Book Review: Built By Wendy Coats and Jackets

by Erin on March 31, 2011

I am simultaneously the best and worst audience for Built by Wendy Coats and Jackets: best, because I have at least three coats cut out or fabric-bought-for, and worst, because I have exactly ZERO coats completed. (There's a plastic bin lurking somewhere around here with a really, really nice corduroy coat cut out in it, but I haven't seen it since my son was born … and he's been in double-digits for a year now.)

It's not because I don't like coats. I LOVE coats. I have lots and lots and lots of coats, but my usual coat M.O. is: buy vintage coat near the end of its life from eBay or Etsy, wear until dead. Repeat. (I also like to buy Lands' End coats in unloved colors on super-clearance, men's coats from Goodwill, and any creaky vintage leather coat in a weird color, like gray or forest green.)

It's always seemed like a stretch to me to SEW a coat, though. That combination of interfacing and lining and thick wool has always been a bit too daunting. 

However, after reading this new Built By Wendy book, I'm starting to have a change of heart. Maybe this is the year I'll sew a coat! (See how I conveniently state this in Spring …)

For one thing, the basic patterns are classic: a short fitted coat, a raglan sleeve coat, and a windbreakery hoodie type coat. And as in her other books, Wendy rings the changes on them in simple and complex ways, showing everything from a minimalist zip front coat that you could easily hide on the rack in Eileen Fisher to a hipster-friendly hooded poncho. (My fave was the "Puff the Magic Jacket" bolero-type jacket which would be magical for sure in black pique over summer sundresses.)

The patterns are included, and range from a 32" to a 41" bust. There are pages and pages of sewing instructions (very clear illustrations!) and lists of necessary notions, explanations of interfacings and linings, and much more. 

Until I make a coat with one of the patterns I won't be able to say for sure, but this book at least makes me WANT to make a coat, which is half the battle. (Have you made a coat with this book yet? If so, let us know in the comments!)

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Evalyn March 31, 2011 at 11:25 am

I have never seen this book, but I want to make the jacket on the cover. Does that count?


Alex March 31, 2011 at 10:30 pm

I’m an avid collector of coats, like you – and many of them I never wear (even though I mean to when I buy them.) But I think one thing that would ensure I wore a particular coat is if I had actually sewn it myself! (And it might even fit me properly …!)


Doris April 2, 2011 at 1:22 am

I have also felt daunted by the prospect of making a coat. I made a lightweight jacket once, thinking of it as a stepping stone, but I never took that next step.

I’m not even sure my machine could sew through all of the layers necessary for a coat.

Are the patterns in the book full-size?

Thanks for the review!


Fiona April 2, 2011 at 6:59 am

Coats are not as hard to make as you might think – depending on the style, there can be a lot less fitting involved than with a dress, and if it’s a button closure, that can be less work than fitting invisible zips into skirts! And a simple coat shape can look amazing in an interesting fabric…


Joni April 2, 2011 at 12:04 pm

Coats are right up there with jeans for things I would never, ever make, not when I can get them so cheap at the Goodwill.


MB@YarnUiPhoneApp April 3, 2011 at 5:18 am

No sewn coat for me…but I keep making plans to make one. At least a raincoat. I feel like I don’t have enough room in my closet for another winter coat. But something for spring. Yeah, sure, shove it in!


K.Line April 3, 2011 at 1:42 pm

I haven’t bought the book yet but I have all the others. And I have made a tailored coat, which was extremely labour intensive, though satisfying. I probably will buy it soon…


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