Sunday, February 28, 2010

Vintage on a Sunday afternoon

I checked out Collecther today. As expected, the owner told me that they had been cleaned out by folks since the Times article, but there were still plenty of finds.

The goal of the trip was a cool, earth toned vintage tie for blokey. He actually smiled when he saw it: success!
Vintage acetate tie: $12 (Sunday sale)

I tried on a number of beautiful dresses, but ended up buying a coat instead.

I feel like femme Inspector Gadget

Vintage handmade coat: Collecther, $42 (with discount)
Grey sweater tights: Street Vendor, $5
Plum pashmina (it's real, not the kind I buy for 5 bucks on the street): $12
Booties: DSW, $45

During the swap, I coveted a camel colored coat, but it was pretty thin and it fit my friend better. But I saw this beautiful, thick wool camel dress coat on the coat rack. It was hand made (I could tell by flipping up the lining and seeing unfinished seams on the body), and lacked a brand/shop label. It had a material label on the side, which suggested that someone may have made in it a tailoring/seamstress shop.
The only problem was that my gangly arms were like 1.5" too long for the sleeves. I decided that hemming sleeves could be a doable hand sewing project. This took me about 75 minutes. Mostly because this weird rose powder came out of the lining (which I had to clean up many times) and I had a conversation with my mother while stitching (women are possibly better at multitasking because of our denser cerebral corpus callosum, says peer reviewed research). I'm still coughing all that rosey Grandma-like essence out of my system.

First, I turned the sleeve inside out. I pulled out the seams by the lining (using a handy seam ripper), and then I pinned a new hem, and pressed it with an iron high.

Next, I did this neat trick of using the stitch as a hem, by creating small stitches around the edge of the wool, that made a small stitch mostly invisible on the other side, the sew it in place (I'll eventually use a machine to reinforce it when I can get one working). Here I am almost done with one sleeve. The lining is sewed in place a few spots lower on the sleeve, so I was not so concerned.

Yep, I sew on my computer table. Hey, our apartments are small in NY

Next, I used the iron to smooth it out again. It's not perfect at all (you can kind of see that the edge got dirty on the old seam), but I'm pretty pleased. I can wear it now reasonably well.

I'd like to take this to the tailor that is currently fixing Fella's suit, and ask him to take it in an inch or so (I think it kind of overwhelms me right now) in the side seams, and then hack off about 4 inches. It currently ends at the thickest part of my calf, and I know that I am a reasonably attractive person, but there's no reason to wear a beautiful coat that makes me look short.
Also, those buttons have to go. Ick. Luckily, I already know to go to Vardhman, where the beautiful buttons all go to hang out.


  1. That coat is just beautiful! I wish I could pull off camel, but tans and yellows just don't work for me. What kind of buttons would you like instead? I've seen a lot of coats like that with a rounded, dark wood button. And I agree on the length - would 4 inches take it up to the knee? It'd look even better at that length.

  2. Oh, and are you going to keep looking for a dress?

  3. Hmm.. don't know yet. I saw a lot of beautiful ones, but I already have a few contenders to wear for parties. So we'll see. (You haven't seen them yet either).

  4. That is a FABULOUS coat! Where was this swap of which you speak?

  5. Hey, I sew using my bed and the floor. Small spaces make for creative uses.

    *Adore* the coat.

  6. Well if they're new to me, then that's good enough :)

  7. WOW!! That coat is fantastic. But it is more fantastic that you hemmed the sleeves yourself!!!! Thanks for the tutorial! I'll have to go back to this one day..

  8. Thanks Elaine. I love your new skirt. Isn't DIY awesome? I'd love to know more about your machine and your experiences. Hope to see more of your handmade goods in the future.

  9. I've bookmarked this page for future reference. I, too, have arms that make coat sleeves look a teensy bit short. And now, I, too have a solution to this issue.

    Also, you describe the powder in such romantic terms. Is that because it smells like talc? I am concerned!

  10. @AW: nope, it was actually rose powder, which is probably talc powder that smells like rose water. It was very perfumey. I have no idea why it smelled like that. The coat is at the dry cleaner/tailor right now get shortened and cleaned.