Monday, September 28, 2009

In Memory of a Great Red Coat

I have/had a great, red wool winter coat. It was calf length with bulky, cuffed sleeves, a high collar and a dramatic drape that went of the left shoulder.



I bought the coat when I was 18 (er, um 1984) and it saw me through numerous winters. When I lived in the Virgin Islands for three years, I stored it at my grandfather's house. When I returned to Chicago and moved downtown in late '92, my beloved coat was reinstated into service.


The coat was warm and cozy with all of its bulk and high collar. And it stood out. On more than one occasion on a snowy-bad weather day (the kind when you and everybody else in Chicago is trying to hail a cab), I had a cabbie tell me he pulled over to me because he saw my red coat! Another time when out do dinner, I overheard a gentlemen at a table say to his friend as I walked by "That woman in the red coat looks like a model." (This was obviously a LONG time ago.) Who wouldn't love a coat that get that generates that type of reaction?

My poor coat did not fare well during my England years. It was damaged by moths, along with other silks and woolens, despite my efforts to protect my closet. I was devastated.

It's been eight or nine years since I discovered the holes and I could never bear to discard my wonderful coat. Maybe if I put it to the side, the moth holes will go away...

Well they haven't; I still have the coat. Maybe I'll be able to reconstruct it or salvage parts of it. It's a mess now, wrinkled, covered in dog hair and lint... I mourn this coat. I will bring it to the dry cleaners and see what I can do.

In the meantime, in honor of the red coat, last week I started a lightweight coat. I need a coat for autumn/spring weather, when there's that bite in the air but it's still too warm for a winter coat.

While looking through my stash, Louise's vibrant red, cotton twill kept jumping out at me. Originally, I wanted to make a trench from it. However, it's a vintage 36" wide and with only 3 yards, there wasn't enough fabric.

So I'm marrying old with new and making a stylish, modern coat from Vogue 8548 with this gorgeous, vintage fabric. I love the bucket collar; the twill should hold the shape well. I'm lining it with flannel back satin.

The coat has a fair amount of topstitching. Thanks to the ladies at PR I received some wonderful advice about which thread, needle, etc. to use. I'm using a heavier, topstitching thread by Gutterman and a topstitching 80/12 needle.


It's progressing well although there is considerable ease in the sleevecap which is giving me some fits. I usually don't have issues with sleeves, but I'm geared up to head to my sewing room and get this coat finished!

Must Have Red Coat!

6 comments:

Trudy Callan said...

Sorry to hear about your original red coat. I know that must be heart breaking. I'm sure your new red coat will look fabulous. I love the color red. I think it is such a striking color and really makes a statement.

I think you still look like a model. You are gorgeous.

Lisa @ the Vintage Fashion Library said...

That coat is so ME. I would've kept it too. Red's my favorite color, and a dramatic coat makes winter so much more fun.

Jenni said...

The original coat is wonderful. The moths obviously had good taste but I wish for your sake they hadn't munched on that particular garment.
Your new coat is going to be wonderful, its a really cute pattern. Your topstitching is utterly, perfectly flawless.

Laura said...

You can reweave the fabric of your original red coat that the moths ate; there was an article about how to do it in the August/September 2009 issue of Threads, on page 62.

There still are places that do reweaving, like Zotta or French-American in NYC, if you want to go the professional route.

When Ladies Dressed said...

Thank you so much for that information Laura!! And thanks to everybody else for understanding!

Cindy said...

I had a coat very similar to your original. I think it was 1982!! Love the new one too!