November 25, 2014

Lovely new coat

Finally! Pictures of my new coat. 
In retrospect, it's silly I hesitated for so long to re-make my favorite coat. Really, it should have been a no-brainer. From the moment that this new version was far enough in its assembly that I could put it on, I've loved it. 

We took these pictures at about a quarter to five in the afternoon so the light was already starting to disappear which gives all the outdoor pictures a blue-ish hue. I've decided not to meddle with it because, in my experience, although you may get the blue out, you won't get a 'normal' coloration if you do. 
Just for the record, the colour of the fabric is much closer to how it looks in the picture on stairs. 

As I've told you before, the first version of this coat was made way back in 2009. It was inspired by Balenciaga's 'barrel' coats from the 1950's. Since then, I've learned a lot more about 1950's fashion and I know now that although there were plenty of loose, wide coats, most of those were long. And short wide coats were usually either straight or flared. I'm still convinced I have seen an example of a tapered coat by Balenciaga somewhere, but I wouldn't know where to look. 

Anyway, I didn't look into the inspiration again when I started on this coat. I've worn and loved the first one for years so I knew how I wanted it. I kept that large signature collar (which wasn't in my inspiration, I think) and the back pleat and the square set-in sleeves. 
I also knew what needed work. A bit more room at the hips so it wouldn't pull there when worn over layers of clothing. I moved the collar notches up by 1.5 cm so they would be further away from the overlap (just for the sake of the look).

The fabric is a not-stretchy wool knit in burnt orange and off-white which I found last year. I backed it with a very lightweight fusible throughout and used horsehair canvas in the collar, lapels, front edge and hem. In a design like this, I would never use a firm interfacing like horsehair canvas on large parts of the front. The bulk of the coat has to stay soft so it can flow around the wearer. 

Finding buttons and a lining was a bit of a challenge. These sort of salmon coloured buttons surprised me by being the best match for the fabric at my favorite haberdashery store (they started out a few years ago as a haberdashery store but have now moved into a bigger space and sell lots of fabric as well) but none of their linings even got close.
I finally found this material, a fairly dark burnt orange satin, after looking at all fabrics, which might be used as lining, at all the fabric stalls at the market.
I kind of worried it wouldn't match the buttons but I didn't really have much choice. In the end, the lining and the buttons do match. The lining is a bit darker but they are clearly in the same colour-family.

I've shown you the construction of the collar before and I made the lapels in the same way. I hesitated about stiffening the coat's edges. I wanted to keep the soft shape but prevent it from looking shabby or sagged out or curled any time soon (the main reason why I used horsehair canvas in the collar and lapels as well. The old coat was a bit too soft there). So, I finished the sewing first, so I would be able to judge its interfacing needs. Then I decided to put 4 cm strips of horsehair canvas in hem and the front edges. Of course, I had to tack those it by hand.

Oh, and one more construction thing: On blogs, I often see people sew linings to coat hems by hand. I wonder why. I would only do that if I suspected the two fabrics from behaving so differently that I couldn't possibly predict it. If that is not the case (an usually it isn't), I bag the lining on all sides, including the bottom (where the lining should be about 2 cm shorter than the outside), turn the coat out through a gap in the lining side seam, press the hem up (usually 3 cm to the seam where outside and lining are attached, turn it inside out again and then sew the coat hem by hand. After that, you turn it right side out once more and close the gap in the lining. This gives you a perfectly secure lined hem with only one bit of hand sewing. (I should add that I've always been taught not to bag the hems of wide flared coats. Their skirt-like pieces tend to fall better when the lining is kept separately like in most skirts and dresses)

I'm really glad I made this coat. Once more, I will have to remind myself that I have other coats which deserve to be worn as well because this one promises to be every thing its forbear was: a garment like warm embrace. 


  1. Wow, this is fabulous. I love the chic shape - and yes, it really does reference Balenciaga. I'm continually impressed by your ability to draft your own patterns. Great work!

  2. Beautiful! I love the color especially with your hair.

  3. I think you'll find the Balenciaga jacket has just been recreated in the Burda Vintage special edition on the 1950's, here:

    Love your blog!

  4. I really like that you used such a classic shape and combined it with the vibrant orange fabric - it makes a very pretty combination!