October 5, 2015

Kicking off autumn with a trenchcoat and a Haptic Lab quilt

Yep, there’ll be no more swimming in Walden Pond for me this year. Sigh. The leaves haven’t turned yet – one of the major consolations of impending winter when one lives in the NorthEast – but we have been treated to a solid week of drizzle and rain. Why, it’s almost like home!

And a change in the weather means a change in sewing. To be honest, I get a real “back to school” boost at this time of year. And if I’m no longer traipsing around John Lewis getting a new set of v-neck jumpers and a 12 pack of pens (oh! how I loved that), I might as well dig into some fun new projects.

My first two fall undertakings: a trenchcoat, and a quilt.

I have a well-worn Boden trenchcoat which I’ve loved for years. It’s classic tan, with a British lining chocablock with beefeaters and the Houses of Parliament. Alas, it doesn’t really fit me. For the most part, I’ve got rid of clothes that don’t fit me – why else bother sewing? But because it’s just so versatile and useful, I’ve kept the trenchcoat despite the fact it barely buttons up, and when I try I look like a trussed up chicken sausage. Not a good look. So, finally, after 3 years of intending to, I’m actually making one that fits.

After some research, I realised that the trendy trenchcoat patterns – the Sewaholic Robson and Named Isla – weren’t going to work, because I’d have to adjust them so much for my bust. So, digging around on Pattern Review I found the solution: McCall’s M5525. View E is a classic knee length trenchcoat with a little cape thing on the back (not sure what that’s called?) and princess seams. I’m also going to add the shoulder guard thing from version C, for a bit of… pizzazz.

M5525 trenchcoatWhile I’m really attracted to crazy colour coats I decided to do a classic tan one first. If this one works out, no doubt you’ll see other versions. I ordered a bunch of swatches from Mood and I ended up with this Theory Candied Ginger Cotton Twill. And then, for the lining, I’m using a Liberty silk satin I bought on my trip to Shaukat in London recently – it’s a bright orange and blue window pane design which is annoyingly difficult to photograph (it’s much brighter than it appears here).


While I do like making coats, there’s no doubts that the first steps are tedious in the extreme! It took me 4.5 hours to cut all the pieces, interfacing, and lining. PHEW. By that point I usually want to abandon the whole thing. I’m also not the most organized, and I lack much table space in my sewing room so this is what ends up happening:


I started construction and now have two small pocket flaps and the back lining to show for it, but I ran into a lack of suitable topstitching thread or the bias tape I need, so things are on hold until I pick those up.


But fear not, because I have a second project on the go! (actually multiple more but I’m trying not to freak myself out). I really like having something to do in front of the TV and until I finally pull my finger out and learn to knit, that leaves me with hand needlework. Lucky for me, my friend Norma (of Marlborough bra fame) gave me a really thoughtful birthday present – the constellation quilt kit from Haptic Lab. I made a quilt of the Boston city map two years ago and really enjoyed the process, and I’m already enjoying my new one!

haptic lab quilt The kit consists of a piece of medium weight interfacing with the design on it, which you pin onto a sandwich of quilting cotton and batting. Then you sew through all the layers (I’m using tiny Japanese needles which are great for this), and at the end you carefully rip the paper off. It’s actually a simpler design than the Boston map, so I’m anticipating it will take weeks rather than months. However I’m still on the fence about whether to French knot the Milky Way… I’m not that good at French knots but I guess if I do it, I’ll be better by the end! So far, I’ve nearly finished the “quilting” lines (in blue thread on the blue background) to anchor it all down, and then I’ll do the stars on top.



So hopefully I’ll have a rainy day trenchcoat and a snuggly quilt before long. Does your sewing change a lot at this time of year? Do you get the same back to school fervour as me? Or am I the only unreformed swot?

17 thoughts on “Kicking off autumn with a trenchcoat and a Haptic Lab quilt

  1. I’m gearing up to sew some coats for fall/winter too. I’ve actually used pattern M5525 in the past, and I’m looking forward to seeing your version! As a general rule, I also opt for colourful coats, but there’s always room for a classic in the closet. Tan with that gorgeous Liberty lining will be ever so chic!

    As far as the pattern goes, I thought it sewed up really well. I used more of a raincoat poly fabric and I had a little trouble with the sleeves even though I sewed them in flat before sewing the side seams. The inseam front pockets kind of get cut off by the hem on the short length version that I made, but you shouldn’t have that problem making the longer coat. If I ever do make view C again, I’ll move those pockets up higher.

    I cringe a little at my photos…I wasn’t really a sewing blog back then, but here’s my jacket:

    A Colourful Canvas: McCall’s M5525

  2. liz-o-matic says:

    AHH! I’ve had the Constellation Quilt on my “to do” wish list for AGES!! I’m excited to see how yours turns out 🙂

  3. Rachel says:

    That constellation kit might be just the ticket to resolve one of the things I miss most about NZ after emigrating to the UK – not being able to see the southern cross! Now just to move the family + bird population…. Good luck with the coat. As you know, it’s just a (long) series of little steps. You’ll be fine 🙂

  4. Jennie says:

    I love the trench coat you chose. The princess seams alway seem to make achieving the fit better a lot easier than darts. The guard things on the shoulders are epaulettes. They originally were used to show rank in the armed forces. The cape like thing on the back is an extended yolk, or a rain guard. It’s supposed to make the rain sheet off of it and not run directly down your legs and shoes. I honestly dont own a coat, since I live in the desert Southwest of the US. It’s still in the high 90s low 100s f . We have another 4 weeks until we get down to the 80s. Would love to see you in the finished coat.

  5. Janet says:

    I definitely get the back to school itch, too. (And I miss getting new pens as well!) Very excited to see the trench coat in progress.

  6. Nancy K says:

    It’s a great pattern and I’ve looked at this one, but I don’t like the one piece sleeve.

  7. stitchedupsam says:

    That constellation quilt looks amazing! A couple of years ago I saw a similar idea on Ravelry for a circular shawl depicting the constellations in the Northern Hemisphere. I fell in love with it, but knew I’d never use it if I knitted it, this I might actually use.

    I’m debating coat making for this winter. I’ve seen an amazing Vivienne Westwood coat that I want to try and copy.

  8. Sharon says:

    That constellation quilt looks amazing. Particularly useful as a guide, on the odd days when a starry sky is visible!

    I used to make quilts, king sized, as wedding presents for friends. The ‘sandwiching’ process was always a little fraught as our available floor space only allowed for half of the quilt to be unrolled at a time. The quilts seemed to work though.

  9. ellegeemakes says:

    Looks like you’re off to a great start! I love your plaid choice and can’t wait to see the finished coat. I have that pattern in my stash and have considered making it too!

  10. This is a great video by Wendi Gratz from Shiny Happy World on making french knots…it will make you LOVE french knots (they can be so fun!)
    I can’t wait to see how the quilt turn out!

  11. V Reed says:

    I love back to school sewing! The fall feel, the brushed flannel plaids…it is sewing bliss. This year, I’m working for a professor, so I’m feeling very schoolgirlish in that I need to sew up something appropriately colored to wear if I’m on campus on the inevitable sports day. Thankfully, the colors are ones I wear well and as such, I’m looking forward to stitching them up. I’ve even bought the fabric, so I’m headed in the right direction. Also in the line up for my fall sewing is a lovely wool dress. I don’t have a nice trench coat to wear over it and now that I look at that pattern, I find that I probably need one. Something in a sedate grey or black with a bold hot pink lining.

  12. Wendy says:

    You’re doing a muslin, yes?

  13. Rose says:

    There isn’t a hint of Fall in the weather here in Florida. My sewing thoughts do turn to Fall in late September. I’m trying hard to finish a few transitional garments so I can work on my true Fall garments. You have me thinking about a trenchcoat this year (The thoughts happen every year, but the sewing hasn’t happened yet. I can imagine your lining in a bit brighter colors – love it! The Haptic Lab Quilt sounds wonderful. I look forward to seeing it.

  14. gingermakes says:

    What fun projects! Can’t wait to see them! I need to get my duffle coat going, but I find it hard to motivate until the weather gets a bit colder. But I do have a quilt going, albeit very slowly. These are both going to be so fun!

  15. Dustin says:

    What size/weight of thread did you (or anyone reading the comments) use for the quilting lines? I’m using a standard hand-quilting thread but it keeps tearing through the pattern and disappearing below. I feel like the thread you used here looks thicker than what I have. Thank you!

    1. I used 3 strands of DMC embroidery thread.

  16. Maya says:

    HI Jenny – (Sorry for messaging so long after this blog post!) Your quilt looks fab! I’ve just bought the constellation quilt kit from Haptic Lab. Could I ask you, how did you keep the ‘back’ of the quilt looking neat? Also, do you think I could sew just the radiating lines through all of the layers, and then do the constellations just through the top? I do embroidery, but I’m not experienced in this kind of quilting. Thank you! Maya x

Let me know what you think!