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Conversational Threads

Trench coat fabric

sewcrazed | Posted in Fabric and Trim on

I want to make a trench coat.  What type of fabric should I get and from where? 


  1. Bel Argent | | #1

    Well, it depends on the look you want.  Do you want a trendy trench or a classic, old school type (i.e., Burberry)?  I have seen them made out of everything you can imagine, from organza to denim.

    That said,  if you want a classic look, those are usually made from a heavyweight (think jeans) twill, very tightly woven, which helps provide some water resistance.   The fabric used is also unusally drapable for a tightly woven fabric.  The best ones are all cotton, usually in tan or black.  The classic ones usually also have a removable liner for warmth.

    A suitable fabric might be wool gabardine, but of the wool fabrics it is the least forgiving in terms of mistakes.  A good cotton twill-type bottomweight fabric might be suitable.  Also you might try Denver Fabrics or Rain Shed or Seattle Fabrics to check out their outdoor fabrics, perhaps they have something suitable.



    1. sewcrazed | | #2

      I'm looking for something water repellant but not noisey.

      1. mem | | #3

         I would use wool gabadine . Its is water repellant and not noisy . I would practise practise though as it isnt the easiest to sew and top stitch.

        1. SewNancy | | #4

          And it isn't easy to ease in the sleeves, so I'd make sure that you don't have too much ease in the sleeve head. Or make a ragling sleeve and this will eliminate that problem at least.

    2. Beanhi | | #5

      What fabric do you recommend for a lining. I'm looking to make a trench coat with a medium weight cotton twill fabric. I won't need a removable lining for warmth as it gets wet but not too cold in Southern California.Thanks.

      1. Bel Argent | | #6

        Well, I've had it snow on me in SoCal, but that's a whole 'nother story....

        A good lining for the cotton twill might be Bemberg rayon lining.  I really like this stuff and have used it lots of times in coats/jackets.  Because its rayon, it doesn't do the static thing like a poly lining would do.  But, to provide a little more water resistance, you might consider one of the static-treated polys (one name is "Hang Loose").  Do you think your cotton twill will be water-resistant enough for the SoCal winter/spring rains?   


        1. rallye893 | | #7

          I am also intrested in making a trench coat from a 14oz denim, beige with narrow lighter and darker stripes through it. I plan to line it with Bemberg lining. I would like to add a wind shield in the shoulders and sleeves but am limited in the fabrics I can access locally. Can anyone recommend a suitable fabric that is easy to find in Australia?Juliette

          1. Teaf5 | | #8

            Perhaps an interlining or exta layer of interfacing would work for a windshield without adding bulk or changing the fit and drape. You could a lightweight poly/cotton blend (that doesn't wrinkle) for the interlining and cut and sew it with the fashion fabric. Although I don't like the feel of polyester on my skin, it's a remarkably warm and windproof layer that is easy to find and to work with.

          2. mem | | #12

            I saw some water repellant fabric in Cleggs  Elizabeth Street melbourne store . It was the classic trench coat fabric in lovely neutral colours and very wide . It is very closely woven and a really nice fabric . I think you could line it or interline it with a micro polar fleece .

        2. Beanhi | | #9

          I was leaning towards a silk charmeuse lining because of the great prints but it may be more fashion than function. I like the anti-static poly but the kind at the JoAnns seems too lightweight.I just got the cotton twill today. It didn't withstand a light misting with a spray bottle let alone the downpour we're having right now.What now? Can I treat the fabric to waterproof it or should I consider a different fabric?

          1. cafms | | #10

            There are waterproofing products available.  You might be able to find them locally at an outdoor/camping type store or online at someplace like REI or Campmore.  Linda MacPhee Workshop also carries them.  She is in Canada and this is her website.

            http://www.macpheeworkshop.com/    Go to the on-line catalog under notions - waterproofing and there are several listed.   They are a wash in product that works in the washing machine. 

          2. Bel Argent | | #11

            Do you want your coat to be water-repellant or water-proof?  There is a big difference!  I don't know about the efficacy of the wash-in repellants, never having used them.   However, what is the reality of you being outside in even a raging downpour for more than a few minutes?   A trench coat is by design a compromise of form and function.  Its a good all-weather sort of coat, but if you going to be spending large amounts of time outside in the pouring rain, I would consider a hooded anorak, made from water-repellant Goretex.

            Also, silk charmeuse, while it can be a lovely lining, is not suitable for this application.  It will not stand up to the abrasion and you will have to replace the whole lining within a year (this I know from experience).  I know the lining fabrics that are recommended seem lightweight, but the real point of a lining is to make the coat easier to put on over what you are already wearing.  You can make a thin fabric warmer with interlining, but you can also make a coat too heavy, and too small to wear by putting a lot of thick stuff under the shell (again, this I know from expericence), and the polyester or rayon Bemberg linings will stand up to the abrasion from your clothes much better than the silk will.

            Here's what I would do: wash the twill with the repellant (I think it has to be renewed periodically by wash, another strike against the silk lining).  Find a good source for the Bemberg lining (which I prefer over the poly as it feels much nicer, like silk).  Bemberg comes in many, many colors, so pick one you like (a wild contrasting color, perhaps?)  If your pattern doesn't have the storm flap across the back shoulders (which is a detail from the old school trenches), then I would interline across the back shoulders with a thin piece of tightly woven fabric to provide a windblock.  (For windblock material, keep these characteristics in mind: tight weave, thin and supple, and non-shrinking/well preshrunk).  There were some good instructions about doing stuff like this in a very recent Threads issue.

          3. Beanhi | | #13

            Something water repellant would work just fine. I'll give the wash-in product a try and go with the poly lining in a fun color.

          4. user-142495 | | #15

            Seeing your conversations about this trench coat and interlining with whatever. If it needs to be light weight and water repellent, how about an interlining with a rip-stop nylon. It might be a little noisy, but I know the wind doesn't go through it--and it is light weight. So, If you wanted to line it with something pretty, you probably could.

        3. user-142495 | | #14

          Where do you get Bemberg lining? I've never even heard of this. Is it only available online? What colors does it come in? The only fabric stores I have available to me are Hancock (going out of business) and Joann Fabrics (which usually doesn't have anything I'm looking for).

          1. Bel Argent | | #16

            The lining I am referring to is actually called Bemberg Ambiance.  Its a very finely woven rayon lining, that looks very similar to a nice China silk, but its washable, sturdy, cool and breathable.  And compared to China silk, relatively cheap.  It also holds up to wear and tear much better than China silk, which is pretty fragile stuff.  It comes in dozens of colors, and because of the nature of rayon and the way it takes dyes, the colors are very rich and saturated.  You should be able to purchase it online, try Denver Fabrics, they used to carry it.  And I have even seen some (not lots, usually just 1-2 colors) in a few of the really big Joanne's here in Denver.  Once you use this stuff to line a garment you will never ever look at the poly linings again.

            And I really liked your idea to interline a coat with ripstop.  That would work very well, particularly if a non-coated ripstop was used, especially for a windshield.  I will have to keep that in mind for future use.


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