Introduction: How to Make a Simple Blanket Coat
This (red) coat was made for a child 52 inches tall. There are a few pictures of a larger (yellow) coat made for a child 55 inches tall. Both coats fit a small woman, 62 inches tall and roughly a ladies' size four. Both coats are made from twin sized wool blankets. The red blanket measured 60 inches by (about) 78 inches.
All of the pieces are cut from one blanket. Any scraps can be used to reinforce corners or add embellishments to the coat. 'Cut' is actually misleading, since the blanket is torn, rather than cut with scissors. Tearing the blanket makes your lines follow the grain of the wool, resulting in pieces of a much more unform size and straighter edges. The only cuts are made at the shoulder seams, which go on an angle.
The yellow coat the first coat I made. It has a fair bit of blanket stitching. I have not included a tutorial for blanket stitching, but they are not difficult to track down. I also added some embroidery along the bottom. I leave you to finish the coat according to your own taste. I didn't have enough blanket to make a belt out of the same fabric, so we will use and Assomption sash to hold it closed. I have seen the coats with buttons as well.
Kitty assistant is optional.
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Step 1: Measure Out Your Pieces
I used the full width of a twin-sized blanket to make this coat. A men's coat would need at least a double, but more likely a queen or a king. The blanket needs to be three three times the width of the shoulders, so that you have a double overlap in front. For example, if you want the shoulders to be 24 inches across, then you will want the body piece to be 72 inches wide. HBC Point blanket dimensions:
- Twin: 3 1/2 points 60” x 86”
- Double/Full: 4 points 72” x 90”
- Queen: 6 points 90” x 100”
- King: 8 points 100” x 108”
Measure your pieces and mark the lines with pins. I marked the measurements with sidewalk chalk so I could see them better. The body of the coat is 42 inches of the bottom half of the blanket. To make your own coat, measure your neck to floor distance and subtract about six inches. You may even subtract more, depending on how long you want your coat to end up. These are basically calf length because I expect their wearers to get much taller in not much time. The yellow coat is 47 inches. I use the finished edge of the blanket as the bottom of the coat, and the finished sides as the two front sides of the coat. That way, I won't have to finish those edges with blanket stitching. I used the finished edge for the cuff ends and the pocket tops as well. For a normal capote, from a point blanket, using the finished edges will also put your stripes in the right places. That is, along the bottom of the body of the coat, and along the cuffs, horizontally.
For the sleeves and hood, I measured 25 inches from the other end of the blanket. I divided it into three sections: two 19 inches wide and one the remaining 22 inches. I used the sides of the blanket for one edge of the sleeves and the middle section for the hood.
The remainder was about 11 inches (left after I ripped 42 inches from one end, and 25 from the other) by 60 inches (the width of the blanket). I used this to make square pockets and a cape. I have seen coats without a cape, but with fringe at the shoulder and hood.
Step 2: Rip It Up!
Once you measure a bunch, and dither a bunch, and measure again, you are ready to rip up the blanket. I made a tiny cut through the finished edge, and then ripped it straight across. It will not follow the lines you measured exactly, but it will end up much more square and even. I have also heard that the wool fabric is less likely to unravel if it is torn instead of cut. It doesn't unravel much when you are sewing it.
You will end up with two sleeve pieces (19x25 inches), one hood (22x15) and two tassel pieces, one body piece (42x60), one cape piece (33x11), two pocket pieces (11x13?) , and a small bit of scrap. You could probably turn that scrap into some fringe or even two smaller pockets or something similar. (My numbers might not add up because of the stretching/shrinking of an old blanket that makes it difficult to measure properly).
Some capote patterns will make the sleeves longer, so a fringe can be made out of the rough end of the sleeve. This is accomplished by folding over the extra and sewing the sleeve to the body of the coat as two sleeve layers sewn to one body layer. The folded (shorter) section is left on the outside of the sleeve and then torn into fringe. A notched bit is cut out of either side of the folded over part before sewing, so that the fringe is not in the bottom seam of the sleeve.
Step 3: Make the Shoulders
For this, you need both sleeve pieces and your body piece.
Make the arm holes by folding the body piece in thirds. Mark the arm slits at the folds. The sleeve pieces for this coat are 19 inches wide (so almost ten inches when folded into a sleeve), and I tore down 13 inches along the two side folds. I measured out the length of the tear and marked it with a pin. The pin acted as the stopping point for my very careful tearing.
To make the angled shoulders, start by marking the very center of the back with a pin. Leave that pin in place so you can place the cape later. Measure 5 inches from the center in both directions and mark with a pin. The ten inches in between makes the neck.
Measure 3 inches down into the armhole tear. Cut across from the pins measuring the outside edge of the neck to the pins marking the three inches down. This forms the angles for your shoulders. You will end up with four little triangles. Set those aside for embellishments.
Pin the shoulder seams with right sides together and the sleeves along their longer edge. The seams for the shoulders and sleeves will be on the inside of the coat. They are sewn on the machine and turned.
Step 4: Prepare the Hood
For this, you need your hood and tassel pieces.
The hood is a piece about 22 inches wide and 15 inches long. Basically, it is 15 inches of the piece leftover from the end of the blanket used to make the sleeves. I tore two two-inch strips from the bit I ripped off when I made the 22 x 25 inch piece only 22 x 15 inches and used them for tassels.
Make the hood by folding the 22x15 piece in half along its long edge. Stack the two tassel strips and tuck them into the fold, allowing them to lay along the inside of the fold. They should stick out a bit along the edge that you will sew. The seam makes the top of the hood, with the tassels sticking out the top and hanging down the back of the coat.
I made the hood differently than other capote patterns because I used a smaller blanket. Some will make a much deeper hood that is folded back much further and torn into fringe. Those also have a more conical shape.
Step 5: Machine Sewing
For this, you need both sleeve pieces, your hood and tassel pieces, and your body piece.
Sew the shoulder seams, the sleeve seams, and the top of the hood. I sewed on the 5/8". When you sew the sleeves, start at the finished edges, so that you are sure they line up nicely. Since you tore the pieces, they should be all the same size. You may find, however, that your blanket has stretched or shrunk in places over the course of its life. As you sew, you can stretch the pieces a bit to line up just right. Your pieces won't look like they will fit on your machine, but the weave of the fabric is so big that you shouldn't have any trouble with it (unlike demin or thick corduroy).
I prepped all of the pieces and then sewed them all at once. I also back stitched at all edges and over the place where the tassels were tucked into the hood seam.
Step 6: Attaching the Hood
For this, you need your sewn hood and tassels, your cape piece, and your sewn-shouldered body piece.
This step involves three layers: cape, coat, and hood.
Turn your pieces right sides out. Find the middle of the long edge of your cape piece. Pin your cape piece to the neck of your coat, matching up the middles. Pin the cape to the body of the coat along the ten inches of neck only. The cape is only attached at the neck seam.
Find the middle of the long edge of your hood. It should line up with the seam you just made in the top. Your hood will be much taller than it is wide once it is on the coat. Pin the hood to the coat along the same stretch of neck as you pinned the cape.
Sew through all three layers. This is only about ten inches of seam.
Push the cape out of the way, and pin the hood most of the rest of the way across the front flaps of the coat body. It will not go all the way across. You will need to leave about an inch open at either side, so you can turn back the edge of the hood for blanket stitching and finishing. You are sewing the two outer layers of the original three layers so that the hood comes around to the front of the coat, but the cape drapes free across the shoulders.
Step 7: Attaching the Sleeves
For this, you need both sleeves, and your sewn-shouldered body piece.
Turn the coat body inside out (seams in), and the coat sleeves outside in (seams out).
Place the sleeves into the arm holes with the sleeve seams at the bottom fitted into the very bottom of the sleeve hole you tore into your coat body. Pin right sides together. The wool will stretch a bit as you sew, and you can encourage it to do so in order to make your sleeve fit into the hole perfectly. Make sure that you are pinning the rough edge of the sleeve into the hole, rather than the finished edge that you want for your cuff.
Stitch in the sleeves on the 5/8". Start at the bottom of the sleeve and very carefully work your way around. You don't want any ripples or gaps, so you will want to go slowly and stretch the wool as needed to make the seams and folds line up correctly. It won't require a lot of stretching, but it might require a bit. Back stitch over the stress points at the armpit and shoulder. I also sew at about the 3/8" under the arms for about three inches to reinforce that stress point.
Step 8: Attaching the Pockets
For this, you will need the coat as sewn so far and both pocket pieces.
Baste both pockets 5/8' from the edge from the top of the pocket to the bottom. That is, from the finished edge to its opposite edge.
Lay one pocket on the coat to measure placement. Since this coat is so small, I planned to have the top of the pocket just below the armpit, and about four inches in from the front edge on each side. Once you can see where you want your pocket in relation to the front of the coat, mark the corners with chalk or pins.
Place the pocket wrong side out and upside down on the front of the coat overlapping the chalked edge and the "top" of the pocket by about 1 inch. Since it is upside down, the finished edge is at the bottom, and the unfinished edge at the top. On this small coat, the finished edge of the pocket is about 5 inches from the finished edge of the bottom of the coat. The unfinished edge of the pocket is about ten inches below the armpit.
Pin it in place only along the unfinished "top" edge. This will end up being the bottom of the pocket. This edge will be sewn on the machine. This will make it harder for small things to slip out of the bottom of the pocket. The two side seams of this pocket will be sewn by hand. You could top stitch them on the machine, but it would take away your historical look.
Stitch the pocket to the coat along the pinned edge about 1 inch from the edge of the pocket. Fold in the sides along the basting. Fold up the pocket along the stitched seam, and pin it in place on the front of the coat.
Repeat the steps for the second pocket on the other coat front.
Step 9: Blanket Stitching/finishing
Now that your coat is all together, it is time to finish the rough edges and decorate. Commonly, the rough edges are finished using the blanket stitch. I have also seen leather or cotton trim. Blanket stitching is done by hand using yarn and a large darning needle. All of the visible rough edges should be blanket stitched, (or otherwise finished) including:
- The pocket sides and edges (if rough). This is important because it also attaches the pocket to the coat at the pocket sides.
- The hood front (turn under one inch all around the face hole and stitch it down by hand)
- Inside the sleeves up as far as you plan to turn back the cuffs
- Along the top seam of the hood
- Around the hood tassels
- Across the front from corner to corner, finishing the neck and hood seam on the inside
- Around the edge of the cape
I used scraps to reinforce the corners and make more obvious limits for blanket stitching on the front. I didn't blanket stitch down the front or across the bottom because I used the finished edges of the blanket.
I added decoration to the bottom of the coat because the blanket I used didn't have any points (stripes).