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Nov 20, 2011

1944 Butterick Topper UPDATE!



Readers, it's time to return to the 1944 topper project, Butterick 2969.  And I have good news to report.  Though this coat hasn't been without its challenges, I'm very happy with it so far.

Whether it's on account of the texture of the fabric -- a well-worn vintage wool blanket -- or the dusty rose color, this is perhaps the most photogenic garment I've ever sewn.  Not that it's not attractive in real life, mind you, but it glows on camera.  It's the Ava Gardner of outerwear!





The biggest challenge has been the wool itself, which is closer to mohair than melton.  It's loosely woven and moderately stretchy.  You can press it -- carefully -- but you can also practically mold it into shape with your fingers, which means it is easily unmolded as well.

I've already attached facings and collar and turned them, and though I've trimmed and graded seam allowances extensively, facing seams retain a thickness I'll have to live with.  I can press the life out of them from the inside with a clapper, but at a certain point I risk damaging the fabric, even if I'm pressing over a point board.  I think the addition of topstitching along the front will make edges a bit more crisp.  I've been noticing a lot of wool coats lately, and looser weaves like mohair have softer lapel edges and wider topstitching. 

The fabric is very spongy.  I'm sure you're familiar with the type of blanket this is/was -- very fluffy, with a visible weave, more visible still on account of the age of the blanket.  Here's a close-up sample: you can see the yarn easily.



As I think I've mentioned, when steamed, the wool exudes the smell of an old vaudeville trunk.  Oh well.



I padstitched the hair canvas: not as big a deal as I'd feared.  I applied twill tape to the shoulder seams to strengthen them (and of course there's twill tape along the outer the edge of the front facings as well).



Front darts came out nicely.





The welt pocket was a headache and I wish the pattern had called for even deeper front pockets, but I managed.  I love the look of the topstitched diagonal seam and pocket.





The coat drapes beautifully, perhaps due to the softness of it.



Yesterday I attached the sleeves and maybe for the first time ever, my sleeves went on without a hiccup.  They eased in beautifully without any need to trim the sleeve cap.



How I'd like to show you the coat with sleeves, friends, but I want to keep it a surprise for now. I still have to line it, and I'm not sure what kind of lining I'm going to use just yet.  Plus I need mega shoulder pads, which I may or may not make myself.  I'm hoping to be able to photograph the whole ensemble -- Hollywood jumper and blouse and coat -- this coming week.  Fun!

I hope your sewing is going well, friends, and who just said What sewing?  Time to put your pedal to the metal -- or is it the other way around?

Happy Sunday, everybody!

22 comments:

  1. How exciting. This is going to be so beautiful. Great idea to recycle a blankie! So looking forward to the photos of the finished article.

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  2. Love the coat - so sophisticated!

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  3. I have to admit that I was a little skeptical about the pink issue but that coat is going to look wonderful.

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  4. I just love the pink! If seeing it on you is any indication, it's going to look smashing on your cousin.

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  5. WOW, WOW, WOW!!! This project is coming along beautifully! Kudos to you Peter; love it.

    I have the same smell on the thrift shop woollen blankets that i've bought; it's almost the 'wet dog' smell...the smell is there despite numerous washes. I can't complain given the prices i paid; bargains!

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  6. Wow - that does look awesome. And I find boiled wool is the loveliest thing to work with from a construction perspective. It really seems to tow the line.

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  7. Lovely coat!! Wool is so wonderful to sew on even if it stinks a bit. I have been sewing and crocheting like crazy for christmas! Next project- wool pants lined with silk for my daughter. I even make fabric bags for gifts instead of using wrapping paper.

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  8. I just love the colour of this topper! The lines are also really fabulous (both the back line and the welt and shoulder lines). This is going to look really great with the 40's pinafore! YAY!

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  9. That choice of a blanket was brilliant. It looks so true to the era in color and texture.

    You truly can make something out of next to nothing, and you make it look both easy and like a million bucks at the same time.

    Can't wait to see Cathy model the ensemble.

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  10. The coat is coming along beautifully! If I may add just a few things to "what I learned from tailoring" You should probably open the darts, then press, using a dauber, while using scraps of your coat fabric both under and over, and catchstitch the cut edges to the coat itself. Instructions for making the dauber can be googled. It's really dead easy, but I don't have the explanatory skills to get you there. Do you, by any chance have the Singer Tailoring book? It's been re-published fairly recently. Their picture/illustrations are terrific. I'm so looking forward to your final reveal!

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  11. Thanks, guys!

    Karen, I did cut open and trim my darts, as far down to the narrow end as I was able. I am, in fact, using the Singer Tailoring book here and there -- it's a big help.

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  12. It's coming along so nicely! You could try one of those no-rinse wool washes (marketed for knitters) like Soak. They smell quite lovely. I don't know about dipping a finished garment with hair canvas- but as certainly yardage...next time.

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  13. Beautiful! I love the lines with their subtle curves.

    If it's smelly when wet, then Cathy needs an umbrella to go with it, and gloves, knit ones maybe?

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  14. You are, without doubt, pretty in pink. :)

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  15. I love your blog! I have two sewing books to suggest to you. THE ILLUSTRATED HASSLE-FREE MAKE YOUR OWN CLOTHES BOOK, and SON OF HASSLE-FREE SEWING. Both by Joan Wiener and Sharon Rosenberg. Both on Amazon, although I got mine at the thrift store many years ago. My favourite vintage sewing books!

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  16. Wow, it IS photogenic! I love the dusty rose colour! I think there's a "packing blanket" in the garage that is the long-lost twin to yours...

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  17. Looks beautiful. I love the line of a well set sleeve so can't wait for the final showing. Not sure that I know how a vaudeville trunk smells,but I think wet wool always smells of - well wet wool. If the coat pongs when dry maybe you could add some odour eater shoe pads to the innards of your shoulder pads to help counteract it?

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  18. Wow, it's coming along beautifully. Gorgeous lines. Hopefully this project will encourage more people to try outerwear. It's so satisfying, and wool (even an old blanket) is a dream to work with. Can't wait to see this finished! Cathy will shine in the endless sea of boring black wool coats out there.

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  19. You got a hem marker. Lucky you! :-) I have one just like it that I got from my mother.

    You put on whatever you want to mark (or put it on the dress form) and crawl around, putting in pins where you want the hem to fall. It's easier than using a yardstick, at least in theory. [You can't always just turn back some amount, because the fabric sags when it hangs.]

    I think the first number is an eight most likely because it is 8 inches from the floor.

    Beth

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  20. I love the color! Now I want to make a pink coat. I can't wait to see it with the sleeves in and the whole ensemble together.

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  21. Where did you buy hair canvas? It seems expensive and you have to buy a lot.

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  22. In NYC they sell it at Steinlauf & Stoller on 39th St.

    www.steinlaufandstoller.com

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