About half way through this project it seemed like a mess and I almost threw it all in the trash.
I'm glad I pushed through and finished it in the end now.
A vintage inspired coat-dress.
I had never thought of having a dress that was also a coat. Or a coat that you wear as a dress. Or whatever this thing is.
I saw this red heather wool one from j.crew and loved it.
J.crew sells them for $450 and are currently all sold out. I would obviously never spend that much on a single piece of clothing, so I thought maybe I could make one instead.
Being an experiment, I wasn't going to use any expensive fabric. I found 2 yards of this mid-weight cotton shirting with a brown/pink plaid in my stash. I'd bought it from fabric.com for $2/yd just to put my order over $35 to get free shipping. I also happened to have some raspberry satin I'd bought on clearance and 50% off, which also ended up being $2/yd. So in the end this coat-dress was under $10.00 which makes me like it even more.
Obviously the expensive j.crew version is better in both fabric and quality, but at least I have a cheaper kind of crappy look alike rather than nothing I guess!
Some of my favorite details:
The Standing Collar
This was an unfortunate mistake. I was in a hurry to get this done, as I wanted to wear it to a big fancy Christmas party for my husband's work and only had a few hours before the party. So I just hacked out a collar, and didn't plan on it ending exactly like this, but I ended up liking it just fine.
The front of the collar has a deep break that overlaps with the other side to button. So rather than one side on top of the other, one side is on the bottom for the length of the placket, then the very top comes in front with the button hole, crossing over the top placket to close. I had a big broach-like button for the collar closure that I thought added to the vintage vibe.
My second favorite element has to be the pockets. I always love skirts and dresses with pockets for both function and the look. It just seems like a surprise to have pockets on a dress to me. I made these pockets with a thick 1" welt, and a 1/8" raspberry detail at the base. The actual pockets are really deep, so I can let my arms just hang in them like a monkey. I also found an entire open can of soda fit in a pocket as I was going through the buffet line at the party. Luckily I remembered to get the can out of my pocket before I sat down.
I liked the look of the formal buttoned up collar, but I actually wore it open with the collar folded down a bit.
I usually wouldn't think to have three-quarter length sleeves on a dress, but I loved the 60s vibe it had in the j.crew version, and the sleeves reminded me of Jackie O Kennedy, although she'd probably have worn elbow length gloves rather than the long-sleeved turtle neck underneath.
Here's a shot of the raspberry satin lining.
Which happened to match a pair of tights I've had for a few years but rarely wear.
I was excited to have something to wear these tights with!
I didn't use a pattern, which was probably a bad idea. It ended up being a frustrating process of failing and fixing to get the fit better, but never really great. The cotton shirting was hard to work with, it was too thin and made a challenge trying to pattern match the plaid to some degree. A wool would be better as it's meant to be a coat and this fabric isn't. The thicker satin lining really helped in this case to reinforce and support the shape of the plaid. But I guess it turned out and is wearable.
It's a really easy dress to wear. I feel like it has enough structure and shape I'm not totally wearing a plaid sack or tent, but it's still loose and comfortable. I think overall it's really different from any other dress I've ever worn. I thought it would be cute more of a coat vibe wearing it with skinny jeans and riding boots, ballerina flats or heels to be more casual. Probably would look more like a coat if it was shorter in the mid-thigh range rather than to the knee as I've made it...but I don't wear skirts shorter than my knee so this may end up leaning more in the dress category for that reason.
I didn't get around to it yet, but I plan to add 3 buttons to the back of the sleeves for a faux placket, and probably a few on the front center placket. The j.crew version doesn't have buttons, but I think this thinner fabric needs 2 or three buttons in order to wear the collar closed.
I am interested in your opinions on this idea--a dress that also looks like a coat? Too weird? Any other ideas of how you'd wear it?