Sunday, February 23, 2014

Butterick 5960, the Cashmere Coat


Erma Bombeck is famous for saying, "the grass is always greener over the septic tank." Well, the snow always melts over the septic tank up here. Behind me is a still remaining, very icy foot and a half of snow. I couldn't stand on it for pics or I would sink in. The walks and drive are out as they are glare ice. And as it was, right up until hubby started clicking I had on my Yak Trax so I wouldn't fall and break a hip! So over the septic tank it was! 

I like this coat and know I will get years of wear out of it. It is very comfortable and has room to go over a suit jacket or big sweater comfortably and nicely. I really like the retro sleeves with their expanding length and deep cuffs. This coat is very warm.

Here are the deets:

Pattern:  It is Butterick 5960, a Katherine Tilton design.  What is it about those Tilton women that seduces me with their designs? I love them but have not always had good luck with them. This pattern had it's issues as well but in the end I am happy. The biggest issue is it's "bathrobe" nature. That's fine. It's a classic, no closure, shawl collared wrap coat, just like a bathrobe. But trust me, this pattern really needs more structure. I added what I could with tried and true tailoring techniques that you can see in the preceding posts, techniques like stays, lots of basting to control while pressing, padded hem,  etc. But the collar just does not know where it wants to go. It does not have a specific roll line. In the pattern photo it wraps back all the way down to the hem but there is really no structure to hold that look. I find the collar lays best for me with the back up and the shawl part going just to the waist. I basted it in to do this with silk thread and used a lot of steam. But if you can work out a taped roll line on this I think you would be very happy.

I do absolutely love these retro looking sleeves. They are the kind you often see on swing coats from the fifties and have deep cuffs and lots of room to accommodate a sweater or jacket. One fussy little thing to be aware of with this wide open cuff is that it does show the lining, of which mine is off white. If I did it again I would make the bottom 3-4 inches of the sleeve lining out of a fabric that matches the color of the fashion fabric of the coat, FWIW.


On Step 16, be aware that you  are instructed to close the top and bottom of the pocket with a "tight zigzag,...stitching through all thicknesses." This will put that stitching on in a way that will not let you sink your hands in the pockets. You only want to stitch through the top center pocket seam.  In other words, if you put your hand in your pocket, what is on top of your hand is what gets the "tight zigzag". 

The lining pattern includes an interior pocket between the facing and lining. I chose to not bother as I really didn't think I would use it and it would add more bulk.

Does it look like the pattern? Yes. It has the same roominess but I think mine is better controlled and the extra tailoring gives it a bit more polish.

Fabric:  The fashion fabric is a 70% cashmere/30% wool blend from Fabric Place Basement in Natick, Mass. Go there if you ever have the chance. It is one of the few remaining mega fabric stores in the country. You won't regret it.

This fabric is gorgeous and literally glows. I hope you can pick up on a bit of that in the photos. It feels and looks really luxe up close.

The lining is an acetate/poly called Kasha that I purchased online from Vogue Fabrics in Chicago.  They always have a great selection of colors on this often hard to find  fabric and the price is reasonable. Kasha is the lining you see in fur coats. It is a shiny, heavy satin on one side and a flannel on the "wrong" side, therefore providing a lot of warmth to the garment and still having a bit of finesse.

There is a strip of colorful binding between the dour black cashmere and the Kasha lining that is simple poly print charmeuse from Joanns.

I made a sash out of the fashion fabric on one side and faux black leather on the other side. That came from Walmart. Their faux leather is the only thing I ever buy in that fabric department and it really is quite nice.

The garment uses traditional hair canvas for interfacing and well washed 100% heavy cotton flannel for the interior stays. That provides a bit of extra warmth.

Construction: The garment construction on here is really pretty straightforward if you choose to just follow the pattern. Just watch out for that pocket issue. If you think the shawl collar "lay" looks not to your liking I would get a good sewing book, like Vogue or Reader's Digest and follow their instructions for a tailored shawl collar. Build in the roll with some stay tape and pad stitching if you can.

Another issue with the instructions is that the lining is never secured to the fashion fabric other than being stitched together at the facing edge. It will billow out and drive you nuts. I secured the lining to the FF (fashion fabric) in between the two at the lower armscye and along the collar neckline. I secured the upper and under collar, after matching their seams, with catch stitching and a bit of slack. I didn't want anything pulling oddly. I also secured the seam where the lining meets the facing TO the princess seam line, which matches, all the way from the shoulder to the hem. The coat fell much better once this was done. I used a catch stitch between the lining and FF.  That billowing lining  would have driven me to distraction.

Also, I ended up taking out my catchstitched lining hem and adding a facing so that the lining length was 3/4 inches longer. I faced the lining with some ivory Ambiance I had, cut on the bias. That was then catchstitched to the lining fabric. The reason why? The lining hem edge barely covered the top edge of the coat hem and I wanted it to cover it nicely, not some places yes and others no, just barely. I followed the exact measurements on the pattern for folding and cutting the FF and lining hems. I suggest you cut your lining hem 3/4 inches longer than the pattern specifies.

I added 1/2 inch shoulder pads which the pattern does not specify. This also helps remove the bath robe effect.

Here are some links to some of the construction posts:

Lining with Kasha
Interfacing with Hair Canvas
Marking and pressing
Padded Hem
Pocket Arrowheads

Conclusion:  This is a classic  design that is not complicated. There are no notched collars, bound buttonholes, welt pockets, etc but you still end up with a really nice classic coat. Again, I love the sleeves. Make this if you can go the effort to add in the additional tailoring to give it some more structure and keep it from looking bathrobe-y. I think it also looks a lot better with a belt of some sort. It is not a difficult to construct coat. I'm happy with the results.
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And what is that little tidbit of sparkle  that you've never seen on my finger  before, the one in the leather stitching photo? It's my new wedding/engagement ring. Same hubby, new ring! Many years ago he proposed to me with a really pretty Tiffany set diamond that his entire family chipped in for him to buy for me. I will never forget their kindness to him. I loved the Tiffany setting but as they can do from being set so high, the stone popped out  and needed to be reset three times over the years. The last time was twenty years ago. I decided to put the diamond in a safe deposit until I could get a completely different setting. College bills set in with the kids, etc, and it just stayed tucked in its box for years. 

Flash forward many years and not long before her death my Mom gifted me a piece of estate jewelry my father bought for her. He always loved estate jewelry and bought her numerous pieces over the years. This piece was a bit "different" and she seldom wore it but it had at least a lot of sentimental value. She wore it with my Dad when he was alive and then passed it on to me. It had one diamond slightly smaller than my ring and six smaller diamonds as well. When hubby asked me what I wanted for my birthday last year, I blurted right out " to get my diamond reset". 

We worked with a really fine craftsmen in New Hampshire, James Cook, and I am really pleased with the result. He is a true artist and you can see his gallery here. I now have my original diamond back and on the side are the small diamonds from my father's gift to my late Mom. To say this ring means a lot to me is an understatement......Bunny



38 comments:

  1. fantastic coat you will wear for years. perfect to dress up or down. and whew looks like you still need with all that snow. lovely story about the ring, very pretty.

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    1. Thanks Beth. It is very much still winter here and the Polar Vortex will be arriving again next week, ugh.

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  2. How wonderful you have finished your coat and you can wear it immediately. What a lot of snow, we haven't had any this year. On the coat: it's BEAUTIFUL, I loved reading your posts on the construction and your road to the finished product. All the work paid off: a gorgeous coat on the outside and the inside.
    Your hubby is a wonderful man, the story of the ring is so sweet. I'm happy for you that you can wear your diamond again, together with the others. Lovely memories.

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    1. He's a keeper. I still can't stop staring at my ring off an on all day. It was VERY hard to photograph and I eventually gave up. Lo and behold, a good photo of the ring came out while I was trying to show the leather.

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  3. The coat is everything I thought it would be and more! OUTSTANDING job, Bunny!! It's a wonderful, well made, timeless coat!!

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    1. Thanks so much, Tany. That is special, coming from one so gifted in sewing as yourself.

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  4. Fabulous coat! And the way you have styled it doesn't look at all like a bathrobe.

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    1. Thanks, Vicki. Those are my Ettiene Aigner boots and my favorite silk scarf.

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  5. What a beautiful ring and wonderful story to go with it! I love your coat. I have this pattern but am planning on making a much more casual version (although at this point not until next fall). However, I will be studying all your helpful information before I get started. Thank you so much:)

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    1. Hopefully some of this info will help. I will be watching for your coat, Angela.

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  6. Your coat looks lovely, I always enjoy reading about the workmanship that's gone into your garments. It's a beautiful classic coat.
    I have a sapphire that my grandfather mined and faceted that one day I want put into a ring, but it's a few years down the line yet (kids schooling, house payment, etc). It's nice to know you had one made using the stones that you are happy with though.
    And the snow! We are coming off the end of a pretty ferocious summer, had the hottest day on record a couple of weeks ago so it's mind boggling to look at all that snow behind you!

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    1. We sure could use some of your heat. It will come.

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  7. It is beautiful. Unparalleled workmanship.
    And then I was blinded by the ring......
    :)

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  8. Simply beautiful! I'd like to see a close up of the sleeves. Do you use the chain as extra support while the coat is on the hanger? The shoulder pads really give it more structure, and gets away from the bathrobe look. I love Erma, there used to be a mini-museum of her kitchen in the Dayton Airport a long time ago. More snow coming! Oh dear! We might actually get some rain here in a few days, I can't wait for it.

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    1. I'll see if I can get a sleeve pic up soon. Thanks, Cynthia. It feels good to have this intense project over with. One thing about the sleeves. I am petite and do not have long arms. I felt they fit perfectly and did not adjust the length at all other than maybe fold the cuff a 1/4 - 1/2 inch deeper than specified. Anyone with long arms needs to watch the length here.

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  9. With a warm, stylish and expertly tailored coat like this one, you may actually look forward to winter in future as it gives you an excuse to wear it. It is a really lovely coat, Bunny, And your ring is beautiful and it is so meaningful that it incorporated diamonds from both sides of the family.

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  10. All your tailoring gave you a stunning coat! Simply gorgeous.

    Love the story of the ring. All the sentiment with the original diamond and then to add your mothers makes it even more special.

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  11. Bunny - this is a fabulous new coat. I like that it follows the current trend of coats without openings but love all of the added tailoring that you've added to it. Experience always brings about quality results and this is a quality coat. Thanks for sharing the story about your new ring - it's a wonderful story.

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  12. I love how your cashmere coat turned out, the shawl collar and wrap style is lovely. You can never have too many coats when the snow stays around so long!

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  13. Such a lovely coat and you new ring too is gorgeous.

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  14. Bunny, your coat is such a beautiful classic style. You have done a fantastic job as you always do. Your ring is gorgeous. I am so happy for you that you now have it so you can wear it, you will enjoy sweet nenories of your parents each time you look down and see it.:)

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  15. A beautiful coat, Bunny! Beautiful details, as always, and you have styled it with the belt and scarf so that it is perfectly chic. That ring is drool worthy! What a wonderful story.

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  16. Beautiful, beautiful job on your coat Bunny! And love the ring too - congrats and may you have many more years of happiness!

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  17. Gorgeous, Bunny! Love the ring, too

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  18. What a gorgeous coat and ring. Thanks for showing that expert sewists have difficulty too. I have been sewing for many years but know very little about tailoring-thanks for the instruction. Enjoy this fabulous coat!

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    1. Anyone who doesn't' have difficulty sewing now and then is telling a tall tale! I do see a fair amount of that on sewing blogs but as a reader, I know I would prefer to see someone power through a project than declare it a wadder and move on.

      I'm glad I could share a bit of information with you, Unknown.

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  19. Thanks so much for all your insightful commentary. I learn so much from you and your choices. Love the coat. Am short like you so it’s such a inspiration that a warm beautiful coat can be had!

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  20. Thank you, Bunny, for such a complete and precise coat tutorial and insight into this pattern. It does make you wonder how designers can re-create the same bathrobe pattern over and over through the decades and we keep making it in new fabrics over and over. Your version inside and out is certainly high style, my dear! Jewel y carries such memories and deep feelings and when you have the chance to recycle such a timeless piece into something you can wear everyday and keep that person close to you...it brings tears to my eyes.

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  21. Love everything about your coat-pattern, fabrics, workmanship and especially how it looks on you. It's a coat that will "carry you out" as they say in the south.

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  22. Absolutely Stunning! You will have this classic beauty forever. Congratulations on the new ring:)

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  23. Thanks for all your details on making this lovely coat. I have this pattern and fabric, and would probably have blindly stumbled through the directions and then wondered why I had a shapeless wadder. I'll be pinning this!

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  24. Thank you for sharing all the details of making this coat, Bunny. I do enjoy the process, and anticipate the reveal! Love the final product and your styling. The beautiful ring on your finger caught my eye, what a sweet story.

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  25. That is so inspiring, on so many levels. Thank you Bunny.

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