Friends: do you ever have a piece of a project that absolutely paralyzes your ability to make a decision? I don’t care if it’s a craft-related project, but perhaps it’s writing, work, whatever. When it’s a hobby however, I personally find it’s very easy and sometimes fun to let myself fall down into the rabbit hole of obsessing over making a decision over minute details.
Enter my toggle hell.
It’s the first peek at my Cascade duffle coat in-progress! You may notice it’s not the dijon coating I bought from Britex from my inspiration post. I’m actually doing a different version first. Think of it as a post-muslin / pre-spendy-omg-fabric version. This one is in some herringbone tweed wool coating I had in my stash. It’ll also be the short hip-length View A with a hood.
I had a snafu with the zipper placket and before I let myself get too pissed off about it, I decided I’d do like Jen’s sew-along View A version and just omit the zipper for this. If it’s cold enough that I really need the zipper and the toggles, it’s probably cold enough that I need a heavier coat (plus my front/back bodice are interlined with cotton flannel for extra warmth). So I’m moving on.
Anyway, we’re here about toggles, right? This is what I’m currently obsessing over. I knew right from the start I wanted to do the type with a jute/hemp/cotton cord (probably twisted) instead of a leather patch/cord combo. If you look up Gloverall—a British brand known for excellent duffle coats—you’ll see examples of what I’m talking about. And I ordered sooo many variations of cords and toggles. Gah.
I’ve finally narrowed it down to the ones shown in today’s post. At the top we have jute cord and shaped wood buttons. The second two are black and natural cotton cord, with really neat resin faux-horn buttons. The “horn” ones can’t be used with the jute because the holes are way too small.
I basically have 5 options I’m considering at this point, all with pros and cons that make this so hard!
- Option #1—jute cord and wood button. Pros: most traditional, and cord is stiff so it’s presumably likely to keep the front closed the best. Cons: cord is so stiff it’s almost too stiff, I’m not sure I quite love the look of the loop it makes (the stiffness is more obvious in person). It kind of feels a bit overwhelming on a hip-length coat like this, vs. the more traditional longer ones. I wanted to stick with jute early on because it’s the most classic for this type of closure on duffle coats, but considering I’m going for very non-traditional tweed anyway, it doesn’t really matter. Another con is I couldn’t use the jute to attach the same style of buttons on the sleeve tabs I’m adding (it would be too bulky under the buttonholes), so I’d need to use flat wood buttons or something on the sleeves and sew them on with thread.
- Options #2 or #3—black cord, faux-horn button. Either twisted cord, or twisted into loops (the loops are inspired by this red coat Jen originally posted as inspiration). Pros: I like these buttons the best, and can’t use them with the jute. The tweed is navy and the cord is black, which makes me kind of happy to mix the two (makes my anal side say “oh now I can wear black shoes with this coat” if it has some black in there). Also, the cotton would be a lot easier to sew through than the jute, and easier to hide the stitches in black. Would easily be able to use this to attach the buttons on the sleeve tabs I’m adding. Cons: Black for the cord is the least traditional. The cotton cord is more stretchy than the jute, but I think if I’m careful to stretch it when I place it, I won’t end up with the fronts flopping too much when closed, which is important since this won’t have a zipper.
- Options #4 or #5—off-white cotton cord, same faux-horn button. Basically exact same deal as the above, just using a much lighter cord.
- Option #6—Cripes, I just thought of another option. If I wanted it a little darker, I could maybe tea-dye the natural cotton cord. If it came out like crap, I guess I could order more, although I’m sick of ordering supplies for this. 😉 I really want to pick a combination that I have and be done with it.
Prevailing opinion on four options I showed yesterday on Instagram was the jute/wood, but as you can see from my thoughts above I’m far from convinced I’ll go this route. I’ll leave you with one last look, the full front bodice of the coat:
Which path will I choose? Frankly I feel like any of the options could be a winner, so I think that means that I’ll be happy with whatever I pick…. which will hopefully be soon, so I can move on! There’s a lot of the coat construction that can’t happen until I leap over this hurdle! 😉
Begum Sen says
I would go with option 4. Actually, ath the moment I’m sewing Collete Albion duffle coat which is very similar to Cascade. I’ve ordered my toggles from Gloverall.com 🙂 My coat is dark navy with green lines and I chose unvarnished wooden toggles. Good luck with your toggles 🙂
That’s where I got the jute… because I had no idea, but holy crap it was impossible to find the right sized woven jute in this country! I could literally only find it from the Gloverall replacement kits (ordering from the UK obviously) or ordering from a supplier in India. It turned out the toggles were WAY bigger than I was expecting so they weren’t appropriate for a short version on a small person, but would be totally awesome for a longer one. Have fun with your Albion, sounds like a great combo! 🙂
The white cord with resin toggles would be my pick– purely on aesthetics– I just think they look super cute together!
It will surprise no one that I instantly liked the black. 😀 They’re all great options!
Bwahaha, you’re right this doesn’t surprise me at all! 😀
Angela W says
i’m surprised that white is the first pick. I think it looks nice, but I think it might be a bit impracticable for outerwear. No matter how careful you are, the cord id going to get dingy and dirty real quick! Also, it will a pain to try and clean the cording once it is dirty.
Normally I would say black, but I think I like the natural for this coat.
None of them are higher up at this point than the other, so white isn’t my first pick, just 2 of 6, lol.
I love the faux horn, but the wood and jute also look really nice. This may be one of the hardest decisions you ever make in your life. Haha
I like the black best, but I always choose black anyway! 😉
I like the black cord option just because it looks the best. I think the jute is too thick a cord for the shorter jacket but might be ok on a longer version. One thing though, and I’m in the middle of coat making too, if you’re worried about the cord stretching during wear, why don’t you pre-stretch the cord? That way it ‘shouldn’t’ stretch much more after you’ve finished the jacket. That’s my theory anyway! Maybe dip the cord in water and somehow stretch gently overnight or until it’s dry? Just to be clear, I haven’t actually tried this out 🙂
That’s a good point about pre-stretching it! I don’t want it to stretch too much as I like the thickness, but I could certainly give it a little stretch and steam like you’d sometimes do with bias tape.
In my opinion, since this isn’t a traditional duffle, the black looks good as it adds a little drama to the tweed. I might have gone for a dark toggle as well. Good luck I know those indecision moments all too well.
The black does pop, you’re right! I tried a nice dark wood toggle with both the black and the white cord, and it kind of fell into the background. But it’s on my short list for the dijon version of this jacket that I’ll be making in the future! 🙂
Oh! Tea dye the cotton! I like those toggles best, but the Jute color works better (IMO). You could always test dye a couple inches just to see if you like it if you have a couple extra inches to test.
I actually have a few tea bags of a tea we bought and dislike (yippee for a better use than drinking it!), and I have enough of the white to play with, so I’m going to be test tea dying some of it later today! 🙂
Now I’m super curious to see how it turns out!
Coincidentally, I saw a piece on television about a week ago, talking about companies who are still manufacturing in Brooklyn, NY, even though it is expensive to do business in NY. This company is a wooden button company, and they make beautiful toggles, just like what you are looking for, in a design that I don’t see in your choices, but very stylish, to the period you are recreating. Maybe you could look them up to find an American wooden button company, in Brooklyn? I didn’t catch their name, but I’m sure you can “Google” them.
They have been doing business there for a very long time. Good luck! Sorry to add to your detail obssessing dilemma, but I think it matters, too! Good luck and thank you for your wonderful blog.
I love the black cord, looped with horn toggles! Can’t go wrong teaming grey and black, very Dior. All options would work well though, good luck with your coat, I eagerly await the finished piece.
I am also working on the same version of the cascade duffle coat … I really like the black one !