Thursday, December 3, 2015

The Pattern Whisper recommends: Winter Coats

Before the polar vortex hits your part of the world you may have winter coat sewing in mind. Since I was in the midst of making a new coat I mentioned recently the idea of a pattern whisperer post on coats and the response was positive. So I have rounded up a few coat ideas with my thoughts on fitting and ease of sewing.
Full disclaimer here  - I mostly sew with Vogue and now Burda (both envelope and magazine downloads) so the choices from those pattern lines. I really like Burda in all forms lately for outerwear, they seem to have more choices in coats and cover all size ranges with stylish and wearable options. Also I tried to find coat patterns that are actually suitable for wearing in the cold. I made that Burda portrait collar coat last year and someone commented that it was a "fashion" coat not a winter coat, which is understandable when you look at the open neckline. Actually it is funny because that is the warmest coat I have - due to the thick fabric and with one more button or hook you could close the collar and be nice and toasty!

It seemed strange to me but quite a few of these patterns are a little dull as pictured on the pattern, and this is where imagination has to step in. I think for coats it really pays to look in stores, try on some various colors, shapes etc. While a black coat will last in your wardrobe for a good while, there are a lot of neutrals that work really well for coats and depending on your typical color scheme grey, dark red, deep purple, navy or a camel color are also really good for a coat that you can wear with a lot of options. Usually for dresses or tops I don't make a muslin but for a coat it is a must. Just so much better to get the fit resolved before you cut into your nice fabric. And coating needs interfacing. I will have some details in my next post about interfacing although you can look at some of my past posts to see more on that.

First up a newish pattern from Vogue 9157. This has a lot going for it in terms of ease of sewing. It might look like a lot of pattern pieces but I find that last stretch of sewing a coat is kind of a wrestling match - usually in a heavy wool it can get really bulky and awkward. I could see constructing this one in the upper and lower half, and then attaching. Also raglan sleeves - if you have had some trouble with setting in a sleeve in a thick wool this would be much easier. I used to not like double breasted coats but am coming around a bit. Cute pockets also on View B.  (View A is a jacket length). I'm sure that View C has in seam pockets. The kicker for this pattern is that it comes in cup sizes which saves some work in the fitting.  No reviews that I can find which is a suprise but someone is probably sewing it up right now.

Vogue 9157

Next up is a pattern that might be a bit hard to find. Simplicity 2311. I posted this on Instagram not long ago and mentioned that it was a great pattern but discontinued but Simplicity commented that it still available. I made it a few years ago and love how it turned out. The tech drawing had me worried about the size of the lapels but I found them to be perfect. Proportion wise, fit etc this pattern is a winner, also I didn't find any exessive ease or other issues that can be common with some Simplicity patterns. A few years ago they had a lot of cute coat patterns but the choice has dwindled from them lately. I also like that this pattern had single or double breasted, princess seams front and back, choice of different collar options. I like patterns with a lot of options!

Simplicity 2311

Ok, here is the one that might be a bit of a sleeper, Butterick 6141. Something about how it looks on the model  - and even in the tech drawing is kind of frumptastic, but I think this coat has a lot of potential. The example just looks too big in the waist for the model, picture it with the waist nipped in a bit more, which would then emphasize the flare over the hips. Very retro in a good way. If you like fit and flare dresses this might be the style for you.  On the plus side, it has shoulder princess seams - great for fitting over the bust, choice of collar options, even a hidden placket option where you can use large snaps for those who are just over doing buttonholes in thick wool fabric (we have all been there). This pattern with a better fit could be a really nice vintage inspired look.

Butterick 6141 coat

To illustrate my point on this Butterick pattern I took a deep dive into my closet to photograph this coat which I did not sew. My mom bought it for me when I started my first real job in San Francisco. But is the same idea as the above pattern, princess seams (although these are armhole princess) and then those release pleats at the waist creating a slightly full skirt and giving it a nice hourglass shape. We bought this coat downton at Joseph Magnin's which doesn't exist anymore (sad). It has a velvet collar and bound buttonholes, plus the sleeves are slightly full and then end in pleats at the wrist which echo the pleats in the skirt. I love release pleats  - or to be accurate I think they are release darts (darts which don't go to a point). Anyway - that is a feature I have always liked. The very popular Anna dress from ByHandLondon has that type of dart in the bodice and if you get the fit right it looks pretty and a bit vintage-y.  So........does anyone else see the potential in that Butterick pattern?

vintage black coat1

Moving on to a pattern where I have no doubts, this Burda plus pattern is so sharp. The model looking so gorgeous from head to toe might have something to do with it but oooo a red coat!. Plus traditional menswear overcoat shaping, nice lapel, welt pocket, walking pleat in back, two piece sleeve. Love it. And this is a Burda Plus pattern. (Burda Plus has soooo many good patterns  - ok they have the requisite odds and ends with goofy styling but really - lots of great choices available. My only hesitation  is those darn "dior darts" which can hard to sew in ponte or something that doesn't want to press but seem to work better in natural fibers, especially in a lofty wool which you can steam to get nice shaping.

Burdastyle 01-2014#130

For a relatively new sewist or if you are a little worried about coat sewing, I think this Burda Easy coat is so cute and comes with (allegedly) complete instructions for the new sewer.  I really like the version on the right, it has a snap front, high collar, interesting darts front and back and one drawback - faux pockets. But the pocket flaps are cute and I would put side seam pockets to get around that little issue. I am not a fan of collarless coats (short haired girl here - neck is always cold) but that coat has my number one sewing dislike - separating zipper. So go ahead all you zipper fanatics. For some reason this is just the top of the list of things I will never sew, I just hate sewing them and don't really like wearing them. But I admit they do look great on some garments. Oh well.....

Burdastyle Easy Coats

Here is another Simplicity, 1015 pattern that ticks a lot of boxes for being both current and practical, yet the pattern envelope styling would have me running for the hills if I had not scrutinized it a bit more.

Simplicity 1015

Looks relatively easy to fit, and really easy to sew with slouchy shoulders instead of set in sleeves, princess seams, a nice big collar for warmth, fastens with a belt although you could add buttons or snaps as well. This is the first coat pattern I have seen in ages that has included the pattern for the button in/out extra warm lining layer. I have had coats with that and they are kind of handy - makes them more of an all weather coat. And if you sew one coat you want it to be useful for a long time, right? Although what is happening with that View B on the left, with the grey and black. That is some pitiful color blocking. also is she wearing knee socks? I don't even want to know.

Next are my picks for the comfy coat that feels like a blanket but looks great paired with the right pieces. The one on the left is a Burda downloadable and the one on the right is an envelope pattern.

Burda coocoon coats
They are similar in silhouette but the one on the left has a more cool vibe, and interesting seaming. The one on the right looks easy to sew and fit and would make a great warm casual coat in a tweed or check as they show. I suspect it doesn't really take all that much fabric which could be good. The collar is actually more like a shirt collar than a typical lapel, so if you have sewn a shirt you could definitely sew this coat.

I have to give a shout out to a couple more great coats. First the Quart coat from Pauline Alice patterns, I sewed this last year for a friend and it is a gorgeous looking coat. Slight warning - check the length as it is on the short side so if you want a knee length coat you may need to adjust. But it has those super cute pleated insets on the sides. Love! If you love plaid give that a try - but this falls into the category of a supposedly fun thing I will never do again (so I say).

front buttoned collar up copy

Another coat I recently saw almost made it to my list but I was trying to keep it short, however if you want a feminine, fitted style check out Margo's recent coat, which is Burda 6772. I love the idea of a dressy coat and this one is perfect to brighten up the winter.

It took me a while but I am now convinced that if you want a good coat pattern, try Burda first! they have a good variety, casual, traditional, formal, fashion-forward and lots of choice across the whole pattern size range including plus size. And their sleeves seem to be very well drafted.

Here are links to the Burda coats I have made.

BurdaStyle book coat in blue wool.
Burda plus coat in black wool.
Burda magazine pattern in heathered plum wool.
Burda magazine tricolor coat - in process :)  up next on the blog.

So are you sewing a coat this season? what are you waiting for - winter is upon us!

Happy December sewing,


  1. I really enjoyed your post! I have always admired Burda coat patterns. I am making the Jalie Stretch City Coat. It is not for the dead of winter. I bought some fuchsia power stretch from the awesome online store: Peak Fabrics.

  2. Does that easy Burda pattern come from a magazine?

  3. Greet post! Your thoughts on Simplicity 2311 are extremely helpful. I have this pattern in my stash but was having doubts about the size of the lapels too. I completely forgot you used this same pattern for your pretty black coat!

  4. Great post! I also like the Burda easy yellow coat and maybe I will make it in a blue, not to thick, wool, I have that in the Burda easy magazine so no PDF luckily. I am a big fan of Patrones Magazine and I have a lot of coats from there on my list too.

  5. This post just reminded me that I ordered Burda 6844 a week ago and it still hasn't turned up!

  6. Thanks Beth. These are great suggestions. And, I'm glad you went to Joseph Magnin's with your mom, too. That was our go-to store for the fancy stuff. We always went to the one in the Broadway shopping center. :)

  7. I'm in the process of making a second coat now - I'm using the same pattern as your plum coat, although I'm starting with the short version and considering whether I want to lengthen it (but probably not!). I wanted to have a soft pink wool for it but I ended up with something in the cerise/plum shade. Now that I wrote this I think I'm inadvertently copying yours!!! I'm planning to add a big snap to be able to close the collar though.

    You're right, Burda has loads and loads of nice patterns. I have huuuge trouble deciding every time I look.

  8. I'm a short hair gal too, and my answer for the collarless coat is: fabulous scarves or cowls. Since I also knit, that's a win-win!

  9. Thank you - this is really helpful. The collar on the Simplicity coat is particularly nice. I am seriously considering making a real coat this year…we'll see if I actually manage to get my time sorted out to do it. Time is the challenge : )

    I used to love going to both Joseph Magnin and I. Magnin. So sad when they closed.

  10. One of the many annoying quirks in Burda world is illustrated in 2014/#130. This is an elegant, classic pattern. In plus sizes. I wear a Vogue size 12. By the time I made the adjustments, I probably would have a hot mess in my hands. I do wish they would provide the plus patterns in regular sizes. This coat is not the only pattern that caught my eye, only to see that it was not useful to me.

  11. Boy, is this timely. I've been looking for a coat pattern. I have a lot of them, including years of Burda WOF and Burda Style. I have been looking at that 12/15 coat. I have the magazine with the purple coat pattern. I love it, but I just can't think that it would work in my climate, at least not as a winter coat. I also have a princess shoulder seam coat from Burda magzine that I'm thinking of using. I love Burda tailoring. It's well drafted fashionable.

  12. Burda 01/2014 #130 is the only pattern that I fancy, too. However I am very much not a plus size so it would be no good to me, either. I guess it's fortunate I live in a climate where a winter coat would be worn for maybe 4 weeks out of the year. :) That aside this is a great post for those sewers who are looking for a coat pattern. Good of you to put it together.

  13. Great post Beth and once again I seem to have a few of your suggestions in my stash! Interesting the comments re. People wishing plus sized comments were available in regular sizing: plus size sewists wish the opposite!

  14. Love that Simplicity coat on you!
    so classically perfect...

  15. I've been thinking about making a coat for a little while, and I also love the Burda plus coat shape and style. For myself and the previous commenters who like it too but aren't plus size, would you cast your eye over these Beth?,, and The only one I can find with similarly shaped lapels is oversize, which I don't think is what we're looking for:

    1. I think your choice of is great, it has both princess seams and interesting pockets. as well as a nice collar/lapel combo.

  16. I agree with you Beth, Burda patterns are very well designed. They tend to lack instruction but I find that the pieces always fit nicely and the designs are modern. You have made some lovely coats!! Your blue one is gorgeous! I have that book but have never made anything from it..

  17. Thanks for sharing these great winter coats pattern suggestions (glad I saw these when I visited the site of my friend). I kept a few bookmarked, like the Vogue 9157 and Burda Plus. But I am a bit worried starting on a coat project!

  18. Before the polar vortex hits your part of the world you may have winter coat sewing in mind. Since I was in the midst of making a new coat I ...