Humble housecoat in velvet

Anyone who reads this blog regularly probably knows that I scavenge fabric. And then create clothing with this “found” fabric, like some artists work with “found” materials.

So, I’ve had a few pieces of velvet in my closet that are way past their due date. I picked them up at an outlet store that closed down at least ten years ago. I thought one of them would be great for a housecoat, something to keep me toasty on cold winter days. Like a cardigan, but not.

I decided to use a shawl-collar pattern that I used for a charcoal duster last winter because I like the pattern, and it has few seams. With velvet, the fewer seams the better, I figure. I practiced everything — sewing with a walking foot, serging, pressing — on scraps of fabric before doing it for real. The only problem was pressing. When I pinned the shawl collar facing to the body, I realized there was a problem. It was going to be a really floppy collar and wouldn’t hold its shape. So I found a very lightweight, open-weave but crisp fabric in my stash and made interfacings. I’m happy with the result. So here it is.

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There was no fabric left to make a tie belt, and I don’t look good in them anyway, so I decided to make an obi style cloth belt for when I want to wear this closed. After constructing various types in my head for a few days, I finally remembered youtube! And yes, there were several versions. I chose the one that suggested making the belt in three parts: one front part and two side pieces. On one side you sew the side piece to the front, and on the other side you only sew the top and bottom of the side and front together, leaving a slit in the middle. I used a sample piece of a quilted fabric for one side, and some leftover silver fabric for the inside. Then I made the tie ends too narrow so I couldn’t pull them right side out. Grrrrrrr. Eventually I managed, by using a pair of tweezers.

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And here’s the last tool I had to use. Found it in my carpentry tool box.

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Can you guess what I used it for?

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Okay, hands up everyone who remembers all the posts I made last year about fabric given to me at an “exit party” from my job? Not everyone? Ok, I’ll just give you a chance to check out the post about the giving of fabric here.

I’ve returned to that part of my fabric stash to make my second, or is it my third (does sleeveless count?) coat.

My friend and colleague Noel gave me a big chunk of charcoal grey fabric. I thought at first it was a blanket. It was, in fact, coat material. I put it away, thinking it would be quite a while before I would feel competent to sew a coat with such heavy fabric.

One (or maybe two) coats later I was ready. I pulled out the fabric and had a good look and feel. It turns out it’s not that heavy. And it’s not woven. It’s a kind of felted wool blend knit. Perfect, it seemed to me, for a long sweater-coat. To be fair to myself, the fabric is pretty deceptive. It’s very lofty.

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Like it? There’s a chenille thread looped back and forth and sewn to the fabric on the two front panels. That ran up and down one of the selvedge edges, and I used it for the fronts. The back, sleeves and front facing are plain. It almost looks like fleece, actually, and is very, very soft.

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This time I sewed a hair elastic into the seam joining the front and its facing, and put a button on the other side, so I can do the coat up. How … odd … that none of the three coats I’ve made has any form of fastening. I thought I could wear a leather belt with this coat, but when I tried it, I looked again like an old bag in a housecoat. I’m definitely not the tie wrap¬† kind of crone. I may add a snap at about waist height.

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The sleeves fold or roll up. As a bonus for this project, I figured out how to use my sewing machine to finish raw edges almost like a serger. They look really good. Almost makes me wonder if I really do need to save up for a baby-lock.

I’ve always liked long, straight maxi coats. Dusters I call ’em. Not much difference between this and the pink coat, except it’s unlined, and fits closer to the body. I used Butterick 6251, which was really easy. An experienced sewist could whip this up in a day. Took me three. Maybe I should whip up a few more, one for every day of the week?