A classic trench coat, or ‘the coat that nearly wasn’t’

In hindsight, making a complicated pattern that needed to be significantly altered to fit my 5ft 3” frame, in a language I don’t actually speak probably wasn’t the smartest choice of first projects for the Cali Fabrics blogger team, but that gamble seems to have paid off and I am so pleased to be able to show you my (finally) finished Autumn/Fall trench coat!

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I was too keen to blog about this so there are still a few loose threads haha!

For my first make, I wanted to make something classic but also practical, and a jacket that would see me through the end of summer and into autumn/fall felt like a good choice. I had downloaded a pattern for a trench coat months ago when Knipmode were doing an offer around Christmas time for a freebie download, but I hadn’t really planned beyond making it ‘at some point’. Happily the stars aligned and ‘now’ was the time!

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The pattern itself is a simple, classic trench coat style rain coat from 2014 and costs €4.95 (about £3.50/$5). Knipmode is a Dutch sewing magazine but they have their patterns available for download so you don’t need the magazine to get them! I did however find a few pattern pieces that are shown on the cutting layouts aren’t actually included in the PDF – the belt and the belt loops were missing but those are pretty simple to draft up. I had to make a few toiles to perfect the fit – some of you may have seen on Instagram that I had a mystery pattern piece that I couldn’t work out where it should go based on the line drawings on the pattern. As it turns out, it joins front to back across the shoulders (piece 3, if you’re curious). As I’d already fitted the coat without these pieces I didn’t bother adding them and it’s turned out fine! I’d suggest this pattern is probably more suited for intermediate sewers due to the sparse instructions – the instructions are in Dutch and although Google Translate offers some pretty hilarious translations, that and common sense can only get you so far so I actually used the instructions for Vogue 1467 as the construction seemed pretty similar!

Don’t be alarmed by the size chart on the Knipmode website, as I found the sizing to be way off. My hip measurement put me off the chart as larger than the largest size but when I looked at the pieces I looked like a EU44/46 would probably fit me so I used that. I would also suggest that you be aware that although Knipmode does have a broad range of sizes, not all patterns are available in all sizes. I would normally do a FBA but because I wanted a loose-ish fit so I can wear jumpers underneath I just added some extra shaping across the bust seams to allow a curvier shape and took it in a bit under the bust. It was worth taking the time to make the fit adjustments though! Knipmode draft for a B cup/5ft 7” height, and while the cheaters FBA worked, I had to remove 34cm in length from the body. I know I’m small but really… Weirdly I didn’t have to take any length off the sleeve – having been to the Netherlands several times, I’ve never noticed that (according to Knipmode at least) everyone has really short arms. Or maybe I just have chimpanzee arms…

You may have spotted that I omitted the straps on the sleeve as it made the overall coat look cluttered and untidy. I suspect on a taller frame and in a lighter weight fabric this would be less of an issue, but I was happy to keep just a few of the traditional elements of a trench coat.

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I didn’t want to make a beige trench coat as it’s not a kind colour for me so I searched for darker tones that would suit the changing seasons. The fabric I used wasn’t actually my initial choice – I had chosen a cotton/tencel blend but unfortunately it was out of stock by the time I placed my order.  However, Ron and the team very kindly sent me a list of some other options that might suit and I chose a 100% cotton twill instead which seemed like good alternative. I’m not sure if that’s standard service from Cali Fabrics but I was really impressed! As I’m in the UK, it took just under 2 weeks to reach me, and when I picked it up it went straight in the wash! I whacked in a colour catcher too but there was very little colour bleeding and almost no shrinkage, so I didn’t have to worry about losing yardage. Oh yeah, a side note for my UK/European followers – Cali Fabrics ship basically everywhere but they cut by the yard, not the metre, so take that into account when ordering.

Because of the twill weave there was a little bit of fraying, but I handled the fabric a lot doing final fittings and wrestling sleeve-heads into place and it held up pretty well considering, with barely any unintended stretching on the curved bits -it survived some fairly liberal usage of my unpicker too! Twill is usually medium/heavy weight, and in places I was sewing through 6 layers – I had to change my needle a few times but it was worth the effort as the fabric has sewn up really nicely. As it’s still pretty new and unworn it feels a little stiff, but with time it’s going to soften and wear down really beautifully. The colour in the photos makes this look a little lighter than it is in real life, but blue is kinder on my fair skin than black. I think there were some other colours on the website – the olive green would be great for those with darker hair or skin but there is the classic trench coat beige too for the more traditional among us.

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The buttons came from Wool Warehouse here in the UK. Again these look a little lighter than they do in reality – definitely a darker brown. The lining came from Barry’s Fabrics in Birmingham – I had met up with some fellow stitchers for a shopping trip and had my heart set on finding a Ted Baker style silky satin type lining, and when I finally found this for just £5 a metre, it was love at first sight! The beautiful printed satin gives one sneaky last glimpse of summer. According to my sister, good lining is my thing. She’s not wrong! There are some lovely looking silks from Cali Fabrics – this is my favourite. I will probably always wear the coat with the belt tied towards the back but I like the added detail it gives to the back waist.

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Quite a lot went wrong with this coat from start to finish, but I’m really happy with the finished trench coat and am looking forward to some cooler days so I can wear it out. I haven’t yet decided what my next Cali Fabrics project will be so keep your eyes peeled!

I blog over at jennystitched.wordpress.com, and you can also find me on Instagram!

Please note: the Cali Fabrics blog team and I have been provided different fabrics in exchange for our participation and our honest reviews. All opinions expressed in my posts will be my own. Where supplies were purchased elsewhere, this will clearly noted with alternatives available at Cali Fabrics given where possible.

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22 thoughts on “A classic trench coat, or ‘the coat that nearly wasn’t’”

  1. Total stunner! Your perseverance definitely paid off and I’m sure you’ll get years of wear and compliments out of it — it’s a perfect investment piece. And maybe you’ve just helped me find a good pattern company for my very long torso! 😆

      1. Will do! By the way, if you don’t use this already, Google Translate’s app lets you point your phone camera at some text and then translates it without you having to type it in. You’ve probably figured this out but just in case!!

      2. I did use that predominantly but it translates literally as it’s not smart enough to rearrange sentences or give proper context, resulting in some pretty hilarious translations! (At one point Google Translate asked me to ‘suffocate him’ 😂) it’s still a good feature on the app though – generally you can get the gist of the instructions 😃

  2. What a great good. Beautiful topstitching. I make clothes from KNIPmode patterns too and perhaps there was a note that you had to draft the belt and the beltloops according to measurements that are written down under ‘knip naar maat’.

  3. Love that lining! The epaulette detail is great, too and really well executed. But 34cm removed from the body length? Wow, I normally have to lose a couple of inches but that amount seems extreme!

    1. The dutch are all tall though – apparently it’s to do with all the cheese they eat! I took about 12 cm out of the body and the rest from the bottom section – it’s the most I’ve ever had to remove!

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