Hello friends. Let me introduce you to my new cold-weather life partner: the Cascade Duffle Coat from Grainline Studio. We’ve already made a lover’s vow; I will try not to spill hot chocolate on her, and she will help alleviate the rising anxiety I have about this Game of Thrones winter never, EVER ending.
I snagged this beauty of a pattern the day Jen launched it. This winter marked the first in over a decade in Montreal that I finally caved and bought a real-deal, no kidding, looking-cute-is-not-a-priority parka. And yet, as warm as my new North Face parka is, I needed a break from it, desperately. While February may seem a little late in the season to make a winter coat, it was actually perfect timing. I was this close to setting my parka on fire out of pure snow rage, and it’s finally warming up enough to get away with just a wool coat. A few of you lucky enough to not suffer from real winter laughed about this on Instagram, but seriously guys. When it’s -15 Celsius (or 5 Fahrenheit for you Yankees) you won’t/can’t/shouldn’t leave your house unless you have a layer of goose down between you and the frostbite that wants to claim your soul. So, this Cascade is my -10 buddy. She’s super warm and hits that sweet spot between “Oh my god, I’m going to die if I have to walk one more block in this frozen icy hellscape” and “Let me just casually throw on this lightweight coat since the sun is shining and I can see the tulip buds emerging from the earth like the little beacons of spring that they are”.
This is a great pattern. If indie patterns had an all-star team, Cascade would be point guard, or linebacker, or whatever sports-ball term I don’t understand that means “workhorse”. As with all Grainline releases, it’s impeccable drafted and thoughtfully designed, with lined patch pockets, a two piece sleeve, roomy linings, and simply perfect proportions.
I tried to stash bust for this project, but when I looked at the charcoal coating I had at the ready, it just made me sleepy and bored. When Sara came for a visit in February, we went up to the wholesale district and I found this gorgeous grey marle felt at Tonitex for $14 a yard (!!!). It’s DIVINE. Super dense and an utter joy to cut and sew. It literally purred whenever I steamed it and I got that pure sewing buzz that comes from working with natural fibers. Wool wants to be made into clothing. It basically begs for it, climbing into your lap and pleading for a nice short straight stitch and lots of hot steam. Wool, you are the lapdog of fabric and I am happy to give you a belly rub.
Jen counsels you to use rayon bemburg for the lining, but I live in Canada, so I went with something a little warmer; thankfully I had yards of this chocolate brown kasha in my stash. If you’ve never worked with kasha before and have to deal with northern winters, do yourself a favour and line all your winter coats with it. It’s satin on one side and flannel on the other, and adds a crazy amount of warmth without the bulk of a thinsulate layer. I also used it for my leopard print cape; I’m obsessed with it. I just heard that the Canadian manufacturer who produces it went out of business, so I’m praying there are other suppliers.
The toggles are semi-handmade. I found the rope closures with the little brass detail at Accessoires St. Hubert and picked up a scrap of leather at my new paradise, Cuir Boillard (expect lots of leather makes now that I’ve found an affordable source for hides). This was probably the trickiest bit of sewing. Once you sew the toggles on you’re dealing with multiple layers of thick wool, and my topstitching suffered without a teflon foot.
Construction wise, this is a surprisingly easy pattern to assemble. I think even a relative beginner could do it, especially with some hand holding from the sewalong. It’s just lots of straight stitching and seam grading. The biggest challenge is managing all of the pieces but I just labelled everything and hung the lining and wool on separate hangers, although you do have to be careful not to lose some of the smaller tissue pieces. If your wool is really thick like mine, it can also be tricky to get them all under the presser foot; I had to wrestle the fabric a few times. But honestly? SEWING COATS IS SOOOO FUN! I forgot how much I loved making outerwear. It’s as satisfying as making jeans, and you will watch heads explode when you tell people you made your winter coat. Making this was just the kick in the butt I needed to continue developing the dressy winter coat pattern I had planned to release last winter since wool is just so delightful to work with.
My favourite detail is the chevron linen zipper band and brass zipper. It adds a little texture to what is otherwise a fairly simple silhouette. But please, if you’re using a loosely woven fabric like linen, please learn from my mistake and interface it first! My band ended up ripping after a few hours of wear which required a truly wabi sabi repair solution. I ended up zigzagging the fabric to secure it to the zipper, and added a little leather patch where the rip was particularly bad. I am wholly to blame for this; I made a straight size 10 when I should have graded the hip to 12. That extra 1 1/2″ inches of ease would have given me a little more room around the hip and would have reduced the pressure on the bottom of that zipper band. You may have noticed that the front flap wants to skew to the side when the coat is closed… I think this is also the result of not making the right size in the hip. A reminder to stop being lazy. Seriously Heather. Get your act together.
Hip sizing aside, I am sooo in love with this coat. It’s perfectly casual, just the right thing to wear when I’m out and about running errands. And believe it or not, I’ll probably be wearing it until the end of April so I’m really happy I started working on it so quickly.
Finally, the crazy pink crushed velvet leggings are a recent make too. I stumbled on the stuff for $2 a yard and whipped up a pair for the leggings/knit fabrics workshop I’m teaching this month. They are bananas. G teased me that I looked like I had pink ham hocks for legs, but boys are dumb and I love them unreasonably. They feel less 90’s than they ought to because of the un-grunge colour I think….
What about you? Are you interested in making outerwear? Did you buy the Cascade? Tell me all about it!
Photos by Guillaume Gilbert