For the last couple of months, I've spent the weekends working on a special project just for me -- a clean-lined coat that incorporates couture techniques and features a luxurious Italian fabric. It captures everything I love about making clothes -- working with beautiful fabrics, paying attention to every little detail, using hand-sewing for precision and striving to achieve a perfect fit.
The finished coat on the streets of San Francisco!
The fabric is from Missoni, an Italian fashion house known for producing beautiful knitwear in bright colors and bold designs, such as their iconic zig-zag pattern. I’ve always wanted to work with Missoni fabric, as I’ve been a long-time fan of their designs, and was thrilled to be able to purchase the yardage as a special birthday gift.
Here's a close-up of the fabric at Britex Fabrics.
For such a bold pattern, I designed a very simple coat to ensure that the fabric remained the star. I drafted a knee-length coat with a slight swing shape that dips lower in back, a simple rounded neckline and shorter sleeves with a slight bell shape. There are side seam pockets and a decorative edging along the fronts made of pleated leather.
After multiple fittings, I finalized the pattern pieces by taking the final muslin apart and pressing each piece. These muslin pieces would now become the pattern pieces I would use to cut out the Missoni fabric.
The fabric was delicate to work with because it is knit with a variety of fine yarns, so I underlined each piece with silk organza. I hand-basted all of the guidelines and seam lines of each piece using a high-contrast silk thread. I kept the seam allowances wide (1 inch) because I was afraid the delicate fabric would begin to ravel at the cut edges.
All of the raw edges are bound with silk organza bias binding to prevent raveling and catch-stitched by hand to keep them lying flat.
The shoulders are smoothed with shoulder pads and the neck and front edges are stabilized with wool crepe facings. The lining is a luxurious pink silk charmeuse, which I also used to finish the hem edges, because the lining will be free-hanging rather than completely enclosing the coat.
The coat really doesn’t need any sort of trim, as the fabric is so bold, but I thought it would be nice to have a small detail along the neckline and fronts. I added a small mandarin collar in leather to define the neckline and played with leather strips to come up with a pleated design.
I considered pleating the leather all the way down to the hem, but I thought it would be too much against the zig zags, so I kept the pleating to a minimum and cut the strip down into a free-hanging trim.