Posted in sewing

Grainline Cascade Duffle: The Reveal

Cascade Duffle (15 of 16).jpg My beautiful duffle coat is complete and I am happy about a lot of things and would change just a couple of things. I got to wear it today for our first true cold day it’s just about perfect!

I have to apologize for the quality of the photos. It was overcast today so the pictures aren’t as vibrant as I would like. But, I realized I didn’t really want to take additional photos tomorrow and I need to blog my coat to move on to my next project. Better to have A photo than no blog post at all.

Now, on to the coat!

Likes: It’s a duffle coat! I’ve always loved and wanted to own a duffle coat. If you know me you know I love a military influenced garment and am a casual Anglophile (I can claim it as my parents are from Commonwealth countries and my mom lived in England before moving to the States).  But, have never found a RTW version that fit me well because I’m busty with a big booty or that I can afford because I love me some Burberry. I’m thrilled I made this from plaid. I love plaid but rarely sew with it because matching stresses me out.

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The color is really great on me and will be cheerful this winter. The lining is from flannel back satin so the hood won’t destroy my curly hair and provides a lot of warmth 😀.


Cascade Duffle (16 of 16).jpg I notice the back hem doesn’t lay as flat (rather flares out a bit) as I’d like and the front hem rises. Originally I thought this was the result of not making a long enough FBA at the front and too large a new-to-me swayback adjustment (I took the extra length at center back out at the shoulder/ neckline).


But, when I now look at this plaid version from the designer above, I see that the back hem flares out / away the same way in the middle pic and the front hem also rises. I also see on the designer version that the black plaid between the bust and waist isn’t parallel, as mine isn’t despite a FBA.  I don’t notice this on all versions of this coat online though. I’ve pressed the hem over a ham to have it curve / lay a bit flatter but it’s not enough. Maybe I’ll send it out for a profesh press. I’m not sure what causes the flare. Could be a rounded vs straight hem. Maybe the lining should be a bit shorter to pull the hem in place more? Maybe the rounded hem biased a bit? Perhaps the back should all be interfaced. I’m not sure and I’m willing to live with it in this version. I also used wiggan in the hems which gave me a nice crisp finish (my wiggan came from Lichtensteins in Brooklyn, NY. No website.)

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If I were making this again, I would extend the length of the zipper band and use a 30″ vs 23″ zipper. I’ve noticed on a few versions that the lower front splays open a bit. I assumed that was fabric cut off grain. But, I now think a longer zipper would go a long way to keeping it closed. The zipper stops at the hip length shorter version length. Which does make it easier for zipping up. But, I’d just go longer in the future. The center front band is also too long. There is an updated pattern piece on the Grainline site. But, it’s about 1.5 inches or so too long in  my size.


As for the zipper band, I did choose to interface mine. I’d also recommend reinforcing the bottom where the zipper stop is. I managed to pop mine loose while squatting to put put on my dog’s halter. It can take a lot of pressure there.

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I would also not have done it in a contrast color for the zipper band. It peeks open a bit at the top by my neck and it wouldn’t bother me as much if the colors were the same.

Cascade Duffle (4 of 16).jpg Thanks to a year of lifting weights my body has changed — a lot. I should have made a broad back adjustment and added another inch to the width of the sleeves at the bicep (for a total of 2″). I can wear this with slim to medium garments underneath – nothing thicker than a ponte or wool jersey knit. But, certainly not a heavy sweater. Thanks to the flannel back satin lining though this is warm enough for Baltimore on it’s own. It took wearing of all my other outerwear this fall to realize how much my body has changed. None of my coats fit particularly well through the bodice right now. That said, this is well suited for a big chunk of Maryland winters. My next coat will have boxy fit for oversized winter garments (I’m thinking navy cashmere swing coat with dropped shoulders).

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All of these issues could have been caught with a muslin which I chose not to do. I just couldn’t deal with all these pieces! That said, I hope most of what I see is just what I see. Overall I am happy but would be thrilled with a few tweaks. And, I would make another duffle. Just not in plaid 😀

I’ve been lamenting my lack of clothing labels this year. Especially larger / bold labels for garments with a substantial facing. I actually finished this coat on the fourth anniversary of my mom’s passing so she’d been on my mind all day.  Above, I used an old label from  one of my mom’s custom garments from when they were stationed in South Korea. It was from an outfit I’ll never fit in. I have one more similar label in my closet and will put it in my next nice wool coat.

The first time I made a tailored coat may have been the first time she bothered to figure out how to leave a comment instead of just emailing or calling me. Back in 2011 she wrote here:

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.


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I’m so happy to have a new everyday coat! I’ve been wearing my high school letterman’s jacket and a puffy jacket from college. If I needed something nicer I’d wear a vintage coat in my closet — but vintage isn’t great for everyday wear. I have SO MANY coats in mind and may come back for a discussion on what to sew next (camel wrap coat? navy cashmere swing coat? oversized menswear influenced coat? rain coat with zip out liner? travel jacket from stretch water proof fabric? red peacoat? dressy spring coat? SO MANY DECISIONS) Now, I need to start working on Jordan’s Hanukkah gift. I promised him a bomber jacket and have a week to get it done.

If you’ve stumbled on this final post, check out these other posts I wrote about alterations, cutting the plaid and tailoring the coat.





48 thoughts on “Grainline Cascade Duffle: The Reveal

  1. Great coat! It looks fabulous. I have too many projects just waiting, I’m going to stop thinking of a coat right now. 😉

    1. But, you’re in Canada! I’m lucky it rarely gets frigid here. For that I have an old RTW coat of my mom’s that I wear. But, I have big plans for the next six months.

  2. This coat is wonderful! I love the colors on you. (Somehow it makes me think of your mother.) Your dislikes are things only a sewer/ist herself would ever notice. It is of course a far better fit than any RTW. It makes me smile to see it!

    1. I like to think this is the coat she would have worn in 1960s London before immigrating to the states 😀

  3. Your coat is awesome and looks fabulous on you. I’ve not yet tried making a coat and I find this inspirational for me. Thanks for posting. Side note/question: would it be possible to use a weight to the hold the front down and possibly the back as well? I’m thinking a chain type that is often used in a Chanel type jacket, if that makes sense. Or maybe a washer type for the front and a chain in the back.

    1. Hmmm, that’s an interesting idea! I don’t know. But, I will look into it. Thank you for the suggestion!

      1. The weights are an excellent idea but I would also re-think the seam allowances on the hems and collars too where flare ups don’t seem to want to be tamed by pressing. Be sure to grade your seam allowances especially if you used interfacing; sewing them down and trimming close. Love the colors in the plaid.. and I don’t see half of the things you say is wrong, but I agree about the matching color for the zipper. I am a seamstress. My last job was as an Alterations Specialist in a Bridal Salon and I not only did fittings but did alterations as well. ……… …. Great fit and a beautiful coat.. awesome job, well done. !

        12-7-2017 Craftygmaw

  4. It is an inspirational, beautiful coat, and looks just great on you. I’m impressed with your willingness to talk tweaks–I agree with others that these are things that only sewists notice, but a review is important to help others understand your issues with the pattern and possible solutions to these challenges. Congrats to you for completing such a lovely garment–as someone with about 30 yards of coating in my stash, I am impressed! Hoping it keeps you warm and comfy all season.

    1. So much coating! This is the season I really want to put a dent in it. It doesn’t even fit on my shelves anymore!

    2. Thank you! Yes. I’m being a bit hypercritical. But, it’s more of a ‘I didn’t notice this before. But, if you look here….” type post. I think overall this a great pattern. But, I’m always learning. Especially because I don’t think I saw any versions with an FBA. It was well worth it to me to make one. I can see that this wouldn’t have fit without it.

      1. I’m currently in a long-overdue stash organization and review process. I am embarrassed by the amount of great-looking coat fabric I own. You are definitely giving me a mental push to move ahead on overdue projects. But before any real sewing gets done, a well-fitting pattern is a must. I really appreciate your detailed approach and thank you for sharing your knowledge. I don’t see it as hypercritical at all. We all engage in that sort of reflection. It is what good sewists do. And, if today’s weather report is to be believed (Dec. 8), your new coat is ready in the nick of time! Stay warm.

  5. I like your Duffle coat a lot. I have a RTW one in plaid that I like but the pattern doesn’t match at all! One question, though – I thought a sway back adjustment is done at the waist approx and then the amount taken off added to the bottom again. If you removed near the top, would this not make it worse for your broad back? And if you didn’t add again could this be one reason for it being short at back? Very wearable.

    1. Hi Anne! I used this alteration for the first time on this coat because I didn’t want to add a CB seam (as I usually do) Another review of the alteration said that it tends to square the shoulder a bit (I could have benefitted from shoulder pads but didn’t have enough ease). The beauty of this version was not having to mess with the hem line as I’ve had to in the past. I’m not great with design. But, I don’t think this version would harm the ease needed for a broad back. I have to say too now that I’ve worn it a full day, it might not be as snug as I feared. But, I will be making a broad back adjustment on slim fit coats in the future. Have a look at that alteration. I’d love to hear what you think.

  6. Simply beautiful!! As for the front and back hem, I had to stare REAL hard to see what you were talking about. =) Girl, strut all of your stuff in that coat!

    1. What coats are you making this year??? Remember, you’re the one who told me to just do it.

  7. Your coat is beautiful! The colors are perfect for you. You’ll get a lot of wear out of this make. Congratulations!

  8. This is AWESOME! I am so impressed with how quickly you got such a complicated project together, too. I am hoping to make a version of this same pattern soon, so here’s a question: Are you happy with the patch pockets? I’ve never had a coat with patch pockets before, but I tend to be pretty lazy about wearing gloves, so I put my hands in my pockets constantly. I like how cute the patch pockets are, but are they comfy for putting hands in pockets? (The obvious answer, of course, is for me to start wearing gloves like a sensible person…. )

    1. Hahahaha!! Um, I almost did what Gingermakes did on her Cascade and make a sort of a slant pocket. But, I bet you take the Metro and spend more time actually outside than me. So, for that reason I would alter your pocket. These wouldn’t work great for you. Mine are fine. But, I think I would have made them bigger and given a sideways entrance to them. Look at the J.Crew and Gloverall duffles. They do some really neat things with their pocket.

  9. The coat is gorgeous! And well worth all of the time and effort you put into it. Since we make our garments, I think we’re always a little more critical of them. To me though you’ve learned some lessons for your next version and for future coat making projects. Also, I hear you on the muslin…if I had to do them, I would never have any completed garments!

    Now you need to machine knit a cool scarf to go with this amazing coat!

    1. Hopefully remedied this weekend! I also considered adding a faux fur trim to the hood. But, thought that might take away from the everyday nature of it.

  10. Your coat looks absolutely fabulous! Thanks for the extensive review of it. I really love when people get into the nitty gritty of patterns and what could improve them.

    The label is such a lovely touch and beautiful tribute to your mother. <3

    1. Thank you, Andie! I honestly think I haven’t written a series of posts like this in YEARS (mostly due to lazy photography). But, I found myself rereading other posts that had lots of details. And, I like to talk. So… 😛

  11. What a beautiful coat! The plaid is gorgeous, suits you to a T and that matching is amazing. I’ve been eyeing so many coats this fall and I’m itching to make one! I live in Canada (Victoria BC where we get the mildest winters in Canada – rainy though and typically around 5 degrees C.) so I need several coats – varying degrees of warmth, water-proof, comfortable. I have bought some Dinetex for water-proof but I couldn’t figure out what to line it with – that flannel backed satin sounds tempting!

    1. Flannel back satin is wonderful! Like you, I need a range of coats in Maryland. I seem to recall Closet Case Patterns lamenting the loss of the Canadian manufacture on her post on either the Cascade or the Claire coat. You should check where her’s came from. I have some Dinetex too from Seattle something or the other and plan to made a parka with it. Oh! Heh. I bought in on my Vancouver / Seattle trip this summer.

      1. That’s so funny! I ordered mine from an outdoor fabric shop in Seattle (probably the one you THOUGHT you had!) I will check out Heather Lou’s blog for her recommendations – she’s quite the Canadian coat specialist for sure (and jeans!) Hope you enjoyed our visit to Van 🙂

  12. great use of that plaid fabric, love the colors and it looks so cozy.

  13. So beautiful!! You conquered that plaid and it looks fantastic on you. I would love to see the other pattern that you are using for your other coat(s) and the aviator jacket for Jordan. I am living vicariously through your sewing due to a broken arm. Thank you for inspiring me to get back to the coat that I have started to make, once I am feeling better.

  14. I think this is a fabulous coat, and it looks great on you! A great everyday coat that you will wear to ribbons. I like the color on you. I think all duffle coats flare out like that. They are a bit A line in shape, have lots going on to stiffen them up, and the length is right to flare out below the hips. I wouldn’t have noticed it if you had not pointed it out. I got verklempt seeing that label. My mom has been gone for a very long time (41 years!), but if I had a clothing label from all her tailoring, I would certainly put it next to my heart as well.

    1. Thank you, Becky. I think it’s more the slight flip upward than the A line shape that distracts me. But, I’m getting used to it now that I’ve worn it a few times.

  15. Yay!!!!! You finished it and it is marvelous!! I did notice the tilt of the front of the pattern when I bought it and for a minute went to my Burda stash to find a duffle coat there instead. But who wants to do all that tracing?! Not I! LOL!!!

    I DO agree that we notice every little thing…but also some things you can FEEL even if the pics are perfect. So hopefully the minor issues don’t bug you when wearing.

    I really like the contrast zipper shield. I LOVE THE COLOR!!!!!!!! That plaid is really nice. Thank you for the tip to use the flannel back lining for the hood if nothing else. Can’t afford all that roughness on the mane.

    Lastly, I too have so much coating. I have 4 outerwear projects planned…Well 3 right now. The Clare coat in black (as a dress coat), Burda 8/2017 (short coat) in navy wool melton (mmmm) and a full on trench coat with all the fixings! My *4th was a casual type coat. I bought one…the Large was too snug, found an XL and it’s still tight across the back (when I move my arms forward it’s tight) so I may not be able to keep it 🙁 But I really need a sportier coat but do not want the traditional shiny puffer. Decisions Decisions. 🙂

    I say make a toasty warm loose fitting coat. I was so, so glad to have my cape during fall. It was really the perfect piece of outerwear for those cool days when I wore a blazer/jacket with my outfit. You could totally wear snuggly oversized sweaters with a wrap coat!!

  16. Well you certainly gave yourself a challenge with this coat in this vibrant and quite large scale plaid fabric, but the end result is sensational. I think when we’ve been working on things for ages there is a tendency to focus on tiny things that bother us, but hopefully they will soon be forgotten. I don’t see any issue with the hem and I love the contrast zipper tape. You look great!!

  17. Beautiful coat Renee and the thing I loved most was reading the comment your mom left: wow how special to have that and other comments on your blog! Anyway I think it’s an awesome coat. Great job!

    1. Yes 🤗 It’s like she’s still talking to me. There are so many comments sprinkled through here. One day I need to try and find them all.

  18. hello …. this coat looks beautiful (love the colour and plaid) and you look beautiful wearing it!
    My grandmother was a seamstress, and my mother a tailor (worked on menswear) and i learned a lot from watching them. One thing from my mom: make the lining longer, in body and sleeves, by about 1/2 to 1 inch. Sew it in as usual, and when ironing, pull it tight so that it overhangs the hem seams, and press it flat… creating a nice folded edge (looks like a horizontal pleat). Doing this allows for better movement, especially in the sleeves. … also from Canada: Winnipeg

    1. Thank you! The good thing about this pattern (and this isn’t common) is it’s drafted with the larger lining to provide hang, etc. Some reviews I read even said it hung too long. It works well on my sleeves for me. But, not quite right in them hem.

  19. I’m dabbing my eyes over the inclusion of your mum’s tags.
    I love your coat. It almost makes me wish I live in a cold climate. Almost.

  20. I think your duffle coat is marvellous! I love the color/plaid and you did a great job matching the plaid. It looks good on you and is very flattering. Bravo.
    This is the first time I’ve come across your blog and will enjoy following you in the future.

  21. You look totally adorable in your new coat! Love the color on you! So happy you chose the plaid (and in turquoise)! You do an amazing job on all of your projects!

  22. Your coat is great! That label is a very special personal touch. I’m quite a different shape to you and had some of the same issues with this pattern – I usually reduce the width of sleeves but on this I added an inch and have just barely enough room for a thick jumper [sweater] underneath. I was in a lift [elevator] this afternoon and was looking at how the front hem of the coat is raised; I thought I must need to do an FBA, so it’s interesting to know that didn’t solve the problem for you. And I also ripped the bottom edge of the zip out of the band by squatting down too enthusiastically! Wouldn’t a longer zip make that more likely? You might need to add a back vent if the zip was longer.

    With the back hem, I was really suprised that there was no instruction to catch-stitch the facing to the inside of the coat. You have to do it once the lining is stitched in but before turning it all the right way out. There should be spare length in the lining, for comfort and longevity, so it can’t be used to hold the facing up. I catch-stitched the hood facing in place as well, but for some reason left the cuff facings loose and wish I hadn’t.

    Beautiful coat, well done!

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