Houndstooth Toggle Coat (of death) for the Girl

Get cozy folks, here’s a tale of toil and sorrow that fortunately ended well:

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This coat (Ottobre 6/12 #29) has been taunting me and my sewing ego since November. I have to say in all modesty, that it was only my sheer will power and general stick-to-it-iveness that brought me through to the end of this project. It’s been one mishap after another,and the heartache started early; I had a devil of a time figuring out cutting instructions, and then cut the whole blasted thing out before I realized that I had forgotten to add a seam allowance! Nooooo! (Since then I got this little gadget that adds the allowance as you cut, so hopefully I won’t have to deal with such a cuss tragedy again.) Anyway, so I had to cut the whole cuss thing out again and choose a different lining because I didn’t have enough of my first choice.

So I recut (luckily I had plenty of fabric) and decided to do some embroidery details because I knew without a little girliness Twinkle might not dig the black and white. That took a fair bit of time, and by the time I finished I had to set the whole project aside to make room for more important Christmas presents.  After that Stretch Yourself dominated my sewing time, and yada yada yada, this coat goes to the back of the queue.

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So finally I got back to it, (now that Winter is almost done!) and couldn’t for the LIFE of me figure out the instructions for attaching the lining. I even went to my friend and sewing mentor Merline to see if she could interpret, but we both ended up scratching our heads in confusion. I think part of the problem was that their instructions were obviously different from how I had done this in the past, and I just couldn’t visualize what they were describing.  I have never given up on instructions, but in the end, I just decided to quit trying to understand how I was supposed to do it, and just do it how it made sense to me. I ended up attaching the lining at the neck seam and down the front to the  zippers, and then slip stitching the sleeves and hem. It worked fine, although it’s not perfect.

So THEN, finally, I’m all done, and it’s adorable, and she loves it, and on the very next day it’s a cold morning and she says “I want to wear my new coat but it’s not warm, Mom.” Cuh. Rap. And she was right too, it was just kinda flimsy. I was super annoyed and frustrated that I didn’t do something about that earlier, but I guess I kept on hoping that it would be fine (the houndstooth is warm and fuzzy (wool??), I thrifted it several years ago–it’s definitely natural fibers).  My sweet sweet friend Jen had been SO awesome and kind to send me some leftover thinsulate she had, which I got after all the cutting drama, and was trying to delude myself that it didn’t need anything extra so I could avoid anymore cutting and use it for another project I had in mind.  Bad move, Mim. So I based up, dug in my heels,  and took the whole cuss thing apart again.

Attaching the thinsulate was not as bad as I anticipated (I assembled an interlining and then attached at the neckline and then hand stitched to all edges), and in the end was so worth it (I was so grateful to have it Jen!) The coat is now toasty and warm and actually looks and falls much better to me. There’s a little wonkiness (especially near the neckline and hood), but it’s really not too noticeable, and overall I’m really happy with it. The ONE down side is that with the thinsulate the coat fits much snugger, and I’m starting to doubt that this will fit her next season. I hope hope hope that she can get at least a little wear out next year…grow up not out, Twinky!

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embroidery-houndstooth-coatThis has been another riveting  episode of “Sewing Tales and Misadventures with Mim”, stay tuned for my next installment inevitably coming all too soon!




Ah, that coat tried to kick your butt… But you had the last laugh in the end because it looks amazing! I am ridiculously impressed that after all the trouble that it gave you, you took it all apart to add the thinsulate. That’s some chutzpah that you have there! But it really does look fantastic! From over here it definitely looks like it was all worth it!


I feel ya. My latest sewing adventure was a tale of woe, too. But the coat turned out lovely!! Brings new meaning to that precious tag that reads, “Mama loves you,” that’s for sure! Great job.


Yikes! It is really cute. I can’t imagine having the gumption to take it apart to put the thinsulate in. At least she loves it and will get some where out of it!


Quite a misadventure! But looking at the coat, you can’t tell that you had any difficulties sewing it up. I love the embroidery you did on the pockets. Looks great!


Lets hope she grows up not out. 🙂 But you could always add a cuff on the sleeve incase they get too short for next year.
Well done!


I mean, really. You are amazing. I would’ve kicked that bad boy out the window and headed to Target for a coat…oh wait, that’s what I did with my boys’ half-done coats this year! The embroidery just makes it. MAKES IT!! You rock mama!

La Inglesita

As I read the post my jaw dropped! Oh my, you´re a truly brave sewist redoing the whole thing three times!! I´ll remember this project everytime I´m about to give up.
The coat is gorgeous and it´s totally worth it.

Heather Feather

Well all that hard work and frustration paid off! The coat is adorable! I definitely would’ve given up at the beginning. I love that houndstooth fabric paired with the polka dots!


You know, I’m still not sure if I just wasn’t smart about it, or if the instrutions were that confusing, I dont know. I think part of the confusion was that this coat shared instructions with the boy’s version, and that added to my bewilderment. Normally I have LOVED all Ottobre patterns and their patterns so I wouldn’t discourage them on making this coat but I will say to read through all the instructions really thoroughly before you begin!


Well the biggest fan is speechless. seriously. So cute, beyond words. Unfortunately it does look like it fits PERFECTLY. Ah well, someday Tiny will grow into it. Twinkle is quite the model–what a fun childhood–she gets works of art her mother sews for her (love that tag, btw) and gets to do photoshoots, too! I cannot even IMAGINE doing a coat once, not to mention THREE times. There’s gotta be a badge for bravery on that one. And it is just such a cute coat, and the embroidery totally seals the deal–best kid coat, EVER.


Hi Miriam,
cute coat – I love the lining and the very cute model 😉 I like your version – the contrast between the black and white outer and the blue and white inner is awesome – it does look very modern (like it better than the ottobre version – that was a bit boring)
I actually am toying with the idea of making a coat for lil’ P too. (same ottobre issue but the toddler coat – the one with the empire waist) And have alot of Thinsulate laying around here too for that purpose (and a baby-sleeping bag that I sewed up for a good friends first little baby – they actually thought I had bought the sleeping bag – which is a great compliment…). Thinsulate is quite awesome – quite thin and warm at the same time. I actually attached it to the lining of the sleeping bag (jersey) with my serger and treated both as one piece after that – went very well. I have a very good tutorial on how to sew lining to an overcoat – sadly its in German but their are good pictures of the process that might help you to get around this the next time. If you are interested pop me a note and I send it along your way (its a pdf-file)
Oh and you got the rotary cutter guide I was showing you. Guess what mine broke a couple of weeks ago (the cutter fell to the floor and it broke right were the little screw holds it to the cutter – so no chance of repair here) – the annoying thing is I can’t seem to find it anywere in e-shops anymore. Maybe I try my luck with the E-bay…
Since then I try to make the seam allowance as even as possible by simple eye coordination – doesn’t work out well all the time but most…
I actually started making the Tee I was telling you about – have already closed the shoulder seams and attached the neckband – sadly I have to detach the neckband again because its too tight (and I didn’t attach it evenly) so it doesn’t look nice and I want it to be perfect. But the fit seems great. Although I had a little bit of brain puzzle to draw up the pattern for the sleeve. I am not sure that I was doing it right. We’ll see how it fits and I might just be reading up in my patternmaking book how it is done professionally (I own the famous “patternmaking for fashion design”).
So, have a great weekend.
BR, Susanne


Thanks Susanne!
I love all the coats in that issue, and I would make it again. I love the little girl version, it’s adorable. I totally would have used the same method with thinsulate as you used, but because I put it in as an afterthought, it was just too hard to unpick the entire thing completely so that I could attach it all the lining pieces. Next time I definitely will though, it sounds like that smartest way to use thinsulate.
And yes Ebay is where I found my litle Olfa tool. I looked for a LONG time to find it, but it finally did pop up for a good price! I am so glad you told me about it, it’s made my life so much easier, even if just to remind me with Ottobre stuff that I need to add the allowance!
Good luck with your tee, I love that patternmaking book too! I have the first edition that I bought (once again on Ebay), but the information is timeless!


It’s AWESOME. I mean, if you didn’t share all the struggles you had, no one would be the wiser because it’s perfect. The fact that you did share them, though, makes the coat even more impressive. Way to stick with it!!

heather e

it’s a marvel. and such a miracle. I would’ve scrapped it at “cut out without seam allowance”. and she is such a great model!


I found you through See Kate Sew, love this coat – and your perseverance in completing it! I’m following along now.


Miriam, the coat is sewn in love, thats what. From the Mama loves you tag…that is adorable, to the re-picking to make it warm…the pockets say I love you all over them. I love the Josie wiggle btw.
It is beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeautiful!!!!!!!!



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