Breathing New Life Into An Old Garment
I recently re-worked a bright red melton coat I made in 2002. (When I started writing this entry I thought it was maybe five years ago. A trip to my pre-digital photo album took me back to 2002… yikes how time flies) This coat was made from a great pattern, now discontinued,Vogue 1853. It has wonderful back detailing including an inverted back pleat with hand embroidered chevrons at either end.
Making this coat was a couture experience from start to finish and I was very happy with the results when I first completed it. Even so, I didn’t wear it all that much; looking back I think it was because that back pleat wasn’t easy to wear… I was constantly fussing with when sitting down.
The last time I took it out to wear, I noticed it had become ultra-fitted in the waist. (oh, what could it be?) All that wonderful back pleating wasn’t hanging as it should and instead was poking out in an unflattering way, because of my increasing girth… and since then, I more or less stopped wearing it. I decided this was the year to take it out of the closet and see what I could do to make it more wearable.
I set out analyzing what exactly wasn’t working for me and how I might be able to alter it to improve the fit. I began by removing the back darts to give a bit of breathing space… this is tricky, because darts have a way of leaving marks. To my surprise, they steamed out beautifully. Even though I loved the detail and remember having put tremendous effort into it, the only option was to eliminate the pleat and that meant the chevrons I had labored over had to go, too… ouch! I took out the entire back seam and trimmed excess to make 5/8 inch seam allowances. To do this, I had to open up the seam where the collar attached to the body of the coat.
Once the collar seam was opened, I then stitched up the back seam. I still had some of the original embroidery floss used for the pickstitches and added that to the back seam line. This is time-consuming, but I like the understated look of it.
With the leftover excess fabric trimmed from the back, I created a back belt and inserted that into the two back seams at the waistline. It was also embellished with pickstitching for accent.
Here is the result. No more hiding in the closet… this cheerful wrap is on its way to becoming my new favorite, wear anywhere, coat. Red is such a nice color for the gray days of winter.