Melton Wool Trench Coat, BWOF: 9-2006 #103

That’s me outside in the upper 20s and I don’t feel a thing! We’ve had some colder than usual winters the last two years in Baltimore.

It’s done! Seven years ago I tried to make a coat that was so hiddy, I threw it out with the next day’s garbage. I won’t be doing that with this melton wool trench coat. When I was in middle school, my parents bought me a beautiful red wool coat in Budapest in the late 80s. I even remember trying the coat on in the middle of the store because there were no dressing rooms.  I wore that coat all the way through college on to my first job as a reporter. Finally, my mom gave me $100 and told me to buy a new coat because mine was so beat up. In making this coat, I wanted something nice for wearing over a suit but elegant enough for dress up winter events.

I realize maxi coats are not on trend right now. Although, I suspect long coats are too expensive to make. My other coats are sometimes shorter than my skirt and I didn’t like that look.  Mmmm. I love the military look and I fear you’ll be seeing a lot of trench details from me this year.

Materials Used:

  • Wigan (for the sleeves and hem)
  • Knit tricot interfacing for the center front, tabs, belt
  • Woven fusible interfacing for the upper back
  • 21+ black and grey buttons from my FabricMart stash
  • Buckle, I think I got this in Panama a few years ago
  • Sleeveheads
  • Shoulder pads from my stash. Well, they were filling out the bra cups of my dress form
  • Flannel back satin lining from Joann’s fabric


  • I made a size 40 with a 1/2 inch FBA
  • I increased the sleeve / bicep by almost two inches. I wanted to comfotably wear sweaters underneath.

The coat cost about $120 or so to make. A search on Nordstrom and Macy’s shows that coats of this length in wool fall between $300 and $600.

Here are some detail photos. And, um, yeah. After being outside and taking about 50 photos, I uploaded to the computer to see that I left one button open!!!!! Grrrrr. What can I say? There are 14 down the front (I copied this from the Burberry website vs. the 10 Burda calls for and is considered traditional). I’m vain, but not  vain enough to go back outside and take more photos.

Sleeve belts and tabs. I love the two button detail.

Gun Flaps. I like the look of two, but it’s hard for me to get them to match perfectly. I ended up moving the button so visually they were symmetrical.

Chin Strap. So. Warm. What a great detail to include in the pattern.

Back vent. There’s no way I could have done the slit without Summerset’s help! I was stressed about sewing the vent and she sent me some great directions from her son’s vintage coat. Thanks Summerset!

Welt Pockets. I think this is the third time I’ve done them? Not nearly as hard as they seemed three years ago.

Flannel backed satin lining from Joann’s on sale for about $25. The interweb consensus is that it’s not very high quality. But, by the time I heard that, it was already cut out and partially sewn. It can replaced in a few years if need be.

There are things I’m not 100 percent happy with. But, hey, it’s my first ever wearable coat. The slit is super flattering, but I’d rather do without. It does let in a breeze.  I would prefer it to start about five inches lower. But, that’s what happens when you don’t make a muslin.

I wanted a long coat, but I wouldn’t mind if this was five inches shorter. It really must be worn with heels. I’m not terribly tall at 5 ft 6 but, the coat does not drown you. The hem is wonky in parts, but I think I’m the only person who’s going to notice. I may also add a snap to the lower front.

That’s it! I love it. I was so smug on Sunday afternoon getting coffee with a friend. S-M-U-G. Like, walking around wondering how  people weren’t just stopping me on the street to ask where I got my amazing coat from. It’s only the second time I’ve felt like that and it’s the greatest feeling of accomplishment.

I’m going to be in trouble if I lose a button. These were literally ALL I had of this one style. In fact, I’ve got alternate buttons holding the chin strap in place.

Yep. Can’t tell me nuthin’. Because, I made a coat!


  1. OMG Girl!! I am doing everything in my power not to die from envy. That coat is AMAZING! I love all the great details and your hard work definitely shows in every aspect. That chin strap was a unique feature I had never heard of before today…given I live in CA so the need really isn’t there, but I love the idea.

    Maybe in addition to looking for people wondering about the store you bought it at, you might be looking for people like your readers who are scoping out all the details and wondering how to duplicate your couture find because you look like a MILLION BUCKS!!

  2. I love it! I am so impressed. What a great and warm and stylish coat. Congratulations on a job well done!

  3. Awesome in every way, shape, and form. 🙂

    As someone else who made a maxi coat this year, “on-trend” can go jump in a lake. A cold, icy one. I especially love the chin-strap detail. 🙂

  4. I love your blog, but I’m too lazy to leave comments. This coat is so amazing, so gorgeous, I just had to say WOW!

  5. Oh my goodness, this is totally awesome! I think the length and the details make it a classic that you can wear for years to come, well done, this work is superb.

  6. Are you kidding me with that thought about maxi coats not being trendy right now? Hold fast! That coat will be around when maxi coats become fashionable again and will compete with the best of them. I particularly love the feel of that satin lining. The details on the coat are to die for. Much more stylish than that red coat you became s-o-o-o-o-o attached to. I get a very warm, comfortable feeling just looking at you in that coat. Wow! You ought to be very proud of your accomplishment. Congratulations on a job well done.

  7. Your coat looks great; I can’t believe how fast you made it. I love the color on you, and I think there’s always a need – and place – for a long winter coat. What good is a warm coat if your legs are freezing?

  8. You look fabulous, and you look WARM :-)!

    Maxi coats may not be in fashion, but they can’t be beat for warmth, so ignore fashion. I used to have a coat with a chin strap like that, and it was great. Well, a bit rough, this wasn’t the best quality wool, but it was warm. Warm is good these days. It would be worth trying to close up the slit a bit, in part because you’re right it doesn’t end in the most flattering place, in part because it does let in drafts. (did you add walking ease to it? Check out Sandra Betzina, walking ease is a genius concept about letting things hang closed). Oh, and do make every effort to find at least one more button, you’re going to be wearing this for years if not decades, you’ll need a spare, really.

    Anyway, I’m envious, consider that I’m in the street eyeing you, would ask you where you got this great coat if I didn’t know.

  9. From someone who has never needed, wanted or owned a winter coat in her life, let me just say that I would brave a bitter cold winter to get to make and wear a beautiful, warm coat such as this. It’s a fabulous!

  10. Don’t you look pretty? and smug…ha ha. No really you have every right to be proud of yourself, you did a fantastic job, it is a gorgeous coat!

  11. I’m Australia, it’s a hot summer, it’s currently 35 degrees outside (C, not F) and I still want that coat. WANT!!!

  12. I would be stopping you on the street to admire your coat. You look fabulous. The chin strap, belt, gunflaps, welt pockets, how amazingly detailed and expensive and warm looking. People wearing Burberry would be jealous (and cold).

  13. Yes, you did make a coat. And a fabulous one at that! I just love the tailored look, the fabric, the color, the button details. Can you see that I love everything. And you are wearing it too! Fabulous!!!

  14. Joining the chorus to say that your coat is absolutely beautiful! I love all the details plus the fact that it’s WARM.

  15. The coat is beautiful and looks great on you! You can tell you are really happy by the look on your face in the photos. It is lit up!!

  16. There’s absolutely nothing I can say that hasn’t already been said. That coat is marvelous and you look stunning. I’ve been following your blog almost from the beginning. Your skills and your confidence in your skills has sky rocketed. You analyze your less than sucessful garments and always learn from what you perceive as mistakes. It’s been fun reading and learning along with you. I can’t wait to see what’s next. Good job!

  17. What can I say that hat not already been said? I will repeat it anyway. Your coat is fantastic and job well done. You have every right to be smug! Looking great RC.

  18. I continue to think that making a winter coat gives us the biggest bang for our sewing dollar because we get a much better coat for the cost – better in terms of techniques, better in terms of materials put into it. This is a great coat and looks great on you. Now you need a ‘Foreign Correspondant’ hat to go with it. 🙂

  19. I would be surprised you aren’t getting stopped in the street, too, except I think you & your coat are probably too intimidatingly gorgeous. And I meant to thank you for your setting sleeves post, which really got my wheels turning.

  20. Too many comments to read, so I’ll just join in the awed praise — your coat fits like a dream, and looks sooooo good! I love the chin flap, and the overall fit is perfect. (So was your button choice!)

    That drafty opening? Hand-stitch it down secretly to a shorter length — or you could also add a hidden inside tab to keep it closed above whatever level you prefer. You’ll be at least somewhat warmer that way.

  21. Bravo! You’ve got TONS to be proud of! what an accomplishment. Most of us have been salivating over that Burda pattern pic for years and you brought a version of your own to life. Take it all in. You’ve definitely earned your success:)

  22. Bravo Cidell, you did it!!!! I actually finished my first coat ever about 3 weeks ago and was totally on cloud 9 about it. Went to Target the next day and the cashier wanted to know where I got my coat. lol I told her I made it and she was in awe. I thought that was pretty sweet. It’s definitely a lot of work (took me about a month), but so worth it. Mine isn’t perfect, but I did it and now I’m totally ready to make another one. Enjoy your new coat, so worth all the effort for sure!!!

  23. You are my heroine. What a great piece! It is very flattering and looks amazingly warm. Maybe you could tack the vent loosely together for the top few inches if it let’s in too much of a breeze? You’ll be wearing this coat for decades, nice work!

  24. WOW WOW WOW! That is a stunner of a coat. I love it. It’s so flattering too. A job very well done. You must be so stinking proud of yourself. Beautiful!!!

  25. Ooh! That coat is sex-ay! Now I’m going to have to see if I can find flannel-backed satin of a good quality, since I’m kind of in need of a coat….course I’ll probably chicken out before I make one, but you never know!

  26. Fantastic! That is absolutely amazing and NO one but you would notice any flaws. Stylish AND warm… what more could you ask for?

    Gorgeous work and TOTALLY smug-worthy. 🙂

  27. Stunning! You’ve done a beautiful job and now have a coat that is not only warm, but fashionable. Regarding the length, I think it is fine; especially if you’re doing outdoor things and can still look chic.

  28. Forgot. Glad you could use the instructions – the vent looks great from the outside; there’s no weird pulling or even a hint of something strange going on with the lining.

  29. You and the coat are GORGEOUS!!! It makes you look taller and VERRRRRY sophisticated.Besides all that, I’m jealous as heck.
    Nancy H

  30. Your coat looks fabulous! I would totally pay $300-$400 for something like that (assuming I could scrounge up the funds)! You did an amazing job and I’m sure you will have it for years.

  31. You did such a terrific job on your coat and the color is great on you! Congrats on a job very well done.

    One thing you might consider on the back slit – if there is make a tab – sewn to one side of the coat down the 5-6″ from the top of the slit – since you don’t have any more buttons left – how about covering a large snap with the lining material and using that. This would keep the slit a little more closed but allow room for walking and maybe add another desing element. If there is a lap-over on the slit, I would be tempted to just use the snap without adding a tab – but I think there probably isn’t any overlap there.

    Anyway – you should be very proud.

  32. You go, girl! That coat looks amazing! I’m sure I would have stopped you on the street, not only to admire the coat, but to tell you how amazing it looks on you & you look in it!

    Congratulations – you’ve earned the right to be as smug as you want to be!

  33. Wow, your coat and yourself look fabulous! I really like everything about it. Very well done and keep up the good work! By the way love the new color of your hair too!

  34. LOL-I agree with Tanit-Isis! Oh-so-trendy can go jump into an icy cold lake! The coat is gorgeous! In any case, I think after the last couple of frigid winters all over the Northeastern US, the long coat is going to become trendy again. I’m making myself one ASAP also, I’m tired of my behind and knees being frozen every time I go anywhere.

  35. I love it! fantastic result & worth every drop of blood sweat and tears. It looks wonderful on you and good to hear it keeps you toasty warm.

    Although I am not finished my current coat project, I brought my steam press, wool coating and fusible interlining with me to Baltimore and that’s what I’ll be working on this evening.

    But my next coat is another simple one. Someday, i will sew a trench, cause it is SO FAB.

  36. Wow! your coat is fantastic, you should be so proud of yourself. It looks so elegant and very chic. I bet you keep it for ever!

  37. Hooray!! Fantastic, elegant, and FINISHED coat! 😀 And we ended up completeing ours at almost the same time – I finished my hem on Saturday night and took her for a spin to the corner shop, ha!

    Now, a quick knit top for you, too? 😉

  38. I think it’s all been written by now. Love, love your new coat! It looks very slimming on you and you look so thrilled in your photos. Great job!

  39. Great job, Renee! It’s been cold here in NY lately and I see lots of people with long coats. There are just days when one needs a long coat, and earmuffs! You’ve made a classic coat that you can wear with pride for a long time. I’m proud of your growth as a sewist. “Keep on stitching”!

  40. What a fabulous coat! Wow.

    You could add a buttonhole and button the back flap closed halfway down to keep out the breeze. I had a Navy bridge coat that used that detail, worked great.

  41. You look fabulous in your coat! And you should be proud of this achievement because it’s just awesome. I feel like I should hand you a graduation cap and pronouce you promoted to the next level because that is some accomplishment! Just add me to the pea green with envy club, too!

  42. You. Rock. The coat is gorgeous and it fits you perfectly. And I LOVE the long length.

  43. It is gorgeous!! I love the two gun flaps. It looks ever so much better than one. I like the length, too. I am getting materials together to make two coats. One long and one kind of short, but not really a jacket. I really appreciate the info you have shared. No Joann’s lining for me!

  44. What a beautiful coat, all kudos to you ! If you hadn’t pointed out the flap problem I wouldn’t have noticed, but you know those are the small things that make it unique and handmade.

  45. Hello ! One of my 2011 resolution is to comment more the blogs I like so let’s start!
    First, the coat is stunning and seems really well done: what an achievement! On the fashion side, I would have see you in a little bit shorter coat but who care about fashion when we are in upper 20s (in addition you can always shorten it but it would not have work the other way around)? I am sure also black or dark blue would be stunning on you. Or a very bright yellow for pop and fun. Take care!

  46. This to me is the most high about sewing – when you just KNOW someone is going to go nuts over what you have one. And believe me one day it will happen, and you will derive so much pleasure out of saying, “It’s mine, I did it!” Don’t you just feel like you can do anything?

  47. I love the coat.
    I hope to accomplish that feat someday.
    I was going to suggest adding buttons to the flap in the back to keep it closed.
    But then I read those were the only button you had.
    Have you thought about closing the back and making it look like a faux split?

  48. Amazing! Your coat is just absolutely AMAZING! I would have stopped you on the street to ask 😉

  49. Da bomb. You should be doing a smugger-than-thou superior dance whenever you wear it!

  50. It’s AWESOME! how inspiring – it looks not only amazing as a piece of work, but it looks great on you – (i.e. not always the way my sewing projects work out!) congratulations!

  51. esta super precioso tu abrigo. tienes mucha habilidad, te felicito. saludos desde puerto rico

  52. WOW! You look SMASHING! And you are very inspiring to one who is planning to make a coat in the next year!

  53. […] I didn’t make a muslin so I have that same feeling of trepidation when I started sewing my wool trench coat.  I may slow down as I really really want a matching puple Bemberg rayon to line the jacket with […]

  54. Okay – I know this was a project from a while ago – but I just discovered your blog! I’m so excited to build my sewing skills so someday I can make a coat too! It looks great. I really get inspired by how positive and fearless you are in your posts! Thanks.

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