Monday, September 20, 2010

Phoenix - the leather duster coat

I've finally got time to write up some thing about the summers mystery projects. I was invited to take part in the first fashion show at the festival of quilts this year and I accepted the challenge. It became definate in January when I was asked to make items for four categories. Daywear, acessory,evening wear and fantasy.

Two of the categories came to me very quickly and the daywear was one of them. I had a hide waiting for me to make a coat and I knew what I wanted on it. I just had to find the time to make it, and this was the perfect excuse. It had become work rather than luxury. I have a lot of projects like this filed im my head just waiting for their chance. Now at the time I said I would make some notes on the design process, and I did. I was going to edit them but actually they give you a pretty good idea of what normally goes on im my head when I am planning a project so here they are as I wrote them down.
My daywear project is going to be a coat. It's something I have wanted to make for a while. I would love to teach it as a course and make a pattern from it so it seems a really sensible (if anything about this can be called sensible) project.

I've been thinking about it a while and I will be using Folkwear pattern 137, Australian Drovers Coat. I've already made one and I love it. I also remebered it as being quite boxy so it should be easy to modify.

I want to use the phoenix from my quilt Phoenix Rising on the back of the coat, and add flames around the bottom. I want to add some flame dyded velvet to it in places, maybe the collar, cuffs and fastening band. I'm thinking of quilting smoke and flames to fill up the back and maybe adding flames on the front opening and cuffs.

One of the features I really like about this coat is the cape. Unfortunately I think it will cover up too much of the back to be able the fit the phoenix in. Maybe I can just use half a cape? Maybe I can get one wing tip over the other shoulder.

I can't decide about the pockets. I hate impractical clothing. I love huge pockets, but will they fit with the design? Maybe they will belnd in. Maybe I can quilt flames onto the pocket that hang off it and then quilt them down to the coat?

3rd Feb 2010

Well as it is official I've had a look at the pattern. It's even better than I remembered the body is two big rectangles give or take. However I am going to be making the coat longer and losing the back opening. Is it going to be too tight to walk in? Can I keep the opening? This would require the phoenix to miss the bottom of the center back. Alternatively I am thinking I might be able to add some more hemline by cutting and spreading the pattern, but I am not sure how that will hang. Would having more fullness make it hard to see the design? Does it matter?

I've also been giving some thought to what I will make this out of. It is going to be quilted. If I do quilted clothing, it's going to be proper, end of story, but how. I am guessing I can use silk wadding as it is very light, but it won't add much loft either which is a shame. I could go for wool which doesn't drape as well but would give better definition which I would like. On the other hand the original phoenix is pretty flat so maybe the silk would be better. Especially as I am considering quilting the lining too.

If I am going to quilt the coat should I make it a size bigger? My coat is fairly snug and I would hate this not to fit when I am finished. I do have a second copy of the pattern so it wouldn't be a big deal to make it bigger.

The lining I have now, it is more of the cotton satteen that I will be using for the phoenix and the flames. I am pretty sure I have plenty now. If I get stuck I will use black sateen inside the sleeves where it doesn't show.

The outer is the really tricky bit. I could go for sateen. I can get it readily, it quilts well and will show the loft of the wadding nicely. It will also make quite a fragile coat. I could use wool coating. If I do this I might as well go for a thin cotton wadding as what ever I use there won't be any loft to show, but it would be warm and durable. It also sews up really well. Now the really mad idea I had on the way home tonight was to make it in leather. I know a huge risk. I can't unpick and I can't quilt as densely as I might like. It won't show much loft from the wadding either. On the other hand I want a leather duster. It will be a practical coat after the show and it would be something really different and remarkable. Would it be more likely to impress? If I go with the leather option I am even more worried about the drape. Leather is relatively stiff and if I get the shape wrong it will be very wrong. Oh and of course it won't be cheap :) I do have a cow just waiting to be used though so I won't have to spend anything if I get it right. Also if I go with the leather should I look for some coloured leather to make the half cape in too? Will 505 stick things to leather?

Well as you can see things changed, they always do in my projects. I decided to leave off the velvet, it just isn't practical for me. It would have looked a mess in no time. I did manage to keep the cape, which I love although the center back slit did have to go. When I looked closer at the pattern this is one of the options offered so it wasn't a problem to not have it. I did make a larger size than usual to make sure it would fit and there would be walking space.

The outside is leather and it turned out I could remove the centre back seam so the main body is one piece. That took most of a hide on it's own. I needed a second hide for the sleeves and the cape. The coat is lined throughout with the hand dyed cotton, yes I even had enough for the sleeves and the insides of the pockets.

I did go through a phase where the coat was going to be a wholecloth. It seemed that it would be more durable that way. The problem was putting in enough stitching to convey the colour properly. I wasn't sure I could get the detail I wanted without damaging the leather too much so I went back to the applique plan.

For the wadding I ended up using a silk/bamboo blend from Asding. After a long and informative conversation this looked like a really good option for garments. It is, I loved working with it and it drapes well. I was thrilled that the compare did read out what the wadding was and where it had come from. It is called Quilters Dream Orient, check it out.

For the show I wore my military style boots with jeans and a black shirt. I wanted things to be very plain so they wouldn't detract from the coat. To keep my hair out of the way I went for the leather hat I have for drag racing, it seemed to suit the coat pretty well. Finaly the outfit was completed by Hal, my stick. This was made for me by the husband of one of my students and it was lovely to have a chance to show him off. He is modeled after one of their ferrets, hence the name.

Finally here is the coat hanging on the wall in the exhibition after the show. It is looking for more venues to be shown in so if you think you know of a show it should go to please let me know.

If there are things you would like to know about this coat that I haven't covered (this post is already quite long enough) leave a comment and I will try and answer them. Yes, 505 does hold things to leather quite nicely. Also if you want to see more details, click on the photos, they are quite large when you open them full size.


Feather on a Wire said...

I love the way you showed us inside your head during the design process. The coat is great. I hope we're going to get similar reports on the other items.

Susan Briscoe said...

Very interesting and enjoyable to read the process towards the coat. Yes, you've got to treat us to a similar piece on Victorian Steampunk and Tet's armour!

Borderline Quilter said...

Wonderful, just wonderful.....a look inside your head, very interesting and a fabulous coat, I wear that syle of coat often in the winter but no where near as spectacular as yours of course....

Vicki W said...

Fabulous! Thank you for sharing so many photos and your design process!

Susan A said...

Thank you for sharing your notes with us, they are helpful to others who may be struggling with the design process. Your coat is amazing! Please share your other items with us also!

Penny said...

Oh, that's a gorgeous coat.