Full disclosure: I am about to talk about one of the most favourite things I’ve ever made, but have to confess the I made it almost an entire year ago and didn’t for various reasons get a chance to take photos of it until now (ie. loaning it to magazine and then having a building fire in which I was separated from all my precious cargo for many months). But here it is! My new(ish) Clare Coat, complete with leather raglan sleeves and a big exposed zipper. Just in time for winter (or rather, the pleasant part of winter, because again, confession time, I’ve learned the only coat that sustains life in the withering frozen tundra of a Montreal January is a huge down parka that rustles every time I move my arms. Long drawn out sigh).
So, this baby makes me pretty happy. Completely and utterly inspired by all the army green coats with leather sleeves I’ve seen around the last couple years, I decided it would be a snap to do using my Clare Coat pattern. While I haven’t seen colour blocked versions of Clare out in the wild, I think it really works – there is something appealingly graphic about the material change around those raglan sleeve seams. Also, I like that by just switching up a few fabrics you can make a slightly vintage silhouette feel totally modern and “on trend”.
I went all out with this one. I used real lambskin for the sleeves, an absolutely stunning double faced twill from Mood (sadly now sold out), and a silk charmeuse lining (more on that later). It was definitely one of my more expensive projects at around $150 in materials, but I suspect would have cost three to four times that if I had bought it in a store (I by the way am firmly in the “sewing saves you money” camp, especially if you have natural fiber tastes on an H&M budget).
The leather was surprisingly easy to work with, although I deeply regret not spending a little more on a heavier-weight hide. It is slightly too thin for sleeves, and as a result is not quite as structured as I would have liked, although I’ll be sharing everything I learned about sewing with leather later this week. It’s a really interesting material to work with if it doesn’t make you feel weird.
The exposed zipper is one of my favourite features (I have a well documented love of exposed zippers here and here and here and um, here). I wanted to experiment with having a zip continue throughout the length of the tall funnel collar and also provide an alternative to buttons or snaps for View B (why should View A have all the fun?)
I absolutely love it open around the face….
… and it’s the ultimate wind shield/neck fort when done up all the way (at the bottom of this post I explain how you can add one yourself…)
As for the guts — SO PRETTY. I’ve never used silk charmeuse as coat lining before because $$$, but I have to say, it’s worth every freaking penny. Besides being so soft and slippery you feel like you’re sinking into a warm cup of heaven, it is also LEOPARD PRINT. It is physically impossible for me not to be filled with a balloon of happiness every time I see this lining. Sewing is all about the secret pleasures.
I took time making this Clare, with lots of careful pressing, topstitching, and some seriously nice bar tacks along the pocket opening. I also made sure I included a leather hanging loop to prevent the neckline from stretching out when it’s hung on a hook. It’s basically my ultimate coat. I’m not sure how I’ll ever top it (so much so that I’m a little scared to wear it and ruin it).
ADDING AN EXPOSED ZIPPER TO THE CLARE COAT
I thought i had taken a million great photos of how I did this but it turns out… I didn’t. Rest assured if it’s something you’d like to do yourself, it’s relatively easy. You’ll just want to sew in the zipper to the left side of your coat seam before you attach the lining, keeping in mind the 5/8″ seam allowance at the top. Overlap your coat fronts at the center front notch and with your left side folded over the right, find where you should locate the other half of the zipper. Use a matching thread to sew the zipper tape to the actual coat. It will look something like this once they’re both sewn.
So, do you like my new(ish) coat? Have I brought you over to the dark side of exposed zipper admiration? What does your ultimate coat look like?