A plaid and leather ‘duster’ for fall

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Hi all! Wearing a coat in the fall is a no-brainer, but finding the perfect one can be a bit tricky. There are days when it’s cool but not cold and wool is too much, but a summer jacket isn’t enough. That’s when a duster comes in handy!

‘Duster’ is an odd word for a topper, and a friend questioned me about why I used it, so, I looked it up. The original dusters were full-length, light-colored canvas coats worn by horsemen to protect their clothing from trail dust. Well, since I haven’t been on a horse in years, who knows why duster came to be such a catch-all term for me. I use it pretty liberally for any knee length topper that is more than a blazer, but not quite heavy enough to be called a coat.

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My duster is  made from a plaid cotton blend, that is lined in silk and trimmed with pleather at the collar and cuffs. I’ve had the fabric in my stash for awhile. It languished there, forgotten and unloved because I didn’t quite know what to do with it. I love plaid, but sometimes, it’s a bit too stiff looking for my taste. But a recent sewing room ‘re-org’ brought it to my attention again, and woudn’t you know it? I’d stored it in box with a remnant of textured ‘pleather’ (fake leather). Inspiration!

The pattern I used for my duster is Butterick 6382, a semifitted lined jacket with neckline, pocket, sleeve and length variations. I chose version D, a knee length coat with pockets and a collar.

 

I cut the pattern as designed with a few modifications:

  1. The coat’s front bodices meet at the middle but don’t close. I extended the front bodice pieces by an inch and a half so that they would overlap then added buttonholes and buttons.
  2. Because my fabric is a bit tame I livened it up with some textured ‘pleather’ for contrast. The pocket is trimmed with a 1′ band.img_8608
  3. I added 3″ pleather cuffs to the sleeeves.
  4. I cut the collar from ‘pleather’ and skipped the interfacing.

The pattern was pretty easy to sew, and the instructions were great. Of course, the plaid matching took a bit of effort, but that’s all on me for choosing plaid in the first place! The duster is a-line, and the shaping is accomplished by long bodice darts in the front and back. The most difficult part of the project was the additon of the trim. Since I chose pleather, this was a bit challenging.

What I learned: Pleather does not like to bend. Well, I thought that was okay because I could shape it by pressing it. Ha!  My first attempt at low heat resulted in a MELT DOWN, a mess of damaged plastic that almost ruined my iron. Yes, I did use a pressing cloth, but you have to be really, really careful. I eventually discovered that it could be coaxed into shape by using my fingers and a corner press for the collar. (This required a bit of patience). Also, my pleather remembered every pin prick, so I used fusible seam tape to secure pockets before stitching them in place.

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In case you were wondering, this is not a leaf-raking coat, even though someone I live with probably wishes it was. Ha! Frankly, I’m not sure about this make. Yes, I’m glad I did it because it pushed me to learn more about sewing with ‘pleather’ which was fun. I guess I’m not wild about this look or these colors on me. I do like how the duster feels when you wear it though, probably because of the silk lining. Maybe I should add two more pockets at chest level to give the duster a bit more style?  Or maybe it’s the shape? Belted, or unbelted?

Opinions welcome!

I’d love to know if any of you have experienced a pleather melt down as I did? And any ideas on how you can get the stuff to bend and mold? Yes, it’s a challenging fabric, but I’m dying to use it again, maybe for a skirt or jacket. Tips and advice is welcome!

Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!

 

A Spring Coat like Betty’s

Betty Draper was my inspiration for this coat. Do you all remember the blue coat she wore in season one, when she was still in love with Don?
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A statement coat to be sure! And look at her hair, how it curls under so perfectly! No wonder Don had to have her.
I made my version of her coat from a Butterick pattern from my own extensive (!!) archives. It’s Butterick 5569, a coat pattern designed by The Cut Line that has princess seams and a big collar that gives the style a retro feel.
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The fabric is from Mill End, an incredible fabric store here in Portland that has a wool department that beats all. My coat is made from a thick, double-faced wool in black, dotted with flecks of white.
To sharpen the details, I trimmed the coat’s front lapel and collar with piping, then finished it with vintage buttons I found in Stars Antique Mall in Portland.
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Because the wool is double-faced, it’s very heavy, so I didn’t want to line the coat because I thought it would be too hot to wear. So, I finished the seams with binding so that they wouldn’t fray, giving the inside of the coat a finished look.
The coat’s comfortable and warm. I even braved the elements and wore it when I visited Anthropologie last week (okay, true confession. I do not make everything I wear, LOL), and I did not feel out of place in my me-made garment, which makes it a win, right?
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Soon, it will be so warm here in Portland, I won’t want to wear this coat (says the optimist).  But right now, Summer feels years away, so coats are a must.
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I love retro fashion, but prefer to sew from modern patterns with their fabulous fit. What about you? Have you used vintage patterns? Good experience or bad?