shelley’s amazing chaval coat

I know it’s July and many of you in the U.S. are in the middle of a heat wave, but some of the world (southern hemisphere, hello!) are heading into cooler weather and thinking about layers. As in, coat-style layers, if you can imagine it from where you’re sweating…. There are also a few of us who like to plan ahead and start thinking about sewing projects for next season without time pressure. And there are some of us who cool down by thinking about colder weather. So in any case, here we are with the amazing Shelley and her equally amazing barnyard coat! Sit yourself down with an icy drink and take a nice long look at this beauty!

Barnyard Chaval Coat

Sometimes a fabric comes along that you just have to buy with no idea of what you’ll immediately do with it. That was the case when I found this designer wool fabric back in 2016. The store was closing down and this Dolce & Gabbana designer printed wool coating was on sale. I bought some and stashed it away.

Inspiration hit when the Chaval coat pattern was released, and in planning for an upcoming family holiday that would require coats, I became convinced it finally had to happen. Only once I was fixated on the marriage of fabric and pattern did I get the fabric out and realise the 2m cut I’d bought fell well short of the pattern’s recommended yardage.

I’ve never been one to shy away from a cutting layout challenge, as evidenced by this forum thread where I picked a virtual fight with the hi tech Oliver + S cutting layout software. If I’d been shopping the fabric to suit the pattern, I’d buy the recommended amount and probably manage some better pattern matching. Since I had to fit the pattern to the fabric I traced off my pattern and set about making it work. In the image below I hadn’t yet ironed my fabric and thought I’d have to forego the pocket flaps. Once the fabric was ironed, I moved the pocket welts to the crossgrain and found room for my pocket flaps. The only other concession to my fabric shortage was having to piece the bottom part of the front facings.

Obviously, there’s no place for fussy cutting when fabric “scrooging” at this extreme level, but then how funny did my pockets turn out?! Who knew that a rabbit, when given the backward facing legs of a donkey would end up looking like some fluffy, rodent version of a hermit crab. And if a pig-chicken isn’t already a thing then it should be!

I bought some fabulous lining with a Hermes-esque type pattern and quilted it to some wool quilt batting for extra warmth. Only the front and back lining pieces are quilted with the sleeves just being cut from the main fabric and lining.

I wanted a hanging loop and this little snaffle bit seemed so perfectly apt. A small patch of interfaced main fabric and a label gave me a nice looking back facing. Was I jinxing myself with the “finished just in time” label?

I found some beautiful variegated wooden buttons and as I was finishing the coat with a whole 48 hours before our flight I started wishing I’d thought ahead to make bound buttonholes like Liesl did here. Having already handstitched all my lining I was sensible enough to forget that idea and forge ahead with machine made buttonholes.

With all the pressure of long stashed, fancy fabric competing against an upcoming holiday deadline, I’m going to confess to not having made a muslin at all. I measure between sizes 10 and 12 in Liesl + Co patterns and knew that a straight size 12 would be a very safe bet. My only change to the pattern was to add some shoulder pads sewn in between the outer coat and lining.

We arrived in Paris and all went out to dinner in our new coats and got completely drenched in a downpour. They mostly dried on hangers overnight and we finished the drying process by biking around the city the next day. Apologies for not having found an iron to give the coat another good press before taking my pictures.

This was the fourth and final coat I sewed for the family holiday. I’d saved it until last because I knew the Liesl + Co instructions and sewing experience would be the best and I wanted to finish on a sewing high.

I absolutely adore my crazy, barnyard animal Chaval coat. It’s funny and incredibly fancy and has already had a few unprompted compliments when I’ve worn it. I guess since I held the fabric for so long and have worn it in both hemispheres I can call it timeless and trans-seasonal as well as bonkers.

We love it, Shelley! You can pick up your own copy of the Chaval Coat pattern in paper or in digital format. We can’t help you with the fabric, unfortunately, but I’m certain you’ll find something equally suitable to your personal style (and sense of humor, where appropriate)!




  1. Barb

    This is such a great coat. Beautifully sewn (that lining!) and just pure fun! And are you in Paris for the Olympics?

    1. Thank you! No, we’re back in chilly Melbourne now (-2degC this morning). Watching the Tour de France on the couch instead

  2. Joanne

    Just gorgeous… and sew much fun. Also perfect timing for the hovering-around-zero morning temperatures which most of the Australian east coast has been enjoying for weeks and weeks now. A perfect layering item.

  3. Erica

    Outstandingly fun and full of details! Finally cutting into special stash fabric must have felt so good. At least none of it went to waste! That was an impressive game of pattern Tetris! And, the Frankenanimals are a hoot.

  4. Lisa

    I have so much love for that coat! Well done. But watch out, as no doubt your daughter will want to steal it!

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