Now Or Never

This woman sewed her own coat just in time for winter

'It took so long! There's a million pieces to making a coat.' Winnipeg's Sandi Fraser has been sewing her own clothes for the past two years, but had never attempted a winter jacket.
Sandi Fraser of Winnipeg wearing her handmade winter coat. (S. Fraser)

When Sandi Fraser takes on a challenge, she jumps in with both feet — landing on her sewing machine pedal, of course.

The Winnipeg mother of two boys has been sewing her own clothes for the past two years. That means all of her clothes ... except for her socks. 

"I have two days a week that I put the kids on the school bus and I have a huge chunk of time where I look around and I think: 'I could vacuum, I could clean the bathroom, or I could do something for me,'" she said.

"Sewing has really become this hobby that fulfills me creatively."

Seamstress Sandi Fraser of Winnipeg sews all her clothes except her socks. (S. Thacker/CBC)

Last winter, Fraser decided to sew herself a winter coat. 

"Each year on New Year's Eve I've given myself a challenge for the upcoming year," she explained. "The first time, I decided I was going to make jeans and a bra. I spent the entire year researching how to make that happen."

This year she chose to make herself a bathing suit and a winter coat. Both were articles she hadn't made before. She gave herself a deadline of Halloween.

"It took so long! There's a million pieces to making a coat," she laughed. "There's all the pieces of the outer part, all the pieces of the lining and all sorts of interfacing to give it stiffness. Even just cutting it out was a huge undertaking."

To stay motivated and troubleshoot her design, Fraser looked online.

Sandi Fraser takes advantage of online support when she works on challenging sewing projects. (S. Thacker/CBC)

"Between Instagram and a Facebook group that I'm a part of, I was able to post questions," she recalled.

"People would give me their thoughts and their experiences and hold my hand through the whole thing."

"I would literally have my machine next to my iPhone, and I'd just go back and forth looking at pictures... to make sure what I was doing looked like what it's supposed to look like," she said.

To mark her progress, Fraser posted pictures on her Instagram account.

Fraser has been wearing her purple wool coat — exquisitely lined with burnt orange satin — since the weather turned colder. She even let Now or Never co-host Ify Chiwetelu try it on.

Now or Never co-host Ify Chiwetelu tries on the winter coat made by Sandi Fraser. (S. Thacker/CBC)