Friday, December 31, 2010

Au Bonheur des Petites Mains - Coat with Round Collar (10011)

Let the Year of Twelve Coats and Jackets Commence!

#1: Au Bonheur Coat with Round Collar and Needle Felted Embellishment
More pics here

I was excited about this coat when it came out a couple months ago. I was doing an Au Bonheur order for some friends at the time, so I took the opportunity to buy a couple for myself and this was one of them. I especially liked the princess seams and silhouette of this coat, but the circle embellishment also gave me ideas.

This multi-sized pattern contains sizes 36 to 46. Size 46 is about 6 inches too small for my bust, so I did a whopping 3" princess seam FBA. I made no other changes and sewed it up using another castoff floral curtain from my daughter's room.

I was happily surprised that it fit quite well with no other alterations. It was a bit long in the sleeve, which is typical for me. But this pattern is beautifully drafted, even if the instructions are in French, skimpy, and rather vague where clarity is most desired.

For the fabric, I ordered some wool-blend boucle from Fabric Mart. I was surprised to see that this fabric is very similar to the boiled wool I won in Sandra Betzina's contest last month. It's a fine wool knit that has been fulled - it is technically a knit, but a very stable knit. And, just like the fabric from the contest, it has a wonderful drape. This fabric was a joy to work with and you might want to buy some before it's all gone. :)

To pre-treat the wool, I used the pre-shrinking technique that Pam features on her blog, Off the Cuff. Basically, I threw both boucle fabrics into the dryer with a large wet towel. It's best to use an older towel that has minimal lint because you don't want the lint to become embedded in your wool. I dried it for 40 minutes. A great, easy technique, and you should check out her blog for more information.


  • Wool-blend boucle (60% wool 40% rayon) in burnt sienna and black from FabricMart
  • black fusible interfacing from Fabrix for the buttonhole placket and facings
  • Merino Cross Felting Batts from Living Felt Felting Supplies
  • Felting needles - size 38 - and foam, also from Living Felt
  • Set of circle cookie cutters in graduated sizes (from ebay)
  • Black embroidery floss
  • Black 30mm sew-in snaps

Needle Felting

After the coat was constructed, I needle felted the circles using cookie cutters as templates. The original pattern used sewn felt circles but I was happy to find an excuse for needle felting. If you go to youtube and search for "needle felting cookie cutter" you will find examples of the technique.

Needle felting supplies

Auditioning the wool batting

In progress. The needle felting took me one full day. Sewing the circles on took me most of another day.

I used the two smallest cookie cutters as templates and 11 different colors of batting. I felted circles onto scraps of black boucle and then trimmed them with either a round or a square border and affixed them to the coat using a combination of the running stitch and the back stitch. In the end, I made 32 circles in the two sizes. This part of the construction is left up to you. The pattern directions are "Customiser le bas du manteau selon vos envies" or "Customize the bottom of the coat according to your wishes."

Felting inside the cookie cutter

Finishing the felting without the cookie cutter.

The back side. The fuzz on the back gave the piece some dimensionality when I sewed it to the coat.

When it came to the button treatment, I originally planned to buy buttons from Britex. In the end I decided to use needle felted circles as faux buttons. I had plastic rings in several sizes (the cookie cutters were too large) and I made several samples. Once I found the right size, I made up five "faux buttons." The coat is closed with 4 30mm black snaps that I secured with 3 strands of black embroidery floss.

Working on the faux buttons, which are smaller than the appliques

Other Construction Notes

  • In the process of translating the instructions, I added a couple more phrases to the French sewing glossary.
  • This pattern has no pockets. I added in-seam pockets.
  • The coat is unlined. I spent time debating whether to line it, but the fabric reminded me so much of a sweater knit, with its wonderful drape, I decided to maintain the feeling of a sweater coat and left it unlined.
  • Because this is a fulled wool, the edges can be left raw. The hem and the collar have raw edges. The black contrast was laid underneath the brown wool and held together with a running stitch. I sewed it once with matching thread and then again with 3 strands of contrasting black embroidery thread for a decorative effect.

    Closeup of the contrast embroidery

  • I also used 3 strands of the black embroidery floss to sew on the giant snaps. I took pains to make the stitches as even as possible.
More pics!

Here's to an excellent 2011 for each of you! Stay safe, warm, dry and healthy. :)


  1. That is the cutest coat! It suits you really well, and it looks like you got a great fit too.

  2. C'est magnifique! What a quirky and fun coat. I love it!

  3. Another beautiful creation! Your creativity is really inspiring.

  4. That is gorgeous!!! It is so cute on you.

  5. Your coat is amazing. Can't wait to try some of your techniques. Thank you for sharing.

  6. Oh, so incredibly drool-worthy! It's beautiful, and you wear it so well, too!

    This one is going on my list for sure now. The cookie cutter usage is very clever, and I love what you did with the buttons/snaps, too.

    (Heh, heh -- I was hoping this would be posted by the time we got back from errands!)

  7. Love it. I would never have had the patience for all that felting, but it is so perfect for this coat!

  8. Your coat is gorgeous! And very inspiring. I have a few of this company's patterns and now I will not be able to wait another day to get started on one of them! Thank you for making the glossary! Congratulations on an auspicious beginning to the year of 12 coats and jackets!

  9. My goodness Shams, this coat is amazing. You are one of the most remarkable sewist I've ever "known." Your work is so creative and trendy. What else can I say; this coat is wonderful.


  10. Wonderful coat! I'll bet no one will believe you made it!

  11. Your work is inspirational. I'm so glad I subscribe to your blog!

  12. Thanks SO much for your compliments, everyone!

    When I was out running errands today (and getting coffee :) ) I remembered that I also added inseam pockets. This pattern has no pockets. I added that detail to the blog post.

  13. First thought: oh that is soooo cute. Great coat! Love it.

  14. Your vision is unique and so delightful!

  15. I hate you! Let me count the ways:

    1. You've made an amazing coat from the very same fabric I bought from Fabric Mart - so of course my garment will never compare to yours.

    2. You've finished your first jacket of the 12 and I'm still dreaming about mine.

    3. You added new words to the french dictionary! ;)

    Seriously's an awesome coat that totally reflects your personality! Love that!

    Happy New Year! And remember we are meeting at Fabric Mart this year...because it's two biggest groupies should definitely meet up!

  16. This coat is fascinating and fabulous! Great job, Shams!

  17. LOL, Carolyn! Yes, I am thinking of FabricMart sometime in April or May. It would be *great* if you could come too!

    Happy New Year!!!

  18. Another outstanding creation. You ROCK, woman! You are so prolific and everything you make is superb. Thank you for a year of fun and inspiration. Happy New Year. Can't wait to see what you create in 2011.

  19. Oh my gosh, SO beautiful! I really love the black edging! You are so productive...
    And now I think I would like a yummy coat like this one too, even though it's 40C outside right now...

    Happy New Year, Shams!

  20. What a great and fun coat. Interestingly all that embellishment on the coat hem balances you out very well, which is probably a warning to pear shaped me to not do something similar!

  21. You are an artist. Wonderful and lovely coat.
    And an inspiration. Thank you!

  22. What can I say that others haven't already? You are great, fantastic, a true fiber artist, you make me so jealous?! Fabulous coat, great felting addition (don't you just love doing that?) And be sure and let me know when the meet-up is at Fabric Mart. I'll be there.

  23. What a fabulous coat, and a fabulous pattern too! It looks fabulous on you! I am realizing that a lot of the styles you wear would look good on me too, so you are my new inspiration model!

    Happy new year!

  24. What an incredible "coat tale", Shams! I await with bated breath each of your incredible projects...arty, edgy, beautifully sewn and thoroughly documented in words and pictures. I'm so glad you returned to garment sewing, and that you so generously share your journey with all of us. And the way you model your garments shows your joy and delight in the results!

    Happy New Year!

  25. Awesome coat! I love the felting you did.

  26. Holy smokes, that's fantastic! I enjoy seeing every one of your projects. Thanks for sharing them with us.

  27. How unique and gorgeous! Amazing. It suits you so well.

  28. Every time you post a new project, I end up saying "this one is my favorite!" What an amazing coat and you look wonderfully happy in it. Fits you beautifully and the felting is fabulous. Off to a wonderful start in 2011!

  29. Hmmmm. Now I want to try a needle felting project of my own! Viking used to sell a felting machine, but it kind of disappeared...I'm not even sure if they still make it. I'll have to look it up in the product catalog when I'm at work tomorrow. Or maybe I shouldn't! I'm sure I'll want to order one!