A Red Wool Coat and Rayon Jersey Dress for the Holidays
Good afternoon, Mood Fabrics! Today, I’m sharing two pieces that have been on constant rotation in my wardrobe. Usually, I make a couple of dresses for the holiday season, bright, cheerful pieces that I can throw on for office parties and cookie exchanges. Not that I ever go to cookie exchanges, mind you, but a lady can dream. (Or eventually break down and host one herself, I suppose.) This year, however, winter hit us early in Central Texas. We’ve already had our first big freeze and there actual snowflakes in our forecast for next week. I’m not holding my breath for a white Christmas, but I did get into the spirit of things with a whole holiday ensemble, this year. Not only did I sew up a quick holiday dress, but a wool topper to go over it!
The coat was the trickier part of this holiday ensemble. I wanted something easy to wear over both jeans and dresses, but also quick enough to sew, in light of all the other gifts that need finishing. Luckily, I knew just the pattern. This is Butterick 6244, an unlined, semi-fitted coat with a dramatic draped collar, designed by Liesl Gibson of Lisette and Oliver + S fame. It first popped up on my radar, last year, when the lovely Lori made a gorgeous camel wool version for one of her Mood Sewing Network projects. I’ve never coveted a coat more! With flat-felled seams and a generous, draping fit, it seemed the perfect mix of comfort and style.
For fabric, I chose a Cayenne Red Boiled Wool that I bought last year at Mood. This color is currently not on the site, but there are over a dozen other colors of the same fabric, including a gorgeous Soft Pink Boiled Wool that I’m using on another winter coat right now. Boiled wool is exactly what it sounds like–wool fabric that has been agitated in hot water, so that the fibers shrink up into a tighter, more felted fabric. It has a gloriously soft, nubby texture and a bit of springy stretch in one direction, thanks to this process. In addition to coats, I’ve had a couple of winter skirts made from boiled wool and they are such cozy layering pieces. It is one of my favorite fabrics to wear during colder months.
The construction of this coat was about as easy as outerwear gets. There are two darts at the neckline, no lining to fuss with, and only five pieces in total. The instructions are pretty clear, with a lengthy explanation of flat-felled seams for beginners, and there’s a sew-along on the Lisette website for the entire pattern. Boiled wool doesn’t actually unravel, so if you wanted to leave the drape unhemmed and the seams unfinished, this pattern would be easier. You’ll see unhemmed boiled wool in ready-to-wear all the time and it gives a bohemian, casual look to the finished garment. Despite my penchant for perfectionism, I almost did that myself. This wool looks seriously beautiful left on its own.
In the end, though, I hemmed everything and finished every seam as instructed. The fabric is a little bulky for flat-felled seams, but it takes both pinning and pressing well, so it’s not too big of a challenge. My only note is that, if you’re going to use boiled wool for an unlined design, expect it to wrinkle. I wore the coat for an hour, before these photos, and signs of wear are evident even after a good pressing, earlier that morning. Its organic, unstructured nature is part of the charm, in my book. For more tailored designs, definitely consider your lining options well, however.
The other part of this outfit is made with one of my favorite new patterns, the Cashmerette Turner Dress. The Turner is a knit fit-and-flare dress with three sleeve options, a v-neckline, and a semi-circular skirt. Most of my notes on the original pattern can be found on my first version, over at Idle Fancy, but I did make some design changes to this one. In addition to adding an inch to the bodice and another to the skirt to compensate for my height, I also changed the neckline and bodice construction. Instead of a lined v-neck, I drafted a round neckline and finished with a neckline band, eliminating the lining altogether.
This new method worked well with the fabric I chose, this Black and White Geometric Rayon Jersey. Mood has some of the best rayon jerseys and I’m a sucker for geometric prints, like this one. It’s a print made of abstract hearts and circles, which cascade in stripes across the fabric. Though these stripes look vertical in product photos, they’re actually printed at a gentle diagonal to the stretch of the fabric. I was skeptical about how the print would look when worn, but it’s such a graceful, modern take on a striped dress. The fabric itself is a highly stretchy rayon, with a fluid drape and tendency to hug the body. It’s still opaque, unless stretched to the absolute max, and doesn’t need a lining.
I really adore this pairing, y’all. A black-and-white print worn with bright red statement pieces is one of my favorite combinations, especially at the holidays. It’s festive, but also works at other times of the year. You can deck the halls or just bundle up for an elegant evening out. Even better, this coat is eerily similar to wearing a gigantic blanket. Between it and the secret pajamas factor of a knit dress, it feels like I’m cheating at dressing up! When I’m about to eat record amounts of holiday food, that’s a definite win.
Happy Holidays, everyone! I hope you have a joyful season!