Freemantle Cocoon Coat

Pattern: Marilla Walker's Freemantle Coat
Fabric: 2.5 yds wool outer, 2.5 yds cotton lining
Cost: $45

When I first started sewing in earnest, I spent a lot of time looking for the right coat style. I am not a particularly frilly girl, so ruffles, peter pan collars, and a lot of shaping just didn't seem like me. My most-worn me-made coat is a simple grey affair, and my favorite thrifted jacket is black tweed in a motorcycle style. This winter, when I was tempted to make a new coat, I again went searching for something interesting but wearable that would easily fit into my wardrobe.

Serendipitously, around that time Marilla Walker asked if I wanted to review her new pattern, the Freemantle Coat. Cocoon coats are very on-trend right now, and the Freemantle pulls heavily from street style and fashion inspiration. It is interesting and unique without looking overdone or too done up. While coats take a good amount of effort to sew up, I knew this would be the perfect project to try out, so I said yes. (Plus, Marilla's maiden name, Freemantle, means cloak-maker. How cool is that?!)

Clockwise from top left: La Garconne, Elizabeth SuzannGoodnight MacaroonBanana Republic

Before diving into the coat, however, I did want to make sure that the proportions and styling worked for me. Marilla has pinned some really great inspiration, and I assembled some more images to focus on what I really wanted (see above). The first thing I really like about this pattern is the shorter sleeves - just like with my winter swing jacket, I think showing a bit of arm really helps balance out the volume of the garment. I cut the sleeve length exactly as suggested, but also cut the sleeve sides along the more tapered lines for View B in order to bring down the volume just a bit more.

For the size, Marilla suggested that I take into account the extra ease in the pattern as she knew that I have small shoulders and things tend to run large on me. I cut the smallest size and the fit was perfect. The silhouette was still very cocoon-shaped without looking like I am wearing my boyfriend's jacket. The fit is good through the shoulders and hips, and bellows out around the body, just as a well-fitting cocoon coat should.

The last and most obvious mod I made was to switch up the collar. While I love the look of the cut-in collar on view B, for mine I wanted something a bit more traditional/less sporty. I used the collar from my McCall's 6172 blazer pattern, modifying the length a bit to work with the pattern. The overall hack wasn't too bad, and if you're interested Marilla explores how to modify the collar in this post.

For more inspiration, you can check out C's color-blocked version, the lovely Portia, and this very natural version.

For the construction, I took my time cutting, assembling and finishing the jacket. There are a number of interesting things to share here.

First, because of the billowy shape, Marilla has you underline the coat rather than line it. I have rarely had the chance to underline, but I do know that, like lining, if you are off then the coat won't hang properly. For this reason, I took extra care in cutting, lining up, and basting each piece together. I had everything laid out on the bed just to make sure I didn't get it all mixed up. This technique was great for the fabric I chose, which is very loosely woven and benefited from the solid cotton underlining. It just made everything much more sturdy and durable.

To conceal the inner raw edges of the coat, Marilla suggests that you bind them and then hand sew them down to the lining. I am a bit allergic to hand sewing, especially when it involves over 12 yards of bias tape, so I simply serged the raw edges, pressed them, and then sewed them down using my machine. I think the technique is fine, and the stitching lines are barely noticeable in this fabric. I suppose the wool could get a bit scratchy without the binding, but it doesn't bother me. For the facings, however, I did sew them in by hand, and for that part it was well worth it.

Another technique that I had the chance to practice on this garment was clapping all the seams after pressing. I have rarely if ever done this before, and it worked amazing! Because of the thick wool, many of my seams started out as quite bulky, so Marilla recommends in the instructions to press them and then clap them with a clapper or wooden spoon as the seam cools to press everything flat. My wooden spoon worked great, and the before and after was quite astonishing, giving the coat a much more professional, clean finish.

I did, however, struggle MAJORLY with one part of the pattern: the sleeve gusset. The design for this was actually really intriguing: instead of a separate gusset piece it is actually part of the sleeve, and sewn up using a bit of sewing origami. Here I felt that the instructions could have benefited from some more illustrations, as it took me an entire evening to figure out precisely how everything went together. There's no sewalong for this pattern, so there wasn't much reference. If you're sewing them up, I recommend looking at this picture from Marilla's blog, which helped a lot in figuring out how everything went together.

Even after putting sewing it up, however, I do feel that the gusset is a bit off. While the construction is interesting, I think having a one-piece sleeve with gusset causes some twisting when you move your arm. You can see this in some of the tester versions, where the fabric twists and bunches when you bend your arm and looks a little off grain or constricted somehow. While I think it looks fine in normal wear, this part did bug me a bit.

Overall, however, I would consider this a success. I finished it last week and have already worn it twice to work and twice on the weekend. The color fits nicely into my wardrobe, and the style is casual enough that it gets pulled out often. I am even more in love with the sleeve length now, as it's perfect for Bay Area whether, where it's never quite cold enough for a full-on coat. It's kind of like those people who like snuggling up in bed but with their feet sticking out - you feel nice and warm, but still get some ventilation in there!

My fabric choice also ended up working really well. It has the right drape for the pattern, holding the shape but also hanging nicely off my shoulders and around my waist and hips. In truth, Mr. Made thinks it's a bit frumpy, but I have always been a bit of a man repeller and really appreciate the tailoring that went into this pattern. The shape is especially fun and interesting to me, and I'm so glad I gave it a try. It's one of those fun but practical sewing projects that make you glad you can sew!

So what do you think? Do you stick with tailored coats or appreciate the design elements of an oversized ball of wool? 


  1. it looks perfect and what a great fabric choice. A coat to wear for many seasons to come.

  2. It’s a really nice coat. I like the oversized look and it suits you really well.

  3. It looks really cool! I have this pattern all cut out, but I'm dithering because I reckon I need to toile first and the construction is quite daunting!

    1. The fit is roomy enough that I just went off the finished garment measurements (sizing down from the body measurements). Raglan sleeves and a loose fit made it easier, too. And since I don't do hand sewing, that went quicker as well. Can't wait to see yours!

  4. I love it. The cocoon shape is so great. Love the shorter sleeve, too. Interesting to read about the sleeve gusset.

  5. So stylish, really well done! I just love the fabric you chose. I might have to try this pattern!

  6. This looks really cute and super stylish! I love those pockets! Great job!

  7. I totally love this! Thank you so much for trying he pattern and I appreciate what you're saying about the gussets (even though I love them still ;-)). I'm all for trying faster finishing methods and doing what ever works for you. It's good to branch out from the instructions every now and then. Anyway, such a good make and it looks fabulous on you! Xxx

  8. This looks super cool on you!!!

  9. WOW absolutely stunning coat, you totally nailed it! I loved the pieces on the inspiration board, then yours just blew me away. The black pocket pieces look so crisp

  10. That looks GREAT, Meg! I do predict you will get tons of wear out of it. Practical and chic!

  11. It's adorable! Very nicely sewn as well!


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