Sourcing children’s duffel coat supplies in the UK

It’s happened. He’s grown. Again. So I’m starting my third Oliver + S School Days Jacket ahead of some of the other things in my queue that I’m itching to get stuck into.

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Most of the versions of this pattern (including the official sew-along) I’ve seen have been from US-based stitchers like Cashmerette, so I thought it might help to compile some links and tips to help UK sewists find everything they’ll need.

The pattern

I’ve used the Oliver + S School Days Jacket. I love this pattern – it’s cute, it’s adaptable, it’s unisex. The instructions are spot on and you don’t need any special tailoring skills or tools.

Loads of lovely sewing shops in the UK now stock Oliver + S but they rarely have this particular pattern, preferring to stick to simpler stuff like T-shirts and summer dresses. So you’ll probably need to get it from Backstitch. I’d recommend the PDF version because kids are a different size each time and I find it easier to re-print than trace it off each time.

One minor grumble – the pattern comes in sizes 6m-18m up to 3T and then for 4T and up you have to re-buy it in the larger size bundle. I read Todd’s post explaining why this is the case, and I do appreciate the reasons. But it still grates a bit, especially as there’s no overlap for grading between 3T and 4T.

Fabrics

Main fabric

Tons of options here. For a proper duffel coat, you’ll want to use a fairly heavy coating fabric. Obviously you can get wool, tweed, or even cashmere (!) but for a coat that’s only going to fit for one year and that you’re likely to want to wash or at least scrub regularly, that’s probably not a great idea. So I’ve used a polyester melton from Croft Mill. It washes well, doesn’t fray much and sews up well. The downsides are that it’s tough on your hands to cut out and you can’t press it into shape as easily as wool. Small price to pay, I think. (And actually it really is a small price at £10.50/m rather than upwards of £20/m). I also think it would look amazing in needlecord but my boy is determined to stick with what he knows.

Lining fabric

I made the first two versions with quilting cotton – it was on the list of fabric suggestions and there are so many brilliant patterns and colours to choose from.

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For the third version, I’m going to try something I see in lots of my son’s RTW clothes – a cotton jersey knit fabric for the body lining and an acetate (slippery nylon type) fabric for the sleeves. The theory is that this should make it easier to take on and off over winter jumpers but I’ll let you know how it goes. I’ve bought this slightly extravagant bicycle-print organic cotton jersey from Fabric Godmother and I’ll use some plain acetate lining from my stash for the sleeves.

For the pockets, although a contrast lining is really tempting, I’d strongly recommend something that closely matches the outer fabric. They’re patch pockets, and try/understitch as I might, I can’t get them on without a tiny peek of the lining showing through at the sides. So this time I’ll use a black acetate lining fabric.

Interlining

I embraced Liesl’s suggestion to interline the coat for a really cosy look and feel (toddlers don’t do layering, after all). It’s a lot simpler than making the optional quilted vest that comes with the pattern. I am definitely not a quilter so this is much quicker.

Pennine Outdoor sell a Thinsulate lining which works well here. It’s a bit like sewing with snow at roughly 1cm thick, but it squashes while it’s under the presser foot, it’s held up well and I’m pleased with the way it looks. You don’t need as much of this as the lining fabric because there’s no straight grain so you can arrange the pieces any old how for your cutting layout.

Notions

Don’t go with the Velcro option if you’re using a wool-type fabric – it sticks to everything and damages your outer fabric. Choose the snaps/press studs option instead. Nice chunky ones will help the coat sit better.

I’ve seen a few versions of this pattern with the button tabs, but for a proper duffel coat you can’t beat toggles. Myfabrics and Weaver Dee both sell ready-made leather-look toggle fastenings in a range of colours. I’d really love to make my own (using Jen’s instructions for the Grainline Cascade duffel coat) with real leather pieces but I haven’t found anywhere near me or online in the UK that sells leather cord or leather laces. Can you recommend anywhere?

For my third version, I’ve also decided to add some reflective piping to the hood and yoke seams. Pennine Outdoor sell this ready made and you’ll need between 1 and 2m to do the same seams as me, depending on the size you’re making.

Tools

Leather needles for the toggle fastenings – I sew mine by hand

Sticky tape or fabric glue to hold the toggles in place while you sew them

Size 90 or 100 regular machine needles for stitching the coating fabric

Nice long pins to hold all those layers together

Piping or regular zip foot for adding any piping

A walking foot for joining the lining to the coat and stitching together the interlining

Possibly a hump jumper, depending on your machine and your fabric.

 

That’s it. Not so hard when you list it all out – plus you get all the fun of ticking off the list, right?

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