Grainline Cascade Duffle, aka the Coat of My Dreams!

Ummmm, if you’re been around this blog at all before, you probably know that I loooooove coats. I love making them, I love wearing them, I love thinking about them! So it’s a little embarrassing to tell you that this coat has been in the works for nearly two years! Whoops! I took advantage of the break between the fall and spring semesters to dig out this UFO and sew it up, and wow, I’m so pumped that I did! It’s been a soul-crushing month/year/you name it, so it was nice to have a project to force myself to work on instead of obsessively reading news all day every day.

Grainline Studio Cascade Duffle Coat | Ginger Makes


This is the Grainline Studio Cascade Duffle Coat, view B. I snapped up the pattern as soon as it was released, but this was in late winter 2015 and I tucked it away, planning to make it in the fall when it was seasonally-appropriate to make it and wear it right away. Last January I got motivated to start this coat, so I steamed the fabric, cut out all the pieces, fused everything, and then… got distracted by a big costuming project with a looming deadline (also a coat! at least it was on theme!) and stuffed it into my cedar chest, where it sat for ages, until I had to pack it up to move. I finally pulled it out a few weeks ago, nearly a year after I’d cut everything out!

A note to PDF users: this might not be super fun for you. Uncharacteristically, I bought a hard copy of the pattern- I just couldn’t face the thought of printing and taping that many sheets of paper! I was so glad I did, because life is just too short to spend it all putting together a pattern orrrrr tracing (I admit it- I was saucy and cut the pattern out without tracing… I REALLLLLLY hate tracing).

Grainline Studio Cascade Duffle Coat | Ginger Makes


The fabric I used is a wool coating from Mood Fabrics NYC that I bought ages ago, intending to use it to make the Named Yona Wrap Coat. I stalled on that project when I couldn’t think of a way to match the stripes nicely across a two-piece raglan sleeve. When the Cascade pattern was released, I was so pumped that I hadn’t used this fabric for anything else! I really love the combination of colors in this coat- navy, camel, cream, and grey. I can wear it with so many different things in my closet!

Grainline Studio Cascade Duffle Coat | Ginger Makes

I used this sunback lining from B&J Fabrics (I’m pretty certain it’s this exact one, although I bought it in store instead of online). Sunback is sometimes called “kasha”; it’s a flannel-backed satin, so it’s smooth and slippery like lining fabric on one side, and has a brushed nap on the other. This particular type is 51% acetate and 49% cotton. I’m partial to it for coats as it adds some extra warmth.

For me, personally, sunback isn’t enough for a winter coat, so I also interlined it using lambswool from Steinlauf & Stoller. I just used a single layer (it’s sold in a sort of double layer, so you could easily cut out double layers if you were so inclined). Steinlauf & Stoller doesn’t sell online, but you can call them and order over the phone if you can’t find lambswool locally.

I used my usual coat interfacing, Pro-Weft Supreme Medium-Weight from Fashion Sewing Supply.

For the coat trimmings, I used a YKK separating zipper from my favorite zipper source in the Garment District, SIL Thread. I bought toggles from Pacific Trimming. The pattern includes templates if you want to cut your own leather/faux leather and make toggles yourself, but that wasn’t something I wanted to get involved with at all! For the zipper bands, I used one of my favorite Japanese cottons from my shop for a little peep of print whenever my coat is open. And I lined my pockets with bits of flannel leftover from one of my favorite Archer buttondowns. 🙂

Grainline Studio Cascade Duffle Coat | Ginger Makes


I cut out a size 4, which is my usual Grainline size (my hips fall into a smaller size on their chart, but I don’t mind some extra wearing ease for a coat). I didn’t want to make a muslin, since it’s kind of pointless to do that unless you’ve got a heavier-weight fabric that’s similar to coating. Instead, I just measured the flat pattern pieces and compared those measurements to another coat in my closet. I was under the impression that I’d done my usual 1/2″ narrow shoulder adjustment, buuuut, upon further review, I didn’t. That’s one drawback to sewing up a project a year after cutting it out- you can have a little confusion! 😀 My only sizing adjustment was to lengthen the sleeves by 1/2″. It probably wasn’t necessary, but too-short sleeves drive me CRAZY, so it seemed like the right thing to do.

Grainline Studio Cascade Duffle Coat | Ginger Makes


I needed to make some pattern alterations to be able to use this wide stripe efficiently. The original pattern has a yoke and a low waist seam, but I combined these three pattern pieces so that I could cut out the coat back and fronts as just one piece. It would have been a real pain in the neck to try to balance the stripes across three pattern pieces, and it would have sucked up way too much fabric. I cheated a bit and cut the center hood piece on the cross grain so that it’s just solid grey- I didn’t want to have too much stripe chaos going on back there!

Grainline Studio Cascade Duffle Coat | Ginger Makes

Another modification I made was to draft new pockets. I really don’t like standard patch pockets! I put them on my first Gerard coat, as the pattern instructed, but they’re annoying to put your hands into and I really use my pockets since I have a pretty long walk to and from the subway. My original thought was to swap the patch pockets out for welt pockets, but when I started to look at images of duffle coats for inspiration, they ALL had patch pockets. I thought the coat might look kind of naked or weird with welt pockets, so I took inspiration from the kangaroo pockets that you usually see on hooded sweatshirts and drafted something similar to those, with a triangular angle to it to slightly mimic the toggles that I used. I’m really happy with the final pockets! They’re really comfortable to use, they’re super warm, since they’re flannel-lined, and they have room to jam in a pair of fingerless gloves, keys, and my phone. I’m not gonna lie, though, it was a total brain-bender to figure out how to draft a pocket piece with a self-facing, and a complementing lining piece! My brain just doesn’t work that way, so I had to mock up pieces with paper and fold them until I could figure out how to do it.

Grainline Studio Cascade Duffle Coat | Ginger Makes

The final change I made to the pattern was the position of the pockets. They are meant to sit lower down, about 1/3 on the cream stripe and 2/3 on the bottom navy stripe. Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough fabric left to cut the pockets that way and match the stripes. Not matching wasn’t an option, so instead I opted to position them higher and honestly, it doesn’t feel weird to have them sit higher. It feels comfortable, so it’s all good!

Grainline Studio Cascade Duffle Coat | Ginger Makes

Tips & Techniques:

As I mentioned briefly above, I interlined the coat with lambswool. I referenced my favorite tailoring book, The Complete Book of Tailoring, (Amazon, but not an affiliate link) by everyone’s favorite sassy seamstress, Adele P. Margolis. If you’re into classic tailoring, I definitely recommend this book- it’s out of print, but you can pick up used copies for less than $20. I followed her directions for inserting each piece individually by hand and catch-stitching it to the very edge of the pressed seam allowance, which makes for about the least-bulky results imaginable. It was slow, but totally worth it in the end. I used the garment pattern pieces to cut out the coat front and back, and I also cut out the upper sleeve, but after basting it in, I thought it would make my sleeves too constricting. Word of warning: the sleeves aren’t for the bicep-fabulous! They’re pretty slim-fitting, which actually looks really nice with the roomy silhouette of the coat, but if you know your way around the gym, you probably want to give yourself some extra room.

Grainline Studio Cascade Duffle Coat | Ginger Makes

The thing I dreaded the most about making this coat was stitching on the toggles. I really, really, really didn’t want to do it! It stressed me out to think about not being able to seam rip them if they didn’t go on straight. I bought an extra one, which Jen recommends, to do a dry run before sewing one on the actual coat, and I noticed that the foot sort of stuck to the exposed parts of the toggle. Jen mentioned that some people put scotch tape on their sewing feet, but she didn’t do that because she didn’t want to leave any residue. So I decided to just put tape on the toggle itself, over every area that the presser foot would touch, which worked a charm. I used my 1/8″ edgestitching foot, a leather needle, and upholstery thread (bought from Pacific Trimming… it’s not as thick or stiff as the thread we buy at my upholstery job). My stitching is really ugly and I’m definitely not going to show you a closeup, but I’ve just vowed not to look too closely at the toggles so that it won’t bug me too much. 🙂

Grainline Studio Cascade Duffle Coat | Ginger Makes

The pattern instructions for the bagged lining don’t tell you to hem the coat, but I went ahead and did a blind hem by hand for added structure and stability.

Final Thoughts:

I’m super, super happy with this coat, and I’ve worn it every day since I finished it a week or so ago! It’s such a nice, classic style, and I’m really excited to wear it for years to come! I would recommend this pattern to anyone who wants to tackle a coat, and if you get stumped by the written instructions, you can always reference the photos in the sewalong hosted on the Grainline blog. I probably can’t make any more coats at this point, since my closet is fairly well stuffed with them, but this actually fills the hole left by my old peacoat, which was the perfect thing to wear in between jacket and parka weather. And I can’t tell you how satisfying it is to turn a UFO into a garment! I felt so productive getting this out of a bag and into my closet!

Grainline Studio Cascade Duffle Coat | Ginger Makes


In case you’re curious, the hat I’m wearing in these pics is my favorite cold weather hat, the Fidra pattern by Gudrun Johnston. It’s knit up in bulky Brooklyn Tweed Quarry (colorway: Lazulite), so it’s both a fast knit and really warm for bitter days. I made it about a year ago, and I’m still loving it!

Grainline Studio Cascade Duffle Coat | Ginger Makes

OK, friends, what have you been making these days? Anybody obsessed with coat making? Planning your first attempt at one? Do tell! As for me, it’s back to school now, so this is probably my last big/fun project for some time! Boooooo! 😦

Finish It February!

Hello, friends! Hope you are all well! I’ve been struggling lately with a surplus of unfinished projects. My sewing room is super unorganized right now, mainly because I have nowhere to put my works-in-progress. I’m not enjoying spending time there, because it’s a disaster, but I can’t mitigate the disaster because I’m not sewing! So the other day when I stumbled across the hashtag #finishitfebruary on Instagram, I was motivated to spend this month getting through some of the UFOs that are plaguing me!


I’m the ghost of quilts past (and long abandoned)!

I’m certain I won’t get through all of these things, but here’s what I have going on right now:

  • a simple quilt, in the Fantasia line by Sara Lawson (needs backing fabric… and has for, oh, 6 months?)
  • a Kittens quilt (I’m swapping blocks with partners, and for the first time in my life, I’ve worked ahead of the group so it’s hibernating for a while. THIS HAS LITERALLY NEVER HAPPENED BEFORE… I’m always late to every party!)
  • a Cascade duffle coat (got put on hold when I realized I didn’t have interfacing. I love Fashion Sewing Supply and their interfacing but their orders aren’t cut or processed quickly at all in my experience, so if you don’t plan ahead you’re stuck waiting).
  • a robe Madeleine (my wearable muslin is in time out because the cheap, crappy fabric I used frayed like crazy, like, disintegrating while I tried to gather the skirt… so I may be chucking this).
  • a dress for my mom using French terry from my shop
  • a costume for a friend (more on this later)
  • a Cascades sweater for me (managed to weave in the ends yesterday so it’s blocking and just needs the neckband picked up after that)
  • a Bradbury sweater for Blake (needs to be seamed… which I’m super dreading because when I attempted it twice before, it looked terrible. I just don’t know what I’m doing when it comes to seaming!)
  • a Fidra hat for me… I loved the one I made for my mom so much that I decided to make one for myself
  • a pair of socks for Blake in super cool faux fair isle Regia
  • a repair to Blake’s buttondown
  • an alteration to a Mandy Boat Tee for my mother-in-law (I used this beautiful raspberry sweater knit from O! Jolly!, and when I looked up the link, I noticed that it’s on sale right now!)
  • my chair upholstery project (needs basically everything done to it)
  • a bench upholstery project for a friend (needs everything done to it)

Sheesh! We’re not even going to talk about the bag of realllllly old UFOs that I’m scared to look at. At least I managed to get a pair of socks for my sister on the sock blockers last night, so they’re drying now, and I finished up my Diode hat yesterday, so I’m making small amounts of progress, but I need to keep cranking away! And, now that I’ve got these written down, I’ll be shamed forever if I fail to get ANY progress done!

How about your guys? Overwhelmed by UFOs? Are you inspired to pick up any long-abandoned projects? Who wants to join me in finishing up some stuff in February?

Ginger Made: Simplicity 1430 Blazer

Hi, dudes! Hope you’re all well!

I’m going to be honest: this project was a bit of a slog. After I finished my Ginger jeans, I’d planned to move on to more fun autumnal sewing, but I made the mistake of peeking at my UFO pile. I felt guilty and decided to finish up some projects before starting something new. I muslined this blazer back in April for an event I wanted to wear it to, then realized after cutting it out that were too many issues for me to make the deadline, so I bagged it and forgot about it. Do you ever do that? I’ve found that last-minute deadline sewing usually results in a UFO for me (read: the swimsuit that I cut out the night before I left for Iceland… yep, that’s still unfinished), so I’m trying to avoid it from here on out. It never ends well!

Simplicity 1430 | Ginger Makes

The pattern is the blazer from Simplicity 1430. I’m not surprised that it hasn’t popped up on many blogs (or even on Pattern Review!) – if you look at the pattern envelope, the details are obscured by the print the jacket is made up in, and they’ve filled in the line drawing with the same stupid print so you can’t tell what’s happening! Silly!

I cut out a size smaller than my measurements indicated since this style is so relaxed and made a quick muslin. I liked the overall fit, but the sleeves were really baggy, so blended from the size 10 at the underarm to the size 4 (the smallest size). Here’s where I got annoyed: the blazer is unlined (not a huge deal, but I don’t love drafting), and doesn’t include a back neck facing (um WHAT?!). The instructions want you to clip into the collar, turn the edge under between the clips, and turn under the neck edges of the front facings and topstitch all that down. I can’t for the life of me figure out what the benefit of this finish would be. It’s weird and ugly! When I figured out I would need to draft so many pieces, I jumped ship on the project and moved on.

Simplicity 1430 | Ginger Makes

Please ignore the dopey t-shirt… you get a lot of dumb free tees when you work on set!

Once I picked this back up, it wasn’t very hard to draft front and back lining pieces. I added a 2″ pleat at the center back for ease of movement, and a 1″ jump pleat at the hem edge. I’m always nervous about ripping my linings! I drafted a back neck facing and then sewed it all up like usual. Since I cut out all the shell pieces so long ago, I didn’t remember that the collar and undercollar are cut from the same pattern piece. If I sew this again, I would cut a two-piece undercollar on the bias, and I would shave off 1/8″ for turn of cloth. I didn’t think to do this and it annoys me, argh! I also didn’t consider the fact that there aren’t any pockets in this pattern until I was too far into the project to bother with them, but I wish I’d gone back and added them. They’re just nice to have in a blazer, and when I wear this, I keep reaching for imaginary pockets! One final weird thing is that the instructions tell you to understitch everything to the facing below the waist, but the jacket wants to roll open, so you end up with visible understitching. Strange.

Let’s move on to a happier topic: fabric! I almost certainly would’ve left this project for dead if it wasn’t for the special fabric. It’s silk noile, and it was a gift from Carolyn. We were at Mood together one day, and I was admiring a wool crepe in a similar color when she offered to send this to me. She included the matching lining (it’s so pretty, ack!!!) and it makes me smile and think of her when I see it. I’d never seen or worked with silk noile before. It has a slubby texture, almost like a raw silk, but it’s kind of spongy instead of slick or slippery. It’s really fun and super easy to sew. It has a relaxed hand, and really works well with this slouchy silhouette.

I really like the shape of this blazer, but I’m still kinda irritated by how much work had to go into it to make it wearable. But, I did get it in a $1 sale when I passed a Jo-Ann’s in my travels, so I invested much more time than money in it. I bought two copies so if I ran into a major sizing issue, I could just cut into the second one and I’d only be out a dollar. I didn’t need to do this, so I added the second one to a swap pile and Suzanne picked it up and made an AWESOME buffalo plaid blazer that I really wish I could have (it’s unblogged, I think, but you can see it on her Instagram, @sewyorkcity). So there’s great potential in the pattern, again, if you don’t mind doing a little work.

Simplicity 1430 | Ginger Makes

I’m not 100% certain how to style this, and it’s definitely not my favorite garment (it’s kind of plain, but not plain in a goes-with-everything way). But I’ve been wearing it and I’m just glad to get it out of the UFO bin! I’ve been guilty of some major sins in that department in the past, but I’ve just finished up some mending and repairs and now things are pretty manageable. Phew! Now I can start in on fun stuff!

Tell the truth: do you have a pile of unfinished garments haunting you? Or do you finish everything you start? Any tips for those of us that struggle to finish things?

Ginger Made (Finally): Grainline Studio Archer Button Up Shirt

Oh, wow… this is kind of embarrassing.  I started this shirt wayyyyyyy back in March during the Archer Sew Along, annnnnnnnd… I just finished it now.  Let’s back this truck up for a minute, though, before I explain why it took me so long.

This is the Grainline Studio Archer Button Up Shirt, and if you haven’t already made this pattern, I HIGHLY recommend it.  When Jen released the pattern, I went crazy– this is exactly the style of shirt that I like to wear every day!  I couldn’t wait to try it out!

Sewing this was actually really fun.  I was nervous to deal with all the fiddly bits like the placket and collar, but everything went together really smoothly.  The photos and videos Jen posted for the sewalong were really helpful.  I had a little trouble keeping my topstitching neat, and since you could see the thread very clearly on the portions of the plaid that weren’t blue, it was extra necessary to keep things straight.  I did LOTS of seam ripping and worked really slowly.  Even so, it’s still not perfectly even.

Unfortunately, things really went sour when I decided to use pearl snaps instead of buttons.  I bought pearl snaps from Cowgirl Snaps on Etsy, and a pair of Dritz snap pliers to set them with.  Sadly, the pliers never lined up the two parts of the snaps correctly, so the prongs kept tearing little holes in my button placket.  After a couple of VERY frustrating evenings trying to fix this, I finally lost my cool and tossed the shirt to the side in a fit of rage… whoops!  It sat unfinished in my sewing area until a couple of nights ago– I just couldn’t stand looking at it any longer and had to finish it!  This time, I just set the snaps with a hammer.  It’s tough to hammer hard enough to get the snaps on firmly without cracking the pearl or flattening the other half.  Ugh!  So I’m not sure how long this shirt will last– there are little punctures in the button placket all over the place, and the snaps will probably rip out eventually as they just don’t feel very secure.  Oh, well. [EDIT: Lou and Liz suggested that, with the loose fit and stretch fabric, I could get it over my head without unsnapping it, saving lots of stress on the snaps!  I can!  Win!]

I used a cotton shirting that I bought for $5/yd in the Garment District (from It’s A Material World, I think) during my epic shopping expedition with Lauren and Oona.  I was so excited and over-caffeinated that I didn’t even notice the stretch content of the fabric at the time!  It’s not really noticeable in a shirt this slouchy, though.

Since the fabric was inexpensive and the fit seemed pretty forgiving, I didn’t bother making a muslin.  I thought the pattern pieces looked a little short, so I lengthened the shirt by 2″.  Other than that, I didn’t make any changes and I’m happy with the fit.  I might narrow the shoulders on the next go-round so they sit in the proper place.  I think the shoulders are supposed to be slightly dropped, but I prefer a more fitted shoulder.  I did spend a fair amount of time matching the plaid, which was a bit of a brain boggle and not 100% successful, but I’m OK with how it turned out.

Overall, I’m really happy with this shirt, and hopefully I will make the time to sew a few more versions!  I’ll be sure to use extreme caution when I snap and unsnap this to extend its shelf life as much as possible!  It’s a little bright (and possible even circus-y), but I love it anyway.  I’m so glad I finally finished this shirt!

Alright, now it’s confession time– what’s the oldest UFO in your collection?  Have you ever finished up a long-term UFO and immediately been sorry you didn’t finish it sooner?  Anything in your to-be-finished pile that’s just begging to be worn?

Ginger Made: Vintage McCall’s 5995, or the Mello Yello Dress

Holy guacamole!  It’s hot out there, folks!  It’s the kind of humid heat where if a guy so much as looks at you cross-eyed, you could gut him like a fish mumble to yourself angrily long after he’s out of earshot!  But luckily, this weather can’t bring me down ’cause…

I’ve got a brand-new dreee-eesss (sing to the tune of “I’ve Got a Golden Ticket”… it’s your new favorite song!)!

This is a super-UFO… the dress that I started working on for my class with Gertie back in July!  I’m pretty slow, so I didn’t finish it during the four class sessions, and then I just couldn’t work up the energy/ambition to figure out the kickpleat thing in the back.  But I’m so glad I finally finished it!  I really like it, even though it’s not perfect.

The pattern is McCall’s 5995 from 1960, and I love the style!  I thought I would have to grade it up to get it to fit, but there was sufficient ease in the pattern that it ended up fitting really well without any major changes.  I shortened it by a few inches and lowered the neckline cause it was Choke City before I did (although I could have lowered it a tad bit more– it’s SUCH a high neckline that I’m pretty sure if I bend forward in it I’ll get strangled).  The only thing I’m not that happy with are the bust darts– I iron them nicely, but then the minute I put the dress on, they’re back to looking bunchy and weird.  My suspicion is that this is happening because, ahem, I’m not quite filling out the dress.  I suppose I could take in the side seams a tad to get a snugger fit, but I didn’t really want it to be tight and risk button gaping (one of my pet peeves).  I can live with it as is (or I guess I could wear a bra with a bit more… volume?).

The pleat thingy lays a bit flatter in real life… I think it turned out OK.

I used a light-to-medium-weight cotton that I bought at Tissus Reine on my trip to Paris last summer (ack, I wanna go back NOW!!).  It was just the perfect weight– not at all heavy, but definitely not sheer, and in a FAB nuclear yellow-green color to boot!  The pattern includes a tie belt, which I made just for kicks, but it’s kinda cute, so I may wear it after all.

Take the picture and quit cracking jokes, photographer!

I got to try out a few new techniques with this dress– it was my first time using a vintage pattern, doing bound buttonholes, doing a pleat in a lined skirt, and inserting a regular zipper.  It was the first time I used fabric-covered buttons, too, but I can’t truthfully claim that skill because Man Friend covered the buttons for me!

Guts (bodice front)

I serged the raw seams, except for the ones that I had sewed last summer (they were French seamed or turned-and-stitched).  If this photo looks a little wonky, it’s because the facings were annoying as all get out, so for the left armhole, I just faced it with some bias tape I had laying around to keep the facings out of the way of the zipper.  I ended up blind-hemming the first armhole facing and the neck facing to the bodice of the dress because they just wouldn’t stay out of the way, even when I stitched in the ditch at the shoulder seams.  Blerg!  I’ll probably skip facings altogether on the next dress and just use lovely, clean, neat bias tape.

Guts (back)

The skirt is lined with a very strange material… I’m really not even sure what it is.  Some sort of acetate, possibly?  I went into Mood last summer (when I was more clueless about fabric types) and asked for lining material, and they gave me this stuff– it’s got an element of stretch to it, which is probably what I wouldn’t have chosen if I bought it today, but it works totally fine.  The pattern suggests stitching a seam binding waist stay onto the waist seam to discourage stretching, so I did that.  I used seam binding to finish the hem, then hand-stitched a blind hem, which I’m pretty proud of.  This is definitely the nicest (and blindest, ha!) hem I’ve done to date.  If you’re wondering what the little white square is just above the waist, well… I had a bit of a serger accident.  I was humming along, finishing my seams, when a bit of the bodice fabric got tucked up under the seam and the serger ATE A HOLE IN MY DRESS BODICE.  Now, drama queen me of 6 months ago probably would have freaked out, cried, cut the entire dress into ribbons, and set it on fire, but I calmly approached it with the poise and white-lipped determination of a field surgeon fear, trembling, and a little swearing, and came up with a hillbilly fix.  I cut a tiny piece of fabric to fit the hole and ironed a square of fusible interfacing onto the wrong side.  Then I dotted Fray Check around the raw edges and hoped for the best.  It’s really not very noticeable, and hopefully it won’t fray over time.  If it gets worse, I’ll probably stitch up a wider belt and just cover up the mess with that.

Overall, I’m happy with this dress.  The color is so cheerful and fun, and it feels good to have defeated a long-lurking UFO, one that’s been looking at me accusingly for some time.  Plus, who doesn’t LOVE HAVING A NEW DRESS?

What are you guys up to these days?  Working on anything fun?  Hope you Americans had a lovely three-day weekend!  If you guys see fewer blog posts from me in the future, it’s probably because it’s really distracting trying to type with my assistant (and that’s the other assistant parked just inches from his fan):

I’m not bothering you, am I?