I’ve admired the blog + patterns of Sarai Mitnick for a long time, and when her line of menswear-specific patterns, Walden, came out, I was in love. The first pattern to catch my eye, the Albion Duffel, is a classic men’s duffel coat, complete with lining. The Albion, while technically “menswear”, was also advertised as customizable to womenswear. Since I like a slightly oversized look for outerwear, I thought the Albion would work really well in my wardrobe.
I went so far as to make a “wearable” muslin this past winter in order to practice pattern matching and obtain the best fit. The end result is a 96% wearable jacket, but it is a little small/awkward in places, and made out of an awesome looking but really cheap fabric from Joanns, so despite only a few wearings, it looks pretty crappy.
For my real jacket, I started with one size up (a S instead of an XS) and used an 100% wool plaid from Sew Low in Cambridge, MA. The lining is a bright mint flannel from my stash, and all of the buttons are woven leather from Gaffney’s. I also made a few additional modifications that were described in the Sewalong (and companion): the shoulders are less wide, the overall sleeve circumference is thinner, there is more of an A-Line shape created by grading the body to about 1″ less wide at the top, and the jacket is about 3″ shorter. I also added a zipper and a waist drawstring and drafted my own hood tab. Instead of using the plaid fabric for the in-seam pockets, and pocket and tab linings, I did those in the flannel to reduce bulk. I also matched the plaids whenever and wherever possible: on the side seams, sleeve seams, patch pockets, pocket flaps, sleeve tabs, even the collar tab. This project really confirmed my desperate love of plaid and pattern matching. It is just so…satisfying.
For an additional pop of color, there is piping made from the flannel lining on the yoke seams and around the button tabs. And, finally, I added a cotton batting to the hood and quilted the lining for additional texture and warmth.
The whole process of creating this jacket caused me to think a lot about handmade vs. homemade, (which I already do a lot in my day job, but not specifically for myself and my clothing), and really motivated me to start seriously creating a mostly handmade wardrobe for myself, and as time goes by and practicality permits, for Charlie. I haven’t purchased any ready-to-wear clothes for myself since the start of 2014, and although I’m not willing to make a bold statement or commitment about never purchasing clothes again, I am excited about adding more handmade, professional quality, custom made and fit items to my wardrobe. While I love shops like Gaffney’s and the craziness that is Fabric Row, I’m also incredibly excited, because a new fabric shop, Handcraft Workshop, opened in Mt. Airy at the start of the year, so access to higher quality fabric is within close reach. And, of course, the contest was a sweet little motivator to make the coat as well!
• Pattern: Albion Duffel by Sarai Mitnick
• Fabric: Outer: 100% wool plaid, Lining: 100% cotton flannel. Hood Batting: 100% cotton batting.
• Size: S, with mods for fit/shape.
• Date: January-March 2014