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. :)