Garden Snails Windbreaker (Tutorial)

 I thought we were going to get lucky in Chicago this year and would have a warmer spring, especially after the extended heat wave we had earlier in March.  Yeah, not so much…it got cold(ish), and the wind still has a bite.  That means The Robug needs a coat when she demands by screaming, whining, stomping, and being destructive asks oh-so-politely to go outside.  And, because I’m cheap and insanely busy with all the other projects I have going on, namely the Steampunk Bridesmaid outfit that needs to by done by the 26th picky, I decided to make a coat for The Robug.


 I wanted this coat to be multi-purpose: a jacket, a windbreaker, a warmer coat–you know, have my cake and eat it, too ;). This is probably why I never find anything I like (not to mention that it has become near-impossible to find anything that isn’t hyper-genderized.)I looked at what I already had to work with and then thought about what I wanted in terms of warmth and versatility and what I can get Bug to wear and keep on her body because she is figuring out how to undress herself.  I decided a hood was out because she HATES them, so I wanted a high collar to keep her neck warm against the wind.  A zipper is a must because Bug moves far too quickly and does not have the patience for buttons likes to “me do it.”  Then I found myself torn on the idea of sleeves: we wear a lot of long-sleeved shirts and that can make a coat too warm, but sometimes the wind is just too harsh and the sleeves are needed.  And that’s how the removable sleeve happened.  The rest of the details and the general shape of the coat happened as I went along.  I don’t sketch; designing with upcycled materials is a very organic process for me.  So, bear with me–I did this tutorial with a lot of pictures hoping it best depicts the process while providing the best instructions.  Could they be better?  Hell yeah.  Could they be more organized?  Absolutely.  But, this is how I roll ;).  Without any further ado, here’s how I upcycled a wool sweater and made a toddler windbreaker with removable sleeves:

This is a 100% boiled wool sweater I got from The Gap in 1999.  I remember this because I wore this sweater in one of my senior pictures.  It was starting to fall apart and moths had gotten to it, so It was time to say farewell.  I “felted” the sweater further by washing it in hot water and then drying it on high.  I bought the snail print cotton fabric at Hancock Fabrics as well as some plain white flannel.
I cut the sweater apart, cut off all the cuffs and seams, and all pieces of the sweater that were a bit worn.
I used a little baseball jersey that was shaped the way I wanted the coat to look, so I used it for my size reference.  

I marked the arm holes, collar, and length on the sweater; the chalk lines are the cutting lines for the shoulder seams.
I used a design ruler to determine the size and curve of the armholes.
I marked the arm hole curve and then cut them out as well as the shoulder seams on both the front and back pieces.  Using one of the sleeves, I cut a rectangle of sweater to use for the collar.
Then I squared up my flannel which I pre-shrunk (I wash and dry everything on hot so that I don’t have to worry about screwing it up later when I toss it in the wash).
I needed to make a sleeve for the jacket, so using a pencil, I just made a pattern for the sleeve right on the flannel.  I measured the width of the cuff on one of her shirts to help determine a size for the coat sleeve, and I measured from The Bug’s shoulder to wrist and then added a few inches to accommodate a fold-up cuff and room for growth.  The fold was the sleeve length, then I drew a perpendicular line from the fold the half the width of the cuff.  Then, I used the same curve I used to make the arm holes to make the curve for the shoulder.  Join the armpit to the cuff line (it is a diagonal line to taper the arm in).  Be sure to leave yourself a seam allowance!
Cut out that sleeve piece and then use it as the pattern to trace around for the other sleeve.  I made my sleeves with a double layer of flannel for warmth between quilter’s cotton for the shell and lining.
Cut out two rectangles of flannel and lining fabric that match the length and width of the front and back of the sweater as well as for the collar.
Ah, the quilting.  My favorite part.  I love the look of quilted linings and I love how warm they are, but I always forget how time-consuming the process is (especially when you are a perfectionist).  I’m starting to view quilting like labor: there is a definite end in sight, the end product is totally worth it, some drugs make it easier, and you forget the dramatic process in the end and do it all over again for the awesome result  πŸ™‚
So here’s how I quilt: These are the sleeve pieces.  Because they’re already pretty much square, I didn’t bother cutting rectangles out of the fabric–I just quilted the cut out pieces. I place my fabric on my work surface, take my handy-dandy grid, make sure the lines are running the way I want them and that everything is  centered.  Then, using my disappearing marker, I mark the lines around the edge of the grid.  In the picture above and below, you can see the faint purple marks.

Then I use my longer grid to match the marks I made.  Using the disappearing marker, I drew the lines on.  It was very difficult to get a picture showing the lines, but if you look closely, you can see the grid on the sleeve.
I quilted the sleeves, collar (shown above and below), and lining of the jacket.  I used two layers flannel in The Robug’s winter coat with heavy wool, and it was a WARM coat, so I used lighter wool and only one layer of flannel in the actual coat lining and two layers on the sleeves (to make up for the lack of wool).  I also used on piece of flannel for the collar, but it also has wool inside it (coming up soon below).
I used my walking foot on this project and, oh my goodness, it was soooooooooo much easier than the first time!  Because the foot pulls the top and bottom layers of fabric, it doesn’t get bunched up and out of place (which is great because I hate pinning).  All I did was follow my marker lines while sewing–I did not backstitch the ends because all of them will be in a seam.  The sewing is pretty quick.
After I finished one sleeve, I completed the other sleeve slightly differently: Using dressmaker’s tracing paper, I traced my gridlines onto the sleeve instead of having to measure again.  I put the sleeve that needed a grid on the bottom, then the tracing paper, chalk side down on the fabric, and then the other sleeve on top.  Use a tracing wheel and simply trace over the sewn lines on the sleeve.
When you’re done, it will look something like this (I used multiple colors of tracing paper, so that why some of the lines are hard to see.
Once the two sleeves are quilted, it’s time to put them  together.  Take one sleeve and put the shell fabric and the quilted lining right sides together, matching the cuffs together.
Using a 1/4″ seam allowance, sew the two pieces together at the cuff.
Then, separate the two pieces at the seam you just sewed and then fold the sleeve in half as shown.
Sew down the entire length of the sleeve’s open side with a 1/4″ seam allowance and then trim the seam.
Now, fold the shell fabric, right side out, over the lining fabric so that your sleeve is right side out (now there are no pesky seams in the sleeve to bother your little one πŸ™‚
At the cuff, sew around about 1/4 ” in to keep the sleeve from folding back in on itself.
To finish the shoulder seams, simply fold and press the lining and shell to the wrong sides following the curve.
Here you can see both the shell and the lining both folded and pressed in , pinned, and ready to be sewn.
Then, about 1/8″ from the edge, sew the entire shoulder seam closed as shown.
And here is the finished sleeve (well, almost, it still needs buttons…)
These rectangles are the front and back of the coat.  As you can see below, I have myself about 1″ extra on both sides and top and bottom.  I made my quilting lines for these by putting the outside lining fabric (the snails) right sides together with a layer of double-sided tracing paper between them.  Then I used my grid to make the lines but, instead of drawing them with the disappearing marker, I simply just used my tracing wheel to make the marks.  When completed, I had two complete sets of gridlines on the right sides of both pieces of fabric; I pinned the flannel to it and follow the same sewing procedure from above.  The picture above shows both pieces quilted (front and back) so you can see the gridlines.  They aren’t perfect, but it’s not really noticeable πŸ™‚
Place the back shell piece on the wrong side of one of the lining pieces and trace around (the chalk marks you see are where I want my finished seams to be.  The 1/4″ to 1/2″ you see is for seam allowances.
Cut out your back lining piece.
Do the same thing for your front lining pieces (I simply cut the front of the sweater shell piece down the middle so that the coat opens πŸ™‚  I made sure to leave about 1″ or 1.5″ extra overlap on the lining where the coat opens so that I can finish the edge.
Then, sew your shell together at the shoulder seams and side seams; do the same thing for the lining pieces.
First fitting–I put a sleeve on to make sure it’s exactly what I wanted (yes) and then the actual coat to make sure everything was fitting properly.  You can see the extra fabric of the lining where the coat opens for finishing.  I love when everything actually fits the way I want it to!
The collar: this is the quilted piece I made with one piece of flannel and one piece of the snail fabric.   Then, I decided to cut my sweater collar piece in half so it wasn’t too bulky.  I folded the quilted piece over so the sweater piece was sandwiched between the quilting.
Then I took the collar piece and pinned it to the collar of the coat, matching all the raw edges.  Sew the collar to the coat making sure the raw edges are inside the coat.  Because I wasn’t exactly sure how I would be finishing everything, I left about 3/4″ of the collar unattached at both ends so that I could further play with everything.  Below is the attached collar.

To finish the front where the zipper will be, I folded over a little less than a 1/4″ and pressed it down, and then I folded the edge over again, pressed, and pinned it down.  Above shows the folding and pressing; below shows both sides pressed and pinned. 
Once I decided how to finish the zipper area, I went back to finish the collar.  I wanted a pointed collar that was high and snug on the neck, so trimmed the sweater inner that is helping to provide a little warmth and stability to slight angle on the edges (shown above).
Then, I simply folded the bottom of the collar up and around the sweater and then  folded in the edge of the top of the collar in so that there is a nice finished edge.  I pinned everything but did not sew yet because I hadn’t decided exactly how to finish the inside of the collar around the neck seam.
Then I decided to finish the bottom edge of the coat.  I did this the same way as I did the shoulders of the sleeves: I pinned the lining to the shell so that everything was lined up properly.  Then, I folded the raw edges to the inside (between the shell and the lining) and made sure the finished, pressed edges matched.  I ended up folding up about 1/2″ all the way around.   Of course, I forgot to take pictures πŸ™  You can see the finished bottom edge of the jacket in pictures below.  It should look just like the shoulder seams of the sleeves.
Then I decided how to finish the collar.  In essence, you need a piece of bias tape.  I hate making bias tape, so I didn’t.  I just cut a small rectangle of fabric about 1.5″ longer than the collar (to fold over and finish edges) and about 1.25″ wide.  Then, I folded both raw edges up about 1/4″ inch and pressed them to make the equivalent of single-fold bias tape.  
Then, I pinned and sewed the piece to the bottom of the collar.  Press the bias tape piece to the collar, pin the top, and sew it down.  Now the collar seam is covered and won’t annoy sensitive little necks πŸ™‚  If you use labels, this is where you’d put on your label (on the bottom, of course).  I also wrapped the edge around to the front of the coat and left about 1/2″ to keep exposed on the outside of the collar because I liked how it looked πŸ™‚  You can see this if you skip down two pictures.
I wanted a panel of fabric inside the coat to be between The Robug and the zipper, so I measured the length of the coat from collar to bottom (and added a little extra for seam allowance), and then cut a piece of fabric that long and 4.5″ wide.  Then, fold over and press about 1/2″ on both short ends and about 1/4″ on both long sides.  Fold the entire piece in half, wrong sides together, and press.  Sew very close to the edge on both short ends and along the FOLDED side–leave the other side where the fabric is put together open (trust me).  Put it to the side.
The zipper (finally)!  First, I completed the seam on the front that connects the lining and the shell (sweater).  This seam is the one that is pinned to cover the raw edge of the sweater.  Press.  Then, pin the zipper to edge of the coat and sew it on.
There is one seam keeping the zipper in place, and then I used liquid stitch to keep the rest of the zipper down.  Because the color of the zipper matched the sweater exactly, I liked how the exposed zipper looked on the inside, so I didn’t worry about hiding it.
On the other side, pin the panel to cover the zipper on the inside of the coat along where you will sew the first seam connecting the shell and lining.  You are pinning the unsewn side of the panel where the two halves of the fabric meet (so that the end is closed up at the same time as attaching to the coat without any extra seams).  Then, you will sew the other half of the zipper on the same way you did the other side–it is your choice catch the zipper-cover panel when you sew the zipper on or if you want it to be loose (I left mine loose).
This is the finished zipper.  The only thing left is the armholes!
So, I mentioned detachable sleeves and buttons…it is time.  Above are two pieces of fabric that are as long as the shoulder opening on the sleeves and about 3.5″ wide.  Again, you are basically making double-fold bias tape (or a smaller version of the zipper-cover panel).  You need to fold in about 1/4″ on both short ends and then fold both long ends to the middle of the fabric and then fold it again down the middle.  Then, you need to sew both short ends AND the OPEN SIDE of the “bias tape.”  Leave the folded end alone.  This piece is for your button holes and will then be attached to the armhole of the coat.


It’s button time!  On both sleeves, attach buttons equidistant  around the opening–I used six 5/8″ buttons on each sleeve–and so that there is about 1/4″ from the edge of the sleeve to the edge of the button.

I forgot to take pictures of making the button holes.  Really, it’s no big deal AT ALL because I use the button hole foot for the machine, press the button hole button, and then step on the foot pedal until the machine stops.  I measured them out one at a time because I wanted to be SURE they all lined up properly.  I used a seam-ripper (as you do) to open the holes and then put it around the appropriate button to ensure it fit and that I was distancing the holes properly.  I lined the holes up to be about 3/8″ from the SEWN SIDE of the “bias tape” strip.
Once you’ve completed your button holes, you need to take that strip of fabric and attach it to the armhole of the coat, lining up the side that is still open (that has the folded raw edges of the fabric) with the edge of the armhole.  To finish the armhole completely, you are going to do the EXACT same thing that you did to finish the bottom of the coat as well as the sleeve shoulders: fold in the raw edges of the fabric to the wrong side of the fabric, sandwiching the raw edges between the shell and lining fabrics.  Once all three layers (the shell, the lining, and the button hole strip) are pinned, sew it as close to the edge as you can.
You’re Done!!!
A toddler windbreaker with detachable sleeves

If you just wish your little one had an awesome coat like this but: 1)you don’t sew; 2)you don’t sew this kind of stuff; 3)you don’t have time to sew something like this; 4)other
you can order one from me at Robug Couture!

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40 thoughts on “Garden Snails Windbreaker (Tutorial)

    1. Thank you so very much! I think it’s cute, and the model, but then again, I’m biased πŸ™‚ Thanks for hosting an inspiration-filled party and for stopping by!

  1. Oh it is “sew” cute! Love the fabric choices too. Thank you for linking up to the Thursday hop. Sorry I’m behind in saying thank you. My Monday post will explain my delay.Hope to see you again this Thursday. xo

    1. Thank you very much for coming by and for hosting! The coat was hard to photograph to show the features, so I figured the “Huh?” factor might grab people πŸ™‚ Have a great week, too!

    1. Thank you so very much for hosting the party and taking the time to come, look, and comment–I live for comments (not really, but it’s definitely exciting!). Thanks again!

    1. It’s definitely been coming in handy with this crazy wind! Thank you so much for stopping by and supporting a local πŸ˜‰ And, thank you for taking the time to comment! This has turned out to be one of my favorites

    1. Thank you so much! I wanted it to be warm but fun–and different. The fabric called to me with those sweet snails! Thanks for taking the time to drop by and comment; and the admiration is reciprocal πŸ™‚ Have a great week!

  2. Senior pinner & fasinated blogger ( no camera ) and new at interneting. I am so glad I ran into your blog, You have a gifted mind. Your family is lucky. I may do this for me, and a couple other children sizes. Im a donater to shelters, churches. Need to try a new item now & then. Thanks for good ideas I’ll see you each day Keep thinking!!

    1. I’m so glad you came by! Thank you so much for doing so and for looking through everything! I like to think that my family is very lucky and blessed to have so many gifted artists πŸ™‚ I hope that by sharing the stuff I create, I can inspire others and give back to a world that needs a little love. I’ll keep thinking, and please keep coming back! Have a wonderful weekend! And, when you make some, I would LOVE to see how they turn out!!!! Especially an adult size–I’ve been a little fearful to try it πŸ™‚

    1. Thank you! I was very unsure about it because there’s a lot of white and it looked really girly, but adding the blue and green mellowed out the super-hot pink πŸ™‚ Thanks for hosing a great party!

    1. It’s definitely going to come in handy at the park later today–it’s warm but windy, so we may need the sleeves πŸ˜‰ Thank you so much for stopping by and taking the time to look and comment!

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