Just for the Chill of It

Autumn is a delightful season here in the northeastern part of the United States. One can tell it is on its way when the warm days quickly take on an evening chill once the sun slips below the horizon. It is the time of year when a light coat or sweater is a necessity, especially with a sleeveless dress.

With this scenario, and a September wedding to attend, what better excuse did I need, to make a coat to go with this dress?

The Year of Magical Sewing

If you follow my blog then you probably already know this was my intention all along, when I made the dress two years ago. But it took a while to find the right coordinating fabric for a coat. I was looking for something between a coral and a pink. While the silk taffeta I found at Britex Fabrics looks more like a deep persimmon color when photographed, the fuchsia pink warp is very apparent when being worn.

Taffeta coat - swatch

Once I decided the Jo Mattli-designed coat, part of the original dress pattern, was too voluminous, I went to another pattern. I wanted to keep the “intention” of the original coat, but have it more streamlined.

The "original" coat designed by Jo Mattli.

The “original” coat designed by Jo Mattli.

Taffeta coat - %22too scimpy%22

The coat pattern I settled on.

Somehow along the way, in making my muslin, I got the idea to add a curved belt to the back of the coat. I knew I had used a coat pattern several years ago with a curved belt back detail, so I went through my pattern collection to retrieve this:

This is a 1957 pattern, but look at the belt shown on the back of the envelope, below.

This is a 1957 pattern, but look at the belt shown on the back of the envelope, below.

taffeta-coat-belt-pattern-thumbnail

The belt is only shown in view A.

It took a couple of tries with the muslin to get the placement and angling of the belt correct, but once I did, I knew it was a winner. Dressmaker details like this always give me a thrill!

I anchored the belt in the side seams right under the bust darts.

I anchored the belt in the side seams right under the bust darts.

Just for the Chill of it

The curve of the belt needed to fall at my waistline.

The curve of the belt needed to fall at my waistline.

One of the things I like about this pattern is the two-part sleeve with a center seam. I think this design is always flattering to the shoulder. Here are the constructed sleeves:

Just for the Chill of it

That center seam also provides the opportunity for a faux vent, and since I just happened to have three buttons, which I thought would be perfect for the coat, I happily included vents, as the pattern dictated:

Just for the Chill of It

A small, cylindrical, crystal button!

A small, cylindrical, crystal button!

Although I originally thought I would leave the coat “closure-less,” that third button kept calling to me. While I did not want to have a single bound buttonhole in the center of the chest, I thought a button loop might do the trick. If I didn’t like it, I could remove it fairly easily from the front facing seam.

Just for the Chill of it

I also decided to add a loop at the neck, with a plain flat button under the collar. This way, I could close the collar if I chose to do so.

I pad-stitched the collar, but forgot to take a picture. Pad-stitching is like magic in how it makes the collar roll properly!

I pad-stitched the collar, but forgot to take a picture. Pad-stitching is like magic in how it makes the collar roll properly!

I have to say, I think the coat looks equally good any way it is worn: with the single button at the bust line closed, with both buttons secured and with neither of the buttons secured.

I chose not to add the optional pockets to this coat, but if I make it again in a less formal fabric, I would absolutely include them.

Once I got to the lining, I had to decide if I wanted to add the flat piping detail which I like so much. Of all the bias silk ribbon I have on hand, the only one which looked good was deep pink. Because of that, it doesn’t show contrast all that well, but I still like the subtle finishing look it gives to the lining.

Just for the Chill of it

Just for the Chill of it

Here, by the way, is the coat before I inserted the lining:

I underlined the entire coat with silk organza and added "cigarette" sleeve headings.

I underlined the entire coat with silk organza and added “cigarette” sleeve headings.

I love a center back seam!

I love a center back seam!

I used some vintage silk buttonhole twist to tack the center back fold in the lining at the neck and at the waistline.

Just for the Chill of it

There is no question that the dress and the coat go together once the lining shows!

There is no question that the dress and the coat go together once the lining shows!

Just for the Chill of it

I love that the lining peeks out from the sleeves when I am wearing the coat.

I love that the lining peeks out from the sleeves when I am wearing the coat.

taffeta-coat-full-copy

I was delighted when the photographer at the wedding wanted to take my picture because he "liked my outfit so much." (This is not that photo...)

I was delighted when the photographer at the wedding wanted to take my picture because he “liked my outfit so much.” (This is not that photo…)

Here with my husband - with a coordinating tie, no less (not planned, but makes for a great photo!)

Here with my husband – with a coordinating tie, no less (not planned, but makes for a great photo!)

It may seem a bit frivolous to make a coat like this, knowing that it will not be worn all that often – although I do have two other dress-weight silks in my collection which would look fairly stunning paired with this coat!  However,  it really is the perfect weight and look for an elegant, but chilly, evening out – and it was so much fun to make.

36 Comments

Filed under Buttons - choosing the right ones, Coats, Cocktail dresses, couture construction, Dressmaker coats, Dressmaker details, Linings, Mid-Century style, piping, sewing in silk, Silk taffeta, Uncategorized, vintage buttons, vintage Vogue patterns from the 1960s

36 responses to “Just for the Chill of It

  1. heather

    wow! simply stunning! you are always such an inspiration! beautiful! 🙂

  2. Bernice

    Karen, this is so beautiful! Such attention to detail…I am so impressed and inspired. Thanks for sharing with us.

  3. Margene Yeaton

    Beautiful! I appreciate your clothing construction talent, design and style abilities. Impeccable. Thank you for all your ideas and design information you share. Can’t wait to see what’s next.

  4. I just love your attention to detail, it is inspiring to see, and always a great lesson in garment construction. A beautiful outfit!

  5. chelseylenahan

    I am in absolute awe of your sewing abilities! A elegant ensemble for a special occasion… you and your husband make the cutest couple!

  6. So pretty! As usual you have done fine work. I can learn so much from your construction!

  7. This is just gorgeous. I love how the lining of the coat matches the dress. It’s such a couture touch and makes the outfit that much more beautiful. Gorgeous. And you both make such a handsome couple.

  8. Carol

    It is obvious that you enjoyed making this coat. All of the details certainly show. It looks great.

  9. Ann Carbone

    simply gorgeous … I love it … great workmanship
    this is why we sew

  10. Mery

    Margene always says exactly what I most want to say. Just so beautiful and perfect for the occasion, and what lovely pics! I think the collar not flopping is my favorite part…well, that and everything else too. Even the handsome husband looks his finest when he’s standing next to you.

  11. This is a stunning ensemble. I hope you wore the coat open so the matching lining flashed. It shows a truly couture touch.

  12. Mery

    Is the Threads article you recommended in the Oct/Nov issue with front cover model in red coat? I’m asking someone to pick one up for me. I live so far in the country that it’s a 3 1/2 hr round-trip to dry cleaner. (Technically there’s one closer but they ruin everything.) I commute a little farther than that to work long hours but shops that sell these are way out of the way. Tho I read a lot I don’t like to subscribe to anything because I prefer to treat myself when I’m ready to sit down with it. Thanks so much for your blog. It’s a treat I’m always eager for.

    • Yes, that’s the one! Goodness, I hope you have a grocery store closer than the dry cleaner! So happy you like my blog – thank you!!

      • Mery

        I didn’t thank you right away because I wanted to think of something amusing about grocery. Nothing. It’s like couture sewing. Cooking a lot in advance to always be prepared works only when one enjoys the planning and the prep as much as the result. Your ensemble is prettier every day.

  13. Kati

    I absolutely love your new coat, Karen! I can’t really find words for it! Also love the little details you have added. Thank you so much for the detailed photos, you are such an inspiration!
    My brother is getting married next March and I am so tempted to make my own outfit. A dress and a coat. Still undecided on the pattern and fabric, but hopefully I will be able to settle on something soon.
    You are such a handsome couple!
    This is not sewing related, but may I ask what you do to your hair that is so shiny and beautiful? Do you use a glaze on it?
    Many thanks!

    • Hi Kati! Thank you for your lovely words about my coat. I hope you will make an outfit – dress and coat – for your brother’s wedding. Right now is the time to be thinking about it – these projects need lots of planning and unhurried time, but what a fun project for you!
      About my hair – I wish I could tell you there is some secret, but I really don’t do anything special. I’m fortunate in that it is naturally shiny! I do wash it every day, and I use Kiehl’s Amino Acid Conditioner, if that helps.

  14. It worked out beautifully (I adore the dress too). Shows how nice bold colours can look and the strong contrast really suits your dramatic colouring. I love the picture with your husband.

  15. I can only echo the others – this elegant ensemble is simply stunning! As always, your work is impeccable…I have to go look up pad stitching now. Such a lovely couple!

  16. Divine. As they say, good things come in threes – there is a very good reason it’s a Fibonaci number! We’re always drawn to that kind of balance, I think. The coat is gorgeous – beautiful roll on the collar and crisp corners on the points. I’ll admit I’ve very envious of you being able to pull off that sleeve length – to me it embodies absolute classic elegance (it looks terrible on me). That cigarette shoulder stuff works magic on any sleeve head 🙂

    • So great to hear from you, Mel! I must admit I always thought that sleeve length was flattering to everyone. I agree that it makes a truly elegant sleeve! I probably did not give enough credit to the quality of the silk taffeta in helping to make the coat successful. It really is a wonderfully lightweight, crisp, but very pliable silk. So enjoyable to work with!
      How’s that dear baby girl doing?

  17. What a beautiful coat, Karen – It truly enhances your gorgeous dress! I’m not surprised the photographer wanted to take your picture! By the way, about 25 years into our marriage, my husband learned to select his tie to go with my outfit 😉

  18. Marguerite

    So beautiful! I just got a chance to peruse last month’s posts. The setting looks similar to the lakes up here in NH. The coat and dress are simply stunning…and what a great shot of you and your husband. Your work is impeccable and always an inspiration to us.

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