…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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.