Sunday, March 15, 2020

Weekend Review: Built by Wendy Coats & Jackets

Built by Wendy: Coats & Jackets / Wendy Mullin
with Eviana Hartman; illus. by Beci Orpin
NY: Potter Craft, c2010
224 p.
Book Three in my look at Wendy Mullin's series on patternmaking is her look at making coats and jackets. Outerwear is an area that many people (me included) are hesitant about approaching. But this book is low-key and encouraging, so much so that I might even try a coat at some point. 

Just like her other books, this one includes 3 tissue patterns in the back for the 3 standard designs she is working with: the Fitted Jacket, the Basic Jacket, and the Straight Coat. Each of these basics has a chapter of its own in which she shows the pattern mods needed to change the standard pattern into a variety of designs. The pattern changes are described and illustrated so that they are easy to understand, and the designs turn out differently enough that you could have a closet of coats by the end of this book. 

The sizing in this book runs from XS - XL, which means 32 - 41" bust and 35-44" hip. In this book she also has you measure your shoulder width to make sure that your coat is going to fit you and hang properly, and talks a little about grading between sizes as well. 

But before it gets to the patterns and designs themselves, the first half of the book goes over basics like understanding the patterns in the book, choosing designs and fabrics, details, choosing your size and transferring patterns. There is also a look at necessary tools, and then a full chapter on techniques like adding linings, finishing the seams and edges, bias bindings, facings, attaching collars, hoods & so on, and even more. There is a lot of info here, perfect for dipping your toes into coat or jacket making. 

The patterns themselves feel modern and classic -- from a bomber to a kimono style jacket, from a wool coat with attached scarf to a Paddington coat, there are tons of ideas for very different kinds of toppers. Ponchos, vests, denim jackets, boleros, peacoats -- it just keeps going. And none of the alterations seem overly daunting or impossible; the illustrations are really clear and like always, Mullin's tone is encouraging and practical.  

I found this book more dense with pattern ideas than the first two general sewing books, as it is focused on a type of garment rather than a more general overview. I feel that she was really getting into her stride with this book and the design choices and illustrations are really inspiring. There is plenty to try here, and I'd recommend the book for the ideas, even if I haven't yet made a coat from it, so can't speak to the exact proficiency of the patterns as yet.

Definitely a fun book to browse through and a way to discover new techniques or ideas you could use with any basic pattern already in your stash.


  1. This sounds an excellent book! I have never sewn a coat but am trying a vogue 8804 couture jacket at the moment. A book like this would give the confidence to make style changes, and it does appear to have lots of options.

    1. I really like the ideas for changing up details and hacking pattern pieces to get different looks. I really should try a coat myself! I haven't tried. Will be quite interested to see how you do with your first one!


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