Thursday, October 21, 2010

Vogue 1213 - Koos van den Akker Linen Coat

This is a long post. Maybe you want to skip the text and just see more pics. :)

Omigosh, do I love this pattern!

I liked it when it came out. I ordered it during the big BMV sale a week or two later. It arrived, along with all the other new pattern goodness, and, much to my surprise, I just knew I had to make this one first. I didn't expect that when I ordered it, but once I had the pattern in hand, I immediately envisioned the project and couldn't wait to get started.

Luckily, I had the perfect fabric on hand. Months ago, I purchased 6 yards of a "denim linen" from FabricMart (it's no longer available). I washed and dried it several times. This is truly a denim linen and not just a denim-colored linen. It is woven in a twill weave, just like denim. The warp threads are white and the weft threads are indigo-colored, resulting in that typical yarn-dyed denim effect. The only difference from standard denim is that the fiber is linen, so the resulting fabric has a nice drape and wrinkles like crazy.

I had trouble finding a suitable lining fabric. I bought at least three different potential linings from Fabrix, but none worked. It's difficult to match blue, especially this heathered, indigo shade of blue. I dove into my stash, but came up empty handed, at first. Finally, I found a sueded, sandwashed rayon that I bought from FabricMart maybe 6 months ago that worked pretty well. I purchased the fabric just after attending a lecture by Sandra Ericson where she talked about making Vionnet (and similar) bias garments. Someone asked Sandra how much fabric she buys and she answered that when she finds a nice, drapey rayon she will usually buy 5 yards for a dress, so that's what I did. I still have a couple yards left – I am not making bias dresses anyway. ;)


  • denim linen from FabricMart - I used about 5 of the 6 yards
  • slate blue sueded, sandwashed rayon for lining, also from FabricMart - you need more than is called for if you want to line the sleeves
  • 2 spools Gutterman cotton topstitching thread, color 20 (white)
  • white tricot fusible interfacing from Fabrix
  • 4 1-1/4" shank buttons from Fabrix
  • 4 5/8" clear buttons from Fabrix

I often make muslins, but I couldn't bring myself to make one this time, partly because I'm running out of fabric suitable for muslins - I can't keep cutting up my kid's bed sheets. :)

Instead, I pinned the pattern tissue together, tried it on, and decided I needed an FBA. Vogue gives the sizing of this pattern as "Very loose fitting" and they are right. According to the pattern, the finished bust measurement is 48" for a size 14, 50" for a size 16, 52" for a size 18, and 54" for a size 20 (the largest size). Usually, I cut out a size 20 and have to add an FBA to add width at the bust, but this time a size 20 was plenty big in the bust.

However, I still needed an FBA to add length - without it the hem of the coat would be shorter at the front. So, this time I used Sandra Betzina's princess seam FBA, from the book Fast Fit, which adds to the length only. I added 1" to the front pattern piece. For the middle front pattern piece, I added 1" to the side that is sewn to the front piece, tapered to 1/2" on the side sewn to the side front. On the side front, I added 1/2" to the side sewn to the middle front, tapered to nothing at the side seam (remembering to hinge at the 5/8" seam line to maintain the overall length of the seam). I also lowered the bust "bump" on the middle front several inches to my actual bust line. I applied the same alteration to the front lining pattern pieces.

I imagined this wonderful design a bit differently than shown on the pattern. First, I wanted to fold down and sew the scallops to the coat, rather than have them marching at attention along the seams, mimicking the back of a T-Rex. I also wanted to use a single fabric, rather than 6 contrasting fabrics. To ensure that the scallop detailing wasn't lost, I topstitched the seams with white topstitching thread.

A couple notes about the scallops: If I had thought this through a bit better, I would have realized that a twill fabric is not going to yield easily to scalloped seams. A twill weave is a diagonal weave, meaning it behaves differently depending on whether the bias angles to the left or the right. Scalloped seams have, by definition, bias in both directions. Creating a smooth scallop is not easy on a twill fabric. I was very painstaking when cutting and sewing the scallops, but they are not perfect. Of course, this isn't entirely my fault because the pattern scallops were apparently drawn by a human – they are not even - they vary quite a bit. I really don't care, but keep this in mind.

If you find the scallops too "unusual", it would be an easy matter to fold them down on the pattern before cutting out the fabric. I did this when I created the lining pattern for the sleeves.

Scallop construction

Folding out the scallops for the sleeve lining.

How many scallops? The body of the coat has six seams with six scallops each. The sleeves have another five, so there are 46 scallops total.

What is the deal with the buttonholes? I think of the buttonhole treatment as a quasi-bound buttonhole. You first sew a lined square - similar to an empty beanbag. Markings are transferred to the square, which is then sewn to the inside front facing. The buttonhole is cut, and the square is pulled through to the front. The opening is top-stitched, encasing the raw edges. The fabric square, which is now on the front of the coat, is pleated and topstitched to create a decorative bound buttonhole.

Pattern alterations and construction notes:

  • The pattern tells you to interface the scallops. This might be a good idea if you plan to let the scallops stand up, as designed, but I omitted the interfacing since I planned to stitch them down and didn't want them to have a different "hand." I did interface the front band, the collar, under collar, and collar stand. However, since the scallops aren't interfaced, stitch and handle carefully so as not to stretch the bias portions of the seam.
  • I narrowed the shoulders approx 3/4". I could have narrowed them even further.
  • There are no shortening or lengthening line on the sleeves. This is because the scallops run along the entire length of the sleeve. I needed to remove length, so I removed about 1/4" from each of the five scallops. (I folded approx 1/8" - 3/16" from the fullest part of each scallop, perpendicular to the grainline.)

    Shortened the sleeves by removing 1/4"-3/8" from each scallop.

  • The body of the coat is lined, but the sleeves aren't lined. I created my own lining by folding the scallops down, creating a straight line. I realized this fairly late in the game, so I sewed the sleeve lining in and then bound the armscye with a bias linen strip.

    Creating the sleeve lining by folding out the scallops.

    Lining. You can see the bias strips finishing the armscye.

  • The decorative buttonholes are a multi-step process. You first create a lined square, transfer the markings to the square, and sew it to the inside of the right facing. Cut the buttonhole and pull the fabric to the outside. The topstitching is done in three steps. First, stitch around the buttonhole. Then stitch around the outer part of the square. Finally secure the tucked portion of the buttonhole.

    Steps one and two of the topstitching are finished.

    Completed buttonholes

More Pics!


Topstitching goodness!!

Worn closed. Remember this scarf? My friend Renee made this this silk Nuno scarf for Christmas last year.

Hangar shot

Without scarf.

What do I like about this pattern?

  • The fit and flow of this great silhouette. If the scallops seem weird to you, it is easy to fold them out of the paper pattern, so don't let that deter you from this great design with lots of RTW details!!! You can also use regular or standard bound buttonholes and eliminate the decorative buttonhole detail. I'm just sayin'. :)
  • All the delicious topstitching goodness!!!

    Some of the great topstitching!

  • The unique quasi-bound buttonholes!
  • The collar with the collar stand. The stand doesn't extend all the way to the front edge of the collar, which is unusual, and it feels like high-end RTW. The under collar is cut on the bias and is slightly smaller than the upper collar, so it's easy to create a collar that falls beautifully.

  • The "two" princess seams in front, one has the scallops, and the other has the pockets, so the fit is so nice and the pocket is placed at a more natural location.
  • The bias band that finishes the hem.
Buy this pattern before it goes out of print! :)

How could one not love this line drawing? It reminds me of a Picasso, with the squiggly lines, and buttonholes that look like eyes stacked on top of each other! That little horizontal line at the bottom looks to me like the bemused mouth – it's actually the word "FABRIC" shrunk to a tiny size. :D

Postscript: After the coat was nearly finished, I moseyed on over to the discussion boards at Pattern Review. In the "New patterns from Vogue" thread, I saw that this coat had received some rather cutting comments, and had been dubbed the "Stegosaurus Coat" or the "Stego Coat." I love the nickname, but those reviewers really didn't see how marvelous this pattern can be. I want to make it again and already know what fabrics I would use for it (yes, next time I would use more than one fabric and I might even leave the scallops standing up).


  1. See, THIS is why I love your blog. I did not get that pattern because I just couldn't see the architecture of it in the photo. I never would have thought of treating the scallops as you did. I didn't understand the cool buttonholes. And I like the length it falls to on you so much better than where it seems to hit the model (am I wrong that yours is longer?)
    You have helped me to appreciate a real unappreciated gem. Now I have to buy another pattern... sigh.

  2. Thanks so much, Kathleen. I agree, that model must be very tall. I am 5' 5" (almost) and I did not alter the length of the pattern.

  3. Oh its lovely! I remember seeing it in the mag and couldn't imagine a real person wearing it, but your version still has the quirk without being odd if you know what I mean. The denim linen is fab.

  4. Shams, that is beyond gorgeous! What an intricate sewing project, and you did a perfect job. That is one of those heirloom pieces you can pass down to your daughter. Beautiful!

  5. WOW. I had to use capital letters to properly convey my feelings. This coat is FABULOUS in so many ways. I often find Koos Van den Akker designs to be interesting but not particularly wearable for me. But your interpretation- well I would wear that in a heartbeat. Did you already have the buttons? They are perfect. Great job matching the blue for the lining. Great Job!!

  6. Thanks, Ruthie, Janis and Robin! Robin, should I admit that I bought those buttons for 10cents at Fabrix?

    I spent ages looking through their giant button bin looking for more of the giant buttons - they had more in a smaller size, but I'd found only two of the big ones. I finally asked and they brought up a tray from the basement, so I bought several. In fact, I think I bought a variety of 100 buttons that day for $10 or something like that. There are clear buttons sewn to the reverse of the giant buttons and I got those also at Fabrix from the button bin.

  7. I would never have envisioned such a wearable piece from the pattern cover. This is great! I love what you did with the scallops.

  8. You have so inspired me! This is a fabulous coat and I love those scallops stitched down. I will definitely buy this on the next Joann Sale. A coat like this would get a lot of use around here in the chilly Northeast. It would be great for some of our cool summer days and spring and fall. Thanks again for the great review and inspiration.

  9. Awesome, awesome, amazingly awesome, Shams. From the choice of fabric to the manipulation of the T-Rex spikes, every single step is perfection. How proud you must be! You deserve every single kudo you receive, both here and each time you wear that coat. Enjoy wearing it in happiness and health.

  10. What everyone else has already you look so wonderful modeling it!

  11. Wowsers! What a fantastic job on this coat pattern. I must confess I passed it up because it was a little bit TOO interesting for me, but I love love LOVE what you've done with the one fabric and taming the scallops. I look forward to seeing your second version.

  12. I knew when I read that you were making this pattern that you would kill it and you did. Fabulous! I loved this jacket on the pattern envelope which is rare for me with KvdA -- usually too much going on for me. Not this one. Yours though, is fantastic -- better than the envelope.

    I practically LIVE in Fabrix btw, if you see me there, say hi!

  13. This is incredible. I loathed the coat shown in the pattern photograph, but yours makes me want to buy the pattern immediately. What a beautiful interpretation, I love it. You look terrific, and the coat is a masterpiece. I am also deeply appreciative of your excellent photographs and description of the construction. Wow.

  14. Great! Great Coat! I'd buy this coat. I'd make this coat! Your interpretations always amaze me. Good work!

  15. Absolutely love what you’ve done w/this pattern! Terrific, thanks for sharing w/us!

  16. You did this pattern justice! It really was a weird, pathetic looking thing and you saw the kewlness in it. Fantastic job! I love it on you and you look so pretty and happy in it! Can't wait to see version 2!!!!

  17. I love those buttonholes! The rest of the project is awesome too - but those buttonholes are really calling out to me.
    Congrats on another fabulous garment!

  18. OMG--what an amazing piece! I think you just sold a ton of this pattern to us! Beautiful job. I love that you stitched the scallops down!

  19. Wow, your coat is gorgeous. I saw that pattern and didn't like it at all but your version is fantastic!

  20. This is FANTASTIC! You saw the incredibleness of this coat where I only saw the stego-spikes. Everything from the fabric selection to the sleeve shortening is just perfect. You look like you will have lots of fun wearing this coat. Vogue really ought to give you a cut of the profits - I might buy it just for the buttonholes!

  21. Count me as another who didn't like the pattern as shown originally, but LOVES your interpretation.

    Thanks for being our eyes, helping us see the underlying beauty of the design.

  22. Wearing this coat, Shams, your face says it all. You love it, and well you should! All of us apparently love it too. I am in awe of your skill--you always marry all components together and then execute perfectly, but you outdid yourself on this one.

    Gail D.

  23. I bought this pattern when it was on sale. I didn't think I would use after I brought it. For me some times it take getting the pattern, looking at the instruction sheet, before I can see the potential in it. But I love your version and I will definitely pull that pattern and look at it differently now.

  24. I love it now that I see it made up. You have sold me on this pattern.

  25. LOVE what you did with that pattern. I look forward to reading your blog each day!! Thanks for the inspiration.

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  27. I like your version better than the one in Vogue. I like the scallops but on an everyday basis the ones standing up...? I love your work.

  28. This coat is completely awesome!!!
    I love it and you are rightfully proud of all those intricate sewing details... I like the stegasaurus effect of the original too. You may have swayed me to get this pattern! It looks like a real challenge.
    Amazingly beautiful sewing job! 10 out of 10!

  29. Your version is much nicer than Vogues. Good for you for having the vision to try it.

  30. I LOVE that first picture! And what you did with the pattern is just genius! I really didn't give the pattern a second look, but what you've done with the scallops is so perfect -- and so right for your fabric! What a beautiful job . . .

  31. This coat is fabulous from top to bottom. I was excited to find it on Sandra Betzina's website also as it is very fashion forward.

    One question - do you subscribe to Power Sewing? I heard Ron Collins talk about it and want another opinion from a subscriber.

  32. what an absolutely awsome coat you have created. Enjoy it at every opportunity.

    :Lois K

  33. follow KOOS on FACEBOOK
    see what inspires him and the beautiful creations he still makes!

  34. Wow! Love it. Beautifully done. TFS!

  35. I love your version of this coat.

  36. This is FABULOUS ! I absolutely LOVE it!
    (rushing to buy the pattern, be right back)

    OK..this is FAR and ABOVE so much better than "the coat of the moment" that everyone and their mother is sewing right now. Granted, they are very different styles...but this one has been drafted with important things like a 'collar stand' (!!!) so that the collar doesn't just lay there like a half-baked pancake ;)

    Great job !

  37. I just discovered your blog as I was clicking on a link, and then another link!
    I am so happy because you do such a great job!
    If all your posts are like this, I am going to love reading you. You are precise and fun, and I have learned a few things.
    Love your pattern choice!

  38. Bravo! I saw a mention of this on Carolyn's blog and had to seek you out! Incredible sewing!

  39. Just wandered over from Carolyn's blog. I love your version of this coat. The fabric and treatement of the scallops give it a much more casual feel, while keeping the things that made is so interesting in the first place. I got this pattern just so I could see how those scallops were done, I totally overlooked the buttonhole treatment.

  40. LOVE your version. And those buttonholes are just amazing!

  41. I too passed up this pattern when it was on sale.
    Your excellent pictures made it possible for me to see the detail and beauty of your version of this pattern. I will order it now.

  42. I love this pattern but wasn't sure how it would face real life. I will press on and use yours as a model. Lovely! Strong indeed!?

  43. Wow! Your coat is outstanding! Every little detail.

  44. Just love this coat! Found your site and this post via Pinterest. Thanks for the inspiration... May just have to get out my sewing machine! : )

  45. I've just come to your blog from one saying how awful this pattern is, love that you have shown how great it is for someone with some vision!

  46. I hope you're still enjoying this wonderful coat. I admire your interpretation of this pattern, which I would not have picked myself, and turned it into something I'd covet. lol It actually was the buttonholes that drew me here in the first place. Well done, and now, I'm about to look around some more. Thanks!