Great coat for the Great Wall

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At the Great Wall

I made a new Autumn coat for my trip to China.  In fact I only just finished it in time – I was sewing the hem while packing in the hours before leaving for the airport!

But it’s a perfect travel coat – soft and fluffy…  Warm but not too bulky.  I wore it on the Great Wall.  I wore it sailing down the Yangtze, and I wore it looking at Pandas.  Love it!


Pattern review Burda Parka 09-2018-04

So last year I tried to make my first coat.  It was a fully lined, collard, interfaced 60s design.  I chose a lovely thick Jaccard fabric and got to work.  I soon discovered while applying interfacing that my lovely fabric shrunk and melted under the iron. It also frayed like crazy.  For some reason I persevered.  I spent so many frustrating hours on this project before finally calling it quits after sewing the lining in badly.

60s coat
The horrible coat I couldn’t complete!

I decided then that making my own coat was just far too much trouble and vowed to never do it again.


So this year I made a coat.


I’m not even sure why.


Choosing the project

September 2018

I was curious about the pattern as soon as I saw it.  No lining, no interfacing – looked super easy.  The only problem was the fabric, double faced jersey, which I doubted I’d find in Japan.  So, when surprisingly, my favorite fabric shop in Esaka, north Osaka, not only had it but several kinds I bought some without really thinking about it.

Since I had found a suitable fabric, and with my trip to China coming up I decided to give coats another try.


Choosing the fabric

So this is a pretty interesting fabric.  One side is a lovely soft black fleece and the other a fine checked jersey.  It’s warm and soft and I figured the checks would help me with cutting and assembly accuracy.  It was around 1200 yen per meter, but narrower than the magazine guidelines so I purchased five meters.

I figured that now I had the fabric this project was going to be easy… but the zip almost killed it.


The coat requires a long double opening zipper.  And try as I might none of the shops near me stocked them.  It’s such a vital part I had to consider quite large design alterations to get around it.  Luckily the yuzuwaya in Kobe had them.

I had my friend phone to check.

So I had to go to another city to by a zip.

A 400 yen bit a plastic.



The coat seems pretty simple to knock together.  It was made tricky by the fact that I couldn’t seem to mark the fabric; chalk didn’t stick, and it was too dark for my pens.  The checked fabric drove me mad with trying to pattern match.  I was able to get the horizontal stripes on the main part of the coat right, but the hem band was awful!  Parts would line up well, and others would be wildly off.  Or I could get the checks to match up but reverse the colours. In the end I decided on a compromise where everything would be slightly off, but nothing was a glaring mis-match.


This is a super easy coat pattern that I would highly recommend for beginner coat sews… but there are some issues I wish had been fixed.

Putting in the elastic.

The checked pattern really helped here – it made it very easy to line everything up and get the elastic in straight. And I really like the method of sewing on thick ribbon to form the casing.

But if I were designing this, I would stop the elastic a couple of centimeters short of the seam allowance.  Sure there would probably by some visible top-stitching but if you don’t it ends up very thick.  By the end you are sewing through:

Main fabric, elastic, ribbon, zipper tape, facing – 5 layers, some of which were really thick.  I broke a needle!



I think I might have narrower shoulders than Burda’s standard size… but this was ridiculous!  After attaching the first sleeve the sleeve head ended up halfway down my arm! I put on a thick sweater underneath just in case that was why, but it made no difference.  I unpicked it and hacked off a good 6-7 cm off the shoulder and smoothed out the armscye.  Fit much better!


Hem band/length of the coat

I like me a long coat… but in this style I think it’s just a bit too long.  But this problem is rooted in the hem band.  On the original photos the coat is made with a plain black fabric. It has a lovely ‘quilted’ hem band that’s constructed by folding the band in half and sewing through both layers.  I thought my checked fabric would make this very easy as it was making out my sewing lines for me.  But no!  What with some cutting/sewing inaccuracies and the difficulties in pattern matching from earlier a straight hem became impossible.

Running out of time I just cut most of the fold off making a regular hem, skipping the quilting process.

Now that I’ve worn the coat out and about I think it is a bit over-long.  I wish I had skipped the whole hem band thing and just lengthened the main coat pieces… that way I could have avoided the pattern matching problems and had a coat of a more comfortable length.

Hood draw-string

It was pretty windy on the Great Wall – so I wish this had been in the design!.




This coat is warm and comfy and relaxed but not too sporty.  It served me well on trip and will be a perfect early-winter coat.

Despite all my griping it was a really easy make and a perfect choice for a first time outerwear sewer.   I was so disheartened by my failure to make a coat last year, but making this was fantastic for me.

I would recommend it to any beginner.

So if you want to get into coats – give this one a go!

summer Palace Beijing
summer Palace Beijing




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