Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Boiled Wool Coat Plans

Let's talk about boiled wool shall we?! I've been interested in this fabric for a while, primarily because sewing with it allows many shortcuts for the lazy amongst us (of which I am queen!) For those of you who aren't familiar with boiled wool, it's a wool fabric that's pre-shrunk by boiling at high temperatures (the clue's in the name!) This process causes the fibres to compress and interlock, resulting in a soft, springy felt-like fabric. Because of the tightly woven fibres, boiled wool is impressively resistant to wind and rain, making it perfect for outdoor garments such as coats, jackets and hats. From a sewing point of view, it has two major advantages:

- Because of the tightly woven fibres, it doesn't fray when cut, so no need to finish seams. Hoorah!

- If you're after a winter coat, you don't need to add underlining or interlining for extra warmth. In fact, if you're after a very simple coat or jacket, you don't even need to line it at all if you don't want to (more on this in a minute).


With this in mind, I thought boiled wool would be a perfect choice for my next project: a casual coat/cardigan. Design-wise I had a very simple shape in my head: above the knee and slim fitting with no collar. I was initially thinking of drafting my own, but I've come to the conclusion that I need to practice my drafting skills on a few simple garments first before unleashing them on a coat! I'm getting there though, I've almost finished drafting my first dress so look out for that soon. 

As far as inspiration goes, I was rather taken with the Named Patterns Andy Coat. When I met up with Scruffy Badger recently, I was able to inspect her beautiful version at close quarters and was mightily impressed with the tailoring details: bound buttonholes, welt pockets, fully lined, two piece sleeves etc. I was sorely tempted, but to be honest the pattern involved a bit more work than I was willing to put in (I told you I was lazy!) But then I came across this Collarless Open Coat pattern from Burda (03/2012 #110).


It's a very simple design with princess seams, two-piece sleeves, centre back seam and no collar. It's also an edge-to-edge style, which means no buttons. I'm not sure how I feel about this - on the one hand it's a casual coat for spring time, so it probably won't need buttoning up, but then again, it might drive me mad not having any. It's a tricky one… it's not totally edge-to-edge, there is a slight overlap, so I may sew on a few covered snaps as contingency. I'll have a think about it and let you know what I decide. Any thoughts?



I actually made a muslin of the coat (gasp) - I cut a Burda size 40 which looks just a tad too big all over (obviously the sleeves will need about half a foot chopping off). So I think I'm going to size down all over, take a tiny bit more off the shoulders and shape it in very slightly at the waist. I'll also need to shorten the whole thing by about six inches to get the length I want. Nothing too dramatic, and after that I'll be ready to start working with my boiled wool, eek!

The boiled wool I'll be using is from Dragonfly Fabrics who stock a wonderful selection of colours (see first picture) The choice is almost overwhelming so I requested lots of samples to play with beforehand, eventually settling for Light Grey Blue


This photo isn't really a true representation of the fabric colour - it's much more saturated in real life, a lovely airforce blue. Dragonfly Fabrics are very kindly giving me two metres of boiled wool for my coat, so I hope I can do it justice. I haven't worked with boiled wool before, so asked Dorte at Dragonfly Fabrics for advice on pre-washing. She advised against pre-washing for a coat (I'll probably get it dry cleaned in the future if it needs it) but if I was making a dress or skirt from boiled wool then it can be pre-washed. It should be washed on a wool cycle and dried flat, but be prepared for around 10% shrinkage. 

Although I could probably get away with not adding a lining, I've decided to add one to give the coat more of a professional finish. Having done a bit of detective work in the shops, all the boiled wool coats I saw had lovely, shiny contrast linings, so that's what I'm planning. 

So there you have my boiled wool plans to date. If you've worked with boiled wool before and have any other tips or advice to share, please jump in. My fabric should arrive next week and then the fun begins! Have a good day. x



61 comments:

  1. i love the look of that - i bet the colour is gorgeous - you are very lucky! i have been thinking of a spring jacket and that's definitely given me something to think about!

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    1. Thanks Joanne, I AM very lucky, that's why I don't want to cock it up! I'm hoping the pattern will be perfect for spring. x

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    2. Sounds lovely! I made a coat from a boiled wool before, similar in shape to yours but it had a fluted/ruffle collar that went all the way to bottom hem. (That piece was interesting to cut, it was basically one big spiral that when attached made a lovely ruffle without pleating). It was a Burda I think. Anyway, it was lovely, and for the lining I can thoroughly recommend something silky/satiny because the boiled wool has a tendency to feel like it's sticking to the clothes underneath. If it's a lightweight coatigan feel you're after then pick the lightest silky/satin there is. I was surprised at the weight of the carrier bag when I got two metres of what I thought was a mediumweight satin lining for my coat and it made the coat stiffer than I wanted, so I redid it in the lightest one I could find, which felt a lot better for me. Looking forward to seeing the finished result! x

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    3. Thanks so much Lulu, that's excellent advice. I was wondering what kind of lining fabric to get so that's really good to know. x

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  2. oooh looks a great colour :-D I'd definitely go with some fastenings though specially for when it's windy!

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    1. Yes, that's what I'm thinking too! x

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  3. Looking forward to seeing your coat! I made a boiled wool bomber jacket recently, fantastic to sew. I used a ballpoint needle, also a walking foot and I also overlocked all the seams - just to have a very neat finish as the jacket is unlined. Planning another project using boiled wool, I love the unlined jacket pattern by Makers Atelier, designed to be made with it (bomber by MA, fabulously brilliant patterns).

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    1. Thanks for all the construction tips, really useful. Your bomber jacket looks gorgeous, such a professional finish! x

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  4. I think your fabric and pattern choices are simply fantastic. I have some RTW boiled wool jackets that I love but have never worked with it myself so I will be watching your progress with great curiousity.

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    1. Thanks Jane! Yes, I used to have a RTW boiled wool jacket and wore it to death, I'm hoping this coat will be similarly loved! x

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  5. Lovely simplycity, waiting for the result! And I love the colour.
    Love Stine

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    1. Thank you Stine! The colour's lovely isn't it?!! x

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  6. Ooh I'm so excited for your coat plans! That color is great and I'll be really interested to see how the boiled wool works out for a coat, since I've always wanted to try it. I would personally lean towards wanting to do some kind of fastener, buttons, snaps or maybe toggles, only because I feel like if it's chilly enough to wear a wool coat, odds are I might want it to close? But I'm facing a similar dilemma as I'm going to sew a coat too, from a vintage pattern that only has one button at the top. I'll have to see on the muslin if I can easily add more. Anyway, love the coat pattern you selected, I think it'll be great on you!

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    1. Thanks Tasha. I think you're right, I might just sew a code of hidden snaps on, even if I don't use them at least I'll have the choice of buttoning up! x

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  7. The jacket pattern is lovely! If it really irritated you not having buttons maybe you could use a belt to do it up? X

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    1. Oh that's a brilliant idea, why didn't I think of that?! Hhmm that's got me thinking now, thanks! x

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  8. That's a really lovely pattern, although it's plain it should be shapely with the darts and panels. Merchant and Mills have their Strand Coat pattern but it's maybe more flared than what you're after. I used ditto's washed wool mix fabric lately for a Delphine skirt (similar to boiled wool except it has 50% viscose/50% wool, therefore less pricey). It was great to work with, didn't need to overlock and very cosy. The Maker' s Atelier range used it for their patterns. Your fabric is lovely though, should turn out nice and have more warmth for a coat.

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    1. Thanks Jen! The strand Coat pattern is lovely but you're right, definitely not enough shape for me. I like the sound of the washed wool from Ditto. I'll be offering some alternative suggestions to boiled wool in my next post as it is a pricey option, the washed wool sounds like a good choice, thanks. x

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  9. This is so pretty! I love the pattern and the fabric! I think I would want some sort of fastening... maybe frogs or hidden hooks and eyes that you wouldn't have to use?

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    1. Thanks Sonja! Yes, I have a RTW jacket with hidden snaps so I may just copy that. x

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  10. This looks like a lovely plan! I can't wait to see the finished coat. Please consider showing us the muslin too. I think I'd learn a lot by seeing along with the finished coat. Thanks for the inspiration, Jane!

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    1. Thank you! I did think about showing the muslin but I made it with a large print gingham which makes it look exactly like a clowns coat - not a good look! x

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  11. That is a beautiful coat design. I love the long, lean look of it. I can't wait to see the finished coat, that wool is a beautiful color and texture.

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    1. Thank you Jennifer, I really hope it turns out as planned! x

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  12. Oh this will be a fun project! I like your choice of the Burda pattern versus Named Pattern. I say add some snaps and if you don't like them, remove them. It's not like bound buttonholes, which are a permanent feature. Good luck!

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    1. Yes, that was my thinking exactly, the fabric is too precious to risk bound buttonholes going wrong! I think discreet snaps is the way to go, thank you! x

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  13. I'd love to have a go at sewing up something with boiled wool, will look forward to seeing how you get on... Lovely pattern!

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    1. Thanks, I'm looking forward to working with it too! x

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  14. Beautiful colour, and I can't wait to see the end result! I tried making a lined boiled wool coat last year which remains unfinished as it didn't go together as I had hoped. I'm currently building up the courage to confront this UFO which makes your post all the more timely. Interesting to read how one of your commenters used a walking foot with her boiled wool. This is something I will definitely try out in the hope I can stop the longer seams from stretching and curling. I also need to take the welt pockets apart and start them again from scratch (I'm counting on the boiled wool being very forgiving) as I completely ballsed them up the first time... Plenty to keep me busy, and I'm hoping I might finish it before the weather turns warm this time. And seeing your new make will give me the shove up the backside I need!

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    1. Oh I hope you get it finished too Nathalie, it sounds lovely! One of the reasons I chose the Burda pattern over the Named pattern was because there were fewer design details to balls up! I'm very grateful for all the tips in the comments, they'll really help when I get started on it. x

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  15. Looking forward to seeing your finished coat. It looks a lovely classy pattern that you have chosen x

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  16. Woo very exciting! I've only very recently entered the world of sewing coats, and it's so rewarding!

    I love the design and the colour you chose, and I'm impressed by your patience to get samples! Super sensible. Looking forward to seeing your new coat :D

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    1. Thank you! I don't have much coat experience either so it's still a learning curve for me! x

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  17. Your post is very timely Jane, as just yesterday I finished my boiled wool jacket - my first encounter with that fabric. The pattern is a Burda, just a short version of your coat really and it went together like a dream. I have not lined it, although I used a co-ordinating cotton for the facings, just for interest and less bulk. I did not need a walking foot but for longer length seams it might be advisable. Also, tacking is a must! I made buttonholes (automatic by machine) and found four vintage buttons in my stash. I would certainly use the fabric again, as the non-fray quality is a bonus. Good luck with your coat and I look forward to seeing the finished garment in due course. I love reading your blog, it is so inspirational - last year I made the exact same Coco dress inspired by yours. Annie.

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    1. Aw thanks so much for this Annie! So pleased to hear your boiled wool jacket turned out perfectly and thanks for all the tips, much appreciated. Very flattered to hear you made the same Coco dress as me too! x

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  18. I love boiled wool. Its a fabric that requires a lot of care while sewing because it likes the heat and stretches...

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    1. Good tip Rachel, thanks. Florence at Flossie Teacakes had the same experience when she sewed with boiled wool so I'll use my iron with care! x

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  19. I made this pattern up in a lovely italian wool earlier this year and have been wearing it throughout this winter, its a great (simple) pattern. Doing a muslin was a good idea as it did come up big, I also had to tweak the shoulders, sideseams and did a swayback adjustment.
    I think it will look fantastic in the boiled wool…..Good luck

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    1. Thank you so much for this, it reassures me that I'm making the right tweaks to the pattern. In the meantime, I've just sent you an email. x

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  20. Nice to meet you.
    I make a first time comment on your blog from Tokyo.

    My hobby is "sewing" and I sometimes sew clothing for me and my daughter.

    Since I study English now, I was looking for "sewing" blog on English.
    I found your blog and started to read everyday.

    All of your craft are wonderful!
    Fabrics of your choice are my favorite.

    My poor English might be annoyed to you.

    I am looking forward to new posting!

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    1. Hi Akiko and thank you so much for your comment! I'm delighted that you've found my blog and that my sewing and fabric choices are inspiring. Keep up the good work and enjoy your sewing! x

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  21. Looks like it will be fab! Love the colour choice too.

    For those who would like a cheaper fabric option, I can recommend fabricuk.com that do an Italian melton (not quite the same as boiled wool) of a lovely thickness (520gsm so thicker than yours, but with lovely drape) in a few colours. It isn't 100% wool (70% if I remember correctly) but it is really lovely and I made a hooded wrap from it recently (in red! yes, red!) and am planning another wrap and possibly a coat.

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    1. Hi Jess, thanks so much for the recommendation. I'm going to do a follow-up post with a few less pricey alternatives to boiled wool so your comment is timely! x

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  22. Looking forward to seeing the finished coat and I like your choice of boiled wool. The colours in that swatch are lush. I didn't know it was super warm and that you didn't need to line it. I saw a few bolts in Saeeds in Walthamstow and was tempted to get some for a jacket.

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    1. Ooh I'd snap some up if I were you, it's perfect for a jacket! x

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  23. what a nice pattern, I think the princess seams will be what adds the charm, now you've got me wanting to make one lol! can't wait to see the progress!

    Helen

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    1. Thank you! Can't wait to get started on it! x

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  24. cool blog post :)

    check out mine here: http://curiousalice21.blogspot.co.uk/

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  25. Oh it's lovely and so warm. I made a gorgeous purple boiled wool dressing gown years ago. Sadly my beloved tells me I look like a purple Jedi in it, and calls me Obi Wan Kanoobi (my nickname is Noo, don't ask). Anyway long story short, I barely knew anything about sewing then and it was a very forgiving fabric.

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    1. Haha! Good to know it's a forgiving fabric, I'm hoping it will be nice to me too! x

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  26. Oooh, what a lovely color! I'm looking forward to reading updates on this coat!

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    1. Thanks! Next update due this week! x

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  27. It looks like a great fabric to work with, and what beautiful colours. But honestly, someone needs to come up with a nicer name than 'boiled wool', it makes me think of boiled meat that's been overcooked - not a nice association for a lovely fabric!

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    1. Hahaha that's spot on Kerry! I agree, it's not the sexiest fabric name is it? In fact putting the word boiled in front of anything is a bit of a mistake! x

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  28. Black color suits on every one personality , we can say that is natural color of beauty , black jackets are more likely to wear Sons Of anarchy Jacket

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  29. Wow great idea !!
    I like your style you are looking gorgeous.

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  30. You looking so pretty such an amazing dress, because of this you looking more attractive Fashion field we should learn some about fashion from this blog. Really amazing post love it.

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  31. I become to begin with considering drafting my personal, however I've come to the conclusion that I want to practice my drafting capabilities on a few simple clothes first earlier than unleashing them on a coat! I'm getting there although, I've almost finished drafting my first dress so appearance out for that quickly. Buy Essay Online

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  32. I am senior manager of ABC fabric. I want to say something about boiled wool. It is woven wool fabric that has been shrunk and thickened using a very ancient process once known as "Fulling". It is really good for wearing by medical aspect.

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