Added Value…. There is a significant little entry in 101 Things I learned in Fashion School (Alfredo Cabrera with Matthew Frederick, Grand Central Publishing, New York, New York, 2010, page 40). Although aimed at Ready-To-Wear customers and the designers who cater to them, it certainly is meaningful to those of us who sew our own fashions: “Fashion customers often need to be convinced to buy a new garment that, in effect, they already own. … Value added details [my emphasis] are those that are inherently necessary to a garment but are executed in a novel or interesting way…” thus making them attractive to potential customers.
Well, not that I really need convincing to make another coat for myself, but I will freely admit it is the unique little details in a pattern (and gorgeous fabric, of course) which convince me I MUST make THIS coat, even though I might not really NEED it. Such was the case with my very pink coat, which is now finished.
Those details included 1) the three welt pockets with flaps, 2) the concealed front closure, 3) the arrowhead detail accompanying the minimal top-stitching, 4) the sleeve tabs (okay, not really a necessary detail, but a very nice one!), and 5) the opportunity to add a little flash to the lining with edge-piping.
I’ll cover the sleeve tabs first since they were the detail in question in my last post.
As you can observe, I decided to leave them with the buttons facing forward. Several comments left by readers (thank you – you know who you are and I am very appreciative!) got me thinking anew about the orientation of the tabs. Then I had an aha moment when I realized that the one button which is visible on the front of the coat, at the neckline, might look a bit disconnected without its counterparts showing on the sleeves. Decision made, with confidence! However, I doubt I will ever look at a sleeve tab in quite the same way again.
The three welt pockets with flaps are quite likely my favorite detail on this coat. First of all, I like making them. There is a certain feeling of empowerment, although slightly nerve-wracking, to cut those big slashes into the front of the coat and be confident it will all be okay. And this type of pocket is just so pretty when they are done. In addition, while they are utilitarian, they also suggest refinement, elevating a simple car coat to a coat with some sophistication and flair.
I must have a certain penchant for concealed coat fronts. This is the third one I have made and I can let you know there may be more to come (but not soon.) As I mentioned in my last post, I was able to reduce the bulk of the closure by using my lining fabric for one layer of the buttonhole side of the front flap.
I made three machine buttonholes for this part of the flap, which made everything lay flat and neat.
The gray buttons – 6 of them, which is what I needed – were in my collection, so that was a happy find. They are 1950s’ vintage gray pearl, very appropriate indeed for this 1957 pattern.
Although this coat pattern called for some topstitching, it was minimal. Just the sleeve tabs, the pocket flaps and the collar, plus the front detail on the right side. I was unhappy with the machine topstitching I did at the front closure. There was enough bulk from the wool and the facing and the fly front, that it interfered with the smoothness of the topstitching. So I took it out. Initially I was going to do without topstitching and the arrowhead detail, but it looked a bit plain and unfinished. So I did my fallback to what I know works – topstitching by hand. Because of the hand-worked arrowhead detail, I felt hand topstitching would not look out of place. Of course, I had never done an embroidery arrowhead before, so I had to practice, practice practice so it hopefully does not look amateurish.
Finally, coat linings lend themselves so beautifully to that extra little treatment – a narrow edge piping.
I deviated from my Vogue pattern to add this dressmaker detail, but I am sure they would have approved. My Avoca wool scarf which is such a perfect complement to this coat inspired me to choose checked piping. I “robbed” a small corner from some pink silk gingham (intended for a Spring coat, as mentioned previously here) to make my flat piping.
Well, there you have it. My first major project of 2022 finished. I am happy I chose pink for my theme this year as it has brightened up many a dark day in this troubled world of ours.
Personal Style – And the Passage of Time￼
Over the past few weeks, in anticipation of my current project, I have been thinking about personal style and how it changes – or doesn’t change – over the decades of one’s life. What prompted my contemplation is this pattern:
I purchased this pattern when it was new about 1974 or ’75, when I was in my mid-twenties. I loved the style then, and although I was in dire need of clothes to wear to work, such as dresses and skirts, I must have decided I needed this coat more. I made it in a tan cotton twill, and it accompanied me on many a trip on the commuter rail line into Philadelphia (Pennsylvania.) At some point years later, I obviously discarded it, along with other pieces I had diligently sewn. I am certainly glad I kept the pattern, as I still love this style. Working on it now is a true deja vu experience.
I am not sure I recognized it per se, but my fascination with coats must have already been firmly established in my personal style, even then. For example, I was obsessed with this color-blocked coat pattern:
At the time, I remember resisting the urge to purchase it, as I could not guarantee to myself that I would actually get around to making it. The pattern was too expensive ($3.50) for me, at that time, to take that risk. However, though many years passed by, I never forgot it. Those of you who follow this blog know that I did finally purchase this pattern a few years ago and this time, I did make it! It continues to be one of my favorite pieces, and I feel wonderful wearing it.
Then there is this pattern, also purchased in the mid-seventies:
I must have thought this was a more practical style and worth the cost. I never made it, but one of these days I intend to.
Buried deep in my cedar closet is a white wool coat, purchased when I was in high school in the mid-sixties. I am not sure why I have kept it all these years except that I loved it and perhaps in some way treasured it more since my father bought it for me. Its style is very similar to the coat of this pattern – a style I still love – and also hope to make some day.
I guess what I am getting at, using these coats as an example, is how consistent my style has remained over almost five decades. How about you? Do you still gravitate to the same profiles in clothes that you wore in your twenties (assuming you are at least 40)? If not, what has changed?
What has changed for me is not the style, but the choice of fabrics and color. I am more adventurous in using color than I was as a young woman, although even then, I gravitated towards pink.
All this makes me wonder if one’s personal style is part of their DNA; why, for example, do I like softly tailored, feminine clothes (and have obviously done so for years) while someone else likes the Bohemian look and wears it well; why does someone prefer to wear black, and more black, while I love color (and the occasional black, too). Quentin Bell summed this observation up well in his quote: “Our clothes are too much a part of us ever to be entirely indifferent to their condition; it is as though the fabric were indeed a natural extension of the body or even of the soul.” [my italics]
And what about the person who follows every fashion trend that comes along? Do they not have that personal style component in their DNA, or are they governed by different needs? Toby Fischer-Mirkin, in her book Dress Code addresses this – and offers some frank advice – in her chapter entitled Fashion and Status: Under the Spell of Haute Couture: “The unrelenting quest to be fashionable is usually undertaken to fill not a closet, but a personal void…. A woman’s fashion compass should come from within. When you’re aware of what works for you, you’ll take pride in that aesthetic and, within the boundaries of good taste, project the person you truly are.” (pages 146-147)
Is your personal style really that important? Does it allow you to project the person you truly are? If so, I can understand why one’s personal style does not change very much over the years. Indeed, Givenchy once said, “With style, you must stay as you are.” When I was a young woman in my twenties, I never would have guessed I would, decades later, still gravitate towards the same patterns, the same silhouettes, and have the same weaknesses for certain apparel (such as coats.) I have changed personally in many other ways, but obviously my personal style has not – the recognition of which has been a revelation to me.
I suspect there are many, many of you who, once you think about it, can say the same thing?
Filed under Christian Dior, Coats, Fashion commentary, Mid-Century style, Uncategorized
Tagged as fashion sewing, vintage fashion, vintage Vogue patterns