It turns out I really like coat making! This is my second so far this year and I’m already planning more for me and the rest of my family. I enjoy the challenge of learning something new and so when my daughter lost her second coat at school(!!) with winter months fast approaching, I decided I would sew her one rather than hit the shops. In hindsight this may have been a little ambitious given it was already October. Cue the Berlin coat blog tour with numerous beautiful versions shared from across the globe and it wasn’t long until I caved and bought the pattern.
Pattern and design details
There are lots of features I love about this coat, like the big hood, pleat and tab at the back, which all help to make it a bit different. Another plus for me was that it included adding batting to the lining for a little extra warmth. I have never quilted anything before and I wasn’t really sure what to use as batting for a garment. After reading around a few places on the internet I landed upon this Thinsulate fabric which I hoped would live up to it’s name of being thin and insulating! It worked perfectly for this coat – although I would say it seemed a little bulky (1.5cm thick) and I wouldn’t want to use it for anything too fitted or where the garment needs some drape.
For the rest of the fabric, after extensive online searching to no avail, I decided to nip to Barry’s in the hope that they would have something not too pricey and preferably machine washable. They have a huge wool selection and I was there about half an hour before I stumbled upon this fabric. I would say it’s a lightweight coating and not only was it a great colour for Chloe it was also by far the cheapest there at £5 / metre! It didn’t specify what type of fabric it was but at that price I find it hard to believe it contains any wool – which also ticked the box of being washable! I picked up the lining fabric there too and I just love the colours together.
Sewing it up
I learnt to quilt as I went as it seemed pretty straightforward (although I’m sure seasoned pros would have something to say about my technique and slightly-off parallel lines!) It took me soooo much longer than I anticipated! Initially I found it really therapeutic and enjoyable…. but after a few evenings passed in the same way I grew decidedly impatient (note the ‘design feature diamond’ in the centre of the coat – I just wanted to quilt less lines!!)
The only thing I felt was lacking in this pattern was pockets. There are pocket flaps included but I think that pockets are really an essential in a winter coat so I thought I would have a go at adding them. I made a hot mess on my first attempt – I didn’t think through the construction process (with the piping and pocket flaps) and they sat really badly! I found this fab tutorial over at Waffle Patterns for adding in seam pockets which I followed and it worked perfectly! Yay for pockets!
The only other addition to the pattern (which many others have also opted for) was to add some piping to bring out some of the little features a bit more, like the sleeve tabs, pocket flaps and hood. It did add another step to the process, but I’m so pleased I did as it gives a lovely finish.
Once I had done all the prep (and eventually got the pockets in!) the coat came together remarkably quickly and was a fairly simple sew. The instructions are clear and well illustrated (including bagging the lining) and everything matched up as it should! I did find however that some of the steps I picked up when making my Clare coat just weren’t mentioned here. Simple processes that can make a big difference like grading seams and even adding interfacing to the facings for the hood and the front of the coat were not mentioned anywhere. This coat is completely manageable for a first-time-coat-sewist – but I was glad of some previous knowledge!
I finished the coat for the first week in November and it was just in time! It’s been pretty cold here the past few weeks and Chloe has been toasty warm. She loves her new coat and keeps telling everyone that her mummy made it 🙂
Overall I heartily recommend the Berlin coat. It’s one I suspect I shall make more of in the future – with an age range of 1 – 12 years and 3 girls to sew for it’s hard to imagine it staying in the cupboard!
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