Wednesday 3 July 2013

A pattern to make a product to be proud of:

It's no secret that I am a BIG fan of Oliver + S patterns. (and now Todd's given us a platform from which to shout our devotion)

Anyway, my Oliver + S love affair began with the School Days Coat pattern. A friend who could sew (I couldn't, or at least didn't know I could back then) gave me a pattern for a little hooded coat which she'd hand drafted. It was meant to be made in polar fleece but I found some beautiful brown wool on sale at only $10/metre. No, Heidi said, that won't do, my pattern is too bodgy and requires stretch fabric to make the pieces go together. And so the wool was set aside, and thus started my fabric stash.

So, I made my bodgy little fleece duffel, and another for a friend, and then I set out to find a pattern for a wool duffel coat. I was all of three garments into my sewing adventure by then and I stumbled upon this three scissor level pattern. Heck I thought, I'll manage.

And I did. The coat is daunting only in the sheer number of pattern pieces that need to be drafted, and then cut. However the coat comes together surprisingly easily and the pattern instructions are superb.

That's the bit that goes without saying with Oliver + S patterns. You just know you're going to learn a lot along the way, and it's why I now feel quite comfortable sewing from other patterns even if they may not be in English!

This coat was the first thing I made that I would eagerly show to anyone who'd stop to look, and it always impressed.

P has now grown out of this Size 3 coat and so it now resides in Berlin keeping my little nephew snug and warm.

Then I used the pattern again to make a spring weight coat out of corduroy and knit lining for A. This time I made view B with the button tabs instead of toggles.

Now it's winter again and so out came the pattern for a new coat for P and a matching one for a friend of his. (who I sadly couldn't squeeze into the same size, so had to draft the pattern all over again one size up)

I've learnt a few lessons from my first wool coat. I haven't blogged the whole construction as I'd assumed the amazing Nicole of five and counting had done. But here are my tips:

Firstly: Do NOT use leather thonging for the toggles, it just breaks. I had to replace all the leather thonging from this first coat before I handed it down. Painful! This time around I found some proper woven flat cord.

Secondly, magnetic snaps are simply awesome. The ones I used are ridiculously easy to insert, just push them through the fabric (with some interfacing for reinforcement, put the washer on, then bend the legs out.

In the first coat I had the pins of the snap going transversely across the placket piece and that made the topstitching the placket a little tricky as the end of the metal leg was very close to where I wanted to stitch. In this second coat I wisely put the snap in vertically. (and then very stupidly put snaps on the inside and outside of the same side of the coat - Doh!)

Thirdly, I can't go past a hanging loop for a coat (my kids don't have wardrobes you see). Invaluable, easy addition. Just attach it at the same time as sewing the hood to the coat.

Finally, for the quilted vest option there had to be a better way to do the shoulder seams than to just leave these ugly raw, quilted edges:

So I unpicked the quilting within the seam allowance, trimmed the batting and under layer of fabric, folded and pressed the top seam allowance over, then edge stitched the seam allowance. This gave a clean finish inside and out.

So, here are my third and fourth Oliver + S School Days Coats (and I have wool set aside for two more for another day/month/year)

Fabric notes:
P's coat: Size 5, Charcoal wool/cashmere coat, Dr Seuss Flannel lining, quilting cotton and cotton wadding for vest
C's coat: Size 6, Navy wool melton, Dr Seuss flannel lining, quilting cotton and cotton wadding for vest.
For both I used plastic toggles, woven flat cord for the toggle threads, magnetic snaps, elastic hair ties for the vest elastic attachments and plain buttons for attaching lining to coat.

Sadly no modelled photos of P and his friend C at this stage, perhaps to follow.

Do yourself a favour, sew this pattern, you won't be disappointed!


  1. These are all fantastic! And so professional looking (I.e. bought from a fancy, expensive boutique!). I might just have to follow your advice and make one/some.

    Where did you get the wool/cashmere from???

    (and I'm disappointed about my leather thonging on the toggles I have but better to know now.)

    1. Thanks, I found Rathdowne Remnants have an awesome supply of wool and I bought it in summer on sale (about $20-25/metre). Maybe my son just fiddled with and twisted the leather too much, but kids will do that!

  2. Sharp looking coats! I have plans to sew the pattern up in wool for our winter...but I have about 6 months before coats will be needed.;)

  3. These look absolutely fabulous!
    I've got some pink melton for this pattern on the to-do pile.

  4. Gorgeous coats! (love all your versions)
    Currently it's a bit too hot around here (and summer has just begun, so it will get hotter), but I'll need to made new ones before winter season starts (my kids already grew out of theirs).
    This is such a perfect, must-have coat pattern :-)

  5. They're all beautiful! This was the third pattern you sewed? Seriously? I'm impressed. Thanks for the great tips marking this for what I'm hoping to be far off winter days!

  6. I got caught out by the leather breaking on mine too - very annoying and not something I would want to fix again EVER! Some great tips here, thanks.

  7. these are so, so adorable. great tips and so, so true about the leather. it happened to me, too! booo!

  8. These are amazing, I would love to have a go at something like this and, though it looks daunting, your fantastic versions may push me to try for winter here in the uk.

    1. You really should do it. I've no doubt that with this pattern you'll make a coat you're really delighted with.

  9. never having sewn a coat, much less one of this detail and caliber, I"m simply blown away. And that lining! I so love it, esp. the green polka dots! love the removeable lining vests too - is that your own design? (I don't own the pattern).

    1. The grey/lime appealed to me and since P didn't care I had free choice. The red/navy combination was a request for the other coat, although I don't think they were expecting egg-y shaped spots.
      The quilted vest (with or without sleeves) is part of the pattern. It really is a lovely pattern to make.

  10. those are awesome! i love this pattern, too - it comes out looks so professional! i need to try the vest next time, yours look great!

    1. Thanks Gail. It really doesn't get cold enough here to need the vest but it seems such a nice option to "complete" the coat.


I get a real kick out of knowing you've visited the blog and love to read comments. Thanks.