01 January, 2016

Pendleton coat: the inner workings

The moment I acquired the Pendleton Wool from Ann, I began pondering its ultimate shape:  a short(ish) coat - and collecting materials for it.

As I'd mentioned, the wool fabric is very soft, very spongy, and very, very breathable.  The Arctic wind will blow through it as easily as my own wee breath.  So it needs plenty of invisible support to make it both sturdy and winter worthy.

The support will come in the shape of interfacing, underlining, and interlining.

1. Interfacing - either fusible or sewn-in - serves to provide substance for the fabric in areas of greatest wear and visibility:  hems, vertical edges, collars, lapels.

I opted for fusible interfacing for the collar (upper and lower), full fronts and front facings, and all hems. I also opted for welt pockets, and interfaced the pocket locations, which you can see in the photo below. 

Both upper and under collar are interfaced:   the under collar is cut on the bias and bias-interfaced with regular woven interfacing, while the upper collar is also bias interfaced with fusible horsehair canvas.  

Above is another instance of photos being invaluable in assessing one's progress.  Do you notice the tiny discrepancy in the pattern at the collar points?  After seeing this, I flipped the collar back inside out and re-sewed the right corner to better match the left.  

Collar pinned onto the body, just to approximate the way it'll look when finished. 

2. The underlining of a garment is sandwiched to the wrong side of the fashion fabric and and they are sewn together as one.  That way, the underlining supports the body of the fashion fabric without actually being attached to the face of it, as is the case for interfacing. Indoor garments such as dresses, skirts, or jackets, are often underlined with lightweight cotton or, if more body is required, silk organza.

In this coat, the upper backs and side fronts are underlined with a polyester tie silk from the shoulders to the waist. This supports the fabric and prevents it from stretching out of shape in areas that always experience the most stress - just think of the pulling and tugging you give a coat as you put it on and then move in it.  I chose the poly tie silk because it's more tightly woven than the cotton broadcloth I'd normally use to underline an indoor jacket.  Thus, this underlining also provides some wind blockage where most needed:  the core of the wearer's (mine!) body.

The above underlining might look like it's on the bias, but it's not - the design is oriented diagonally, that's all.

3. The interlining, or the insulating layer between the outer fabric and the lining, is the critical component that will make this coat a warm one.   Of the three outdoor winter coats I've made previously, two were perfectly interlined for warmth, and I love wearing them.  Until last week, the third (the coral cashmere) was interlined in a seriously substandard fashion, an error that was badly in need of a correction. This is a lesson I won't forget in a hurry.

For the current project, I opted for windpro, a high insulation value technical fabric from Polartec. It's highly water repellent while being breathable, blocks 80% of the wind, and provides warmth without (much) weight or bulk.  I got it from Discovery Trekking Outfitters - a company that makes high performance outdoor clothing and sells its excess fabrics.  They're located in Campbell River, BC.

As you see, the coat's now in progress.  So far everything's machine basted or hand basted together, and fit tested.  I'll discuss the pattern and fit in the next post.

Happy 2016 to all and sundry!


  1. Happy New Year to you! I love when you post a new project. There is always something to be learned. Will be waiting for the next post and the next part of the coat journey!

  2. Happy New Year. Lovely fabric and it is looking good so far!