A Fitting Finish to Summer Sewing

Summer slipped quietly away this week with nary a peep except for the sighs coming from my sewing room. No matter how hard I tried, I could not keep up with the calendar to finish my final Summer project.  However, a few days late on “delivery” doesn’t really upset me, as I can look forward to wearing my Madame Gres-designed coat next Spring.

Vogue Gres coat and dress

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I am not sure I can remember a sewing project which I have enjoyed more. The coat pattern is actually quite a simple design, imaginatively shaped with unusual darts and seams. Perhaps the fact that I made it from vintage Moygashel linen helped make the sewing of it enjoyable, as the linen is so stable. Darts and seams can be crisply sewn and ironed, the grain of the fabric is so easy to see, and the fabric drapes with a fluid sturdiness, if that makes sense.

This shows the side darts which shape the coat and the dart/seam at the front of the kimono sleeve.

This shows the side darts which shape the coat and the dart/seam at the front of the kimono sleeve.

I covered the changes I made to those front darts in an earlier post; those were the only alterations I made to the final design except for lengthening the sleeves by one inch and the length of the coat by 1½ inches. Besides those shaping darts, there is one other feature of this coat which defines it. Do you know what it is?   Yes, it is the bound buttonholes and their buttons. Seven of them, to be precise.

The pattern instruction sheets call for bound buttonholes, as shown here:

I love how these vintage Vogue patterns give such precise instructions; there are various ways to make bound buttonholes, but the method described here is my favorite.

I love how these vintage Vogue patterns give such precise instructions; there are various ways to make bound buttonholes, but the method described here is my favorite.

I have made a lot of bound buttonholes in my sewing life, but seven of them lined up as the focal point of the front of my coat is still a little intimidating. First of all, I had to find buttons that were “perfect.” I found some lavender buttons on the Britex website, and although they looked like a good match in color and appearance, ordering something like that online is always imprecise. However, when they arrived, they were, indeed, “perfect!” With buttons in hand, I made a sample buttonhole, as I always do.

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I think this photo shows the "monkey's knot" design in the buttons, which compliments the linen weave, I think.

This photo shows the “monkey’s knot” design in the buttons, which compliments the linen weave, I think.

Then it was on to a marathon buttonhole session one afternoon.

The most important ingredient in making successful bound buttonholes is precise marking.

The most important ingredient in making successful bound buttonholes is precise marking.

I finished the underside (on the facing) of the buttonholes using organza patches, which makes a beautiful, sturdy finish.

I finished the underside (on the facing) of the buttonholes using organza patches, which makes a beautiful, sturdy finish.

Here is the underside of the buttonholes before I finished the edges.

Here is the underside of the buttonholes before I finished the edges.

And here is the facing side, finished.

And here is the facing side, finished.

Another charm of this pattern is the coat collar, which is seamed in the center back on the bias, causing it to “turn” beautifully. I under-stitched the undercollar to help keep the perimeter seam properly in line (this is a trick I learned from one of Susan Khalje’s classes):

This is the undercover, showing center back seam and the under-stitching I used to secure the perimeter seam.

This is the undercollar, showing center back seam and the under-stitching I used to secure the perimeter seam.

When it came to the lining, I knew I wanted to use silk crepe de chine. I ordered some swatches from Emma One Sock fabrics:

A Fitting finish swatches

Fortunately my sister was visiting and so I could get her opinion on which one to order. I was a bit smitten with the idea of a bright pink lining, but she wisely asked if I hoped to wear this Spring coat with dresses other than the pink flowered one which had inspired it. Well, yes, I do want that flexibility! That made the decision easy – I chose the pale lavender silk, which is just about a perfect match. I added a bias, flat piped edge to the lining, which is now something I always do with coats and jackets I make. It is so easy and adds so much!

Fitting finish

Some of you may recall that I had to piece one of the facings because I was just a little short of the fabric I needed. Here is the seam on the left facing. I really don't think anyone will ever see it! (Except all of you, of course!)

Some of you may recall that I had to piece one of the facings because I was just a little short of  fabric. Here is the seam on the left facing. I really don’t think anyone will ever see it (except all of you, of course!)

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This is a good look at the bound buttonholes and what they add to the overall look of the coat. If you visualize machine made buttonholes in their place, you will get an idea of how vital the bound ones are to the design of the coat.

Another thing that will add to the total look of my 2016 Spring ensemble is this Kate Spade handbag which my grown children gave to me:

Fitting finish

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Fitting Finish

Fitting finish

Fitting finish

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Now all I need are lavender pumps…

43 Comments

Filed under bound buttonholes, Buttons - choosing the right ones, Coats, couture construction, kimono sleeves, Linen, Love of sewing, Moygashel linen, Uncategorized, Vintage fabric, vintage Vogue Designer patterns, vintage Vogue patterns from the 1960s

43 responses to “A Fitting Finish to Summer Sewing

  1. Lovely job on the buttonholes. Probably doing it in one marathon session was best as you could concentrate on getting them perfect. I love you added touch of contrast piping. Maybe a little late for summer but you are prepared for early spring. and the coat coordinates beautifully with your dress and bag.

    • Thanks, Mary! I had to be in the right frame of mind to tackle those buttonholes and it seemed best to do them all together. I actually have had a chance to wear the pink flowered dress since finishing it in August, but you are correct – it will be Spring before I can wear the coat.

  2. Absolutely lovely -a wonderful ensemble!
    Inspiring and beautiful. Bravo !

  3. Emily

    Lovely! So enjoy seeing your creations! Inspiring and beautifully crafted. I’d wear that dress in a snap!

  4. Sheila Dusinberre

    Sooo wonderful! ALL OF IT!

  5. Jackie

    Again you have another beautiful work of art. I always enjoy seeing your creations. Thank you for the suggestion of the Vogue Sewing Book. I was able to order a copy of the original 1970 publication.

  6. Maria

    Totally fabulous as usual!

  7. Beautiful ensemble. I really love the details of the coat.

  8. Your whole ensemble is lovely. The coat is beautiful and perfectly executed. And I love your handbag. Aren’t daughters the best — they try to keep us “hip”!

  9. Marianne

    The details of your coat are so beautiful! I never thought of making a linen coat, now it’s all I can think of. Perfection!

  10. Absolutely gorgeous! Reminds me of those fabulous coat/dress ensembles a la Doris Day and Audrey Hepburn. Love, love, love it.

    • Thank you, Jen. There is nothing I like more than seeing the fashions those two actresses wore so beautifully on the silver screen (and probably in their real lives, too!) I do really love a dress and coat ensemble.

  11. Such gorgeous details! It looks like the understitching on your collar was done by hand. You are a model for us all.

    • Thank you, Lynn. Yes, I did the under stitching by hand. The entire coat is underlined in silk organza, so when I under stitched the undercollar, I was able to “anchor” my stitches onto the silk organza underneath. (That’s a lot of “unders,” but hopefully you get the picture!) Susan Khalje had a fellow student do this technique on a tailored jacket with a notched collar and it helped keep her collar perfectly turned. It’s a great tip to remember.

  12. I love this coat and think it will look amazing with jeans, blue and grey things, too.

  13. Mary Lynn

    Love the coat, love the dress and love sharing your thought process to make it all come together so beautifully!

  14. April

    What a beautiful coat. I brought a similar colour fabric this year, but never got round to making it although the pattern is laid out on the fabric!
    You have inspired me to get it cut out ready for next year. I’m going to have a go too at the piping. It does look effective.
    Another project to add to my Christmas vacation!

  15. The coat is simply beautiful! I love it with the dress and purse and I know you will find all kinds of other wonderful ways to style it!

    • Thanks, Brooke! Great to hear from you – I am thinking you must be very busy!!??

      • I keep thinking I’ll have time to blog but yes, it has been a rather crazy year! I spent almost 7 weeks this summer working out-of-state on a television show. Now I’m back at the opera (which means a loooong daily commute.) All I’ve really managed to keep up with is blog reading and Instagram.

  16. Wow, what a fabulous job! It looks gorgeous. I’m glad you had a more enjoyable time with Madame Gres that I did. Those Vogue designer patterns from that era are fantastic, though!

    • Thanks, Julie! If I didn’t know this was a Madame Gres- designed coat, I never would have guessed it. Your MG was much more typical of her style, I think. Having said that, I just recently saw another MG coat design for Vogue Patterns that is also kind of reserved and unfussy. But you are correct, the Vogue designer patterns from the ’60s are fabulous!

  17. This looks so classy and elegant. Great job!

  18. Lovely work! Thank you for the comments and photos on bound buttonholes.

  19. Gorgeous outfit. Congratulations on the bound buttonhole challenge…..well done!
    Deb

  20. Marguerite

    Wow! A stunner! I love that ensemble look from the 50s/60s. And you have nailed it beautifully. I especially love the 3/4 sleeves and collar. Not to mention the bound buttonholes! It’s funny but when I first learned to sew as a young girl, my aunt taught me bound buttonholes as those were all she ever used on coats and suits. so they became second nature to me. Although in recent years, I’ve relied more on machine made. Your work is giving me plenty of inspiration to get back to giving them a go.
    As always, your posts and projects are so enjoyable!

    • Thank you so much, Marguerite! When I came “back” to fashion sewing a few years ago, I was a bit rusty with bound buttonholes. They do take some finesse, but are well worth the effort, I think. And – there is certainly a place for machine made buttonholes – but for coats and jackets especially, I am with your aunt!

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