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North House Folk School
North House Folk School

Blanket Coat: Techniques for Making Your Own Warm Wool Blanket Coat

A blanket coat made from a Hudson Bay-style blanket is an inspiring & distinctive example of style and craft. In this skill-building workshop, students will gain the patterning, fitting, and sewing skills they need to create their own unique blanket coat. Made from new or recycled warm wool blankets, these coats are very adaptable and can be used for many outdoor activities and conditions. Students will practice fitting their patterns, handstitching, and construction techniques as applied to blanket coat making. They will come away knowing sturdy and decorative hand stitch variations and will have a custom blanket coat pattern based on the distinctive North House Folk School example. Students will leave with their coat cut from the blanket and ready to enjoy stitching and finishing the coat at home. Each student can bring their own blanket, or before the class order a plain colored blanket from the instructor. This is a collaborative workshop open to students of all levels.

Students will learn the background of the blanket coat, which has been used for over 200 years in the northern cold climates of Canada and the U.S. Some historic coats were cut with very simple square pieces, and some were complex tailored variations. The coats stem in origin from the capote, hooded blanket coats used by French sailors in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. In North America, blanket coats were adopted by European and Native Americans who traded beaver skins for blankets for use in the wilderness. Eventually, blanket coats in a variety of styles were adopted by both men and women in Canadian and American cities as warm winter fashion. Around the 1880s in Montreal, Quebec, and St. Paul, Minnesota. The emblematic Hudson Bay blanket coats became popular as colorful fashion for Winter Carnival events. In the twentieth century, the Hudson Bay style blanket coat became a familiar symbol promoting Glacier National Park. 

Blanket coats can be a variety of lengths; many are belted and hooded, or feature a large collar to protect from cold and wind. Today, many use blanket coats for outdoor activities such as winter hiking, snowshoeing, and relaxing around the fire. The coat we will make in this class is a unique style developed in the early years of North House Folk School, and can be made from any type of new or recycled wool blanket, whether plain colored or the classic striped Hudson Bay style blanket.  Bring a new or recycled blanket of your choice or order a plain colored blanket from the instructor at least three weeks before the class. Five colors of plain blankets are available: Navy Blue, Forest Green, Olive Green, Burgundy, or Purple.


New! Fri, Feb 17, 2017 - Sun, Feb 19, 2017 Course Full - Please call for wait list
(Early bird tuition deadline: 01/06/17)

Course Details

Length in days:


$255.00 per student (Regular rate)
$225.00 per student (Early-bird rate)

$40.00 additional $35 if purchasing blanket

Beginner to Advanced

* The Feb 17, 2017 course is part of the Northern Fiber Retreat event

Making it happen:
  • When should I enroll?
  • Do you take last minute registrations?
  • When will new course dates be posted?

You will need the following tools for this class:

Note - Bring your favorite tools for handsewing – it is important to have tools that you are most comfortable using.  Assemble your tools in a sewing tool box. If you cannot find some of the tools listed don’t worry – there will be some extra of all of these tools provided in the classroom to share.

Sewing machines – If you own a portable sewing machine, bring it to class. Please test it before coming to class to know that it is in working order. Bring bobbins to fit your machine. We will use sewing machines primarily to baste (temporary stitching) the pieces together for your pattern mock-ups. The machine sewing 
techniques needed for this pattern mock-up will be very simple straight or zig-zag overlapped seams. If you do not own a sewing machine that you can bring, North House has a few machines. You will be welcome to use them and will be given basic instruction for their use.
  1. Regular hand sewing needles used for sewing with thread
  2. Tapestry needles and Chenille needles for sewing with yarn (both come in assorted packages of sizes 18 - 22) (Both types of needles have large eyes for sewing with yarn. Chenille needles have sharp points, Tapestry needles have dull points.)
  3. Needle threaders – two sizes, 1) for sewing with yarn and 2) for sewing with thread
  4. Thimble (some like leather thimbles, or metal thimbles sized to fit your finger)
  5. Pins (longer pins with plastic heads are very handy for thick fabrics)
  6. Pin cushion or magnet
  7. See-Thru Clear Plastic Ruler (Hancock’s Fabrics has the Quilter’s See-Thru Drafting Ruler 18” x 2” for about $8.00; or bring any smaller or larger clear  plastic rulers)
  8. Flexible measuring tape
  9. Fabric marking pencil
  10. Lead pencil, eraser, sharpener
  11. Paper cutting scissors
  12. Fabric cutting scissors – sharp and sturdy for cutting blankets (If you prefer using a rotary cutter instead of a scissors, please bring a cutting mat)
  13. Small thread cutting scissors
  14. Seam ripper
  15. Sewing awl (sometimes called a tailor’s awl – not a leather stitching lock-stich awl)
  16. Small pliers or needle puller
  17. White all-purpose machine sewing thread for sewing mock-ups
Once registered, students will receive a confirmation packet in the mail that may offer additional optional tool recommendations and suggested reading.
Carol Colburn Carol Colburn

Carol teaches sewing workshops at North House that incorporate traditional Scandinavian textile traditions along with contemporary craft. Through her travels, she has found inspiration in everyday as well as the festive textile and clothing traditions of Scandinavia. Her numerous publications discuss the design, techniques, and meanings behind Norwegian folk textiles, including clothing and household items. She taught period clothing design, pattern making, and sewing in universities before she began teaching focused heritage sewing workshops at Vesaas Farm Studio in Telemark, Norway, Vesterheim Museum in Decorah, and at North House. Students in her sewing workshops are introduced to an appreciation of traditional techniques while creating contemporary custom garments that are ultimately practical for the northern climate.

More about Carol Colburn