Summer Dreaming

In the midst of summer, I am dreaming about – Winter sewing? I wouldn’t be doing such a thing, except that when opportunity knocks, it’s a good idea to take advantage of it.

For a while now, I have been thinking about wanting to make a pale pink wool coat. My idea was definitely solidified when I saw pictures of this stunning Valentino coat:

Looming large on page 58 of the November 2016 Wall Street Journal Magazine is a Valentino coat, traditional in design, but made very special by its exquisite embroidered pink wool.

Although making a pink coat hasn’t necessarily been a top priority for me, I’ve been quietly keeping a watch out for the right fabric, should I find it somewhere. Then a couple of weeks ago, I had the rare opportunity to purchase a piece of wool, loomed in France in the early 1960s.

It was an eBay offering, with a substantial first bid requirement, so I thought quite a bit about it, especially since the seller did not accept returns. It is somewhat difficult to buy fabrics, either vintage or new, online, especially without a swatch. The photos in the offering confirmed that it was Lesur wool, made in France.  I could tell by the style of printing on the attached tag that the 2.5 yard piece was most likely from the early 1960s. The weight of the fabric was, of course, unknown to me. The description said it was a boucle, but I doubted that attribution based on the photos.  However, that gave me the feeling that it was a heavier-than-dress-weight wool. At least I hoped so! At 56” wide, this was an ample piece of fabric. My intuition told me this was an opportunity not to miss, so I went for it!

When the package arrived a couple of days later, I was elated. The color is luscious, the weight of the fabric is perfect for a coat (but not too heavy), and the piece is in pristine condition.

To put the icing on the cake, within the past year, I had purchased an end-cut of pink and gray charmeuse silk from Mendel Goldberg which looks so beautiful with it. I was going to make a wrap dress out of that silk, but now it is going to be my coat lining.

Shortly before I found the fabric, I purchased this coat pattern, which now seems perfect for the pink wool, although I always reserve the right to change my mind!

But this is not the end of the story. I am endlessly fascinated by the fabrics available to home dressmakers in the ‘50s, ‘60s, and ‘70s. On a whim, I decided to look through some of my Vogue Pattern Book Magazines from the early ‘60s to see if I could find any other examples of Lesur wool. The first one I opened had this ad in it:

From the October/November 1962 issue of Vogue Pattern Book Magazine.

Further sleuthing provided more examples of Lesur wool made into Vogue Couturier designs.  Here are a few examples:

The description of the Lesur fabric reads: “purest marigold nubbed wool.” From the April/May 1963 issue.

Here is the description of the yellow suit, plus the inset shows its overblouse.

Here the Lesur wool is shown in a Guy Laroche design. From the February/March 1962 Vogue Pattern Book Magazine.

From the same issue of VPB Magazine, a design by Nina Ricci; the description of the fabric is: “A leonine tweed by Lesur.” Note the fringed self scarf.

In several of the magazines, there are listings of Fabric Houses:

Click on the image to read the list!

Can you imagine having the opportunity to visit these fabric houses and make purchases?  Put me in a  time capsule and take me there, please!

Getting back to reality – I won’t be working on my pink coat anytime soon, as there are already several projects in the queue that need my attention first, including some pressing Summer sewing. But – Summer dreaming is just so much fun!


Filed under Coats, Dressmaker suits, Linings, Mid-Century style, Uncategorized, Vintage fabric, woolens

20 responses to “Summer Dreaming

  1. Jackie Shepherd

    Can’t wait for you to get started on this luscious project!

  2. Congratulations on your EBay win. It certainly looks like wonderful fabric and I’ll be watching for details of your new coat. Sadly all of those fabric sources are gone from the ever shrinking garment district.

  3. Mary Lynn

    What a nice way to end my day – reading your fascinating tale about the beautiful pink fabric and that exquisite silk for the lining. Is the Wall Street Journal magazine in their Sat. edition? We quit getting both that and USA Today because living on an island (Not that we’re the boonies – not quite an hour from Charleston) our deliveries were a nightmare. Anyway, I live vicariously through your sewing life and plans because I will never have the patience or skill to achieve all the wonderful things you do and I’m frantically trying to get the first grandchild’s needlepoint Christmas stocking to the finisher and the 2nd grandchild’s special baby ornament done also. And… as I get older I have the attention span of a gnat! Can’t sit all day needlepointing like I use to. Loved your new sewing plan!

    • Hi Mary Lynn! Yes, the Wall Street Journal Magazine is included once a month in the Saturday print edition. (And reading a newspaper online just isn’t as much fun as sitting with the print edition, cup of coffee in hand!) I love tracking down some of the history of fabrics like this Lesur, as you can tell. So I’m glad someone enjoys reading about my hunt!
      Oh, those things for grandchildren – they do take precedence over so much else, don’t they? How wonderful for your little ones to have these heirloom Christmas treasures!

  4. I love this. I got more & more excited with the anticipation of what the fabric would feel like. Hard to buy fabric without touching it. Can’t wait to see the cost. The lining is smashing!!

    • You are so correct – not being able to feel the fabric is a quandary. Luckily this time, the fabric feels like butter! And I am very excited about the lining fabric…

  5. Mery

    Scoot over: I want to go too in that time traveler. You have amassed the most fabulous self-made wardrobe these past few years. That last outfit is too much for brief words. The other fabulous items in your queue are fun to look forward to, and this coat will be the icing on the cake. Yes, I’m off to dreamland too. It would be a tiny bit more relaxing if we knew for sure whether or not you’re going to have that coating embroidered.

  6. Jaenice Palmer

    Yow! What a combination! I look forward to seeing the finished coat later this year.

    • Thanks, Jaenice! Lots of traveling planned for the second half of this year, so it will not be before next winter that this project gets started. I need more sewing time!!

      • Jaenice Palmer

        Well, there is always the old chestnut of “Life is what happens when you’re making other plans”. I would also say that when you’re trying to juggle life and sewing, odds are life will win–it has a funny way of doing that with any creative endeavor, I’ve noticed. I’d like more time for projects myself, but I’ve been cramming hours of study for the past couple of months, which doesn’t leave much room for anything else. Yes, more sewing time. That Lesur does look luscious–and as I said, I look forward to seeing the finished coat!

  7. That is going to be a perfect coat for you, color and weight. Is it a worsted, or about that weight or a little lighter? Maybe a twill, I couldn’t really tell from the photo.😀 The lining will be wonderful, this will be fun to watch.

  8. Joanne

    Hi Karen,

    Thank you for your response to the laundering linen question!

    I adore pink and this Lesur is excellent. So I hopped right over to eBay…and no luck,,,,,how do you find such beauties? Do you search specifically for Lesur, Moygashel and just revisit eBay as often as needed?

    I also wanted to let you know that your dresses for your grand daughters are exquisite. I have archived those pictures……for whenever the time may come…..not anytime soon… 😦

    I am hoping to take another class with SK in the next year. I am still teaching, and it does get in the way of my hobbies :), but I am still sewing often.

    Love your blog, and enjoy all your garments.

    Thank you


    • Hi Joanne! I find there is a lot of luck involved with finding things on eBay. I try to look specifically for certain brands, but often things are not tagged correctly, which makes the hunt difficult. Usually I don’t buy something like this if returns are not accepted, but I made an exception this time, and I’m glad I did.
      I, too, am hoping to take another class with Susan this year. I just finished a very time-consuming two-year commitment, so now I can start to think about couture classes again!

  9. Fabulous and inspiring post. I especially love the leonine tweed suit with self-fringed scarf – a lesson in elegance.

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