An Autumn Coat in Selvedge Denim

My sewing plans for fall can be summed up in a word – denim. Califabrics has so many awesome denim fabrics and I bought them all!! (Evil laugh) In keeping with this theme, I decided to make a denim coat for my next Cali&Co project – but not a traditional short ‘jean jacket’. I wanted to use the Claremont Coat pattern by Decades of Style. If you aren’t familiar with them, Decades of Style Patterns makes vintage style patterns out of Berkeley, CA, so this project is 100% Bay Area!


The pattern calls for medium weight fabrics and is designed to be a lighter coat worn over a dress, not a heavy coat for warmth. I decided to use the Dark Indigo 30” Premium Selvedge Denim. It is 100% cotton and 9 oz. – on the heavier end of midweight. Selvedge denim isn’t very common anymore, it’s a traditional method of weaving, so I thought it was appropriate for my 1940’s style coat. It is only 30” wide, so you will need to convert your yardage requirements accordingly! I ended up needing 6 yards although I initially only bought 5 – luckily there is plenty in stock (and at a great price). I also bought a colorful fabric for the lining, with the intention of making the lined version (the yardage requirement for the lining is incorrect – you need not 1 but at least 2 ½ yards of 60” wide fabric for the lining, so I had to double back for more lining fabric too).


I prewashed and dried the denim, and while it came out of the dryer super wrinkled, once it had a good press with lots of steam, it held onto it – it didn’t crease or wrinkle even after being thoroughly manhandled during construction. I didn’t notice any dye transfer or rub off either.

This was my first time sewing this pattern, so instead of a muslin I made the lining first. I cut a size 38 based on my hip measurement since it’s a long coat, but this is a size (or two) too large for my top half. I decided against grading it because there are a lot of pieces and interesting construction elements and I didn’t want to risk a disaster. Two things I learned from the lining – the sleeve head sat too far off of my shoulder (somewhat surprising, since I have broader shoulders) and the sleeves were enormous. So I made a small adjustment to the shoulder seam and I took probably 2 ½ – 3 inches off of the sleeve circumference!


Sewing this garment was like wrestling an alligator. A denim alligator, I guess. The denim sewed and pressed really nicely, I had no problem sewing thru it with a 100/16 needle, and the pattern is beautifully drafted. The construction is unique; for example, the back seams are sewn right sides together halfway up and then lapped from that point over the shoulder seam to the front. It meant sewing thru a lot of layers and trying to wrangle very long pattern pieces thru the machine at times. I topstitched the lapped seams and hems with copper-gold jeans thread and added two really cool copper buttons I found on Etsy. Buttons! – the only time I nearly wept was trying to sew the top buttonhole – there are 4 layers of denim there, and I had to make two white-knuckle attempts at it.



I really love the shape of the front yoke, and the detail at the back elbow. The sleeve head is shaped with 5 darts instead of gathers, which looks really cool.


The fabric is still fairly stiff – I like it, it gives the bottom of the coat a nice shape. I did not interface the front facing, this fabric didn’t need it. I sewed a 2” hem and left it fairly long for my frame.


You may be wondering where the lining is – I didn’t install it! I just felt like it didn’t need it; sometimes a project just feels finished and it’s time to put it down.


Maybe the heavier fabric made me unwilling to stuff even more fabric into it. I started to doubt the lining during construction, so I finished the seams as instructed for the unlined version so I could make a game time decision about it.


The end result – it’s a little big up top. I may take it in a bit more at the side seams, but it’s a coat, so I’m fine with it not being painted on. I did take in the side seams at the waist about an inch on each side. There is still plenty of room in the sleeve despite my major downsizing.  So even though it’s described as a close fitting coat I think there is still some very generous ease.


I actually really love it, both the pattern and the fabric, and the combination of the two for this project! I can’t wait to wear it. I highly recommend both – I’d like to sew this coat again only it a lighter fabric like wool, and I’d like to make my man a pair of jeans using more of the gorgeous selvedge denim!



More of my sewing pursuits at


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5 thoughts on “An Autumn Coat in Selvedge Denim”

  1. Nice job! Denim is one of my favorite fabrics to work with….you have to choose your battles!!!
    Not sure if I have an idea or notion to wrestle an alligator right now??? Did u wash the fabric first ? Maybe that would have made it easier?

    1. I did wash it first! To soften it up a little. The challenge is more in the construction – there are points where you have the entire length of the coat, front plus back, going thru the machine and it’s a lot of heavy fabric. My arms were actually tired.

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