With this Woven Denim Secret Agent trench coat, it was a natural progression into finding answers to questions that I had about fabric. I’m very stream-of-consciousness when it comes to picking projects and I had recently become obsessed with fabric weaving (or meshwork). I started applying textile weaving techniques to fabric weaving and I thought that some of the plaids would look awesome in apparel. Since most woven fabric is four times the weight of the original fabric, I felt like a jacket was the most appropriate application and I immediately went to the Oliver + S website to see what they had. Lucky for me, they had this amazing Secret Agent Trench Coat that would be perfect!
As I embarked on this project, I never even considered how much work was involved. It’s like, once I figured out how to do it, I just jumped right in without even thinking. The first thing was picking the fabric and I chose four colors from Art Gallery Fabrics’ Solid Smooth Denim: Cool Foliage, Frosted Sage, Adobe Clay and Nectarine Sunrise. The fabric is 4.5 oz, so I knew that the woven weight would be perfect for a coat. Once the fabric was picked, I sliced up one yard of each color into .75” inch strips. Next, I used a Clover Bias Tape Maker and iron to turn those strips into strips that folded in toward the center and were a little wider than .33”.
With the fabric preparation done, I needed to prepare the pattern pieces by tracing the main components onto cardboard and creating a diagonal cross-hatch pattern to ensure that the weaving was both symmetrical and precise. A friend of mine invented this needle specifically designed for weaving fabric called the WEFTY that I swear is the only reason that I’m able to weave like I do. After each panel was woven, I used either masking tape or packing tape to secure the edges before unpinning. Once unpinned, I retraced the pattern on the fabric, flipped it over to iron on fusible interfacing, and then I sewed along the pattern line and again at .25” inside of that line to fully secure each panel. Once the panels were complete, then I attached my denim needle and walking foot to my machine and followed the instructions on the Oliver + S pattern.
The sewing was perfection. Having spent 100+ hours just weaving the panels, this pattern lived up to every thing I knew Oliver + S patterns to be. The pattern was easy to follow and everything matched up perfectly. With anyone who has kids, you quickly learn that sizes of clothing and patterns are often a crap shoot, so it was so super duper exciting to discover that the sizing was what I expected in a 4T, if not a little big (which is always a plus in kids clothing).
The best part of the entire project was honestly being done. There was a point while I was working on it that I couldn’t see the finish line, but, with my daughter as inspiration and with a beaming smile on her face as she watched the progress of the coat, I kept plugging along and boy am I grateful that I did. As with anything that I make for her, she helped me make design decisions in the coat and this pattern allowed for that. Even though she’s a month shy of 3, she was able to tell me that she wanted patch pockets without the flap and a slit instead of a back kick-pleat. With the versatility of this pattern and some slight alterations, I can use this pattern to make a few different coats without any of them looking the same. This will definitely be my go-to coat pattern for as long as I can use it with Helena.
With all said and done, this journey into answering questions about the application of fabric weaving into apparel far exceeded anything that I had in my head or my sketchbook, and Helena can expect many more pieces of woven clothing in the future. It’s my hope that others will get inspired by this and apply this technique to their projects in the future.