Tag Archives: For Q

The Purple Mystery Coat

The final installation in a great (?) Sewing trilogy!

A long time ago, when I was new to sewing and really excited about coats (I made at least five that first year), I bought quite a lot of this pretty purple bouclé, more or less with my children in mind.

And then suddenly my children were no longer into girly pale purple anything, and I kinda missed a similar window for my nieces.

But when my dear friend Ada finally caught up to me in the reproduction department, I finally got on the ball. I made a teeny tiny jacket for her infant daughter.

Then I made another a couple of years later.

And now, as her daughter starts kindergarten, I felt like it was time to use up the last of this fabric. It’s felt like a fun tradition, at least on my end, and I was ready to make the third installment in the trilogy. I just needed to decide on a pattern…

And then I got the mystery pattern.

Back in the summer, I got a donation of about a jillion vintage patterns from a friend of my sister-in-law’s mother. Many of them were old mail-order patterns , with the recipient’s name on them. The surname was the same as one of my co-workers at Fabricland. I asked her and, yes, these were her grandmother’s patterns! (Because there are seriously like five people in Saskatchewan.) I also asked if she wanted them, which she declined. So there.

Anyway, amongst the Simplicity and Advance and mail-order Marian Matin Patterns were a few more idiosyncratic bits. Pattern pieces traced out on newsprint, old flyers, and even some old government land-grant paperwork. (I showed that one to my co-worker, she said, oh, I know what land that was!)

And one stuffed in this envelope that had something to do with an old water heater, for a child’s coat, traced out on a brown paper so heavy it might as well be oaktag.

I must admit, patterns like this fill me with a burning curiosity. What did it look like? Who was it made for? The traceout doesn’t include any company, pattern number, or for that matter size, information. I’m guessing it’s about a kids size 6, maybe 8. It’s a straight, A-line coat, and includes both a hood and a little capelet for the shoulders. There were lines drawn for pocket placement, but no actual pocket piece, so I created one.

My co-worker assured me that her grandmother was unlikely to create a pattern entirely from scratch, so it’s presumably traced off a commercial pattern—maybe a much loved one that was falling apart, maybe one that belonged to a friend.

There are a few helpful notes on the pattern, showing where to ease and details like a zipper for the top of the hood (that one I skipped). It’s a nicely drafted pattern—two piece sleeve with easing at the elbow, shaping on the facing for turn-of-cloth at the roll line.

For the previous two coats I used an ivory Kasha lining, but if I have any of this left in stash I can’t find it at the moment. I could, however, find a nice big chunk of this dark purple. It seemed like a nice option for a slightly more grown up little coat.

Another feature of the previous coats, that I didn’t want to skip was the quilted lining. In the past I used flannel, but the quilting doesn’t really pop, and I had some leftover bamboo batting that I wouldn’t mind getting out of stash, so I used that. It turned out a nice weight.

This is where production really slowed down. I’m not going to say I put a TON of thought into the design, but I did have to stop and think about what I wanted to do where—which areas were going to be standard quilted, which ones were going to be free-motion quilted. FMQ is not my strong suit, but it’s the most fun there is in quilting, IMO, and it is well suited to creating the motifs I wanted.

As with the last coat, I went with ocean imagery, as I knew this would tickle my friend and her husband’s fancy (and let’s face it, this is really about pleasing the parents, not the kids.) I wish my line-echoing was not so terrible, but it’s fairly fun doing it, at least.

And I quilted. And I quilted. And I sewed a couple of bits together, and I quilted some more. I’m glad I was able to get the waves mostly looking ok.

This fancy fish doesn’t really look like a proper wild sea creature.

I was going for eel, but I ended up somewhere near Loch Ness Monster, I think. Oh well. In hindsight I should’ve done a killer whale, for these west coast people, but I wasn’t sure my skills would’ve been sufficient to keep it distinct from, say, the shark. The art of the possible, right?

Other than that, the construction was pretty unremarkable. All of my fabric was blockfused, so I forgot to add more interfacing to the facings, so they’re a little floppy. The buttons are a little boring, but they’re vintage and, more importantly, from stash.

I hand-stitched the hem, the pockets, and the inside opening of the bound buttonholes. The latter, especially, took forever but it’s much less terrifying than trying to mark and machine squares and hope that they’re in the right place.

I haven’t said much about the capelet as there isn’t much to say—it’s part of the pattern and cute, one piece fitted with darts at the shoulders. It plus the hood, which is gathered to fit, made for some seriously bulky seams at the neck, and I have never been so happy with my Janome as the way it chugged through them effortlessly. There was much, much grading of those seams.

At the end of the day, there are some rough spots, but I’m pretty satisfied, and I know Ada is over the moon. I just hope it fits, or will fit fairly soon.

It wasn’t a speedy make, but it was fun to pick it up when I wasn’t sure what else to work on, and then put it down again when I needed to ponder something. And it’s done, with plenty of time to ship it out there for Christmas!

Except that I suck at shipping things, so we’ll see how that works out.


Filed under Sewing

Small and purple coats


Simplicity 5934

My best friend (long ago recipient of this slip as her wedding gift) has finally joined me in the adventure of parenthood, albeit a decade late and two provinces away. Two years ago I made a cute little coat when her first daughter was a baby. Despite my misgivings about the size, it turns out she was able to wear it all that winter, so I’ll call that a win. This past summer my friend and her husband had baby number 2, another girl, and again opted to spend some time, albeit more brief, visiting here. It seemed like the perfect opportunity to make another coat. And use up a bit more of the same purple coating. (I have enough for at least one more size up, too.) What was I thinking when I bought that?

Q wearing the first coat

For a quick refresher, this is what Big Sis Q looked like, when the little coat still fit her.

 This time the pattern of choice was Simplicity 5934, another 70s kids coat pattern, in a size 2. Q is now just shy of 3, but the chest size was a match, and once again I added some length to the sleeves and the hem.


Simplicity 5934, with bias undercollar and “cut here for lining” lines!

This pattern has the same overall lines as the first, though it lacks the cute yoke feature. I initially thought it had facing pieces but no lining, but the pattern pieces are marked with separate cutting lines for the lining. And there  is a separate under collar piece, cut on the bias and allowing for turn of cloth and everything! (OK, the fact that I had been working with some insipid modern McCall’s coat patterns that can’t even be bothered to include real facings may have left me easily impressed.)

Lining back

Lining back

The lining ended up being the real star of the coat, though. I couldn’t find any more Kasha flannel-backed lining in stash, cry, so I had to settle for some random ivory satin and a heavy flannel (left over from the winter petticoat) for underlining.  I had done a cute little hand-quilted “Q” on the back of the first coat’s lining; for this one I knew I didn’t have it in me to hand-quilt, so I decided to try my hand at a wee bit of machine quilting a more overall pattern. I’m not much of a quilter, but I do have a walking foot for my Rocketeer, so I spent a wee bit of time testing how it worked with the two layers (smashingly!) and what kind of shapes I could manage. Q now has little sister T, so I doodled up some Q and T shapes for the centre back, and a swishy braid (ok just two windy lines) for along the hem.

Front lining, mid-quilting.

Front lining, mid-quilting.

For the front pieces, I worked in an A and a D, for each of the parents. It’s either really cute or way over the top saccharine. If you think the latter, you do not need to tell me. 😉 Frankly, I’m just impressed that I was able to doodle up some decent-looking letters freehand—no printouts or templates were involved. The wash-away blue marker worked just fine, but for the first time I can see why the stuff that just disappears on its own would be handy, too.

Back lining

Back lining

I did some stupid things in construction, like forget that I had added a back-pleat to the lining so it ended up looking kinda gathered when I eased all that extra fabric onto the facing.

Green Bear

Green Bear

Now, the 70s pattern has cute pocket flaps, but no actual pockets. Q has been carrying around a very tiny green teddy bear (imaginatively named Green Bear) for the last several months, so obviously a pocket for Green Bear was mandatory. I guessed at the size, made a lined patch, and hand-stitched it on for invisibility, with knots every other stitch since, um, preschooler. The fit turned out very well.



I haven’t gotten a report on wearability since they returned to the coast a few weeks back, but we did manage to get her to try it on. (That only took most of a week of coaxing.) Although I’m hopeful she will enjoy wearing it (she seemed to like it once it was on), even if she doesn’t, her mama’s excitement is always more than enough for me! 😀

With bear in pocket.

With bear in pocket.

Confession: I don`t actually think I’ve topped the CUTE of the first coat (tinier is always cuter, plus the yoke feature is adorable) but I’m pretty proud of the lining, at least, and feeling a distinct twitch towards making myself a quilted skirt or something. And A has promised me pictures of BOTH girls in BOTH coats as soon as little T is big enough for the smaller one.

My monkeys

My monkeys

Syo and Tyo agree that it’s pretty cute.


Filed under Sewing