button coat wibbling

The week of Valentines day is also half term week this year, so no work for me. We’re spending the week at Gareth’s so I’ve decided the time has come to make something I’ve been keeping on the back boiler for nearly ten years now – my button coat. I’m hoping that if all goes well I can finish it in a week.

This could, I think be considered to be a bit steampunk, but it was concieved long before I’d heard of steampunk. I bought some heavy, dark green watered silk taffeta at the bargain price of four pounds a metre, and the idea was born. It will be a long, fairly dressy coat with a full skirt and mandarin collar – plain enough from the front.

 This Is the silk with some of the buttons I intend to use. as you can see, none of them match. Some are antique glass, others wood, horn, shell, porcelain, metal, and plastic.

The idea that I would be making this coat  at some point in the future has given me an excuse to treat myself in Duttons every now and then. (For those who don’t know of it, Duttons for Buttons has three tiny shops in York, Harrogate and Ilkley that sell pretty much nothing but) I think I may finally have enough.

Then again, we’re going to York next saturday for Gareth’s birthday, so maybe I’ll just pop in. Just in case anything takes my fancy…

 The idea is that the coat will be fairly plain at the front, with only the front fastening buttons and the ones that hold on the sleeves actaully showing.

Yes, you did read right, the buttons that hold on the sleeves. The sleeves won’t be sewn at all other than hems and buttonholes – the seam up the back of the sleeve will button shut, and then the sleeve itself will button into the shoulder epaullette (not sure I spelled that correctly, nevermind). This means that there will be a small gap at the armpit, cos putting buttons there would be a bit ouchy, but I don’t see that being an issue as this is a dress coat rather than a warm one, and normal arm position will make it largely invisible.

I did consider using buttoned pocket flaps, like the oens found on men’s c18th frock coats, but discounted it for several reasons – it won’t really fit well with the cut I intend to use – I quite like the idea that all the fireworks are at the back – I do put things in my pockets and find buttons there somewhat annoying. So I decided on simple little slit pockets in the seam instead.

I will sort the buttons into large one for the front, medium for the shoulders, and small for the back of the sleeves, just to give it ssome sense of proportion.

 The pic on the left, with the plain back, was my original instinct, but then I had the idea of two rows running down from the hip (I quickly discounted a row down the centre back as it would be uncomfortable when sitting, but I think these should fall to either side). The more I look at it, the more I like the extra two rows down the skirt, they sort of balance the sleeves.

It means more buttonholes to do – I think I’ll end up handsewing nearly two hundred in the end(I have all week and I can usually do five an hour at a leisurely pace, six on a good day) – but I think I want the extra buttons. I will machine sew the body, btw, but hand finish and do the many many buttonholes by hand.

It might mean visiting Duttons again tho, and maybe raiding Bonds in Farsley .

The beauty of the mismatched buttons tho, is that if I loose one I can replace it with anything that takes my fancy

There isn’t a pattern for the coat other than the one in my head, so in a fortnights time I will be either pleased with the results or scrunching it up and putting it in the bin, but it ought to be interesting at least.

which reminds me, I need to order thick silk thread for the buttonholes

~ by opusanglicanum on February 4, 2012.

12 Responses to “button coat wibbling”

  1. An intriguing idea! The upper body of the coat, with the button on sleeves has a very Renaissance look. Your idea of marching buttonholes with mismatched buttons is magnificent. I applaud your vision, and look forward to watching this piece grow over time. It will be killer, for sure. Thanks for the the “slow food movement” stitching inspiration! -k.

  2. Ooooohh. I so want to see this. And I vote for.the two rows of buttons down the back even though my mind yells “Don’t bead the butt!” 😉

    • I know waht you mean. part of me thinks the back buttons will get caught on things, the other part of me shrugs and thinks “they’ll look good – just avoid using the glass ones there”

  3. It sounds fabulous – and it will be great to see steampunk not in black or red!
    I don’t think I have the patience to do all those buttonholes, so I shall be content to see your coat grow!

    • i adore dark green – but as i said, this was concieved befoore I’d heard of steampunk, so I have trouble reconciling it with the genre – i just meant to make a coat to wear. trouble is now I think everyone is going to think its meant for steampunk.

      I have decided to embroider a button with my signature tho, just to add to the chaos

  4. Mega-cool! And such a beautiful coat design!

    Re next entry, of course I was smiling from your first comments, then heart in my throat as I expected you to say that Branston had done something terrible to the jumper…..but he’s innocent! Just wanted the box!

  5. I love this idea and now I’m kinda hoping that you may not like it……then you could send it to me!

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