Friday, September 3, 2010

Designing Your Lady Grey with Gorgeous Fabrics

A big thanks to Ann of Gorgeous Fabrics who has taken the time to write this super-helpful post on choosing fabrics and linings for our Lady Grey Sew-Along!—Gertie

So, you’re making a coat.

Good for you! According to Nina Garcia, Fashion Editor of Marie Claire Magazine, author and Project Runway judge, “The most important thing for women… is to invest in a really great coat.” Truer words have rarely been spoken. Whether you live in Duluth, MN or Miami, FL, a coat can not only function as a barrier between you and the elements, it can do so with verve and panache. And as sewing enthusiasts, we can customize our verve and tweak our panache to yield exactly the results we want.
In Gertie’s sew-along, we’re using the Lady Grey coat from Colette Patterns. I love this style of coat because it can work for so many body types. And the length is perfect for day or evening, rain, shine, or cold – well, at least chilly – conditions. Let’s take a look at some fabric options that I think will work beautifully in this fantastic pattern.

Workday Options

The wonderful thing about Lady Grey is that it works well for a wide range of fabrics. In her interview with Gertie, the pattern’s designer, Sarai Mitnick, advocates working with lighter weight wools.  I completely agree. This will work up so beautifully in a suit-weight wool. I recommend using a gabardine or lightweight flannel. If you want to go the “serious business” route, some good choices from Gorgeous Fabrics would include this Ralph Lauren Stretch Gabardine.

Ralph Lauren Stretch Gabardine

 Or perhaps a funky bouclĂ© in a color that will brighten up a dreary day, like this one.

Fabulous Wool Boucle - Deep Pink
Wool tweeds are always appropriate for daytime, and a sharp black and white will wear all the way from fall through til spring.

Italian Designer Wool Tweed

Rain, Rain, Go Away

Lady Grey also lends itself to making a tres stylish raincoat. It puts a feminine twist on the trench coat trend that is so hot for Fall 2010. If you want to take a subdued approach, try it in a khaki or taupe. You’ll get a hint of the classic trench, but the shape will make it pop.

Designer Raincoating in taupe
Now, of course, if you want to amp it up a bit, you can always have fun with a more satiny or textured fabric! Here are a couple of stretch chenille waterproof fabrics that I find particularly alluring.
Waterproof Stretch Chenille Satin in Gray/Blue
Waterproof Stretch Chenille Satin in Green/Teal
The textures are really fun to work with, and they give you a completely different look with the Lady Grey.

A Little Something for Evening?

Lady Grey is an instant classic because it’s such a chameleon. By changing the fabric, it completely changes its feel. For a dramatic look, make this in an evening fabric. I’m talking something really spectacular. How about a crimson silk duppioni?
Crimson Silk Dupioni
Or a couture brocade?
Ratti Donna Couture Brocade
Or, and this is what I’m using, a stunner of a lace?
French Levers Lace
You’ll have your own version of a runway hit, and for thousands of dollars less! That’s the beauty of this pattern. You can make it yours with ease!

Get in Line

Now you’ve got your fabulous outer shell fabric, what to line it with? There are always the classic linings – I particularly love rayon lining fabric for its long wear and breathability. For ultimate luxury, silk is the fabric you want for lining! I recommend charmeuse, crepe de chine and habotai for lining fabrics. All of them are slippery enough to allow you to slide the coat on and off.  If you are using a stretch outer shell fabric, line it with a stretch silk for the ne plus ultre in sensuous comfort. And you will never go wrong by matching your lining to your shell fabric or by picking a complementary solid color.

But why stop there?

Seriously, one of the best things about sewing your own Lady Grey is that you can line it with anything! I loved Sarai’s use of a brightly colored polka dot for the lining of her sample coat. I’ve been known to line garments with a completely unexpected fabric. I may not wear a lot of animal print on the outside, but I let my inner wild girl out with linings like this fun acetate lining.

Change Your Spots Lining - Brown
For a whimsical touch, use a floral silk like this one:
A Florable Adorable Silk

For a coat that’s business on the outside and party on the inside, line a black wool with a fun charmeuse print:
Euro-Squares Charmeuse
You have so many choices open to you, let your imagination take flight!

To see other fabrics that are suitable for this fabulous coat (as well as other sewing projects), check out Gorgeous Fabrics.

Special Offer for Gertie’s Readers!

For the month of September, Gertie’s readers get 10% off any full-price fabric in the Coatings, Woolens and Oo La La categories at Gorgeous Fabrics. Just enter the coupon code GERTIE at checkout and we’ll deduct 10% from any of those fabrics!


  1. Love the idea of making Lady Grey in lace for an evening coat, how brilliant! Thanks Ann for offering the generous discount as well :)

  2. what a great post! i wasn't planning on joining the sewalong because i didn't want a winter coat, but i didnt realize i could make the Lady grey into a raincoat! now i must reconsider...

  3. I love the lace idea, I was actually wanting to try that with a blazer pattern!

    Oh my, I've had my heart set on either bottlegreen or turquoise for my coat, but now I've just fallen in love with a houndstooth wool on gorgeousfabrics.... aaaah decisions!!

  4. Ooo... those are some great ideas!!

  5. Great ideas, Ann! I have to admit to some trepidation when considering either a gabardine or a raincoat fabric.
    I always worry I won't be able to ease in the sleevehead without puckers.

    I recently bought this pattern - I am on a coat sewing spree this fall. If the sewing gods are with me, I'll join in and sew a Lady Grey.

  6. Thank you so much, Ann! I was really nervous about buying so much yardage of a likely expensive fabric, but only because I thought I might end up with something in the entirely wrong weight, etc. I love the raspberry boucle! And the black and white tweed! I wonder if Gertie could convince you to do similar guest posts with suggestions for other types of garment sewing -- that would be so useful!

  7. Fantastic post! Thank you Ann. So many great options. I really love the idea of using a funky print for the lining. It's completely unexpected. And I had not even considered using lace. What a great idea!

  8. Ann, I can't wait to see your lace coat!

  9. Hi Ann, thank you so much for the post, definitely helpful. I am thinking about going with the tweed and when I check the specification, this fabric is considered heavy weight? is it going to be a problem with this pattern?

  10. I really want to do the sew along. I've been worried that I'm just a beginner and the pattern said advanced, but I've been known to get in over my head, so why stop now? Am I crazy or should I just jump in? That coat is awfully cute.

  11. Oh no! I think my fabric is too think now. :| Is there a flickr area where I will could to post up an image of my fabric for opinions?

  12. Thanks everyone!

    @Suloveswew, that tweed is a heavy suiting/light coat weight, so it's definitely do-able for the Lady Gray. Taking Sarai's guidance, you may want to baste the peplum skirt to see if you want to take the flare down a bit. Though I think you'll actually be okay with it.

    Does that help?

  13. Okay fire away at me everyone, but I am a divorced lady living on a shoestring budget and there is just no frickin' way I can spend $150 plus on fabric.

    Yeah I know you get what you pay for, but PLEASE can you give some fabrics that we can buy at say Joanne's? If not, I will have to bow out. I am worried about how to buy food, not several hundred dollars in fabric.

    haha wv: wherses, as in wherses the cheaper fabric for us lower income types.

  14. Caryn, these are not fabric prescriptions. This post and the one from the designer were both meant to give you an *example* of the types of fabric that will work well, and both the posts have a ton of advice in them. I suggest you glean from them what you can (i.e. lightweight wools work great, you can make it a trench with raincoat fabric, etc.) and go to Joanne's with that knowledge in hand. I'm not trying to alienate anyone here! Rather, I was trying to give you the knowledge that will help you make your own decisions.

  15. I love that deep pink boucle. I have been struggling to find a tropical weight wool I like so I think I'm going to use some wool flannel to make mine, maybe in purple. I really love the idea of making it in lace though, it would be so unusual! This post provided lots of great inspiration, thanks Ann and Gertie!

  16. Ohhhh!! Someone please make it out of this:

  17. Thanks Gertie for starting a sew along! I love this pattern and I've been dying to get at it, my DH thinks the coat is smashing too!

    I ordered shell fabric already but don't want to order lining till the wool is here. You know, should I go this way or that with the color story, etc. Is there wiggle room with the project time line for me to order the lining a few days late?

  18. I wasn't trying to come across as a whiner, but this is just a bad time (bastard ex, blah, blah, blah, yadda yadda yaddaa) and seeing the prices almost made me faint. I am fairly new to fabrics... I kinda go into the store, go "Oh, that's pretty" and buy it. Not the brightest way to go, I know. I am in South Florida and don't want a raincoat... I am at a loss as to what type of fabric I should get for warmer weather. And any chance of polka dots?

  19. Caryn, how about corduroy? Here's some awesome dot cord from Joann:

  20. would this work?

  21. Caryn,

    There is some pretty aqua garbardine here that would likely wear much better than the flannel (I use it for my kids PJs and it pills after a few washings)

  22. Why would flannel not be a good choice? Remember since I am in Florida, this would not be a getting a great deal of wear.

    And in case you hadn't noticed from my own suggestion, mono-colours, or even just two *gasp* colours usually aren't my thing. My garish taste would make Lady Gaga blush.

  23. I would be afraid the cotton flannel wouldn't hold up well for a coat that you put a ton of work into even if it doesn't get a lot of wear!

    I did find some more "Floridian flavored" items in my browsing although most have only two colors...

  24. Great ideas! I was oogling a really pretty silk tweed at Gorgeous Fabrics for weeks, bought a swatch, then argh, I bought the fabric two hours before Ann posted here with a sale code!

    It is quite light so I think it's gonna end up pretty drapey. We'll see how it goes. I just adore the color and texture.

  25. Hey Caryn - Maybe a cotton sateen or twill would work better than a flannel, because it would be a little stiffer, but still light enough for Florida weather. Try searching or for either of those, and you might be able to come up with some colorful prints, like one of these:

    That last two are a little more expensive, but has a lot of 15-25% off coupons floating around the internet.

    I also like Gertie's idea to use corduroy., Hancock's Fabrics and Joann's all tend to have cute corduroy prints with a lot of color. How about one of these?

    Or something like this:

    Can't wait to see what you decide to use, I bet it will be lots of fun!

  26. Petra picked the winner for me

    Technically it has three colours. But more importantly, I have shoes and a purse that already match. A girl has to have priorities.

    Now I am open to suggestions for some WILD lining. I am thinking floral with yellow and black.

  27. How do you think velveteen would work for this? I have a bunch of purple velveteen that I've had for *years*, and I just saw a velveteen jacket yesterday that reminded me of this pattern.

    I hadn't planned on doing this, but I'm more and more tempted every day. Either way, I'd need to clean my sewing room first!

  28. If we are making requests, I think someone should make a Lady Grey out of zebra print FUR!

  29. Christina, I considered the zebra in felt actually.

  30. I really LOVE the euro-squares for a lining, but I can't afford it. How about this

    Still more than I should spend, but what do you think?

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