Parka of glory – McCalls 6531

Behold the greatest thing I have ever sewn:

parka 2 800

A parka!

Okay so it’s not a real parka – it doesn’t have a proper fishtail and it isn’t lined. You probably couldn’t wear it on a scooter down to Brighton without your fellow mods laughing at you.

But I’m really proud of it all the same.

parka 1 800

This has been a long time in the making. I bought the fabric more than two years ago and the pattern and notions (it’s McCalls 6531) in April 2013.

I was planning on making it for autumn ’13 but that came around a bit too quickly…as did spring ’14…and then autumn happened again, as it tends to do.

So I actually finished this exactly when the freakish warm spell in London ended about two weeks ago.

Excellent timing as usual.

But again I don’t really care because I love it so much.

It was really fun to make. It’s an unusual shape for a jacket, with two-part kimono sleeves – I made version C.

mccalls 6531

Because it’s an unlined jacket, I decided to flat-fell every seam, even on the curved side/underarm seams which was a bit of a pain.

The insides look beautiful now though. Coats and jackets are probably the one item where people do see the inside so I guess it’s worth the hassle.

parka inside 800

The only fitting change I made was to lengthen the sleeves 2.5 inches to accommodate my gorilla arms.

The length, the pockets, and the elastic placement were absolutely perfect for me, so I think it must be designed for tall people.

parka back 800

I was worried that the dolman shape would be a bit 80s but it’s actually great for wearing big jumpers underneath. I made a large so there’s lots of room to move around.

parka sleeve
SO NATURAL AT POSING. At least you can see the sleeve shape.

This pattern has lots of fun details, like tabs so you can roll up the sleeves:


parka side 800

And cording and toggles at the top and bottom (the middle is elasticated)

I considered going for boring old brown or green cord, but I saw a parka in Whistles once that had neon binding on the hood, which was my inspiration for this.

parka toggles

The fabric is beautiful. Even though it’s unlined, the cotton twill is very sturdy so it keeps out the wind chill. And it only cost a tenner!

However, all the notions I had to buy were a lot more expensive. Here’s the rundown:

Open end heavy duty two-way zip from Jaycotts- £4.80

Two packets of antique brass snaps from Jaycotts- £8.60 each, ouch (one pack is not enough, especially if you’re crap at hammering and keep breaking them. I speak from experience).

Amazing neon cord and stoppers from – about £12

I also had to buy three spools of thread for all that flat-felling.

Incidentally, I never could have made this without my special Bernina edgestitching foot. I love it so much.

parka open 800

The pattern and instructions were actually very good, although they don’t mention seam finishing at all so you need to factor that in before you start.

The one annoying bit is that the pocket flaps aren’t functional – just decorative. I put a snap on them for looks, but didn’t bother with the corresponding bit underneath.

parka pocket 800
Pocket flap of lies

The trickiest bit was topstitching down the flap that covers the zip. 8 layers of thick twill – my poor Bernina was groaning a bit going over that. But we made it in the end.

I seriously think this is one of the best things I’ve ever made. It turned out exactly the way I planned out.

parka 3 800

I can’t think of anything else to say about this jacket, except that I love it, I want to marry it, and if I ever lose it (fairly likely given past experience) I will cry for at least two weeks.

p.s. I also made the skirt using the Home Stretch skirt pattern, but as it took 20 minutes I don’t really think it’s worth blogging separately.

p.p.s. Sorry for the excessive photos but seriously I LOVE THIS JACKET

p.p.p.s. I also have new hair! I should blog more often, at my current rate I’ll have a new hairstyle with every blog post.

50 thoughts on “Parka of glory – McCalls 6531

  1. Sarah September 20, 2015 / 7:03 AM

    Inspiring! I have this pattern and am searching for the right fabric. Would it be indiscreet to ask your measurements/size made? Cheers, Sarah

    • yesilikethat October 3, 2015 / 2:10 PM

      Hi Sarah, sorry for the delayed reply, not sure if you’ll see this but I made a medium and I am 5 ft 8 and a size 12/14 – there is lots of spare room but I think it looks okay in this style.

  2. Heather December 1, 2014 / 11:44 PM

    Wow, love this! First time here, and already loving your style. Beautifully made parka, it’s perfect! 😊

  3. aibby December 1, 2014 / 10:13 AM

    I agree the coat is perfect. I like the neon cord and the fabric you choose. And a bonus that it’s a pattern for tall people. I’m going to buy the pattern now.

  4. fionaparker17 November 30, 2014 / 6:38 PM

    Kathryn this is awesome! It suits you perfectly and I love the neon drawstrings. It looks so well sewn and is one of those garments that you will get so much wear out of. Also you win the award for the best first line of a blog post ever!

  5. Kelly November 29, 2014 / 4:35 PM

    This jacket looks really fantastic, and it’s even better that you love it so much! The little flashes of neon are great!

  6. Vicki Kate November 28, 2014 / 5:54 AM

    That is crazy awesome! I love the pop of neon!

  7. Jenna November 26, 2014 / 6:57 PM

    Its fab, it looks so amazing! And I love the new hair too!

  8. Lara November 26, 2014 / 5:59 PM

    It is a sight to behold. Looks great on you. I lurk on your blog for some time and what always strikes me the most is that the things you sew look made for you – suit your coloring, give a cohesive feel. I like the parka a lot! If you didn’t point out why it’s not a proper parka I would be fooled. 😉

    • Lara November 26, 2014 / 6:02 PM

      Ps. I meant that the mistake I frequently make is to produce sth nice but fitting more other people than me.

  9. Caherine November 26, 2014 / 3:01 PM

    Seriously awesome work. You have every reason to be proud of it.

  10. senjiva November 26, 2014 / 2:22 PM

    This looks suspiciously Like A Parka. Don’t doubt yourself, this is awesome!!!

  11. Bella November 26, 2014 / 10:28 AM

    Impressive on so many levels! I love the dolman shape.

  12. suzy November 26, 2014 / 10:23 AM

    It looks fabulous! Well done. I’m totally impressed too. Also: Nice hair!

  13. Meg Kundert November 26, 2014 / 12:37 AM

    Love love this! Just added this pattern to my list. I’m suprised to see so much detail in a McCall’s pattern. I think I should give them another chance. It’s nice to see such a postive vibe!

  14. nique et November 26, 2014 / 12:33 AM

    That is awesome. Love the neon.

  15. Sheree November 25, 2014 / 9:37 PM

    Love it.

  16. Faye Lewis November 25, 2014 / 8:56 PM

    I’d like to marry your parka too – or would that be bigamy? That pattern is on my inspiration board right now awaiting a fabric decision. You did a wonderful job.

  17. TamsinW-P November 25, 2014 / 8:28 PM

    Very impressive jacket, that top stitching is fab! Isn’t it great when what you make actually matches what you planned? I love the new hair too!

  18. LK November 25, 2014 / 7:37 PM

    I love ‘greatest think I’ve even sewn’ posts because I know that feeling. Congrats on the greatest thing!

  19. christinatina November 25, 2014 / 7:16 PM

    That neon cording is AWESOME! I love all the snaps, you did a great job!!

  20. Clarinda Kaleidoscope November 25, 2014 / 5:58 PM

    I am in love with your hair – it looks fabulous. Parka is great too! It’s quite encouraging to read how you went back to it after all this time. I keep buying patterns, fabric, notions and then buy for my next project without even having started.

  21. Sine Robertson November 25, 2014 / 5:26 PM

    well done! looks very professional!

  22. sarah November 25, 2014 / 4:56 PM

    That is truly truly amazing. I’m so impressed and so envious too. If I’d made something that complicated and it turned out as beautiful as your parka I’d want to marry it too.

  23. crab&bee November 25, 2014 / 4:47 PM

    Awesome!! Looks like a fantastically useful piece.

  24. Draped in Cloudlets November 25, 2014 / 4:40 PM

    Wow, it’s gorgeous! Everything looks perfect, from the neon accents to the fit, you did a really great job.

  25. gingermakes November 25, 2014 / 4:03 PM

    Girl. This is FABULOUS! It’s the dream jacket! You look awesome and all the details are seriously fantastic!

  26. Miss Celie November 25, 2014 / 3:09 PM

    Beyond impressive. Excellent job.

  27. Pootle and Make November 25, 2014 / 2:42 PM

    Awesome jacket, the stitching is so professional and I love the neon trims. Great colour – fabric and hair.

  28. maevef2014 November 25, 2014 / 2:32 PM

    Great work, such attention to detail. Was worth waiting to make it you will have it for years now.

  29. Andie L. November 25, 2014 / 1:44 PM

    Exceptional! Your coat is just fabulous. Also, I love the hair. 🙂

  30. Jenn C November 25, 2014 / 1:36 PM

    Wow! It looks amazing.

  31. Stephanie November 25, 2014 / 1:30 PM

    Nice job! I love this. I made the Minoru last year but I might try this one next year. You did a great job on the finishing and I love the sleeves.

  32. helen November 25, 2014 / 12:50 PM

    You are right to feel so pleased with yourself! It is real triumph.

  33. verypurpleperson November 25, 2014 / 12:13 PM

    Sooo awesome! It’s stylish and wearable at the same time. Love all the details!

  34. rillafree November 25, 2014 / 11:56 AM

    This is totally amazing! Love it!

  35. Shabajo November 25, 2014 / 10:50 AM

    Fantastic finishing and detailing! No wonder it took a while – it looks like perfection 🙂

  36. Kbenco November 25, 2014 / 10:48 AM

    What terrific sleeves for a parka, so generous. You’ve done a wonderful job on this. I like the neon cords, and those brass snaps are so much nicer than boring old silver.

  37. Siobhan November 25, 2014 / 10:37 AM

    I love that hair!

  38. Thimberlina November 25, 2014 / 10:28 AM

    Your parka is amazing! It’s suits you so well! Might be a bit chilly on a scooter but wouldn’t look out of place! Well done!! 😀

  39. Vanessa November 25, 2014 / 9:21 AM

    Great work – what patience and determination! And how wondeful to find a pattern long enough in the back, what bliss!

    Re tears over loss – in Australia you can buy name tapes with two lines – name on first line, phone number on second. ( Good for lost children as well as lost items – so much more elegant than writing ones number on the child’s arm in texta. Presumably also available in UK?

  40. Shivani November 25, 2014 / 9:18 AM

    Oh my, this is brilliant. I’m in awe of your topstitching skills! Seriously top notch work… And love the neon.

  41. Kerry November 25, 2014 / 9:10 AM

    This is seriously fab. And brilliant it turned out exactly as you planned – what joy!

  42. sylkotwist November 25, 2014 / 9:07 AM

    So impressed and quite envious! Skills galore!

  43. Elise November 25, 2014 / 9:06 AM

    I looove this! Excellent idea on making room for thick jumpers underneath too. And I normally hate neon but the touch of it on the cords is genius 🙂

  44. agnesashe November 25, 2014 / 9:04 AM

    Wow, I’m really impressed by your skills. All the detailing and finishing – you have every right to be very, very proud. Gosh, I’d be truly gutted if I’d made something as great as this and then lost it! Did you use a specialist needle for machining through 8 layers?

  45. Jane November 25, 2014 / 8:54 AM

    Wow, that’s exceptional Kathryn, I can totally understand you crying for two weeks if you ever lost it (which isn’t going to happen of course!) Nothing else to say except that it is indeed a Parka of Glory, the mods would be hanging their heads in shame at their own scruffy looking ratbag parkas! Good work! x

  46. sparkleneedles November 25, 2014 / 8:33 AM

    Wowee, that is truly glorious: I don’t think the mods would be laughing at you, they would be transfixed by your neon toggles.

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