Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Cocoon Coat: Homage to Patrick Kelly (VIDEO)


The late Patrick Kelly--a Black designer who became the first American designer allowed into the prestigious Chambre Syndicale de Couture fashion association in Paris--was a personal friend of mine. He was an incredibly talented designer who had...well, a handicap when it came to pattern making. His lack of pattern skills, however, forced him to find other, more simple methods to arrive at the same sophisticated looks as those of his couturier contemporaries.

Patrick's way of dealing with garment construction was largely based on geometrics and jerseys. While Assedine Alaia and Emanuel Ungaro employed complicated cutting and draping in the creation of their curvy silhouettes, Patrick used stretch fabrics to achieve the same hourglass looks.

One of the iconic garments for which the Mississippi born designer was best known, is the cocoon coat. Upon his arrival to Paris in 1979, Patrick was the house guest of Victoria Riviere, press attache to Issey Miyake who had just featured cocoons in his then most recent press presentation. This caught both the eye and the imagination of Patrick who loved this garment so much, he decided to own it. He came up with a super-simple way to make the same coat by folding a single piece of fabric like an origami napkin.

The photo above features the cocoon coat Patrick hand made just for me. I have studied the construction of this coat so that I could duplicate it in miniature for my dolls.

Here is a video tutorial followed by step-by-step instructions.
 



Start with a rectangle twice as wide as it is long. Here, I've taken a piece of material: 14" wide and 7" long. Fold in half and mark the center line. Make a mark 1 3/4" on each side of the center line. Fold each mark towards the center. Stitch the pleat that it forms down for about 1 1/2.


Now, fold one side diagonally so that it lines up with the top of the folded fabric. Note that the start point of the fold is close to the center line at the bottom.
Pin to 1/2" away from the center at the top seam. This will also catch a bit of the pleat.

Repeat on the other side. Stitch across the top using a 1/4 to 3/8" seam allowance (stopping at the 1/2" mark of the above step). Each side will overlap the front.
Measure 1/2" from the external most edge and cut perpendicular to the top edge.
Here is what this looks like in the back (before the wrists are cut).

Press the top seams then turn the coat right side out. The edges will be raw at this point. You can either turn the edges and stitch or fold and (fabric) glue down. Here is the end result. I have machine stitched this coat.

You can play a bit with the proportions to get a longer or shorter coat. Or reverse the pleat in the back. Various fabrics will yield a variety of different looks.


Content & Photos © Fashion Doll Stylist, 2013. Please do not reproduce photos without prior permission.

Want to make this cocoon coat for yourself! Click here for the full (adult) size instructions furnished courtesy of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

13 comments:

  1. Interesting read. Really enjoyed this post. Love the blog!











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  2. I've made this coat for my barbie and I'm super happy with the results. I'm also planning to make everything else on this site :) When I've got pictures, I'll share them with you :)
    Thanks so much for providing these instructions on making slopers and such, I was struggling with pattern making and you've made draping and such much less complicated! So really really thanks for that! Keep on the good work!

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  3. Cyndrome, would love to see your pictures. I have such a good time putting this blog together and I'm glad to hear it's helping others. Stay tuned. I have lots more ideas in store!!!!!

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  4. Hi there, i wanted to know if you could give me a bit more of a detailed step by step please?

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  5. Sanya, one of my plans is to demonstrate using short videos after the 1st of the year. As soon as I can do this, I'll make an announcement. Please check back.

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  6. girl, i could not get it, i got lost, imma keep tryn though, whew!!

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  7. I'm going to make this in an adult size for myself. Loving this blog

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  8. This really is origami designing. I wonder how Patrick-Kelly had the insight to create this type of sewing and design. It reminds me of some handkerchief patterns I have seen. Your mentoring skills are phenomenal.

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    1. Debra, thank you for your very kind words. What is interesting is how Patrick Kelly compensated for his lack of pattern making knowledge with a simplified, yet very sophisticated version of an otherwise complicated garment.

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  9. Thanks for this. The Philadelphia Museum of Art has posted a pattern for a similar Patrick Kelly coat as part of their Patrick Kelly: Runway of Love exhibit. I've linked to you in my post about their pattern (http://blog.pattern-vault.com/2014/05/05/free-designer-pattern-patrick-kelly-one-seam-coat). Very cool that you have an original!

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    1. Thank you Sarah. I'll take a peak at your coat and link it back here.

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  10. Impressive! I will have to give this a try.

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    1. Thank you. Indeed you must give this a try! It's really pretty simple!!!

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