Making a Small Coat

Northeast Feltmakers Guild, April 17, 2010

This program is meant to be a sharing of experience among the Guild members. Your comments and additions to the prepared format are welcome.

There are a great many ways of making felt garments. The one used here is loosely based on Lizzie Houghton’s seamless felt jacket, in Felting Fashion, pp.64-69 and her nuno felt jacket, pp. 110-113. After the program handouts for two other methods will be available.

ALWAYS MAKE A SAMPLE FIRST, using the wool you intend for your garment.

Starting with 10” x 10” makes the calculation of shrinkage easy, but is rather small for accurately representing the shrinkage of a large piece.

The sample for today was 100% merino, laid out in three layers, the first and third laid out top to bottom, and the second or the middle layer laid out from side to side.

The style of our small coat will be a fitted A-line, knee-length or longer with collar lapels, and overlap in the front to accommodate closures.

The shrinkage is roughly calculated to be 50% top to bottom and 33% side to side. Thus we will multiply lengths by 2 and widths by 1.5.

Finished body of coat Size up for shrinkage Layout or pattern size
14” long @ center back X 2 = 28”
7” wide @ underarm X 1.5 = 10.5”


Finished sleeve   Layout or pattern size
 5.5” long X 2 11”
3.5” sleeve drop (width @ underarm) X 1.5 5.25”“
3’ width @ cuff X 1.5 4.5

Note that the collar is an extension in addition to the measurements above.


  1. Make two pattern/resists from the heavy plastic. One is for the coat body; the other will be the resist for the overlap in the front.
  2. Lay the coat pattern on your rolling mat.
  3. On top of the pattern lay out three layers of wool, one top to bottom, one side to side, and the last top to bottom. Extend your layout beyond the edges about ¾”. Embellish as you wish. This will be the back of the coat.
  4. Wet out with soapy water; cover with tulle or voile, and rub gently with scrunched plastic grocery bag. The object is to make a felted “skin” on the wool.
  5. Cover with thin plastic.
  6. CAREFULLY flip to the other side.
  7. This will be the front of the coat. Carefully lift the wool that extends beyond the edge of the pattern and fold it up and in over the edge of the pattern.
  8. On one side of the front lay out three layers of wool as you did on the back, including embellishment. Extend your layout past the center line to the outside line of the front placket edge. If you want embellishment on your lapels, lay it down first.
  9. Wet out the wool that will go under the plastic resist.
  10. Lay the plastic pattern for the overlap down the front, matching the center lines.
  11. Repeat step 8 on the other side of the front.
  12. Repeat step 4.
  13. Roll up the mat with the “coat” and plastic around your bar, and tie.
  14. Felt the coat by rolling this bundle on a towel until the wool is well felted, turning the material 90° every five minutes or so, and flipping over after twenty minutes. The felt will shrink so the pattern buckles.
  15. Cut the bottom; remove the plastic;
  16. Continue to roll, turning and flipping, until fully fulled, i.e. the wool won’t shrink any more.
  17. Rinse out all the soap. Remove as much water as possible by spinning or by rolling in a towel and stomping on it.