Simple Luxury – a Fleece 1943 House Coat

Some house coats are fancy, some are like wraps.  Some have coat-like lapel flaps.  Mine is of fleece and quite fine, perfect for lounging after I dine.  With fabric on hand so counted as free, what better way to sew for me!

Ooops, didn’t mean to write poetry here – this just came to me and I didn’t have the heart to delete it.  But anyway…yes, this post’s house coat is a true WWII time fashion, with outdoor coat-like features.  To keep things simple to make, easy to care for, and quite warm, I used an embroidered fleece (bought about 10 years back) for the best of both modern and vintage in one quick and nicely practical project.  This is perfect chill buster that’s almost as lofty and insulating as a real coat.  That’s why I went for the short sleeves so as to not be too toasty!

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I really needed a housecoat so this was one of the few actually necessary sewing projects.  I use this so frequently it’s darn awesome.  Practical sewing is so often neglected but the reward is the frequent consciousness and subsequent pride in having something you use on a daily basis be an item you made with your own hands.  With many practical items which are used on a regular basis taking only a handful of hours to make (my underwear, my denim skirt, my 40s jeans, hubby’s pajamas, this housecoat), the only roadblock is just dedicating a tad more time to sew these in my queue of projects.

This is part two of my Simple Luxury posts of my sewn vintage nightwear.  Part one was my year 1940 bias nightgown (post before) which you can see under my housecoat.

THE FACTS:100_4675a-compw

FABRIC:  2 and ¼ yards of 100% polyester, lofty and thick periwinkle fleece which has floral vine stitching across it

PATTERN:  Simplicity #4759, year 1943

NOTIONS:  All that I needed was on hand – the bias tape, the thread, the notions.  The buttons are vintage (they have a very unique feel to them) from the stash of hubby’s Grandmother.

TIME TO COMPLETE:  In all, from cutting to wearing, this took me about 3 hours in total.  The housecoat was finished on February 27, 2015.

TOTAL COST:  When something is in my stash for about 10 years, well, I’m counting it as free.

I went bare bones for the construction thanks to the fleece – no facings, no lining, no edge finishing needed.  What helped is following the guide for how to make the night gown with quilting (which I definitely want to try).  Most vintage original 1940’s nightgowns I see for sale are quilted, but a few yards of that kind of material can break a gal’s budget in one pop!  So if I ever find some cheap enough I’ll make my own 40’s style quilted housecoat but ’til then, this fleece version is plenty good!

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The size of the pattern was already big for me, but I didn’t grade down because I figured a roomy fit would be comfy.  I was correct!  I know patterns for jackets, coats, and such outerwear account for the finished garment being worn over other clothes, but I like the bigger fit.  My fleece is lofty enough to fill in for some of the excess ease.  Besides – the slight slop-room in the shoulders together with the trio of darts at the sleeve caps makes this housecoat have a very strong WWII look about it!

I find it interesting how the front is smooth and streamlined with darts while the back has the traditional 40’s bodice pouf at the waistline (courtesy of box pleats).  I love the enormous pocket!

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My housecoat’s length is in between the short and the long options – it was whatever I had room for with what fabric I had to work with (just over 2 yards).  The bias tape around the outer edges of the collar, sleeve hems, and closing edges serves the dual purpose of slightly stiffening and supporting, besides being just for decoration and using up a remnant on hand!  Perhaps the bias tape around the edges is a pitiful half-hearted attempt at a fully nice finish, but with the nightgown taking only 3 hours, the bias tape is my easy last step to adding something extra to a very easy project!

100_6248a-compwI adapted in many ways to “make-do” like a 40’s war-time seamstress.  The tie closure inside is two of those free ribbons soaked in fragrance that employees of the perfume counters hand out to you as you walk through department stores.  I’ll bet you they would never think that what (to them) is only an advertising attempt to sell expensive brand perfume would became a thrifty seamstress’s answer to a project need!  The ribbon for the button loops is something that came off of a package, for even more “re-use and re-cycle”.  I choose ribbon loops as I was loathe to attempt buttonholes in the fleece, not knowing how or if they would turn out.  Using loops gave me an opportunity to use smaller buttons anyway so I could add on these amazing vintage ones in an odd-ball set of three.

Please treat yourself and possibly make your own sleepwear.  It is easier than you think, and though the general public might not see it (unless you blog about it like me), YOU are worth it!  Now don’t get me wrong, others are worth it, too…speaking of, I did promise my 4 year old son a fleece house coat coming soon.  So here’s to those easy but practical projects that might not be high on the “looking awesome” list but get the most love!  Have you made yourself any night time clothes or lounge wear?

Next, will be part three for a full regimen of nighttime for a 40’s gal.  I’m trying to decide how to do my hair tutorial.  Do I attempt a video, or just present a series of pictures that we’ve already taken?  I did spend some time as radio announcer, but that still means I’ve never really liked hearing my own voice.  We’ll see.  What is best for everyone to understand?  What are your preferences?

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A Plain and Plaid Modern Fleece Hat

As I mentioned in my previous post, “Putting a Feather in My Hat”, a few years back I had made a basic but successful modern fleece hat which gave me some much needed confidence in hat making.

Like I mentioned in that post, I really don’t wear this hat too much, but it does fit and look great.  The plaid is matched together perfectly, only it doesn’t match with my wardrobe as often as I would like.  Nevertheless, my hat deserves a post sooner rather than later.

100_0794As you can see, my fleece plaid hat is not very receptive towards any special hairstyle or  fixed up coiffure.  It has a basic “skull cap” design and a long scarf-like piece that gets sewn onto the hat edge.  The outer long “tail” of the hat’s scarf edge gets horizontal tucks to sort of aid in gathering that “tail” into a large decorative buckle.  I used a semi-vintage (1960’s or 1970’s era) plastic pearled buckle from hubby’s Grandmother’s stash of notions to provide a feminine and neutral colored touch to the hat.

This hat was a very easy and quick two hour project.  There wasn’t too much cost or any risk involved in making this hat, either, because it uses hardly any fabric and the fleece is stretchy enough to make the sizing forgiving.  You could even use scraps to put together one of these type of hats, to make it even more sensible.  Every so often an “instant satisfaction” project such as this hat is needed in my sewing – it keeps more complex creations from feeling like they’re so formidable.

100_0790The “skull cap” base of the hat is made up of six small triangles which, I am proud to see, line up the plaid all the way around.  Look closely at the center back of the scarf bottom to the hat and you will see that there are just a few horizontal tucks there as well.  I think it provides a nice touch of detail and keeps the band gathered all the way around.

I should get this hat out more often and wear it.  Come to think of it, my fleece hat can be stuffed in pocket or purse, it will keep my ears and head warm for sure, plus, it is an easy, fashionable fix for a bad hair day!

THE FACTS:

FABRIC:  a polar “non-pill” fleece 100_0988

NOTIONS:  All I needed was thread for the hat’s construction.  The buckle was on hand from hubby’s Grandmother’s stash.  That buckle was missing it’s middle bar to be used as a regular belt closure, so it was perfect to be used decoratively.

PATTERN:  Simplicity 2494, view C, year 2009.  I would like to make the ivory version with the scalloped brim…so very 1920’s!

TIME TO COMPLETE:  Only two hours!  It was both made and finished on December 12, 2012.

TOTAL COST:  About less than $2.00

Sewing Projects Worthy of Giving Thanks

Even though it is a bit too late (holiday speaking) to be posting something from Thanksgiving, it’s never a bad thing to give thanks.  Appreciating one’s blessings is good for any time and season!

Personal illness and time constraints have delayed my revealing of these in-house projects. So now I am finally getting around to posting two items that help our home become more ready for the fall/winter season : a dachshund themed Thanksgiving tablecloth for our dining room, and a fleece lined snuggle sack for our own live hot doggie.

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THE FACTS: 

FABRIC:  For the Tablecloth- a 100% cotton, M’Liss  designed “My Pumpkin Patch II”  fabric.  Even tough it looks like a patchwork quilt, the fabric is actually just printed seamless fabric.  It is trimmed with a 100% cotton ecru colored lace.  For our Dachsie’s Snuggle Sack- a thrift store pillow case for the outside, and a little over a yard of fleece for the inside.

NOTIONS:  I only needed thread and I always have that on hand

PATTERN:  None!

TIME TO COMPLETE:  It only took me about 1 hour to make our dachsie’s pillow cover and our tablecloth was finished in about one afternoon.  Both projects were completed in November 2012.

TOTAL COST:  The tablecloth cost about $15, but the doggy snuggle sack only cost $3 (a 25 cent pillow case and a yard of ugly clearance fleece makes for one happy puppy!) 

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For the dog’s project, I simply measured the width and length of the pillowcase and  sewed the fleece together at 1/4 smaller sizing than my measurements.  Then, the fleece pocket was slipped inside (seams facing the pillowcase) and the edges of the open end were turned inside to cover the raw fleece edge.  I took the time to do some hand stitching along the pockets inner corners and tack the two layers together.  I just wanted to make sure any of our dachshund’s “tunnel-digging”, done in his bed, doesn’t turn his pocket inside out.

This is such an easy project and the very best thing imaginable for any pet that likes to stay warm and snuggly.  The warmth inside sure does build up when he crawls out in the mornings!  Blankets just don’t do the job as well as this fleece pocket does at making a bed that our pet is more than happy to retreat into. 100_0774-comp,w

As for our tablecloth, this took a bit more mathematical figuring.  The cotton was a 45 inch print and our table fits table covers 80 by 60 inches.  Thus, I took the extra length which I added on when I got my fabric cut, and put it towards making 6 strips to even out the rectangle shape.  Two of my 6 stripes were added onto the two short ends, while the remaining 4 strips were joined together, two as one, making long strips for both longer sides of the table.  I ended up with a “border” look that was sewn to the solid cut just along the edge of the table…so perfect!  I wish I could show you my piece of paper with all my mathematical equations (I was so proud of myself!) to come to this finished product, but I’ve lost it, unfortunately.

I am also very proud of how well I sewed sharp corners into the lace edging (see picture at right).  I also precisely figured out how much lace to buy doing my loose ‘eyeball’ type of measurement in the fabric store (the kind of figuring where I just hold up the lace and measure with my arms).  I actually had only 7 inches to spare at the end of it all!  That 7 inches of lace went towards this lovely 1920’s project.

There are 4 small squares of scrap fabric leftover from making the tablecloth.  I have started to make these 4 scraps into coasters using ruffled cotton, lace, batting, and possibly plastic vinyl to prevent stains.  I don’t have an exact idea in mind right now so the coasters might actually be made for our next Thanksgiving.  So is life.

100_0698-comp,wBoth projects make me smile – inside and out.  The table cover is so bright and cheery, with the dachshund theme being such a personal favorite of our whole family.  Little furry guy’s snuggle sack makes me so happy, because to see someone (or something) else enjoy what I have made is a real treat!  Now I’ll have to make more things for the humans in our household (hubby and kiddo)!

Just look at his cute “the nose” picture at left…see how happy his ears are, also.

Enjoy all your holidays, everyone!

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