, both from Fabworks. I made my own toggles with some leather cord and wooden toggle buttons from Duttons for Buttons in Harrogate, following the instructions over on the sewalong. I used a leather needle to make that bit easier, and quilting clips to prevent pin holes. It worked well after a few practise runs! While I was using the leather, I also made a little hook for hanging the coat up and attached it in the same way as the toggles. I definitely made a great decision at the start by attaching my walking foot to my machine and I seem to have avoided a lot of skipped stitches by using a step behind the foot whenever I was starting at a thick seam. My little Janome coped well with all the bulk, which was a little surprising! I used a point turner to push bits under the walking foot whenever I hit a really thick bit and it started to get stuck.
All in all, I'd highly recommend the pattern if you're up for a major project and have a few sewing projects under your belt. The instructions weren't visual enough for me at times and I managed to get myself confused with the zip insertion on the facings and the sleeve lining insertion as those areas weren't clearly explained enough for me to work out what went where. Even with the sewalong pictures, it took a lot of tacking and unpicking until I understood! I ended up referring to the instructions on the Grainline Cascade sewalong for help as the images and explanations gave a different angle that I could understand. But, that might just be me overthinking things! I think the effort was worth it anyway as JK is now warm on his commute to work and it won't take me as long!