Balloons and Cocoons

My first reaction to this coat was a bit melodramatic. Whoa, this coat is a balloon!

I knew what I was getting into, the pattern’s line drawing makes it clear that this is a cocoon-like coat. (I love that Burda calls it a “hinted boule silhouette”.) Within minutes I was pinning it in all over the place to reduce some of its volume. Although I finished this peach version of the shell a week ago, it took a couple of days of stepping back, taking a bunch of pictures, letting it have some quality time on the dressform to change my perception. I’m not going to be walking around with my arms splayed out like I do when I’m examining fit, thereby exaggerating the shape.

Of course, my “muslin” fabric is also exaggerating the shape by the way it floats a bit stiffly. The “suede” was a bit of a mystery buy dug out of Joann’s mega-clearance pile in the home dec section, but it was perfect to try out sewing on a nappy fabric. This stuff is so groovy that I might even transform it into a coat of its own. (Perhaps it’s something like polyester microsuede? It’s a woven with a satin-y reverse.) It has the softest feel, and in one of those peachy coral colors that can never do wrong by me.

An interesting thing about this pattern is the fact that the armholes are quite low, landing almost an inch above the bust dart. I should probably check and see if that is typical for one of Burda’s raglan-sleeved coats. Normally that’d make for some immobilizing sleeves, but there’s a lot of room to move around: the ease right above the bustline is something like 13 inches!

The smallest size on the pattern sheet was a 38 so I graded down to a 36 and I’m glad I did since this style has so much room. (Are you curious how to grade down a multi-sized pattern? I figured it out from this PR tip about grading up a size–I just did the reverse.)

My actual coat fabric is very soft and drapey and so I think the whole shape will relax into gentle folds. I’ve been lusting after Persian lamb fabric since last winter; something about it reminds me of my grandmother’s couches. I’d describe it more as a velvet than a faux fur, with rippled curly pile. (And no, it’s not real lamb fur, although apparently there is a real.)

There are a few little changes I need to do before cutting into my “fur”. The original pattern has an exposed zipper closing up the front. Since I’m replacing the ribbon trim with a leather binding I’ll have to sew the zipper into the binding somehow. That’s this week’s puzzle! The sleeves were shorter than I expected, but now that I’m looking at them in pictures, I might even shorten them more. It helps balance out the proportions and a wrist-length sleeve would probably just look overwhelming. I really don’t want to turn into Blueberry Girl. I’m okay with “boule”. French just makes everything sound better, no?


  1. Tanit-Isis says:

    Interesting! It definitely stands out more in your stiff muslin fabric than in the Burda photo (I do quite like that “muslin” fabric, too.) It’s an interesting shape and the shoulders fit very well, so I think you’re probably good to go…

    Selfish Seamstress did tutorial somewhere on the Burdastyle site about grading down… probably the exact same technique you used 🙂

    • Amy says:

      Oh, I didn’t know she did a tutorial–I’ll go check. It seemed to work pretty well and thankfully there were only four simple pieces. Thanks for the cheering; I’m happy enough to plunge!

  2. Sallie says:

    I might be a crazy drama queen, but I kind of love this “muslin”! The color is just so gorgeous and the shape is voluminous, but not theatrically so. I especially think in the third picture down it looks lovely.

  3. sophie says:

    it does look like a balloon!! it must be very comfortable though – and I’m glad you’re not using real lamb fur because the process of making it is gross and can be considered as torture!

  4. oonaballoona says:

    ooooooooooh i hope you take this coat out of muslin status! it’s so dramatic!

    and that UFO purse above needs desperately to see the light of day. you make the best stuff.

    • Amy says:

      awww, thanks. It’s going out of muslin status and near cutting status! And I should definitely finish the purse. Oh it’s so hard to get to these things… I hope your move is going well!!

  5. Tia Dia says:

    Well, it might look a bit “whoa!!!”, but I’m liking the silhouette! It’s dramatic and different, which are things that I like to have in my me-mades! I can’t wait to see your persian lamb version. I have a very old length of faux persian lamb – I think it’s actually rayon – that I use for hats, collars, betls and various other kinds of trimming on coats for my kids. It sews up beautifully, although I always have to vacuum AND dust after cutting the stuff!

    • Amy says:

      I can sure fit a lot under it! It was time for me to try something crazy. With the muslin, I seriously love this color peach. It was a total mystery fabric but I want to keep touching it!

  6. Sarah says:

    I love cocoon coats—looking forward to seeing your finished coat!
    And thanks for posting the link on Persian lamb, real vs. faux. I never knew there was a synthetic Persian lamb! I have a coat of my grandmother’s that has what must be a fake Persian lamb collar. I plan to refashion it, someday..

  7. Ilona says:

    Hi there,

    Gush I am so desperately in love with your coat, the color and shape my heart aches!!!
    I tried to buy this pattern on Burda’s website but I am having difficulties as I cannot make a payment due to some error on the site. I tried it on other websites but I can’t seem to find anything like this. Is there any way to share the pattern with us? You look too cute in this coat and I don’t get why are you so unsure about the fabric/shape 🙂 LOVE x

    • Amy says:

      Hi Ilona, thank you! I don’t know if you’re referring to this color but I wrote further posts about it, including some pictures of final coat in fur. I am very happy with it and definitely fell in love with the shape!

      For the pattern, have you tried the Burdastyle website? I forgot to link to it in my posts, but the pattern is available for download here:

      I subscribe to the magazine so I traced mine from that issue and made a lot of personal adjustments.

      • Ilona says:

        I gosh I didn’t see that final coat until now!!! Excellent, and in fact I loved it so much I downloaded it from the German Burda site as I could not have done that on the .com site. Love it soo much and following you I might just make use a cheaper material first before I buy something expensive such as fur. You know your hair looks really cute too with that coat I don’t know how to describe it but the shapes and lines are complimenting eachother. I’m glad I found you know!!! Thanks for the link too 😉

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