Pattern Reviews

Sewing my first coat | A review of the I Am Merlin Coat by I Am Patterns

When I Am Patterns brought out the Merlin Coat in autumn 2020 I jumped at the chance to buy it. I had been looking for a pattern to try as my first foray into coat making for a while and I loved the oversized look of this coat and the slight cocoon shape in the body.

The Pattern

I ordered myself the paper pattern directly from I Am Patterns and it arrived around a week later.  This is the first paper pattern I’ve bought from this company and I liked the minimalistic style of the pattern cover with its gold backing and see-through front.

Something to note about the paper version of this pattern is that there is no way to avoid having to trace off your pattern pieces since the pieces are all printed on top of each other.  I found it quite difficult to see what I was tracing and opted to draw over my pieces with a dark felt pen so that I could see what I was doing more easily.  If you are considering buying this pattern it’s worth thinking about whether you want to invest in the paper pattern or whether it would be quicker, cheaper and easier to simply buy and print off the PDF since you’ll need to trace the paper pattern anyway.

As pattern instructions go, this booklet could be considered quite vague and I would say it does assume some prior knowledge but if you’ve made a coat before, I think you would be fine with the brief instructions and line diagrams given.

The Fabric

I loved the look of the chequered fabric used in the pattern image but since this was my first coat I decided I didn’t need the added headache of pattern matching checks on my first coat making attempt so I settled on a beautiful camel coloured wool coating fabric and a silky tartan look taffeta lining both from Minerva. I’ve linked a similar camel fabric here since my actual fabric is sadly now out of stock.

The pattern comes in quite a range of sizes from 34 to 52 inches. The finished garment measurements are also given in the instructions and there is around a whopping ten inches of ease in the finished coat.

The Sizing Process

My measurements are bust 32, waist 27, hip 36 but even though my measurements are larger than the smallest size I still opted to make the smallest size due to the amount of ease in the finished garment.

Even though I loved the oversized look of the coat I knew that I didn’t want the coat to feel too big or long on me.  I wanted the coat to finish around my mid thigh and since this pattern is drafted for a height of 5’5” I knew I’d need to do a bit of shortening too.

After I had traced out all of my pattern pieces, I measured myself and where I wanted my coat to fall on me in the relevant places.  I then compared these to the finished garment measurements and made the relevant alterations to my traced pattern pieces.  For my personal fit preference, I decided to take 6cm from the length of the coat and 3cm from the length of the sleeve (sleeves hanging over my wrists tend to annoy me so it was really important to me that I got this part right).

It’s worth noting that if you are going to be shortening a coat you need to make sure to shorten all of the pieces that correspond to the length of the coat, main pieces, facings and linings.  I also raised my welt pocked placement to accommodate for the length I was losing with my changes.

Making a toile…

Since this was my first coat and I was a little nervous about the whole process I decided to make the whole thing up as a toile first, using an old bed sheet, both to check that I knew what I was doing with the pattern and to check that I was happy with the fit and the sizing alterations I had made.

So let’s talk about those welt pockets…!  This was the part I was most nervous about from the instructions, so I used my bed sheet to make a practice version first.  The I Am Patterns website has an amazing tutorial on how to sew in these pockets so don’t do what I did and struggle for hours trying to work out how to do them just based on the instruction booklet and YouTube videos because they are a little different to put in than a standard welt pocket it turns out!!

Once I’d got the welt pockets figured out I continued to make my practice version of the coat and when it was finished I tried it on and realised I still found the coat to be too oversized at the sides for my liking so I decided to take it in at the sides another 1.5cm front and back.  This felt much better!

I also realised I wasn’t happy with where the sleeve was sitting on my shoulder so I decided to raise the sleeve head slightly by reducing the length of the shoulder seam by 1cm and grading back into the armhole.  This then brought the sleeve up a little meaning that I needed to add a little bit of length back into the sleeves.  In the end I only altered the sleeve length by 1.5cm.

Making my ‘proper’ coat

Once all of these changes had been transferred again onto my paper pattern pieces I then procrastinated a lot about cutting out my lovely ‘proper’ fabric.  But once I’d had a word with myself I spent an hour or so one Saturday afternoon cutting out and was surprised at how easy it was – why had I put it off for so long?? 

So once I’d cut my coat out from my lovely fabric I then sewed the coat up slowly over a few evenings and I really enjoyed the process.  I used a walking foot and a size 90 needle to help negotiate the thick layers of fabric and since my taffeta lining did fray a lot I decided to overlock all of my lining seams too just to be on the safe side.

I found that the coat came together so nicely since I knew what I was doing and I really enjoyed the process.  Both fabrics were really lovely to sew with despite the fraying of the lining.

I did have an issue with the way the pattern says to sew the hem and ended up sewing it in my own way and that’s turned out fine.  I just couldn’t quite get my head around the instructions for this part.

Once I’d finished sewing my coat I gave everything a really good thorough press using a tailors clapper and I am so impressed with what a difference that made to the overall look of the coat and the sharpness of the seams.

My final thoughts…

I personally found this quite a good first coat pattern since there is not a lot of shaping in there at all.  There are no darts, the collar is flat, the lining is attached all as one piece and even the most difficult part – the welt pockets – came together really nicely once I’d watched the tutorial and I’m really pleased with myself for learning a new skill.

Would I make this pattern again?

Absolutely!! In fact I already have my eye on some navy boucle fabric that I think would be lovely for my next version.  Oh and of course there’s still that checked version to try!!

I really recommend this coat pattern, particularly if you’re looking for a fairly simple coat pattern to start with.  You wouldn’t even need to make the welt pockets if you really didn’t want to.

I hope this review has been helpful!  Do let me know what coat patterns you’ve sewn that you would recommend and if you have any other questions about this blog don’t hesitate to ask.

I have a video up over on my YouTube channel reviewing this pattern too if you’d like to watch it it’s linked below.

Thank you so much for reading! Until next time, happy sewing…

Sally xx

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