Mother's Coat:
Rubbed off from a vintage Vogue coat

Fabric: The coat is a wool boucle from a friend’s stash (Thank You, Jeanne!!!) and a printed silk charmeuse from my own stash. The dress is an ITY jersey knit from Denver Fabrics.

This is a coat with a lot of history, made possible by a village of helpers.

Before she married my father, my mother was Fabrics Editor for Vogue Pattern Book. She made all her own clothing. One of her makes from her Vogue days in the early 1950’s was a black wool boucle coat with a Peter Pan collar, a front yoke, and princess seams.

The original coat is all the more precious since my mother passed away when I was a teen. It is the only one of her makes that survived the California wildfire which destroyed our home and all her other makes, patterns, and sewing equipment. My older sister has worn the original coat for years (the reason it survived the fire is that it was in Joanne’s possession.) A number of years ago, Cindy Dahlin, a dressmaker from San Diego, CA, showed me how to rub off a pattern from the coat. All I required was the right fabric.

My friend Jeanne, who founded ASGLA’s Couture Group with me, divested much of her serious “work” fabric stash when she retired from being a lawyer. One of her pieces was this soft, black, wool boucle. It was very spongy — perfect for a classic French cardigan jacket — not so perfect for a traditional coat! I kept the piece for years; I’d already made a black French cardigan jacket, and didn’t need another. Then, I realized that there was enough yardage to make the coat. Now, all I needed to do was figure out how to fashion a coat out of this shifty fabric.

I considered making the coat with a hybrid of the traditional French technique, melded with couture soft tailoring. However, I wasn’t quite sure how to pull it off. Luckily, Susan Khalje was coming to Los Angeles to teach her Classic French Jacket class, and I asked her if we could make this traditional looking coat with the Chanel-style quilting technique. She agreed to help me plan it. Susan draped a beautiful Peter Pan collar for the coat, and suggested bias tube button loop closures (the original coat had two buttons at the top). After a week of work and some of Susan's beautiful vintage Chanel buttons, this is the result. So, it took a village, but now I’ve got a lovely one-of-a-kind coat, thanks to the village!

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