March 2, 2015

In progress: Grainline Cascade Duffle coat

You know what they say: coat patterns are like buses – you wait years for one, and then two come along at once.
Or is that men?
Anyhoosles I was riding high on the Leanne Marshall mini excitement-wave, but starting to come down slightly after a not-so-great muslin when up pops Jen’s Cascade Duffle coat. The coat that was made for me. Even if Jen didn’t realise that’s what she was doing.
I have long waxed nostalgic over a cream twill duffle coat (with cream fur trim, natch!) that I got in the Laura Ashley sale when I was about 18. Of course, me being me, it was only cream for a season and ended up getting chucked, but ever since then I’ve nursed the idea of a proper duffle in navy wool with brown leather and white cord toggles.
You know what I’m talking about.
It had to be done!
I haven’t made an unshaped coat before so I whipped up a muslin to check and it looks pretty acceptable. The arm is all wonky but that’s because I put it in backwards. Yep. Top quality sewing there. The good news is: the 18 fits across my chest (taking up most of the drafted ease, but that’s OK) and there are no majorly weird bust-draping issues.
I’m making the coat from a gorgeous double-faced navy wool from Mood (still available here) – it’s really, really nice. I’m making the zipper tape and internal piping from plaid from Grey’s Fabrics, the lining is Ambiance Bemberg (here), and the body of the lining will be interlined with Thinsulate. I’ve ordered toggles from MyGann on Etsy, but now I have two decisions to make.
First decision: what colour leather to use for the toggles. I’m making my own, and Ashley kindly donated two leather samples for consideration. Do I go for the warmer chocolatey leather or the more bronzed, orangey colour? I’m torn!
Second decision: I ordered two cords from Pacific Trimming. The upper one is more white and rope-like, the lower one is natural colour and is waxed (so probably more hard wearing). What do you think?
So, on to the rather long process of getting it ready to actually start sewing. I think most non-sewists would be astonished at how long it takes us to work on a coat before we even approach a sewing machine! I must admit that I find it a challenge to be patient and accurate during all these prep stages, even though I know it makes a big difference to the end result. Blogging doesn’t help matters – it definitely gives you a (false) sense of urgency. So I’m trying to get around these impulses by doing tasks bit by bit rather than in huge chunks of time.
First up, I got on with pre-treating the wool. Perhaps the dullest thing known to woman. I know some folks throw wool in the dryer with a damp towel but I’ve tried that twice, and both times I’ve ended up with damaged, slightly felted wool. So it was the old fashioned approach for me: a heavy steam. Luckily I have a gravity feed iron which makes it a touch easier.

Then, cutting and interfacing. It definitely takes a while, but again something worth doing accurately. I did it in short sessions to try to not get tired, and then I did a second push a few days later to cut and fuse all the interfacing (mind that the front and back armhole pieces are labeled incorrectly – just swap them!).

Next up I need to cut the lining and Thinsulate and baste them together (I think I’m going to do it by hand this time), and then, I think, construction can begin.
So, which leather and cord do you think I should make? And also, should I self-line the hood so it’s all in the navy wool, or should I use the lining? I’m on the fence!

39 thoughts on “In progress: Grainline Cascade Duffle coat

  1. waxed cord and chocolately leather! it’s going to look lovely

  2. Caroline says:

    I’d go for the waxed cord – the other one could get super grubby, super fast! I’m excited to follow you as you sew this coat. It’s more or less been my dream coat for years too (or at least one of them, I guess I actually have a lot of dream tailoring / coat projects!). All your materials look great. Are you hoping to finish it in time for the last of winter / spring?

    1. Jenny says:

      Very good point! Winter is apparently never ending in Boston so yes I’m hoping to finish it before the 15ft snow piles melt. There isn’t any tailoring, so hopefully it’s possible!

  3. I made a muslin, too, and I fully lined the hood. I really appreciate how it 1) completely fits over my head, even with a pony tail and 2) my hair stays how it should. I would be worried if you lined it with wool and your hair is like mine, you’ll end up with static and medusa-hair all day!

    1. Jenny says:

      Good point! I just ordered some navy ambiance so I can line the hood but not have a contrast colour showing – keep it simple, for once 🙂

  4. I reckon, browney leather rather than bronze, waxed cord (the rope looks nicer now but for how long? you don’t want to be redoing your painstaking handiwork) and lining fabric inside the hood (more comfy, flash of colour). Or you could take my nephews approach to decision making. Toss a coin, then if you feel disappointed at how it comes out, take the other option!

    1. Jenny says:

      It’s funny that the comments here are mostly in favor of the chocolate but on Instagram everyone was for bronze! I think I’m leaning towards chocolate too

  5. Mrs. Smith says:

    Definitely lining fabric for the hood! And definitely the waxed cord. And I think I’d need to see the coat to decide leather color. Like, you’ll have to “FEEL” it.

    This is gonna be awesome! I’m saving this one for fall; as both DD and I want one.

    1. Jenny says:

      I think I’m going to “muslin” some toggles to see which combo works and also practice my leather sewing!

  6. ooooh definately line the hood with the lining – it will make the hood all kinds of interesting 🙂 also the browner of the two leathers. I was actually having a debate to myself about how best to pre-treat my wool earlier so the steam generator iron tip in your post was most useful!

    1. Jenny says:

      I err on the side of caution with pre treating!

  7. Channelling your inner Paddington is a wonderful idea. This is going to be gorgeous!

    1. Jenny says:

      Paddington forever!

  8. Channelling your inner Paddington is a wonderful idea. This is going to be gorgeous!

  9. Lori says:

    Oh, this will be so gorgeous and yes line the hood with the lining. This is on my list to-do sometime.

  10. I’m going to live vicariously through your duffle-making since I really want to wear one but am totally burned out on coatmaking and winter sewing in general. I love the supplies you’ve chosen and look forward to seeing your toggle choices! I would line the hood with the rayon just to help keep your hair lookin’ sharp when you wear it, but that’s just me.

    1. Jenny says:

      Good point on the old hair – I’ve only had medium length hair for a little while so don’t think of things like that! Hopefilly this coat will be drama free compared to my one, but only time will tell…

  11. I think the waxed cord with the bronzey leather. Can’t wait to see how this turns out!

  12. Jo says:

    Another vote: chocolatey brown leather, waxed cord, and a hood featuring contrast lining. It’s going to look fab!

  13. I’m horrible at these kinds of decisions, so I’m not going to vote. Just wanted to say that I cannot wait to see the finished product! Also, it’s a shame the Leanne Marshall didn’t work out, because the pattern is super cute!

    1. Jenny says:

      Yeah actually so far I haven’t seen any completed Leanne Marshall coats that I really love… That pattern is apparently pretty odd!

  14. HAHA. I totally relate on the buses. It is seriously a joke the way they get backed-up. 😀 I love the warmer chocolaty brown leather as an accent. This coat is going to reflect the amount of thought and planning you’re putting into it.

  15. Marike Smit says:

    I think definately the waxed cord, and I agree that it will be a great idea to “test-drive” both leathers. Be sure to post photos!

  16. I am looking forward to following your progress on this but what I really want to say today is Wow on the thread storage and your watercolour bird curtains!

    1. Jenny says:

      And wow you have sharp eyesight there! I keep on meaning to do a “sewing room” post but that would involve me having to properly tidy it first :#

  17. Denise says:

    Bronze leather and waxed cord. And I wonder if that Swash garment care system would also work for pre-treating wool? I works like a steaming closet!

    1. Denise says:

      Or the LG Styler steam closet system?

    2. Jenny says:

      I saw that! (it’s made by my old company). Alas I live in a tiny old apartment so no room but I’d be intrigued to know if it works.

  18. V says:

    I’d go with the warmer chocolatey brown leather and the waxed cord. The rope-ish one is more casual, but I think detracts from the lovely wood you have. I’ve been reading the sew-a-long on this coat and she just hit the lining phase. I’d say self line with the wool. I think it will be warmer in the long run, which is why you’ve got the hood to begin with, and more polished looking than if you were to see the lining.

  19. whoFilets says:

    Oh I’m glad I’m not alone in channeling Paddington as my classic style icon! Haha! Hey, he found what worked for him and stuck with it!
    I like the look of the rope, but if the waxed will hold up better, that would be my choice.

    1. Jenny says:

      Paddington is clearly a classic style icon

  20. Ren Murphy says:

    Chocolate brown.
    Waxed (I love the untaxed but it would get dingy fast if I were the one wearing it.
    Hood lined with lining fabric — I love that pop of color & pattern inside a hood.

    Can’t wait to watch this come together!

  21. Ginger says:

    I like the warmer chocolatey leather and the bottom cord best. Can’t wait to see the final outcome.

  22. Margo B says:

    I like the warm chocolate leather and the waxy cord best. Your muslin fit looks great too! Can’t wait to see the finished product.

  23. Bunny says:

    Chocolate leather and waxed cord for me. This will be gorgeous.

  24. MissAmy says:

    At the risk of demonstrating myself as an optimistic (read niave) beginner taking on an advanced pattern I’m having real difficulties fitting the hood. My sides and centre just don’t match up in terms of notches. Is this something I need to ease the heck out of?

    1. Jenny says:

      I haven’t started sewing that yet so I’m not totally sure, but because you’re sewing a fairly straight line (the center) to a very curved line (the edge) you will need to do a lot of clipping and manipulating to get them to go together well. The other option is you might have one of hte pieces upside down? That can cause notch issues sometimes! (definitely done it myself). Do you know that Jen is doing a sewalong on Grainline? I find that they often are much clearer than the instructions that come with the pattern.

  25. MissAmy says:

    I’ve tried it both ways up before gokng back to the pattern piece to see 2 notches meant neck edge (doh). I’ve had a look at the sew along (which was very very helpful for helping me get my head round which way the sleeves go together) which looks like the notches should line up pretty smooth then it’s a case of easing the middle. My top notch however just doesn’t match. I checked the pattern piece to make sure I snipped it in the right place. I bet there’s some simple solution staring me right in the face and I’ll realise I’ve been a muppet.

Let me know what you think!