Our sewalong starts January 24, but I wanted to give you some time to start assembling your tools and supplies. Here’s what you’ll need.
Get Your Supplies
- Main fabric. The first and most obvious thing you need is outer fabric. For the coat (version 1), this is likely going to be a wool coating or heavy wool flannel. There are many kinds of wool you can choose from, but you’ll find most of them labeled “coating” or something along those lines. If you’re doing the jacket version, a canvas (waxed or plain), heavy twill, denim, or waterproof fabric will work. This version is unlined, so you want to make sure it feels good against your skin and has enough structure to look good on its own. Think weighty and crisp.
- Fusible interfacing (v. 2). Interfacing is used to give structure to the sleeve tabs and front facing of the jacket. Choose one that’s light, since fusible interfacings usually add more stiffening than you might anticipate due to the glues. I have a fondness for knit interfacing because of its drape. Hold the interfacing together with your outer fabric to see how they feel.
- Lining fabric (v. 1). This is the fabric for the inside of your coat. The traditional choice for a toggle coat is cotton flannel. The solid coat with a plaid flannel lining is the quintessential choice, but any soft flannel would be lovely. If you’re making a less traditional coat, other lining fabrics will work too. Rayon linings, soft twills, even silk can work. What about a pre-quilted lining for super extra cozy warmth?
- Interlining fabric (v. 1). Some people might want an interlining for warmth. My one recommendation here is to check to make sure the finished coat will not feel too heavy. There is a lot of fabric in this coat, so wool + interlining + flannel lining can weigh a lot. Some good choices are lambswool or plain flannel, or fabrics sold specifically for warmth.
- Test garment fabric. Buy extra muslin so you can make a test garment and fit it before sewing. If you have some inexpensive fabric lying around that more closely matches your main fabric, you could also use that. When making test versions of the jacket, we bought some cheap canvas to test it out.
- Light flannel for sleeve heads (optional). Sleeve heads are optional, but recommended. They help shape the cap of the sleeve and disguise the seam allowance. You can buy them online, but later I’m going to show you how to make shaped sleeveheads from cotton flannel. 1/2 yard will be more than enough.
- ¼” shoulder pads (optional). These very thin shoulder pads will help shape the shoulders without adding much bulk. We’ve purchased some from B. Black & Son
- Ten yards of 1/4″ wide double fold bias tape (V. 2). You’ll use this to finish seams on the unlined jacket. You can purchase it, but it’s also fun to make your own! You can use an interesting color or pattern for something unexpected.
- Silk thread. Choose a silk thread in a contrasting color to use for basting.
- Polyester thread. Choose a polyester thread to match your main fabric and some to match your lining fabric.
- Four 1” buttons (V. 1) or two 1″ buttons (V. 2). These will go on your sleeve tabs and the hood tab (for the coat). Leather buttons are beautiful on this coat, as are wood or coconut. But any sort of button you like will do.
- Four toggle closures. You can purchase these, or make your own. We’ll have a tutorial on making toggle closures, in which case you’ll need cording and toggle buttons.
Gather your tools
Here are the tools you’ll need:
- Sewing shears. Use sewing shears (also called dressmaker’s shears) to cut your fabric. Even if you use a rotary cutter, it’s a good idea to have these on hand.
- Pins. You’ll need plenty of pins. I prefer glass head ones because they won’t melt under your iron.
- Pattern weights. Use these to hold the pattern on your fabric while you trace it, or while cutting with a rotary cutter.
- Hand sewing needles. You’ll be doing plenty of hand stitching, so grab some of these.
- Marking pens or chalk. Choose one that stays put and shows up easily on your fabric, but washes away cleanly.
- Point turner. A bamboo point turner will help you get sharp points and corners, and also help push out seams so you can press them evenly.
- Steam iron. Perhaps this goes without saying, but you need an ironing board and steam iron. These tools will be almost as vital as your sewing machine!
- Tailor’s ham (recommended). A tailor’s ham is not strictly necessary, but it will make pressing certain parts of the garment much easier.
- Seam roll (recommended). A Seam roll helps you to press without the seam allowances showing through. It’s also useful for pressing sleeves.
- Rotary cutter (optional). Not necessary, but makes cutting your fabric go faster. If you go this route, you’ll also need a mat.
Pretreat your fabric
You want to remove shrinkage from your fabric before your garment is sewn. Even if you’ll be dry cleaning a wool jacket, you need to eliminate the shrink that will happen eventually. Wool is very prone to shrinkage.
If you’re using wool for your coat, you have a few good options for preshrinking your wool fabric before sewing:
- Dry cleaning. Take it to the dry cleaners and ask them to preshrink it. This can be expensive and you may need to hunt around for a dry cleaner who understands what you’re trying to do.
- London shrink. Take a bed sheet and wash it, then lay the damp sheet out flat. Place your wool on top and roll the sheet and wool up together. Let it sit overnight, then unroll it in the morning and let it dry completely. Once it’s dry, press the fabric with steam.
- Dryer shrink. This tip comes from Pam of the sewing blog Off the Cuff. She recommends placing your wool in the dryer with a damp towel, drying at high heat for 30-40 minutes. You may want to test this with a swatch beforehand, but I’ve found it a reliable method.
Preshrink your lining fabric by washing it in whatever way you intend to clean the final garment. If you’re using cotton flannel, I also recommend letting it hang over night before cutting. Flannel tends to have a loose weave, and can grow vertically with wear, so I like to help it along before cutting.
Is there anything we’ve missed? Any fabric questions you have?