THE SEWING DIVAS sewing, design, fashion

March 16, 2008

Vintage Trenchcoat

Filed under: Designer Inspirations,Georgene,Project Runway,Vintage Sewing — georgene @ 1:55 pm

front.jpgMy dear daughter’s high school is holding another fashion show this year. The kids are big fans of Project Runway. This is the 3rd year they are putting it on, and fundraising with the proceeds. Since DD was away at Oxbow in the Fall, she didn’t get started until January. She was told that there had to be minimum 8 outfits to participate, not 3 like she did last year. Panicked, we decided that the only way to get thru the project was to use commercial patterns, as last year all of her patterns were created for each of her 3 garments. Since her sewing skills are limited I promised to be her samplemaker when I could. I promised myself not to influence. It’s her designs and fabric choices, I have just been expediting. It’s been crazy since January as we try to move forward on her 8 ensembles.
We combed the pattern boxes to try to match her sketches to existing patterns, and shopped the stash for 97% of the fabrics she picked. Other than buying a few buttons and trims, she managed to find everything in the studio here. That’s the advantage of having a stash the size of Rhode Island. As she told her designing friends at school “My mom collects fabric like other people collect action figures”.
The show is next week, but I thought you might like a preview of one of the styles. It’s based on this pattern from 1935.
Check out the backback.jpg We didnt use the exact pattern, as the center of the back pattern had been cut away. The fabric is older than DD, an ignoble poly taffeta that loves to pucker. I have to say that I have never attempted to make anything like it. A high peaked double breasted lapel? Never! But it did come out OK, and I credit the excellent though sparse instruction included in the pattern.
I will post pics from the show after next week. We are all excited to see how it all comes together, with elbow gloves and a big hat off of eBay and belts and jewelry from local thrift shops. Here’s the envelope back for your delectation.


  1. I love it! That taffeta has such an interesting sheen to it! I can’t wait to see the rest of the collection.

    I have explained the fabric collecting of my friends and acquaintances to my children in much the same way. Some people collect frog figurines, some people collect fabric. Simple.

    Comment by Summerset — March 16, 2008 @ 7:32 pm

  2. Lovely raincoat, a timeless design. Your daughter is lucky to have a mother with such a stash and be a pattern sample maker too. Looking forward to see the other garments you will provide for her.

    Comment by Els — March 16, 2008 @ 7:54 pm

  3. Wow, this is breathtaking!

    Comment by LauraLo — March 17, 2008 @ 8:45 am

  4. OMG, that is gorgeous! I can’t wait to see the rest of the outfits!

    Comment by Gigi — March 17, 2008 @ 10:27 am

  5. I love hearing about successful mother-daughter projects, being the mom of a teenage daughter myself. Mine avoids the sewing machine but likes to “design” clothes for me to assemble for her. Looking forward to reading more about this project.

    Comment by Lindsay T — March 17, 2008 @ 11:34 am

  6. Such a great trenchcoat!! I love the nearly horizontal lapels, and the v-shaped boubled breasted closure.

    I’d wear this coat in a NY minute.

    Comment by phyllisc — March 17, 2008 @ 2:55 pm

  7. Beautiful! I love the angles on that coat – very flattering. You will show us the rest of the pieces, right?

    And my personal weakness is patterns. DH collects books, my mom collects recipe books (despite disliking cooking), my grandmother collects hippos … it’s just part of who we are.

    Comment by Kitnrose — March 17, 2008 @ 3:36 pm

  8. LIndsey:

    This has been a great ‘learn by doing’ experience for DD. She can now sew a straight seam using a pad of Post-its for a guide, has done some pattern cutting, now knows how to thread a needle and make a secure knot, as well as doing an overcast hem stitch and sewing on buttons. How cool is that? She has done some serging but the results are a bit scary yet sometimes as she keeps chewing away at seams where she missed a bit.

    I was blown away at some of her astute suggestions on solutions to problems we were facing on some of the garments, and she has a very strong vision of what she wants. (Too bad she is ‘not interested’ in garment design.)

    I am enjoying working with her, we sit and talk about everything under the sun while working on things across the table from each other. If she comes out of this knowing how to iron, fix a hem and sew on a button, not to mention take on even more serious sewing tasks if she wants to, it will be really really great.

    One of the things I am insisting on is ripping things out and doing them over when they are not acceptable. She thinks its OK if you can’t see it or tell if its wrong. I am being a meanie about that. I also exclaim loudly and sigh about ripping when I have a boo boo, so she know that its all part of the process, whether you are starting out, or have been doing it awhile. I also insist on underpressing all the seams as we go along, the biggest factor in obtaining good results. I remember having to learn that much later in my sewing life!

    I highly recommend getting your daughter to participate in small ways in the design projects she wants you to do for her. Little by little you can draw her in by enlisting her help while you do other parts of the project.

    Comment by georgene — March 17, 2008 @ 4:13 pm

  9. I love the lapels! Those vintage patterns had such great details.

    Comment by Alexandra — March 17, 2008 @ 5:50 pm

  10. I sat reading this with envy . I have 3 sons and one of them is mildly interested in sewing and does to make his jean legs as NARRRRROW as possible . My mother made me pul everything out which wasnt just so and I am glad she didi At one time though I couldnt go to bed unless I had undone the nightmare ready to start again. I wish that passing streak of obsessive behaviour had spread to other aspects of my housecleaning etc!!

    Comment by marianne — March 18, 2008 @ 1:37 am

  11. What a fabulous coat. I like the stash the size of Rhode Island comment. I have never found a way of describing it that accurately before. You absolutely have to show us the rest after the show. The back picture is tiny. Can you resize it so I can droll over that one too? Can you adopt me?

    Comment by Kathy Sa — March 18, 2008 @ 7:50 am

  12. Fabulous coat and effort! My two daughters never showed any any interest in sewing so I sit here envious of your shared passion. What a wonderful way to bond. These will be moments she will treasure always.

    Comment by Bunny — March 18, 2008 @ 11:20 am

  13. Oh, what a wonderful time for the two of you. I wish DD could see beyond the mall or Old Navy for clothes!!

    Comment by Mary E — March 18, 2008 @ 3:07 pm

  14. Georgene, greetings from Barcelona. This trench-coat is wonderful and faithful to the style of its vintage pattern, congratulations. A hug, Paco

    Comment by Paco Peralta — March 19, 2008 @ 9:50 am

  15. I. Must. Make. That. Coat. Do I know how to draft a pattern based on your posted pics? Heck no! Will I figure it out? You betcha! Can’t wait to see pics of the final collection. Thanks for sharing.

    Comment by Lola Moon Studios — March 19, 2008 @ 11:26 am

  16. I love her interpretation of that coat. What a wonderful time for you both. I think she’s going to come away with more a sense of what her mother does, as well as knowing how to “Thread a needle and stitch up a hem”. Fabulous

    Comment by Marji — March 19, 2008 @ 12:53 pm

  17. Like marianne, I’m envious too! Not one of my three sons would be caught dead near a sewing machine. I’m very excited to see the pictures of the rest of her collection. Beautiful jacket and your description of the accessories sounds wonderful.

    Comment by Cindy — March 20, 2008 @ 8:30 am

  18. After getting the treat of this vintage coat I am anxious to see the runway collection…waiting patiently…good luck to you both!

    Comment by Mary Beth — March 20, 2008 @ 2:49 pm

  19. The show was last night, and went by very fast. it was a great success. We have to wait to see how the photos turned out. They are thinking of having a ‘real’ photo shoot to get good pictures for their portfolios. I hope to post more pictures soon.

    Comment by georgene — March 22, 2008 @ 2:10 pm

  20. I love it! It’s a classic and timeless design! I’m looking forward to seeing the pictures from the fashion show!

    Comment by Tany — March 25, 2008 @ 3:41 am

  21. Wowzuh. Are you taking commissions, because my black trench just died and I can’t sew a straight line to save my life.

    How much pattern adapting did you have to do? They all wore girdles and were thus buttless back then.

    Comment by raincoaster — March 25, 2008 @ 9:50 pm

  22. Great looking trench coat!

    Comment by Linda L — March 30, 2008 @ 2:46 pm

  23. […] Georgene’s post made me think of them, because I adore that cute little trilby on the right.  When I was younger, I loved nothing more than playing with my grandmother’s collection of hats on a rainy afternoon, and every time I see a vintage pattern I long for the chance to wear one.  […]

    Pingback by The Lost Acessory « The Sewing Divas — March 30, 2008 @ 7:07 pm

  24. I think in that black fabric u could wear that trenchcoat to a ball. U can always make things better and that is what it looks like u did here!!!

    Good Work! :o)

    (Phyllis’ Daughter)

    Comment by Em — April 22, 2008 @ 5:41 pm

  25. OMG I LOVE YOU I LOVE YOU I LOVE YOU!!! i have looked EVERYWHERE!!!! for a trench coat pattern. My daughter’s dance team needs them for their routine and we could not find a trench coat ANYWHERE! Thanks for this article and i ABSOLUTELY love her trench. She did a wonderful job!!! I WANT THAT COAT FOR ME!!! do you think you could make 15 of them by october 26? lol

    Comment by Mary — September 24, 2008 @ 11:43 am

  26. Sorry, I can’t tell if you used strictly a vintage pattern that is nowhere to be found now, or if you reinvented the pattern or if you used one I might be able to find…

    This looks so fabulous, and I’d really love to make one for myself.

    If you could direct me to finding this pattern or clue me on where to find it, I would be beyond greatful!

    And by the way, it’s awesome that your daughter’s school has runway shows, I wish mine had!

    Thanks a bunch,

    Comment by Justine — November 5, 2008 @ 5:16 pm

  27. Ever think of having a tongue-in-cheek fashion show, as kind of a entertainment break in the real deal? By TIC, I mean take the description or title of an outfit, and do it literally, such as orange juice or soup cans tied to a full pouffy skirt for a “can can skirt”, a length of garden hose for “color coordinated hose”, tv dinner trays fastened to a dress for a “dinner dress”, and so on. Use the same pair of special glasses to look at bell skirts, print dresses, t shirts, tissue fabric, garden hats, etc. My extension homemakers did this one year as entertainment for a usually rather dry day long meeting, and got requests to present it across the state. It would make kind of a “palate cleanser” between courses at a real fashion show, plus giving a chance to make fun or some of the haute couture of the past!

    Comment by Carole — August 24, 2009 @ 5:49 pm

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