Sewing Circle: A Yard of Wool

Welcome to Sewing Circle!  Here, I post your questions about sewing, fabric, patterns, whatever!, and give my answer.  Then all you readers can comment and help out, too!

This time, Heather Feather of Feather's Flights asked...
Q: I'm in a tailoring class so I am making a nice, custom wool coat for myself. It's a thick (like a blanket!) black and white tweed. It's a simple single-breasted collared coat that's mid-thigh length. It's beautiful, but I have about a yard left. It was expensive so I want to use it to make something else. What can I make with it? Would it me weird to have a matching skirt? Thanks so much about your help!

A: Hi Heather,
Thanks so much for your question!  I do have some ideas for you!
With a yard of coat or blanket-weight wool, it is tough to use it without being totally encumbered by bulk. Of course a skirt would work (not too weird to have a matching skirt, could look very chic with something black on top), but you've got to be careful about the style of skirt. Anything with fullness, small piece details, pleats, possibly even an A-line skirt could probably be too bulky, not comfortable to wear, and 3-D where you don't want it to add thickness! I think your best bet for a skirt is a pencil skirt with a kick pleat in the center back, very 60's retro (they did use some heavy materials back then, I've seen vintage skirts that are heavy!).

You also could make a hat of some kind, sculptural or vintage-ey, either with a brim and band (again, be careful about small pieces that will be taken up with a thick seam allowance) or in a perched-on-the-head pillbox, cap, or little style. Depending on the wool, it might steam and shape well and look great as a hat, with the right millinery. If you wear hats ever, of course. Here's a pattern for a cloche-type winter hat:


And some more styles, Vogue V8440:
Another thing to do is a creative scarf--I've done this before and created my own fringe by pulling at the horizontal threads at the bottom, or just cutting parallel lines up a few inches. It would be more of a men's scarf, very simple, unless you got creative and did something cool with it! Braided? Patchwork? Overlapping?
Here's a versatile scarf/shawl combo (sharf!) on Delia Creates:
Or of course, you can make a small bag or purse!  You could make a very cool wool bag, especially if you got some contrast wool to make other pieces, or cool handles (even JoAnn has a purse hardware section nowadays). That could be a really nice winter bag.
Use a simple pattern and make it a fairly plain style so the fabric speaks for itself.  And with a heavy wool, gathers or lots of pockets might not work well with the fabric.
Vogue V8642:
Vogue V8527:
And there are lots of other random fun things you can do with it.  Just a few ideas pop out at me now, thinking about appropriate home dec and accessory uses.  I love these:
This appliance cover from Design*Sponge (tutorial there, too!)
Tutorial and project idea for recovering a stool, also on Design*Sponge:
And, as the holidays come up, you may find seasonal uses, too!  A black and white Christmas theme, and make some stockings or table runners?
And when you just have the little scraps left, you can make fabric flowers.

I totally feel you on wanting to use every last bit of that lovely, quality fabric.  Good luck!
Readers, what other ideas do you have for Heather?
Thanks for reading Sewing Circle, and feel free to send me your questions for next time!

11 comments

  1. I vote for the hat! What a great idea!

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  2. Love all these ideas. The only other things I could think of would be smaller accessories; a flower brooch, zipper case, wallet, eyeglass case, headband, etc. Most of these only require small scraps, though, so they might be a good addition to a larger project like a bag.

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  3. I'm impressed by what a generous responder you are! I go for two hats - one for Heather and a hat off to you too!

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  4. What great ideas! My vote is for the hat!

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  5. A very thoughtful post Suzannah, as always a pleasure to read. I like the stool best, but hat and scarf would be nice, too, and a pencil skirt could look very sophisticated.

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  6. That stool would be fabulous!

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  7. Great ideas- I thought about a skirt straight away but a bag or a hat would look fantastic!

    Grosgrain's blog has a tutorial about how to make a skirt with a spare yard of fabric- but it might not work with heavy fabric like wool.

    Here the link anyway for anyone interested: http://grosgrainfabulous.blogspot.com/2009/06/20-minute-simple-skirt-tutorial-and.html

    xx

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  8. Great comments, everyone!
    @Popababe, I think if you did a slightly gathered skirt it could work but you'd want a 1-2" wide visible elastic waistband, since that casing would be beyond bulky! I've done an elastic-band gathered skirt before with wool, with moderate success. Depends on the thickness of the fabric! :)
    Another reader pointed out this tutorial and vintage pattern for a cute hat of a small piece of wool: http://astitchysituation.wordpress.com/2010/10/06/from-funky-town-to-mod-momma-a-hat-tutorial/ Check it out!
    Thanks, everyone!

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  9. I just wanna see pictures! That coat sounds lovely.

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  10. This is amazing! Everyone has such good comments and ideas! Thank you so much Adventures in Dressmaking :) This is so helpful. I'll be sure to show you what I make!

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  11. @ Adventures in dressmaking: Thanks for fab mod hat tutorial- can't wait to try!!

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