Life Isn’t Perfect…

…but Your Outfit Can Be.  I took a picture last summer of this sign at a Western wear store in Pinedale, Wyoming (Cowboy Shop).   I loved the saying, but little did I know how often I would reflect on it this summer, which has had its difficulties.  

And even when my outfit, like Life, is far from perfect, which has been often, I know there is always Hope, and yes, that is hope with a capital H.  


What a long hiatus it has been between my last musings about Trench coats and Dressmaker coats and pink gingham.  The final, finishing  stitch in my pink checked coat was in mid-June, and at this point I can hardly remember what I wanted to say about it.  

I purchased the pink silk gingham from Farmhouse Fabrics several years ago.

It does seem appropriate to start with the changes I made to the pattern, of which there were two major ones.  The first change was to the size of the collar.  In the 1970s long pointed collars were a trend.  Although I like a pointed collar, one with a more petite profile seemed to be a little more flattering and classic.  To achieve this desired look, I shortened the collar’s points by about an inch on either side.  

For comparison purposes, here is a good look at the original collar.

When I made this coat in 1974, I remember being a bit disappointed with the volume of the back of the coat.  I was using a cotton twill, so it was a heavier fabric than the silk taffeta in my new version, making the volume seem even more pronounced.  But even so, I thought I would be happier with a less full back.  I experimented around with my muslin/toile until I got the desired girth.  It turned out I eliminated a total of three inches from the back pattern pieces, 1 ½” from each side back panel.

Again, the image of the 1974 pattern illustrates the volume of the gathering in the original design.

In addition to these alterations, I had a slight construction change.  The instructions for the  gathering of the lining at the back waistline called for using elastic thread.  First of all, I didn’t have any elastic thread, nor did I think it would give the look I wanted even though it would not be very apparent on a lining.  Instead, I had some elastic cord, and I attached it by hand, using embroidery floss in a criss-cross stitch enclosing it the width of the back.  Worked like a charm, and I like the effect it made.

This is the wrong side of the lining, showing the criss cross I achieved with embroidery floss.
And here is what it looks like on the right side of the lining. The lining gathers beautifully with this thread channel for the elastic cord, as is apparent in the image below.

Once I had the coat partially assembled, I decided I would have liked it to be a bit longer than I planned with the muslin.  I was very tight with fabric, so I really could not have cut it longer and still been able to get the coat out of the fabric I had.  So, to gain another inch and a half, I decided to face the hem right to the point where the lining would be attached.    It certainly took extra effort, but I’m glad I did it as I much prefer the slightly longer length.  

The one thing I would change should I ever make this coat again (which I doubt) would be to add about an inch or so to the diameter of the cuffs.  I would like to keep them buttoned and be able to slip my hands through them.  As they are, they are too tight to do that.  This was something I could have determined had I made a muslin/toile with completed sleeves, which I did not.  All I did was check the length.  A good reminder to me to be more thorough in situations like this.  

When I was planning this coat, I intended to use this vintage silk fabric for the lining.

However, even though I underlined the fashion fabric with white cotton batiste, I felt there was a slight “see-through” of the black details in the print of the intended fabric.  In the meantime, I had ordered a piece of polished cotton in “Paris Pink” from Emma One Sock Fabrics.  Although not an exact match, the two fabrics – the pink checked taffeta and the polished cotton – made a pretty pair so I changed course, and the rest is history.

I am quite happy with this pink lining!

No report on this coat would be complete without mention of the buttons. Again, I went with vintage mother-of-pearl buttons. These have a carved detail in them, which I thought would pair nicely with the gingham.

I chose to do machine buttonholes on this silk coat.

This was an involved, lengthy project.  I was rather in awe of my 24-year-old self for attempting it “back in the day.”  But making it again brought back hidden memories (good ones) and new appreciation for all that I have learned over the ensuing years.  Wearing my new version of this Trench-inspired coat will, I believe, fall into the “nearly perfect“ category.  


Filed under Buttons - choosing the right ones, Christian Dior, Coats, couture construction, Dressmaker coats, Linings, Mid-Century style, Silk taffeta, Uncategorized, vintage buttons, vintage Vogue Designer patterns, vintage Vogue patterns from the 1970s

44 responses to “Life Isn’t Perfect…

  1. Margaret

    It’s beautiful!

  2. Patricia Ross

    You could not feel anything but “Happy” wearing that beautiful coat. Uplifting and cheery. Well done .

  3. Could not be more fabulous!

  4. Sharron

    You had me at silk gingham! Beautiful coat … enjoy wearing it:)

  5. Beautiful workmanship on the coat! I’m wondering what season you’ll wear it and if you’ll save it for special occasions (silk taffeta is my idea of a dressy fabric).

    • I see myself wearing this coat in Spring in Pennsylvania, which can be quite chilly even though so much is in bloom then. It sounds like a dressy fabric, but because it is a gingham weave, it makes it more versatile.. So nice to hear from you, Marjorie.

  6. Looks lovely, and “perfect in pink!” I hope the rest of your year is on the up and up.😊

  7. Peggy

    Pink is your color, always.

  8. It looks perfect. Beautiful work as always!

  9. Linda D.

    I love reading your posts. Coat looks fabulous on you, and inside and out. Thanks for taking the time to share it.

  10. Colette

    So unique and chic on you. Thanks for the post and the tip about the elastic cord. I do appreciate and enjoy your postings.

  11. Cheryl

    Sewing is an excellent way of keeping the little grey cells working at a premium. The trench coat looks better than the original photo on the pattern, I think. Love the pink gingham.

  12. DLWK

    This is such a fabulous coat! I have been sewing my own clothes since I was a teenager and the 1970s, particularly the later years of the decade, remain a favourite era for Vogue sewing patterns. I recently re-purchased a sewing pattern for a blouse I had made when I was in my early 20s, having lost the original. My thrill at finding it prompted me to message the seller when it arrived saying “a sewing pattern is not just a sewing pattern, it is so much more. It is part of my history.” Like you, these patterns bring back happy memories of the times I made and wore the garment, the people I shared my life with at that time, the places I went and the young me! Enjoy wearing your very special coat!

  13. This coat is so incredibly chic. Your posts are always inspirational, even for a menswear sewist like me!

  14. Janet Thornton

    Such a beautiful, happy coat, and gorgeous on you! Thank you for the inspiration, as always. I have really taken such pleasure from your blog.

  15. Elaine Weckwerth

    Beautiful coat, as are all your makes..
    Thank you for the cord info your lining. A helpful tip.

  16. Beautiful sewing of a most cheerful garment. It certainly looks perfect. I hope you enjoy wearing it.

  17. Quite lovely! And such an uplifting look, too.

  18. As always, you never disappoint us. We’ve all been patiently awaiting the debut of this coat and it was worth the wait. What impresses me the most is your use of silk taffeta fabric for a trench coat! Never in a million years would I have thought of that!!!! The elastic cord/embroidery floss is a great work-around. Your choice of vintage buttons and the solid color lining are the perfect selections.

    My thanks to you for inspiring me to focus on my sewing and reaffirming my love of detail and taking the time to do a good job no matter the task.

  19. Mery

    Your coat is charming and so are you.
    Your reference to life reminds me of what I read on a bookmark.
    “Life is one fiol thing after another.
    Love is two fool things after each other.”

    May the coming months have many blessings…and opportunities to enjoy wearing that coat.

  20. Suzanne

    Amazing blog posts on the pink silk taffeta coat! I have so enjoyed your musings and have reminisced right along with you. I wonder how many of us chronicle our lives by the dresses/ garments we’ve sewn? Your work is so lovely and I would steal that gorgeous coat right out from under your nose, except that is suits you so divinely! Wear in good health and thank you for writing your blog!

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