Belated vintage pledge 1950’s underlined velvet cocoon coat.

I have had this 1950’s vintage cocoon coat pattern in my collection for quite a while. Last year when I decided to make a vintage pledge for The Stitching Odysseys incentive I thought I would add it to my making list. This is actually the second one of these I have made. I initially started to make one in a grey wool blend coating fabric, the toile was lovely the way it was going together was good, then Christmas parties started popping up.

I put the grey wool blend coat aside in favour of getting this one finished in time for the parties!

I have had this piece of lovely cotton black velvet for a while acquired from the very talented Chris Smith when it wasn’t quite right for the cos play costume he was making at the time. It is quite a light weight with a very short pile. The idea of a black velvet cocoon coat from this pattern that I was enjoying so much seemed like a great idea. An ideal coat to pop on over any party dress. However I decided the weight of the fabric would be a bit to light for this coat style. I think the weight of the fabric for this style is key to getting a good end result, something to light would just look limp and shapeless.

Enter the idea of interlining! I had a large piece of lightweight cotton batting and decided to use this as an interlining. Holding the two fabrics together felt lovely, thick and luxurious. It was a bit of a risk as I am pretty sure cotton batting should be quilted for it to remain stable when washed or cleaned. However I decided to go for it as it is a coat and an evening coat meaning it probably won’t need cleaning that often. There is a lot of long winded laborious tacking involved to get the interlining applied to the back of the velvet, suddenly time seemed to be running out.

I had already made the bound buttonsholes on the grey coat which had gone like a dream. This is really the only time consuming detail on the coat (other than the interlining) I felt sure I would I would whizz through this and the coat would be finished in no time… wrong was I ! I cut away the batting carefully from the buttonhole area to reduce the bulk before beginning making the buttonholes. I didn’t take into account how badly the velvet would fray and the difference between the weight of the coat and the button welt pieces seemed to make it very tricky to turn and make sharp ends to the buttonholes.

The buttonholes are far from perfect, I faffed about for ages trying to get them to sit neatly. I could see that the different interfacing and interlining that I was using for each part was causing some of the problems (none of which I had with the grey coat). That and the uncontrollable fraying on these tiny pieces. In the end I achieved a passable result and lost a lot of time on the project.

I covered very large buttons to match, when done up the buttonholes actually look just fine!

The coat also features welt pockets, made in exactly the same way as the buttonholes but being larger they were much easier to keep neat and sharp.

Despite all the problems with the buttonholes the rest of the coat went together easily. The construction was super easy with kimono sleeves and a short stand collar. It has a lovely dart detail at the front neck. I lined the coat with a shot purple taffeta from local Montreux Fabrics which was the perfect lining fabric for this coat making it luxurious inside and out. It feels warm and really wonderful to wear. I don’t think I will be needing to make another evening coat for a long time!

Underneath the coat I wore a self drafted flared t-shirt dress. I made this in Lady McElroy viscose jersey. The fabric has a great drape, in my new comfy clothes mode I wanted to keep the dress simple and understated and just let the fabric speak for itself. I lined the the dress but not the sleeves with a jersey lining bought at Minerva crafts, the lining gives the dress a little bit more body. I really loved wearing the dress, it was so comfortable and cutting the flare from just above the waist meant it was easy over the tummy – no uncomfortable waistband after a meal out! All in all probably my favourite outfit made last year.

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Julia Claridge

I was about 6 or 7 years old when I had my first go on a sewing machine, it was an old hand crank machine that my mum used with her patients, she was an occupational therapist. I still vividly remember watching with amazement as the tiny perfectly formed stitches were created as I turned the handle. I Grew up in the 70’s and 80’s when buying clothes was less affordable and dressmaking was an answer to updating your wardrobe more regularly. My own mother was a talented dressmaker who made most of my clothes and my sisters clothes as well as a many for herself. I soon got involved with making my clothes, I loved the whole experience of picking out fabrics, trims and a pattern to create a new outfit, then going home to make a new garment or outfit. When it came to leaving school I visited a careers advisor who asked what I wanted to do next. My answer was ..Sew! Read more...

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