Design of the Child’s Coat -Apparel Manufacturing Boot Camp, Fall 2015

Coat front and back
Coat front and back -many thanks to Alvanon for donating the form! Isn’t the form adorable?

Better late than never, here is a discussion of the features that we designed into the child’s coat we produced at last Fall’s apparel manufacturing boot camp that was hosted by the Albuquerque Fashion Incubator and my sewing factory. If you’re new to these parts, we cut and sewed 120 coats in 4 days -all with volunteer labor. After which, the coats were donated to needy families. My company hosts and underwrites the world’s only Apparel Manufacturing Boot Camp which is held twice a year on Memorial and Labor Day weekends, respectively. An immersive educational experience that provides free training, you can sign up for the event next month (due to cancellations, we have 2 openings).

Pitch dispensed with, let’s discuss: above is a photo of the front and back of the child’s coat. Don’t look too closely at its flaws; I only have this coat (and 2 others) because they failed inspection. And yes, we had robust quality control standards. Even though we were giving them away, our standard was retail ready. Needy people get enough of society’s remainders that we would never insult them with anything less. Integrity is everything. But I digress. Features of the coat are as follows:

  • A fitted hood -without drawstrings. If you didn’t know, drawstrings are illegal in products intended for children 12 and under.
  • Heavy knit rib cuffs to keep one’s arms warm. We had the hardest time sourcing this ($500 minimum). April, an attendee, found scraps at T & T liquidators. I still sing her praises; she solved a huge problem.
  • Yokes for safety; we added yokes so we could insert reflective piping into the seam, making the child more visible in low light conditions. This is even more important in the area where our target customer resides as the infrastructure is in tatters.
  • The shell fabric is a brushed 12 oz denim, pre-shrunk.
  • The back hem of the coat is a good 2″ longer than the front. Our fit model insisted we do this, saying that having it longer in back kept her warmer.
  • A heavy YKK zipper plastic zipper, sized for smaller hands.
  • Fully lined with a heavy quilted lining. The batting itself is layered between two pieces of lining fabric, making it extra warm.
  • Welt pockets, generously sized for mittened hands.
Interior of the garment
Interior of the child’s coat

Now onto a discussion of the interior features:

Hood: All of the facings may look like over kill but we built these in for very solid reasons. Take the hood for example; there are facings framing the face because children frequently drag their coats around by the hood. So, this area needs extra wear protection due to handling as opposed to wear.

Hems: The hems are faced for durability. Sure, it would have been a lot less labor to skip this but the lining wears away with constant friction. My thinking was that worst case that the hem facing wears out, an enterprising person could repair the jacket by replacing the facing itself. Without a facing, the bottom of the lining would likely have been in tatters, making a repair more difficult (but not impossible). A separate facing makes a possible future repair, much easier. I should also mention that not only are the insides faced, they are also fused for even longer life.

Back Facing: This is another thing we could have skipped to save time but again, the back neck and shoulders exact a lot of wear on a jacket. We did not design the garment to last for one child -it was our hope that the jacket will be durable to be passed down at least five or six times.

The hem is longer in back to keep the child's back warmer.
The hem is longer in back to keep the child’s back warmer.

This garment had a lot of pieces which represents a challenge in cutting the various fabrics and managing the bundles. If you’re curious, below is a screen capture of the pieces.

Piece list of the coat made at the apparel manufacturing boot camp albuquerque fashion incubator
Piece list of the coat pattern made at the apparel manufacturing boot camp at Albuquerque Fashion Incubator

Finally, after repeated requests from visitors, the pattern will be available for sale. I’ll start shipping them the week of May 9th, 2016. I’ll post purchasing information later.

Questions? Comments?

Want to see photos of the coat delivery?

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  1. Trudy Will says:

    Great project.
    I’d like to see the finished coat on a child. Will you be able to get that photo?

    I did not know about the drawstring, but makes perfect sense.

    I love the idea of the reflective piping. I will use that idea!
    When driving at night it is very difficult to see people crossing the street. Even on a well light street. I think pedestrians do not realize this when crossing willy nilly between cars and against the light. My son’s LL Bean coat has a reflective patch on the back bottom hem. But I am often panicky when crossing the streets with him at night for fear that drivers will not see him. I’ve seen reflective piping on the coats and pants of either FEDEX delivery drivers or is it UPS? I think it’s FEDEX. I thought it was very clever.

    I am going to make a spring coat for my 5yo.
    And I will use a 2 way zipper at CF.
    That way in the car when he sits, he can unzip the coat from the bottom.
    Very young children are in strollers and car seats.
    Coats ride up and become very bulky and uncomfortable.
    My son complains bitterly about this constantly.
    This is a major oversight in children’s coat construction.

    Also, having the hood removable with zipper is helpful.
    I prefer to keep the hood on to keep the back of his neck warm, but sometimes my son wants it off.

    Thank you for sharing the photos and information about this project.

  2. Lisa Blank says:

    My eye was drawn to the hood right away. It looks like it would be nicely snug with the zipper done up the whole way, plus it’s a lovely shape with that seaming.

    Thanks for explaining the reasoning behind the design features. They make perfect sense.

  3. JustGail says:

    Very nice coat, I can see why people who were not the recipients were wanting them also. I wish my winter coat had a hood like that, it’s too baggy around my neck so I need to wear a scarf on really cold windy days.

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