Monday, October 5, 2015

Bonnie Cashin: Mohair Coat Pattern & How to Make It

This bold and beautiful mohair coat by Bonnie Cashin for Sills looks as stylish today as it did when it was made in the late 60's. It's possible to copy and sew this rather simply constructed design to create a Cashin style coat to wear this winter. I first shared this colorful Cashin coat in an earlier post. This time I'll show how to draft a copy and show details used to construct it.

What gives this version of Cashin's Noh coat a fun and contemporary look is the wide, open collar that can be worn in many ways. It shows both sides of this cloth: one is fuzzy yellow and oranges, the other is smooth pink and reds.

The wide collar shawl collar in this oversized plaid create a dramatic graphic look, however any solid wool (or fleece for that matter) with subtle weight and drape could be used.  Details for this unlined coat include, edges bound with suede trim and a leather covered large hook and bar at the neck in front to hold the coat closed.  There is a pocket in the side seam that is sewn to the coat body.  Unline many other Cashin coats, this onet does not have buttons or her signature twist locks as closures.

I used the following process to develop a scale draft of the coat pattern:

draft:  The first step in drafting a pattern copy is to lay the coat flat and make a quick sketch of the shape on grid paper using pencil.  I sketched and measured one side starting with the center line (center front or center back).  To start, I located the center front line.  Sometimes I find that placing a yard stick along this 'line' will help with measuring.  For this coat, I measured the following:

width: sleeves from center front or back: to wrists along top fold, and sleeves from center front or back: to wrists at underarm side seam, chest front and back: from center to underarm, hips front and back: from center to side seam,  hem front and back: width from center to side seam

length: full length from shoulder fold near neckline down to hem, full length from shoulder fold at true shoulder down to hem. and distance from wrist to hem level (this will help to establish the sleeve angle)

sleeves: width of sleeve at underarm and at wrist opening

pocket: length of 'slot' opening, width and height of pocket shape

hood: center back length from neckline to tip, full length of front edge from side to side at neckline

These measurements resulted in the pattern draft to scale shown here:

The most notable element here is that the shoulder line is not a seam, but rather a fold. I position both front and back on this line, so the back view is upside down.

The front piece is simple, with wide sleeve and straight side seams.

The back is more narrow that the front and has a center back seam.  The front is wider, which will be allow for the center front overlap.  The side seam pocket is cut in one with the back panel.  This will be sewn directly to the front panel around the curved edges.  The front panel will have the fabric turned under where the pocket opening is placed on the side seam.

The collar is cut on the bias. One thing to notice is that the center front of this collar is not at the front edge of this collar. Instead it is set back, creating the deep 'label' effect.

Here are additional views showing details:

This first slide shows the neckline of the coat with the collar opened flat.

This view shows how the collar is positioned in the neckline with short 'lapels' at each wide corner.

slide above: the outstretched sleeve shows the shaping of the body and underarm curve. The front closure placement is also shown under collar.  Also notice the size of the collar lapels.  Pocket stitching is barely visible in the mohair texture.

The pocket is applied to the inside front and stitched around the edge. Both the inside and outer views are shown here.  On the fuzzy side, the hand opening can be seen.

This unlined coat is sewn using flat fell and open seam allowances with edges turned under and stitched in place.  This creates stitch lines on the fabric face.

The outer edges are bound with suede trim. It is applied by sewing strips of suede along one edge, then turning and sewing again catching the edge down in the 'ditch'.  On this coat, the suede was sewn to the smooth 'red' side, the rolled around and sewn down on the fuzzy 'yellow' side.

This is a close up view showing how the suede looks from the fuzzy good side of the coat, with a seam line that runs along the edge of this binding.

More on Bonnie Cashin

Brass Twist Locks

Turn Locks on Leather

UCLA Library: Digital Collection, Bonnie Cashin: undated fashion and costume photos

Bonnie Cashin: my Pinterest board on the designer

1949 Coat Patent

1961 Knit Dress and Girdle

1966 Coat

Pattern Draft for Leather and Canvas Coat

Friday, September 25, 2015

1916 Fall Fashion Advertisement: Cat's Paw Cushion Rubber Heels

Fall leaves blow in this advertisement for "Cat's Paw Cushion Rubber Heels" that dates from 1916.  Published in a women's sewing craft magazine, this eye catching striped skirt ensemble was very popular during that era, and hints of the historical styles from the late 1700's that were so popular then.

The contrast jacket with double breasted buttons and cutaway front is in the style of a redingote from the late 1700's.  It features a little standing collar and turn back cuffs in starched white linen.  Standing collars were often wired to keep their shape up.  The wide picture hat completes her silhouette was also a popular historical inspired accessory.

The skirt length was shorter than it had ever been, being during World War I when textiles were in short supply and women's walking and working demands made adopting this shorter and fuller style desirable.

Modesty required toned stockings or higher cut boot tops as you can see here with the color contrast high buttoned spats worn over her black shoes with French heels (or they might have been tall boots of contrasting leather).

Together, all of these elements create an eyecatching outfit from the mid-teen years.  Hard to believe that this was a century ago,

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

How to Copy: 1963 Party Dress & Draft an Over Skirt

This adorable vintage illustration from 1963 shows a navy or black brocade cocktail dress with a bustier type bodice and gathered skirt with a folded over-skirt or apron. It has a simple concept that appears more complicated than it is. By using current patterns, it's possible to copy this dress.

The bodice is a simple shape, with a horizontal neckline that has a small notch in the center. By using a similar fitted bodice, and adding that "V" notch in center, the same shape can be created. Black satin ribbons trim this bodice edge, create the straps, belt and edge the overskirt as accents.  A tiny bow is also seen at center front.

The skirt pattern you use can be gathered, semi-circle or "A" line. What gives the distinct look is an overskirt that has a center front opening with front edges folded back. This can be draped over the under skirt and sewn to it around the waist line seam. You can see with this design that the overskirt hem is trimmed up at the sides with black ribbon too. The center back edges of this drape are left open, without a back seam and bound in the black satin ribbon. Ribbon could be used for the hem edge as well.

Both of these dress patterns are a good place to start if you don't have your own bustier dress pattern.

Simplicity 1690 is remarkably similar to this vintage dress, and could be used to make the copy. The vintage overskirt is longer than this pattern, so it may need to be lengthened.

New Look 6457, view "A" has the basic pattern elements. It would need to have the overskirt draped. If you try that method, use muslin or scrap fabric so you can get the right look without using your fashion fabric. It can be a flat width of fabric the same length as the under-skirt.  Fold back the front edges and trim up that angle as shown in the illustration.  Leave the over-skirt open down the back like an apron, so it doesn't need to have a seam or zipper.

To create your own over skirt, using a gathered or "A" line skirt pattern, follow this tutorial. I used small scale patterns to create this, so it will look different than a true pattern you make using full sized patterns.

Because the over skirt folds back, it will need to be fully lined in the same fabric. This will mean that two complete over skirts will be cut from the fashion fabric. Be sure to try a sample layout to estimate your yardage for this so that you have enough fabric for the skirt.

Creating a skirt drape is a fun way to make an original and dramatic dress of you own design, and this style would be flattering to most figure types, creating a unique look with vintage style.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Fashion Illustration: Three Books on Fashion Drawing

This week I am continuing with a few suggestions for building a fashion illustration library with three books: Colors for Modern Fashion by Riegelman, Fashion Illustration Techniques by Lafuente and Fashion Illustration Today by Drake. All three have merits and could be inspirational as well as instructional when it's time to illustrate a fashion, costume or work with advertising illustrations.

At 6.5 pounds, Colors for Modern Fashion by Nancy Riegelman is a hefty volume filled with information on how to draw fashion illustrations using colored markers. The illustrations show a wide range of examples, and could help those new to illustrations get a better idea of how to problem solve figures and fabric.

This is a soft bound publication with 560 pages, published by 9 Heads Media, 1st self published edition (April 29, 2006), ISBN-09702463-2-3, Dimensions: 9.1 x 1.5 x 13.1 inches, The following illustrations are typical for this book:

The second book is Fashion Illustration Techniques by Lafuente.

This book show how to illustrate Fashion using colored Media: watercolor, pastels, crayons, markers, pencils and collage. It takes a more 'fine art' position when producing illustrations and contains a wider variety of techniques and styles using European Fashion Illustration Techniques.

It is a moderate sized text at 191 pages, published by Evergreen, 2008 (ISBN-13: 978-3836504072, Size: 8 3/4" X 10", Weight: 2 pounds).

The third book is Fashion Illustration Today by Drake.

The third illustration book was published in 1994 and is filled with the images of popular techniques from that final era of fashion illustration. There is alot that an illustrator today can take away from this book which features dramatic, colorful illustrations from 27 well known illustrators of the 90's.  Pages include both mixed media color illustrations and drawings. This book has an art based point of view, showing artists with widely different styles.

It is available as a 176 page paperback, published by Thames & Hudson in 1994 (ISBN-10: 0500277737, 9 1/2" X 11 1/2", 1 1/2lbs).

The next time you find yourself cruising the shelves of a used book store, keep an eye out for these publications, you'll want to take a closer look.

(These titles may be available in my shop)

Friday, September 18, 2015

1960, Gloves by Crescendoe, Illustration by Grau

"(Have you seen Crescendoe "Leather gloves by Superb" fabulous)"

"Crescendoe's Caresse, Suddenly beautiful things happen to your hands"

"Miraculous, the flattery of leather tailored gloves in Caresse, Crescendoe's marvelous new matte-nylon! Won't shrink, pill, or loose its shape when washed.
Poco, $3.00, young button shortie
Fidelio, $3.50, Long and elegant"

Illustration by Grau


Don't these seem perfect for fall weather?


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