The bonded sherpa will be a little thicker than is recommended for this pattern, but since we take only a 1/4" seam allowance, even with the added density, it should fit well.  Also, you will need to take the required seam allowance for the zipper, which will impact overall size.

Let's get started

The pattern I made was Simplicity 3958, but any one of these patterns can be used. They all allow for bonded sherpa, are without buttons down the front, and most without pockets.  The pattern I followed did have pockets, but I left them off.  Not one of these patterns should take you longer than an hour and a half to make, from cutting to finishing.  The sewing shouldn't be any more than a half an hour.   Sadly, Simplicity 1758 is the only one still active, although all the others can be purchased on the internet.  

In working with sherpa, fur or upholstery fabric, you will be challenged with three problems not normally faced when sewing.  They are, thickness, a denser-tougher surface, and in the case of upholstery fabric, fraying.  Anyone of these patterns are very simple to do, and will teach you the techniques used in sewing thicker fabric.

What you need

Of course you will want to gather what is indicated as needed on the pattern, but all projects will require:

Upholstery thread
Denim or upholstery needle
Craft needles
Sharp pair of 8-12" fabric scissors
Chalk or remove-able fabric marker
A couple of words about the list.  

Upholstery thread is available in limited colors, you can use heavy duty polyester which comes in more colors, but you will still need the denim or upholstery needle.  I prefer the upholstery thread because it is made of nylon, and will not fade, wear or break.

Selecting your thread color may become your next problem since there are limited colors.  I always go with the slightly darker thread to the fabric, if I have a choice.  But, usually I just go with what is in the family tin.  We have at home a very large tin, which has a variety of threads, quite literally passed down from grandmother to granddaughter.  Would you believe some of the spools are actually made of wood-- and hold mercerized cotton thread.   We throw nothing out.  My grandmother, an accomplished home decorator and seamstress, divided her sewing world into black and white, only occasional venturing out into other colors, if top stitching was required.   This may be a slight exaggeration, but if you cannot find the exact color of thread to your fabric, all is not lost, just go with the closest.  If top stitching is required, go with a neutral color that develops the look of the clothing.  For instance, with a white wool, you could  use a brown or black to define the lines of the coat.  Alternately, go with a color that blends with most of the clothes colors you wear.  Do you wear a lot a green--blue?-- then, top stitch your white coat with green or blue thread.  This is your project, your coat, unlike the mass produced items that have to conform to the majority's tastes and color tones.  

Remember, the seams are not suppose to be seen, only if you are top stitching does thread color become anything of a real concern.

Upholstery or denim needle--The stronger needle is needed to work with the stronger thread, otherwise your stitches will go wonky, and the sewing machine will keep jamming.  Also, the bonded sherpa has a skin, of sorts, which needs a strong needle to penetrate.  

IMPORTANT:  Before starting to sew, check through your sewing machine's manual regarding adjusting tension for a thicker thread.  Since you probably don't sew with thick thread often, it is easy to forget things.  For instance, I have a tension adjustment on my bobbin as well as the machine.  More times than I care to count, I have started sewing, only to end up having to rip out a lump of matted thread that was suppose to be a seam.  

ALSO IMPORTANT:  You will want to raise the pressure foot because of the thickness.  A pressure foot that is too tight against the fabric will slow and pucker the fabric as the feeder moves the fabric passed the needle.  

Craft pins--I use craft pins for the heavier thicker fabrics.  Craft pins are found along the notions wall, and are longer and thicker than the regular ones.  Their ball ends come in multi colors which make them easier to find when you accidentally drop one on the floor.  The longer pin can easily go through the thicker layers without bending, holding your fabric flat.

Long scissors--Again, because of the thickness of the fabric, you will want a sharp pair of longer scissors.  In cutting the fabric, you will not be doing fine cutting, but volume cutting, so the long blade will allow you to cut further with each slice.  Also, the heavier scissor will help you make a more stable cut straight up and down.

Calk--Having chalk available for most projects is good, but winter coats usually require marking pocket placement and buttons, etc.

Cutting out your fur or sherpa fabric

Nap is very subtle, but you will notice rubbed one way the fabric looks light.

Cutting sherpa or fur fabric is where I take a little more time than usual.  In fact, I do not double over the fabric, but cut it piece by piece, except of course where the pattern calls for a cut on the fold.  There are two main reasons for this.  Because of the thickness, as you cut, if your scissors are not straight up and down, but at even the slightest of angle, you can actually cut the lower piece shorter or longer than your upper piece.  You would be surprised at what even a 1/4" difference can do to the fitting of your coat.  

Cutting through the thickness,even with a good pair of scissors, can tire the hand.  As a crafter, who likes working with her hands, I eliminate situations that would over tax them, and cause long term injury.   Any one of the winter coats suggested have no more than  9 pieces, two sleeves, two cuffs, one back, two collar pieces and two front pieces, it really is no effort to cut them out individually, and in the long run, can save you grief.
I took a 1/4 inch seem allowance to eliminate bulk at the seams

So then... how do you do this?  First, because my bonded sherpa is so dense, I treated it as if it where real sheep skin, and sewed only a 1/4" seam allowance.  The fabric does not fray, so you can avoid a bulky seam by sewing close to the end.  Therefore, happily for me, although the pattern was  only XL, it fits without my having to make any alterations, because of the narrow seam allowance. 
Second, with this in mind, decide what size you will use given the seam allowance,  cut your fabric to the proper size.  

Third, as you will be cutting the fabric out in individual pieces, start with the least flexible or largest piece to cut.  All the other pieces you can place, with certain limits, anywhere on the fabric.  The back doesn't have that flexibility, so get that one done before moving on to the other pieces.  
Yet rubbed the opposite way, it looks darker.

 The back of course is the largest piece and the only one that must be cut on a fold.  Therefore, lay your fabric full out, with the "skin" bonded side down and the sherpa  side up.  Now,  fold your fabric sherpa side to sherpa with bonded side up and on the surface. 
  In order to save fabric, I will fold my fabric only to the width needed to cut the back, which is usually less than half of the width of the fabric. 

Place your back pattern piece onto the bonded side of the fabric.  
Whether you put the pattern piece upside or downside (i.e. the arrow of the grain going up toward the beginning of your fabric or down toward the center of the fabric, every piece cut will need the arrow going in the same direction, because of the nap.  See the above photos for help in determining nap.  Pin your back and cut, marking where appropriate.

Flip over your fabric so the bonded side is up, and position your patterns to cut the fabric.

I always cut to minimize waste, for that "just in case."  "Just in case," I mess up and have to recut, I like to make sure I have enough.

IMPORTANT:  One of the pieces must always be a mirror reflection of the other.  Therefore, if you cut out one piece where you can see the writing on the pattern.  Flip the pattern piece over, so that you can't read the writing before cutting the second piece.  From now on, you will need to cut out both a left and right side.

AGAIN TO REMIND YOU, whether it is a right side or left side, remember your nap, all pieces must be cut with the grain arrow going in the same direction.

Remember to mark where appropriate, and I will see you next week to sew up and finish your coat.


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