Friday, 12 January 2018

Which Winter Coat Held Up Best?

I have officially finished my winter coat this week. My latest version ended up back on the sewing table to add some interfacing to the sleeve hem. And this week, now that the temperatures took another dip into uncomfortable conditions, it is ready for it's official deep freeze test drive. Like much of North America, we here have been experiencing freakishly cold wind chills. Being a hardy Canadian who actually enjoys winter, my new winter coat and I are up for the challenge.   

Coat #3

Yes, I have already made two winter coats in the past, so you might be wondering what's the challenge in making another winter coat. Well, this winter, I'm also trying to steer away from man-made fabrics such as polyester, rayon, and mystery "unknown content fibres" so what's a gal to do when Kasha lining is out of the question. Now, don't get me wrong. I think that the Kasha lining that I used in the previous two coats has held up very well. And I would recommend using it if you're making a winter coat. I, just because of this current man-made vs. natural fibres experiment, chose not to this time.  

Let's take a look at some of the things that worked and didn't work in the last three winter coats that make it worthy to withstand a prairie winter deep freeze.  

Fashion Fabrics

I love wool. To me it has been the warmest fabric to wear. It's breathable, it has anti-bacterial properties and did I mention that it's warm?   

Coat #1 was made with a 100% wool fabric. It's a thick fabric with a large weave and when I held it up to the light, you can see light through the weave.

Coat #1

I honestly didn't think that it was going to be very warm because of the weave. But it is, and it's held up very well in that department. Where it didn't hold up as well was in the shedding department. I leave evidence everywhere that I sit while wearing this coat. A few fibres that rubbed off here and another few fibres there. It's like my calling card.

Every now and then I have to give it some tender loving attention with the sweater shaver and remove the collection of fibres that gather on the surface.  

Coat #2

Coat #2 is made with a Melton wool from Italy. But it is not a 100% wool, it is actually 70% wool and 30% polyester. You have to be careful when you picking up fabric because often how it is displayed on the table is not necessarily the full picture of the fibre content. Melton is a dense and tightly woven fabric that has been felted and brushed to produce a soft hand. This conceals the weave of the fabric. This coat is no where as warm as the first coat that I made even though both have Kasha lining and are underlined. This fabric is perfect for an autumn garment, a jacket or lined cape but it's not the one that I reach for when the temperatures really take a dive.

Coat #3 (first photo) is also made out of 100% wool with a nap and it's oh so stroke-able if I could bare exposing my hands in this deep freeze. This fabric is lighter than the other two wool fabrics and it does have more of a drape. I will admit that I wondered if it would hold up in the cold. And yes, it does.  

Underlining or is it Interlining?

Actually, there is a difference. It relates to the function of the garment. Underlining is used to enhance the fashion fabric with opacity or structurally by adding more body. Interlining is added to a garment when more warmth is required. An interlining could take the form of a heavier fabric or a lighter weight fabric. It's whatever you like. 

Coat #1 has a micro-fleece interlining. The micro-fleece fabric I chose to interline the coat surprised me with how well it blocks the cold mainly because of it's light-weight and thinness. With a thick wool fashion fabric, these two fabrics worked well together. 

Coat #2 has a dense cotton flannel interlining. It is heavier than that polyester mico-fleece used in coat #1, but no where as warm.

Coat #3 is interlined with wool suiting fabric. Yes, it does seem to be extravagant and it did hurt to put that much expense into something that will never been seen but I have to admit, it is worth every penny. Out of the three winter coats, this one is the lightest one and yet it is the warmest to wear. There is another barrier that has been added for another layer of warmth.   

A few years ago, I recycled this piece of leather from one of my ready-to-wear (RTW) winter coats. It was found hidden in between the fashion fashion fabric and lining. All the years that I was wearing the RTW coat I had no idea of its existence. This piece of leather is called Chamois leather.  Chamois is a porous leather that originally came from the chamois, a European mountain goat. Hence, it's name. Today, chamois is often made from sheepskin.  I have no idea if this piece is goat or sheep skin, all I do know is that it provides an excellent barrier from the cold. I interlined the back from my shoulder to my hip area with this piece sewn to the main piece of interlining.  

Lining Fabrics

Most people when they think about coat lining consider Kasha Satin. The original heavy Kasha satin is made up 51% acetate and 49% cotton and it's warm. It has a satin finish on the right side with a flannel back. Be careful of imitations of the original heavy Kasha satin lining though. There are lighter and polyester versions that are no where as warm as the original Kasha satin lining.  

Coat #1 has been lined with the original heavy Kasha satin lining. It is one warm coat. Coat #2 is lined with a lighter weight polyester Kasha satin lining and it hasn't measured up to Coat #1.

I took another direction with coat #3 and lined it with Dupioni silk. Dupioni silk has a plain tightly-woven weave that is similar to shantung but slightly thicker, heavier and with a high slub count. I do have some concern with how well it will hold over time and the warmth factor but I'm thrilled that my lining fabric is a natural fibre. And so far, coat #3 has kept me warm, even in a minus thirty-five degree Celsius wind chill.    

All three coats have an inner elasticized cuff. I used lining fabric for the cuffs, mimicking the design from a vintage coat I inspected and admired. It was a learning process and by the third coat I achieved the most pleasing inner cuff. There are other methods for making an inner cuffs to be found online, and I encourage you to try any one of them as this feature does keep that wind from blowing up your sleeves. Jenna Sauers wrote a wonderful article, How to Winterize A Coat detailing how she recycled socks for this feature. 

So which coat held up the best. As far as keeping me warm during this chill, coat #3 is my go-to coat.

Happy Sewing!

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