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).