Oliver + S School Days Jacket pattern review

As promised, here are my thoughts on what it was like to make this children’s duffel coat. In my first post about this project, I explained the materials I used, so this post is more like a pattern review.

A small boy wearing a grey wool coat and red wells
Taking his new coat for a test run.

Fit and sizing

I measured my son in August, and I wanted him to be able to wear the coat until next spring. The Oliver + S size chart makes it easy to work out what size you need – provided your child will keep still to be measured. (My strategy was to get my toddler to stand at a low table and put a favourite book in front of him.) He measured up as a size 6-12m around the chest and waist, so I made a size 12-18m.

But he’s also quite tall. So I did my best to lengthen the sleeves and hem of the coat to accommodate his longer arms and body. I wish that the pattern included a lengthen/shorten line to make this easier, but Oliver + S do provide a tutorial on how to do this on their website – which I only found after I’d finished the coat. I succeeded in lengthening the arms, but I don’t think I’ve made the hem long enough – I ran into some problems finishing this part and had to trim more off the length than I wanted to.

Instructions

The instructions are clear and easy to follow. I liked the way they explain that topstitching and edge stitching are pretty much the same, and that it’s just up to you how far from the seam or the fold you do them. There are lots of steps, but then it’s a lined coat, you’d expect that.

Two things are missing though. There’s no mention of adding a hanging loop, so I forgot to put one in. I’m loathe to pick it apart just to add one, so this coat is going to be hung up by the hood, which is a shame. And I had trouble with the Velcro. I could swear I followed the pattern correctly, but my Velcro pieces didn’t match up. They also got stuck to the toggle cords so I’d definitely recommend the poppers/press studs option instead. Also, is the front placket supposed to be the same width as the front facing? Mine definitely didn’t end up the same, and this caused some problems when I came to finish the coat.

Things I messed up

I chose a contrast fabric for the lining, which I used for the pocket lining too. I don’t think I manipulated the seam where the pocket pieces join the pocket lining very well, because you can just see a tiny white line where the pocket lining is visible at the side of each pocket. So you might want choose a fabric for the pocket lining pieces that’s the same colour as the outer coat fabric.

The toggle buttons I bought didn’t have holes so I wrapped the cords around them and then stitched through the cords to prevent them coming loose. But I didn’t think to account for the way this uses up some of the cords’ length. So they’re possibly each 1cm or so too short.

The hem! I struggled with this for ages. It sounded so simple in the instructions but I just could not get the front facing, front lining, back lining, front jacket, back jacket pieces and my Thinsulate interlining all lined up and hemmed neatly in place. So I’m looking forward to getting some help with this from the sew-along and finding out where I went wrong.

Overall, I really love the design, and it’s a very doable coat for anyone without that much sewing experience. If I can find the time, I’d love to try making another one next year and applying some of the lessons I’ve learnt.

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