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Dec 8, 2010

To err is human + Toggle coat update!

Friends, do you remember this lovely vintage Samsonite vanity case?   Well this morning I walked into the living room and --

Kind and gentle readers, judge not lest ye be judged.  I just couldn't say no to $20 with free shipping.  Anyway, things go better in pairs -- candlesticks, end tables...candlesticks!

To say we have fewer sewing machines at our house but more vintage luggage is to state the obvious.  Rest assured, however, I have put the kabash on eBay purchases for the rest of the month, by which time the Yuletide urge to  "Buy it Now" will have passed I hope.

Meanwhile, back in toggle-coat land...

I did what many of you told me to do: I took an inch out of the front right and left width, and an inch out of both sides of the center back fold; four inches total.  I think it worked.

Now I'm just wondering: what's the best way to redraw the shoulder seams (which I'll have to reproduce for the front and back yokes)?

If you can picture folding an inch out of a pattern piece with a diagonal edge, the diagonal line is broken and must be redrawn.  I know I could consult one of my many books on fitting, but I thought I'd ask you first.

You were also correct that shortening the coat immediately made it look less tent-like.  And I fitted it with a heavy sweater underneath, most likely the bulkiest thing I'll be wearing under it.

So here's where we stand today.

1. Original muslin:

2. Muslin with 4" ease removed:

3. Latest version: new sporty length!


Guys, I think I'll be ready to start as soon as I figure out how to re-trace the shoulder seams precisely.  I hope you like it; I do.

I toyed with the idea of using a different pattern altogether -- especially when I noticed the side seams weren't coming out beneath my arms but behind them (panic), but then last night I spied a guy wearing a toggle coat just like this one and I realized that's how the coat is designed -- the side seams are meant to be just behind the arm to accommodate the big front patch pockets.  The coat was very cute -- at least on him -- all boxy and rectangular, and I'm just going to go for it.  The stakes are not that high, good wool or no good wool, right?

Finally friends, I was a little disappointed that among yesterday's many comments, not one person mentioned Darlene Gillespie -- the real Darlene Gillespie.  Not a single Ah, yes, Darlene Gillespie or I remember pretty Darlene Gillespie or How lovely to be reminded of Darlene Gillespie!  I just hope Darlene Gillespie isn't a Male Pattern Boldness reader and if she is, I remember you, Darlene!  You'll always be tops in my book even if you were convicted of mail fraud.  To err is human.

Have a happy day, everybody, and go easy on the eBay shopping!

Toggle coat = good to go?


  1. I think you've got the fit right this time! I just use a plain old ruler when I correct shoulder seams. I just line it up with the edge at the neck and the correct edge on the other side and go from there.

  2. So I just redraw it connecting the neck to the shoulder, right?

  3. Oh it looks SO much better.
    I have no advice - but I do have faith that you will make it perfect!

  4. Who's Darlene Gillespie? ;)

    Seriousy, it looks much better! I'm not exactly sure how to transfer your changes to the pattern, so I'll just wish you Happy Drafting :)

  5. Peter--yes, just draw a straight line between the neck and armhole. *That* part isn't hard... unless your shoulder seams happen to include something like knife pleats. Trying to redraft a pattern with details like that is more of a headache than it's worth.

  6. Vintage luggage reproduces? Can you sell the babies? It sounds immoral, but they do it with dogs. ;-)


  7. Darlene had a great voice -- even though she was overshadowed by Annette (whose voice was so thin that she had to layer her own vocals several times). I think she went on to do several of the Disney records that I grew up with.

  8. Not that my opinion will hold much water, but I think the shape of the coat is drastically improved. Shorter and smaller = better. Plus you look happier in it.

  9. What LHC said about redrawing the seam. Just take note to reproduce the same shoulder angle as the original seam.

    The shorter length and your tucks really improves things. Well done.

    Darlene who?

  10. Darlene? Mail fraud? Really!? Yes, just use your ruler to straighten the line from the neck to the shoulder on all pieces, then measure to be sure front and back are the same.

  11. The fit looks much improved. But - (always with the but) - does anyone else think the sleeves are too wide and baggy?

    PS: I had an hysterical laugh at the duplicating luggage. I needed the laugh, thanks, after finding out that one of my son's good friends lost his battle with cancer yesterday.

  12. I agree that you can true the shoulder line by a straight line from neck to shoulder. It shouldn't be that much of an adjustment. Then using those new pattern pieces of the front and back, you need to address the front yoke (and back yoke if there is one, I can't remember) and the lining. Easy to do.

    When you cut off the length, be sure to remember to allow for the turn up of the hem. Been there, done that!

    Were you able to get the smell out of the suitcase with the cat litter? I have to just not look at ebay or I find something that is just so cheap that I end up bidding and then..... Well, I just Have. To. Stay. Away.

    I remember Darlene. Grew up watching the Mickey Mouse Club. What a change in what was offered for kids then and now.

  13. Sorry to hear about your loss, Remnant. I am going to take a closer look at the sleeves. I think with the underlining they'll be OK though.

    Thanks for the tips, Doreen! (Not Doreen from the MMC, right?)

    Topstitching the yokes, should I use something thicker than my regular thread? It's not like topstitching on jeans; it's more to make a deep seam in the yoke edges for decoration.

  14. Not just mail fraud, but securities fraud and shoplifting, too. I think Darlene's been too busy to read MPB. She'd probably have been better off if she'd gone directly from mouse ears to a Singer. Just sayin'.

  15. This is shaping up very nicely! Slimmer and sportier is excellent. Love your vintage luggage - I have a Samsonite vanity case that I've had since the 1980's - it's a classic.

  16. it's looking great. i also have an old vanity case that i use for my sewing basket. i keep it organized with little boxes and bags tiffany's.

  17. I love the alterations you made to the toggle coat. Looks like it's going to fit you so much better! That's going to be so cozy. Cut out the wool and get going!

  18. I have a template of my shoulders for times like this. I pinned a wide piece of card to the wall and got my (tall) son to draw along from the base of each side of my neck along each shoulder and just over the shoulder arm joint to the top of the arm. That's how I found out that I have "sloping shoulders", or as my son put it more postively: "great lats, Mum!" Now before I start fitting the torso of any garment I lay the pattern sheets over my shoulder outline and adjust the shoulder line to fit. So it's a bit better than just drawing a line from A to B. The line has to be at the right angle or you ruin the fit. Threads has a video on adjusting the shoulder line without increasing or decreasing the armscye if you look on their site.


  19. No, not the Dorene from MMC. Although at 4 years old she was my favorite one!

    For the top stitching I would use a heavier thread or thread your machine with a double thread from two spools. You do such beautiful top stitching, why not make it a great design feature.

  20. I can't help but say: I prefer #2. It looks more coat-like for one thing, and the longer line of the coat is more slimming to my eye (not that you need help there). All the toggle coat pics you've been posting were around knee length so that may be skewing my vision.

    Think how much warmer you'll be with it slightly longer :)

  21. I'd just like to weigh in on the yoke discussion. I believe it should be one piece (lined) that drapes over the shoulders and is then top stitched onto the fronts and back. The piece will be on the straight of the grain at the back but will end up on the bias at the front. My method is to lay out the back and front pattern pieces with the shoulder seam lines aligned. In your case, Peter, the muslin will be your pattern, so just rip out the side seam and lay it flat. The back will probably have changed very little, just a bit narrower. The front may be more of a mind bender. You'll want it to drape over the shoulder the same amount as the original design, be horizontal on the bottom and set in from the front edges the same distance as the original. Then you can make a paper pattern of the beast ( be sure to mark where the shoulder seams fall). Line it, turn it, baste it closed at the neck. Baste in place and then topstitch with heavy thread.

  22. Duane, the pattern has a separate back and front yoke. Can't I use that? What is the benefit of the front yoke(s) being on the bias?

  23. Peter, I've pulled out an LL Bean catalog. It's Maine after all! The yoke is clearly a single piece that drapes over the shoulders. I think this is the more traditional style. Does anyone else want to chime in on this?

  24. Aren't those LL Bean coats made in China? ;)

  25. I am all for topstitching thread, although in this case, in a matched colour. I'm just all into topstitching since your video! If in doubt, topstich!

  26. I have some vintage topstitching thread. found some in a box of cotton thread. Some is marked for topstitching, some for buttonholes, some for carpet. Haven't seen such a selection in years. Go for something heavier for topstitching.

  27. I don't have an LLBean catalog to look at but I'm not surprised that the yoke was one piece. One piece actually offers more warmth than the separate pieces.

    So, you can make it one piece by doing as Mainelydad says (After you take the side stitches out and lay the coat flat you will see how the front becomes bias when you consider the back will be on grain.) If you make it one piece it will take more fabric, both outer fabric and lining. (Actually for the yoke I think I would use just a regular silky type lining and not the plaid. It would be a waste of the beautiful plaid and I would be concerned about the bulk.)
    Or you can make it as the pattern suggests with a front and back piece. The front would not be on bias that way.
    Either way, it is up to you, Peter....and how much fabric you have.
    The pattern directions may not include lining the yoke before stitching onto the coat, but I agree with Mainelydad that that should be done. Cut the lining about 1/8 inch smaller than the outer piece so that when it is turned the outer fabric will favor the under side and the lining will not show. But you probably already know to do that...
    Mainelydad made this same style coat and will no doubt be able to answer any question. His coat is quite nice!

  28. I think the update looks great - can't wait to see this project move forward! - Sam

  29. Your beautiful coat is coming together nicely-love the fabrics and style. I got a set of samsonite luggage in red when I went off to college in the late 60's. I still have it and use it for storage on closet shelves. It is really sturdy. mssewcrazy


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