Lady Coats: Art Deco, I’m blaming Dreamstress

After that amazing week of Art Deco dress inspiration, I can’t get the 30’s out of my mind.  Admittedly, I have long loved the everyday theatricality of the 30’s and how well the cuts translate into modern pieces.  This week’s series made an even deeper impression on me.

{I haven’t abandoned husband’s Greatcoat, I’m working on the pattern. I’m starting to think about mine too.  Winter is a tiny window here and I don’t want to miss it.  Nor do I want to work with wool in 100+ degree heat.  Why am I obsessing over coats when we live in the tropics?  Simple, you never know where you’ll end up.  Everyone should have one amazing coat.}

I bought a 3-yard length of wool/cashmere/cashgora from Elliott Berman on sale.  My recent de-stashing paid for it, isn’t it nice to have a somewhat self-supporting habit?

From the website, I expected a luminous sage-green color.  It is rather luminous, but darker than I expected.  I was discombobulated until I unwrapped it, then swathed myself in the yardage.   Does anyone else do that?  Oh the hand, oh the drape!  See how it falls in gorgeous folds!  It is exactly like the best grown-up blankie imaginable, I have half a mind to finish the edges and keep it as-is.  One side has a close cropped velvety nap, the other is barely prickly.

If you’re even a little bit looking for a suit/medium coat weight green wool, this is the best stuff I’ve ever stuck my hands into.  I have it laying around the house so I can stroke it and imagine the beautiful garment I will call into being.  The color has rather grown on me, it reminds me of the pine swamps of my childhood after a storm.  Black black trunks, rain dripping off the dark green pine needles illuminated by a timid sun.  I can *almost* smell the clean mucky swamp scent.

The checks are 5″.

I am absolutely not game to draft my own coat pattern for this.  If I mention it, please be so kind as to shout me down.  This fabric deserves better.

I want it to be roughly fingertip length, perhaps a little longer.  Long sleeves, please, and a warm neckline.  I’m toying with the idea of lining it with the pale green satin from my junior prom dress. (senior was a lipstick red, knee length sheath.  I wish I still had that one..) I actually wore it four or five times to different functions, I loved it that much.

I don’t wear the dress anymore, it is recycling, I love the fabric color and weight,  I could never wear a sweet young girl ballgown like that again because I am an old married lady, and my daughter has her father’s coloring so could never wear it.  I could perhaps turn the embroidered and beaded bodice into a fetching bustier as well.   Whether I can bring myself to actually cut it up remains to be seen.

Mostly Art-Deco Coat Patterns:

Exhibit 1 and the current favorite.  By the way, VPLL has changed recently, I haven’t visited for ages and they’re more wonderful than before.  So many new patterns. Look at the line drawing of the open collar, look at the dear pointy cuffs, look at the yoke.  I could cut the yoke on the bias (if that is structurally sound) for such a pretty way to use the windowpane check.  I’m unsure about the cut, whether it is rather tubular.  Tubular is bad for my body type.  I know, I know, wrong decades if I don’t want tubular.  I plan to introduce gentle deco waist shaping.  Or, you know, a belt.  Also I have to wonder about the pockets.  The devastating fur collar!  Watch out Kiwi possums.  I think I would make self cuffs.  34″ bust would be my standard set of 1930’s alterations.

Exhibit 2 and Husband’s pick. {note: he’s never been wrong when I try his style/design/color/print ideas for my clothing.  His consistent good taste maddens me.}  I dig it, but I’m not sure if I dig it as much as Exhibit 1.  I love bell sleeves, I want something that I can button up for uber-warmth, the open collar is great too.  The back detail gets a big thumbs up, I think I could use the check in an interesting way.  I find 36″ annoying to alter, because I have to alter the backs and shoulder dramatically.  Perhaps not so much for this cut.

Exhibit 3, center view.  I’m not sure I’m eccentric enough for a capelet at this stage in my life.  I would probably change the patch pockets to something more interesting/tailored.  I like how weird this one is, and I like the fun double sleeves.  It looks easy and comfortable, though the collar is yawn-worthy. Another 36″ bust.

Exhibit 4.  I really really like this one and I’m tempted to steal elements of it.  The description says “Dress Coat” which to me meant “fancy coat” but apparently means “Coat Dress.”  I posted about this one before; I still love the asymmetrical elements, the interesting button placket.  I wish I could tell more about the cut from the line drawing.  (Doesn’t anyone sew at Past Patterns?)  Since this is actually a dress pattern, I suspect I would have to make up the lining pieces and add ease.  That’s not a huge amount of work but I don’t wanna. I’m not that crash hot on the sleeves.  36″ bust.

Exhibit 5.  I probably won’t use this pattern for this fabric, but I had to add this to the mix because of my long-term infatuation.  Husband huffed and said it looked like a dressing gown.  As if!  Unlined.

Exhibit 6. I like it.  It’s not spectacular, it isn’t eccentric, not flashy, no heads will turn.  It looks classic but not tired, charming.  Since it is from Wearing History, I can only assume it is impeccably cut.  I like that it buttons up warmly.  It’s like a best friend who becomes a lover, rather than a flashy infatuation (like Exhibit 5).  It reminds me of Postal Service- “I’ll be your winter coat, buttoned, zipped straight to the throat with the collar up so you won’t catch cold.”  I think the cuffs could be cooler, see Exhibit 1.  Slap on the button details from Exhibit 4 and we could be in business. Another 36″ bust.

Exhibit 7.  I’m not really considering this, but I do so like it.  I could make a nice little jacket… No, focus.

Exhibit 8.  Also a pretty jacket I’m not actually considering but I like.  I could lengthen it, and I think it would button over warmly.  Then I would have a coat like Exhibit 6.

Exhibit 9.  I like the Lady Adventurer mystique, I like chasing the flavor of the last days of British Imperialism.  Yes, I know about political oppression and I think the British Museum is a 40 Thieves’ warehouse, but I like the aesthetic of an impeccably dressed lady in rough and exotic locations.  That’s all.  This one will never happen, it is a 40″ bust and I’m not going there.  If I find one like it near my size, it’s mine.

Exhibit 10.  I haven’t forgot the Lady Grey, I’m still blown away by Cupcake Goddess’ version, as well as this one at ChalkStudio.  I like Colette, Sarai is lovely, I won’t have to alter the pattern dramatically, and I can see examples of other coats.  I might lengthen the sleeves, and perhaps put cuffs a la Exhibit 1 on them.  I also suspect this would flatter my figure the most.  I would get rid of the belt loops.  I just don’t like belt loops.

Exhibit 11.  A mainstream pattern!  Simplicity 2508.  A Project Runway pattern!  I hate TV/Movie tie-in products as a general rule.  That includes Hollywood Patterns.  This is my own personal pet peeve, like cell phones, I don’t mind if other people like them.  Nevertheless, this coat has some nice details, the additional virtue of being excessively well-reviewed, and I already know how I alter modern big-4 patterns.  Body C, collar C or B, long sleeves, and I think all the cuff options are rad.  (Rad is Husband’s word for transcendent, and unfortunately it has crept into my working vocabulary.)

I discovered a number of unexpected capes, and so many cute hat patterns that I’m tempted to dabble in millinery.

It is unspeakably helpful to write through these things.  I’ve already almost decided…


  1. Ooh! My first choice would just be to wrap myself in it like a giant shawl. But if you must cut it up and sew it…I have to agree with husband, #2 is lovely and versatile, and looks very flattering for a 30s design. #6 is also really lovely, with your changes. I love the idea of the lining from your prom dress, that's a great way to keep that in your life. What buttons?

  2. Gorgeous fabric! And I love your story of what it reminds you of. I'd say go with 2, 6 or Lady Grey for best cut for your figure. You can always add fun details later!

  3. I love Lady Gray. It is classic, and will never go out of style. I have been known to throw new fabric on the floor and roll around in it!

  4. ooooh, I was so leaning towards exhibit 1 or exhibit 6 with the details from 4. And 2 would be great, though it doesn't seem to have a real collar. It's all very hard. I think the out there cut of 1 could be balanced by the very quiet green wool. Gwen! You inspire me again and again! Lila and I just had a great time rolling around in my fabric. heehe.

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