Posts Tagged ‘vintage


Grandma’s coat

This is one transformation I am rally proud of. I hope my customer likes it as much as I do. She was telling me about a coat she had inherited from her grandmother before last Christmas, in perfect shape, however hopelessly out of style. My customer wanted to preserve the coat in her grandma’s memory… and wear it too, if possible. As I am always curious what my customers love and why, I was intrigued and wanted to see the piece before making any commitments of altering it.

So finally, about two weeks ago she brought it by. When she put it on, we determined it needed to be taken in, mostly at the waist to give it shape. It is probably around a 1940’s vintage, broad and generous at the chest, 3/4 sleeves, high side pockets, knee length. The tailoring on it is pretty creative – instead of straight princess seams down the length of the coat, it has angled, outward curving seams at the back, which meant I could not take in the seams to make it slimmer. In addition, I always want to preserve as much of the original lines as possible. Therefore, I opted to take in the side seams and shape it that way. At the same time, I felt it needed some updating to make it look more modern without sacrificing the ‘vintage feel’ of it. I whipped out the needles and just pinned it up about 5 inches. What a difference! Now it looked more like a car coat with enough enough fabric around the bottom to keep her warm.

The work itself evolved over a few days. Taking it in was easy enough – them came cutting it off. Once something is cut off, it is pretty dramatic; it won’t go back on and look good so I have to be careful. The cut off piece wanted to be a belt right away – it is slightly curved and therefore will smoothly lay around the body. After the usual hemming and finishing, I now had to find a buckle for the belt – the fabric is thick wool and probably would look too bulky if just tied. This was a lot more complicated than I thought. Back in Berlin, I had found a store that would wrap just about anything button-ish or belt-ish. But here – no luck. Not the local button and notion emporium, nor the web had any solutions. I envisioned a simple pull-through buckle, not one with a thorn, because I did not want to get into punching holes in the belt. When I ventured out to one of my favorite local big fabric stores (with coupon in hand – so I had to go anyway!), I found just the right size buckle, not oval as I had wanted but square, which I thought would look just as good. I guess I could have used it as is (after removing the thorn), but I SO wanted it to be covered. This particular challenge actually followed me to bed and by morning I had discovered a way that might do it. (sometimes sleeping over a challenge proves to be helpful!)

The next day at the store, I made a simple pattern, cut out the fabric from the belt left-overs, pinned the buckle and the fabric under my sewing machine – and broke a needle right away. Learning this lesson – do not hit metal with machine needle! – I pretty much zoomed through the rest of the project. When I tied the belt and buckled it, I was so enamored!

So here it is – the finished project:



Flickr Photos


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