My handmade wardrobe – A new coat, top and jeans rework!

It has been quite a while since I posted about my handmade wardrobe, not because I have stopped making my own clothes, far from it. It was over three years ago that I set my one year challenge of only making my own clothes and not buying any. I completed two years before relaxing the rules, and even now I can count my purchases, on one hand, pretty much all of which have been knitwear.

The main reasons for not posting is because I have not been making much, those two years of regular makes set me up pretty well. I have also been super busy with other things… launching the online fabric shop, developing patterns, working free-lance, teaching, writing projects for mags …oh and being a mum!

I also have a terrible habit of getting really excited about making this or that, followed by a major cutting out session followed by a getting started session, then I just have too many things on the go and none of them end up getting finished. This year I decided to be very strict with myself and add the ‘excitable plans’ to a list rather than getting stuck in, then reviewing this list only after completing the current project…..So far I’m doing ok, though I can’t quite limit myself to just one project so I am working on three projects at any one time!

You might notice a big upgrade in the photographs, indeed professional! This is true another problem with posting my handmade wardrobe makes – after deciding clothes on a mannequin don’t really show the clothing very well I tried battling with a tripod and dodgy camera which was not very successful either. It was on my ‘to do’ list to investigate some help when one of my customers mentioned her other half was a professional photographer. A quick chat and a plan was made. A massive thank you to the super talented Dean Leivers.

When the lovely pure wool herringbone weave collection came into stock at the end of last year I really wanted to make a coat with it. I think pure wool fabrics are the ultimate coat and jacket making fabric, it’s so lovely to work with and hangs so beautifully. Though wool can’t generally be washed I don’t think dry cleaning is such a problem for coats as they don’t need cleaning as often as most items of clothing.

I had a mooch through my patterns for inspiration and found Vogue 8841 which was exactly the shape I was looking for. The pattern has versions with detachable fur collar but I wanted to keep the style simple and relaxed. The pattern is described as ‘Easy’, which made me think about the way pattern levels are determined, the makeup is quite straightforward and easy to understand, however, making lapels, set in sleeves and back vent are not particularly ‘easy’ techniques to get neat results on.

The pattern went together really nicely, I was a bit surprised there were no belt carriers on the pattern. I think I would just end up losing the belt. I added simple narrow self-fabric belt loops in line with the side seam.

The back of the coat has a long vent which is a nice detail for this simple understated style of coat.

The coat is fully lined. I am happy with the finished results. it’s is a versatile easy to wear style. Timeless enough to be around for a few years.

I drafted this top pattern around Christmas time. I thought it would be a good style to help hide the post-Christmas tummy! Now in March and the post-Christmas tummy is still around! A reality of middle age I think! I made this top in viscose elastane jersey and cut across the grain in the hope the hem would not drop and distort too much, which worked really well. The pattern actually took quite some time to get right, I started off with not enough flare which looked like a washed baggy t-shirt. Then I ended up with to much flare and it hung in deep folds. I settled on this version which I like, the hem deliberately dips at the back. I like this top shape worn with straight cut trousers.

Lastly, I have been admiring patchwork denim and collecting images on my Pinterest board for some time. These jeans were a plain pair of straight legged jeans, nothing wrong with them apart from being a bit ordinary so I decided to give them a patchwork facelift. I am going to share this make as a blog tutorial in the next few days. I think it would be a great way to reshape flared or boot cut styles that you might have fallen out of love with.

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Julia Claridge

I was about 6 or 7 years old when I had my first go on a sewing machine, it was an old hand crank machine that my mum used with her patients, she was an occupational therapist. I still vividly remember watching with amazement as the tiny perfectly formed stitches were created as I turned the handle. I Grew up in the 70’s and 80’s when buying clothes was less affordable and dressmaking was an answer to updating your wardrobe more regularly. My own mother was a talented dressmaker who made most of my clothes and my sisters clothes as well as a many for herself. I soon got involved with making my clothes, I loved the whole experience of picking out fabrics, trims and a pattern to create a new outfit, then going home to make a new garment or outfit. When it came to leaving school I visited a careers advisor who asked what I wanted to do next. My answer was ..Sew! Read more...


  1. Chantal L. on March 19, 2017 at 4:48 pm

    Your coat is absolutely flawless. I find your posts and your magazine projects very inspiring!

    • Julia Claridge on March 19, 2017 at 4:49 pm

      Thank you Chantal that’s really nice to know 🙂

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