Do you have those sewing patterns you think are just amazing? You see them out there in the sewing world and want to try making them but are a little intimidated and, as a result, you put it off? Every time you see a maker sew it up you study their pictures, drool a little, and feel a growing resolve to follow in their footsteps? Well, I have been doing that ever since the Cascade Duffle from Grainline Studios was released. It looked hard! It looked time-consuming! All the things. I’m so happy to say I finally did it. I stitched up a gorgeous Cascade Duffle in Brick Red Wool and now I’m like Maria in the Sound of Music. The hills are alive, people!
It’s a Cascade Duffle and I can’t stop wearing it. The best part, besides the fact of its existence, is that my Cascade Duffle is made almost entirely from second-hand materials. Double win.
For once, my timing is pretty spot on. The snow is starting to thaw and the puffy coat I usually trudge around in is getting a bit too warm for sunny New Jersey afternoons. The signs of spring are screaming for this soft wool coat and I am heeding its call as much as possible. I love being able to go from hot off the sewing machine right into “wear every damn day”.
Now that you understand the “hills are alive” feeling I’m having, let’s get into some of the details about this coat.
This fabric. Oh, where to start. It was given this fabric to work with from The Confident Stitch, a lovely little quilt shop in Montana. It’s a super soft (and not itchy) double sided wool. It’s very lightweight and almost like a boiled wool but without the thick texture of boiled wool. The coat moves fluidily and isn’t too heavy. It’s not a lightweight wool, exactly, but not super thick. During the sewing process, I was very thankful it wasn’t any thicker as you end up sewing through many layers at a time!
Like I mentioned, the best thing about this fabric is that it was saved from life in the landfill. The Confident Stitch has a handful of fabrics that are second-hand designer fabrics and this was one of them. Isn’t that amazing. I’ve made my favorite coat out of an incredibly high-quality wool fabric that could have been left to languish. What is better than that?
My only side eye comment about the fabric is that I had to be very careful because it could fray. You can tell a little bit in the pictures but there is a kind of blue mesh understructure that is holding the double-sided wool together and if I tugged too hard on the fabric it would start to unravel. I think this is standard for wool of designer-level high quality. Plus, it was worth taking care of so I don’t mind. It is also expensive but I can honestly say it’s worth the price. It is the kind of fabric that you don’t want to cut into without knowing you have the right fit on your garment. You know what I’m saying, right? Yup. It’s worth making a muslin before you use it.
The Cascade Duffle is just like any Grainline Pattern. The instructions are clear and the results demonstrate a professionally-made item. I learned so much from this pattern and have grown as a sewist for certain. Jen says that the pattern is designated as advanced but only because there are so many pieces. I have to reluctantly disagree with her on this one. It’s advanced because it’s advanced. I was immensely grateful for her sew-a-long and recommend you bookmark this series if you decide to make it. My photos don’t do a great job of showing the coat’s insides but it is fully lined. Putting in that lining was not easy and I’m so proud of doing it successfully but I needed the sew-a-long to really understand what I was doing.
That said, I’m not using the term ‘advanced’ to be discouraging. We need to step it up to advanced sometimes! It’s a challenge worth accepting so that our skills grow along with the versatility of our handmade wardrobe. My kids would call it leveling up and I’d have to agree.
I am so proud of having made my own toggles. The sew-a-long has a great post on how to do this and I decided to use some leather scraps I had to make my own. I love the look of leather but hate purchasing it. I found that buried deep in my local Michael’s store are bags of scrap-floor leather. It’s all random shapes and colors but I had just the right amount of this blond leather for toggles. I fell in love with the color of this leather next to the brick red wool. The honest truth is that I held my breath while sewing on the toggles. They are the kind of detail that stands out so much it would have been obvious if it were sewn wonky.
What I would change next time:
There are a few little tweaks I would make if I made the coat again. And, there is a shortened view of the coat that I’m tempted to try in a twill fabric. First, I would move the top toggle down a little bit. I feel like it’s up an inch too high. I might be crazy but it just feels close to the neckline. This would, of course, change the location of all the toggles in turn.
Second, I would lengthen the arms. It’s not a big deal but the arms are a wee bit short on my gangly, white-girl arms.
Overall, I’m totally thrilled with my new coat and can’t wait to wear it as much as possible. Between my Cascade Duffle in brick red wool and my Minoru jacket I now have two pieces of outdoor wear that I love. Feels so good to round out my handmade closet.
Note: I was given the fabric and pattern to make this coat from the lovely people at The Confident Stitch, who also compensated me for this post. All opinions are my own, of course. This post also contains affiliate links meaning that any purchase you make supports both a local quilt shop as well as me without any additional cost to you. Thanks for keeping A Happy Stitch ticking!