Monday, September 6, 2010

Is the Coat for Trixie or Jo Jo?

I have been inspired to make another coat. The inspiration came from a pattern dated 1919, right at the end of World War I, and the Beau epoch, when Paul Poiret was designing beautiful clothes influenced by Orientalism, clothes like this beautiful Cocoon Coat.

Paul Poiret Cocoon Coat, 1925.

Paul Poiret 1913

The inspiration for the coat was this Butterick Pattern, dated 1919.

This pattern belongs to a collection of sewing magazines and patterns that belong to a historic kauri Victorian villa in the town where I live. The house is called the Brain Watkins House after the family names of the members that lived in the house between 1881 and 1979. The design of the coat by Paul Poiret, was inspired by the Japanese kimono, which was having a huge influence, creating a new softer draped look. Stiff bodices with rigid corsets were on the way out, and women wanted more freedom and movement in their clothes.

These are the fabrics I am thinking of using for the coat, the pink damask will line the body of the coat, the black fannel (a 100% wool fabric with a dense weave), will make up the outer body of the coat, and the black plush will form the collar and the sleeves.

The Butterick company was one of the first to print paper patterns. Prior to this tailors had made their patterns with paper or fabric placed on the clients body, toiles that were then used to cut the final fabric pieces. The Butterick patterns came already cut out, but with no markings other than holes punched out of the paper, as these early patterns were made by cutting around a heavy piece of card through the layers of tissue. It was not until later in the 20th century that patterns would be printed on the tissue, and placed in the envelope still in sheets.

These are the instructions, not as complicated as would be found in a pattern today, but for someone who knows how to sew, they have all the information required.

I want to decorate the outside of the coat with embroidery and appliquework and the following Art Nouveau images are something I came across in my work, over the last few weeks.

I particularly liked the willow pattern, and then today I went for a walk with Trixie, and we talked about making the coat, and how I could decorate it.

It is spring where I live and this was the view as we walked to the beach, wet and wild.

The willow trees were just bursting into life and I love the colours in this image.

The pussy willow type flower common to all willows, soft and silky.

On the walk back we collected a tulip flower from a tree bursting into life, and both Trixie and I loved the colour. I thought it would be a great colour to do the little circles on the willow design.

It would look stunning on the black, and they are colours I feel would work to capture the feeling of the fading Beau Epoch. I would embroider the stems and trunk of the tree, and work silver bugle beads in with the green threads. So below is the colour palette for the coat, without the silver beadwork.

So wait for more on the coat, as we walk through the steps of making it together. Now to work on the design of the embroidery. Until then my luscious ones, stay delicious and irresistable, until we meet again.


  1. What a visual FEAST! That was a great read ^_^ LOVE the art nouveau patterns and the way you're drawing inspiration from your surroundings :D I can really see your thinking this is A+ at uni sorta stuff haha!
    I'm excited to see how this coat progresses :D

  2. wow that's a great blog luscious one. You really captured the art of nature in all its adorning spring glory and the inspiration that wells up inside needing to burst into life like the bud.

    Look forward to the journey.

  3. Where is my client the toile is ready and there is no one to try it on.

    1. Mine is ready too! Ooo la-la for the love of toile. I wuld love to post a pic here but you will have to settle for seeking my facebook page under Robin Clarke McBirde. I love your designs so much that Im now in hot pursuit to make a poiret coat all from fabric on hand. Robin in NC (also see my page on FB called Lavoie Boho)

  4. I am in love with the willow pattern too and the picks of the willow trees are very inspiring. You are so clever Jojo! xo

  5. Welcome to my blog my precious darling, its so cool to have you visit. Thank you for your kind comments and it would be wonderful if you became a follower.

  6. Hello sorry I havent been a very good student, I am only half way through my piece but I will try to get onto it.....

  7. Carolyn: I will be sending everyone's second pack out to them next week so let me know if you want to continue or not.