Ok, so here in the UK the news would have you believe we are heading for a freak artic freeze this winter, the coldest in 100 years … or we’re not, depending on which publication you read. Perhaps horrendous weather headlines sell as many papers as photos of Kim Kardashians bottom? People are seemingly enthralled by extremes, be it derrières or climate conditions. If it is true and winter intends to do it’s worst, I’d advise Mrs. Kardashian West to sew herself a wooly winter coat, and perhaps work out how to do a full butt adjustment. She doesn’t want to be parading about all bare cheeked, tipsy on champers and ill-prepared once we hit sub zero. Don’t you know our extremities are the first to go love, I’d look after your ‘ass’ets!
Me however, I’m ready. Winter do your worst! I introduce to you, the first coat I’ve made, The Schnittchen Malu coat, and it wasn’t nearly as scary as I’d thought.
Fabric: 3m of mystery mix fabric from the Abakhan sale back in the summer, cotton for the lining, and some curly faux fur the inside hood
Cost: £7 for the main fabric, £8 for the lining, £6 buttons and £12 for the faux fur. All in £33
Pattern: The Schnittchen Malu Coat
Time: 2 days of sewing
Difficulty: Surprisingly easy!
The Malu Coat is a relaxed fit coat in two lengths, to the hips or the knees. It features kimono sleeves, hem cuffs, and optional welt pockets/hood. You can choose between zip or button fastening.
Schnittchen are a small German pattern company, started by Silke a couple of years ago. I really like their youthful and simple style, and I have another Schnittchen pattern in the pipeline. Many (although not all, I want this beauty!) are available in English, and they supply printed or PDF patterns. For Malu I worked from a PDF pattern, which involved 72 pages of cutting and sticking together. For me this was the most tedious part of the whole process, and the final sheet was huge!
The directions with the PDF pattern aren’t the greatest, and I don’t think you’d be able to sew the garment from these instructions alone. Luckily after reading Ruth’s post, I noticed that there was an online photo tutorial for sewing Malu on the Schnittchen site. It’s in German, but my browser did an ok job of translating it, and this together with the PDF instructions finally made much better sense. It did take awhile for me to figure out the process, but once I had it was plain sailing. Nonetheless, I would have preferred clearer and more detailed instructions from the get go.
I managed to swipe just enough of the main coat fabric back in the Abakhan 70% of sale back in August, which is a great place to go for bargains. Trouble is you never know exactly the fiber content so it’s pot luck really. I’m guessing it’s some kind of wool mix. To touch it feels a lot like a wool which has been felted. As soon as I found it I had visions of some kind of oversized coat, like the kind your granddad would wear, (not sure when this became a good thing fashion wise by my book??). I love the green and red flecks on the navy fabric, it just adds a bit of interest. It turned out to be a joy to sew with. It behaved well, and pressed beautifully when just a little seam was applied. I’m usually not a fan of pressing, but I did enjoy this process when working with the wool mix.
I chose a plain green 100% cotton to line the coat with. Before making this jacket I found a great PDF article about lining coats which helped me decide which fabric to pick. Having never made a coat before, I really wasn’t sure what to go for. Should I go for something breathable? Slippery so it would glide on and off easy? Insulating for the cold winter months? All I was certain of was that I wanted the lining to be bright, and offset the flecks of colour in the main fabric. I decided to go for cotton as it was a natural medium weight fiber, breathable, absorbent and easy to care for. It also wasn’t going to break the bank.
As it was a winter coat, and I hate being cold, I thought it would be a nice touch to line the inside of the hood with some faux fur. Again I wanted to go with something a bit different and stick to green to match the lining. I’ve also got green eyes, and for some reason I always think wearing green brings out their colour.
If you’re looking for faux furs, the best selection I’ve found online was at Mohair Bear Making Supplies, and I found out that the top quality stuff is called Tissavel. When I realised I’d be spending more on a small piece of hood lining than the rest of the jacket, I decided to try and find something cheaper, and ordered this curly emerald green faux fur from eBay. I can’t help regretting this decision, as the fur I used, as nice as it looks, just doesn’t feel as soft as I’d imagined. I wanted to feel like my head was nestled in a polar bears armpit (a friendly one like Iorek Byrnison in the ‘Dark Materials’ trilogy). I think I’ll splash out and try some Tissavel next time I sew up a project like this, or at least get a sample and test the stroke-factor.
Sizing / modifications
Perhaps recklessly I didn’t make a muslin for this jacket. Any similar fabric I could have bought would have probably cost me more than the fabric I was using, so I just decided to go for it and hope for the best. It’s not a fitted style, and any extra room can only be a good thing when it’s extra cold and you want to wear a jumper underneath. I cut a size 42, which is a UK size 14. I think next time a 40 (size 12) would fit me a lot better, as it is a little roomy and I think the arms are slightly too long. It does feel kind of massive! There also seems to be a lot of extra space around the armpits and chest area. I’m unsure if I’ll have another go at this coat and make the adjustments needed, although I’m sure they would be straightforward to do so.
I’ve been managing to fit more sewing in than usual over the past few weeks, and it took me two days to sew up the coat (not including cutting out). This was also whilst I looked after the wee one, so it wasn’t two full days of sewing, just when I got a spare moment and in the evenings. The fact that the sleeves are Kimono style I imagine make it a lot faster than dealing with separate sleeve pieces, so it’s mainly just a few long, wavy seams to sew for the main jacket and the lining.
This was my first attempt at welt pockets, and the process is a slightly daunting prospect if you’ve not had a go at one. It involves cutting a slit in to your main pattern pieces, and then pulling the pocket through to the back of the garment. The photo instructions on Schnittchen site were very helpful here. I really should have had a practice, because once you’ve cut in to your piece there is no going back, and I had no spare fabric. Luckily though, the pockets came out perfect, so that’s another box ticked. I did two rows of stitching around the pocket edge, just to give them some extra strength.
Furry hood lining
The fur wasn’t the easiest to sew, but with lots of pins and making sure the pile sat where I wanted it to with my fingers, it turned out fine. It felt a bit odd working with a novelty fabric, but I’m pleased with the final result and think it suits the coat.
The lining was sewn up in a similar fashion to the main fabric, but it includes two pleats at the centre seam, which I think provide a little bit of extra space and ease for wearing. This is then attached to some facings, and to the jacket at the hood and hemline. It’s all sewn on the sewing machine, and to finish you pull the coat through a gap left in the lining to turn it the right way out. I love that the lining is such a bright green.
General happiness rating
– I rate this make 4 smileys
Firstly, I am actually over the moon that I made a coat and found it so straightforward. I wore it all of last week, and have had so many nice comments about it, and someone has even asked me to make one for them! The biggest niggle for me is that it does rather look like a dressing gown, but I’m coming round to thinking that is also a plus point. Most mornings I’ve left the house by 6.20am for work, and at that time I’d much rather be in my pyjamas than leaving the house. Luckily with this coat, I still get to feel like I’m in my dressing gown. The worst part of being so warm and comfortable for my dark early morning drives is that it takes more effort to stay awake than normal!
This make has been a wonderful entry in to coat making terrain, and I’d fully recommend the pattern as a great, simple, easy to sew jacket. I’ve got the bug now, I love working with heavy wool mixes, and I feel a quest to sew the perfect jacket might be on the horizon.
Other bloggers who’ve made this pattern
Here are my three favourite Malu coats which are all very different, and show off the versatility of the pattern.
- This faux fur version at Reeves Mecanique is my favourite I could find on the blogosphere, and the one which I would be most likely to wear. I love the fabric, the lining, and that Kim made it to wear to Burning Man. The fit also looks great on her.
- Here is Ruths’ version from Nightingale and Doolittle. She chose a gorgeous bright blue fabric, and made the shorter jacket version.
- Here is an effortlessly classy version from Jolies Bobines, who uses plain dark colours to create a stylish look.
I think I’ll leave it there for this week, but first I need to warn you of a full on cuteness alert for my next post. I made Evan some Christmas PJ’s and we did a jumping on the bed photo shoot earlier on today. So it’ll be a super bouncy post next time. It would be great to hear what you think of my jacket, and I’d like to know if you have made or are planning any outwear garments recently? Are they as contagiously fun as I’ve found it?
Happy sewing everyone, ta ra!