Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Coat Closet: The Redingote

Through fashion trends currently favor oversized coats in the US, we're not seeing them on the streets of Paris for the moment. But we have noticed a resurgence of an old French classic: the redingote. Originally designed as a riding coat at the turn of the last century, this garment is shaped more like a dress (fit and flare) in contrast to the boxiness of an overcoat.

The most graceful versions of this coat employ a princess line pattern. While a lighter wool is more suited for the scale of the doll, I wanted to ensure the end result would really look like a WINTER coat so I broke a major rule. I chose to work with real coat fabric. This created a number of challenges thus resulting in the delay of this particular project.

Velvet trimmed grey wool redingote.

My pattern is based on that same princess line dress we featured awhile back, combined with the real, rolled collar we used for the jacket. Creating the pattern was easy enough but, admittedly, it was a challenge to figure out how the garment would fit due to the bulk of the fabric. Moreover, my fabric was very soft and I didn't anticipate it stretching during the assembly of the coat. I will tell you that pressing this garment as you go, is THE most important element in arriving at a halfway decent coat. In hindsight I should not have chosen a rolled collar, but I really wanted a traditional coat with little velvet accents.

The pattern for this coat is relatively simple. I started out drafting a shoulder line princess bodice. Beginning with the basic bodice, draw a line from the apex of the dart to the middle of the shoulder. Close out half the waist dart. Smooth out the lines so you have 2 parts, a center front and a side front.

Line up the basic skirt pattern CF to CF of the bodice. If the darts of the skirt don't line up with those of the bodice, slide them over until they do. Connect the legs of the bodice darts with those of the skirt. Draw a perpendicular line from the apex of the skirt dart to the hemline.

I have chosen to flare out the skirt side by 1/4 inch. (You can add more especially if you are making a longer coat.) On either side of that perpendicular line, mark 1/4 inch. From each dart leg, draw out a line to that mark. Then, trace the defining silhouette of each section, smoothing out the area of the waist. So as not to confuse you, I have traced each section in a different color. You now have center and side coat fronts that extend from the shoulder line to the hem. Drop the armhole by 1/4inch.

Extend the coat front by 1/4 inch over from the CF line (more if you want a double breasted coat). On the coat front, decide where you want the collar to fold back. Mark. Make a diagonal line extending from 1/8 inch away from the neckline to this mark. Now, on the left side of this diagonal line, draw how you want the collar to look. Trace that drawing onto tracing paper, flip, then lay it onto the coat front along the diagonal line. By tracing this section's silhouette, you now have your coat center front. Trace the shoulder, neck and 1/2 inch away from the edge of the your coat front to create the facing.

The back is made exactly the same way as the front. The only difference is that after closing out half the dart which was transferred to the shoulder, I have straightened up the dart and slid it to line up with the dart of the bodice.

Again, the back skirt is incorporated into the creation of the pattern and lines up with the back bodice. Adjust the darts so that the legs line up. Smooth out the waist area. Add flare just as explained in the front.

For the coat back, create a single piece by tracing off one side and adding it to the opposite side along the CB. If you want more fullness, flare the coat back at the hem of the center back. Add seam allowance to the CB. The center back pattern will be in two pieces. A center back seam will also allow you to custom fit the coat to the doll. Be sure to lower the back armhole by 1/4 inch.

Add seam allowance to all pattern pieces. I'm using the same sleeve used for the jacket.

My velvet collar is a 1/2 inch piece of velvet ribbon attached on the inside of the collar (folded over to the exterior of the coat). I also used a bit of the same ribbon for the pockets. The front of the coat is closed using two hook & eyes to keep it close to the body.

This fabric became really bulky, especially along the outer edges (where the facing folds back), the collar and the hem. So using a moist pressing cloth, I pressed and pressed and pressed along the seams while applying pressure. Because this is a napped fabric, hems had to be sewn, not glued, them steam pressed.

Mocha brown plain woven wool coat with waistline seam.

You can also do a more simplified version of this coat. The process is the same, however the bidice and skirt patterns are made separately. Just as in the case of our 2-pc basic dress, the bodice is then attached to the skirt, making sure the seams match. You will want to belt that coat, shown here in a lighter wool which was infinitely easier to work with.

I used a facing for both coats due to the type of collar I chose. If your coat has no collar, you can do an edge to edge lining. Otherwise, in a separate and later post, I will address the subject of lining coats and jackets.

Christmas shopping at Galeries Lafayette in Paris under the stained glass dome.

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