Around last fall I started scheming about my ideal co pattern. I wanted something that was unique but subtle, simple but with all the necessities. After months of development, a fit party to see how the style worked on a variety of bodies, an intrepid group of pattern testers and months of editing and refining, I bring you:
The Moderne Coat
I wanted something that I could make up in lighter fabric for the spring and fall or heavier fabric for the winter. Pockets were of course a must. I'd been thinking about my favorite coats in the past, the way they fit, the kinds of finishes they had. After playing around with several cuts I decided upon the basic shape you see here and dug deep into studying a style of architecture that had intrigued me for years. I knew the style lines of this architectural language would translate perfectly to a coat. (The building that was perhaps the spark for this whole project was the Butler House in Des Moines, Iowa)
I've always been a big fan of design from the 1920's-40's. I love the geometry and futuristic qualities of the early 20th century's romance with modernism. I am fascinated by the art created by forward thinking artists and designers of the period, from the Gesamtkunstwerk of the Bauhaus, to the utopian problem-solving of Buckminster Fuller (who's geodesic dome inspired the Geodesic Sweatshirt.)
Version 1, which I've dubbed 'sport', featured rib knit cuffs and collar in the style of a bomber jacket. This detail makes the jacket cozy and relaxed while still feeling put together. You can even knit your own cuffs and collar! It also features piping at the seam lines. The pattern includes instructions for making your own piping and tips for sewing it in. Version 1 is unlined, but I'll be sharing a tutorial for adding a lining to this version in the weeks ahead. For the sample, I chose to finish my seams with bias binding made from muslin scraps. (The piping is made from muslin too!)
Version 2 is a more 'chic' take on the cut, swapping casual ribbed cuff and collar for a flat band collar. The piping is omitted and optional top stitching emphasizes the seams. It also features a 3/4 length sleeve with a decorative notch. This detail is also echoed at the side of the coat in the form of a curved vent.
Version 2 is also fully lined! It includes a shaped hem facing. For my sample here, I decided to quilt the lining (tutorial forthcoming). With the un-quilted 3/4 sleeves, this coat functions more like a puffy vest in the winter which I've actually found incredibly useful. I hate having bulky arms (due to many layers of coat and sweater) so this keeps me super warm without the bulk. In a cotton with a lightweight lining I can see this being a perfect transitional piece. You can also omit the lining entirely with a few extra steps. For my lining, I used a cherished vintage silk/cotton blend I'd had in my stash for years.
Closures are optional on this coat (in fact, many of my testers decided they liked the look of the coat without them) but instructions are given for adding snaps or buttons. I'll be sharing a tutorial for two ways to add a zipper to this coat in the upcoming weeks as well.
One very intentional detail for both versions of this coat was the style of collar. For those of us who spend the better portion of November through March bundled up in outerwear, the opportunities to decorate our appearance beyond the winter coat are often limited. Even if you want to keep your coat neutral, Moderne allows of all kinds of accessorizing. The minimal neckline allows you to showcase your favorite hand knit scarf or the beautiful wrap you picked up in a special boutique, without the layers getting bulky and putting a crick in your neck (does anybody besides me struggle with this?)
I've also been a big fan of wearing my Version 2 sample with 3/4 sleeves over a long sleeve sweater, allowing more opportunities for layering and adding a little flair to otherwise repetitive winter fashion.
The design lines of this coat are inspired by Art Moderne, a style of design prevalent in the 1930's and 40's. It was a descendant of Art Deco, swapping the exotic wood and elaborate ornamentation for simpler, more aerodynamic forms. You may be familiar with Art Moderne (also called Streamline Moderne) in the form of your favorite roadside diner.
From the pattern story included in the Moderne PDF:
Art Moderne ... developed in tandem with industrial design, mirroring the streamlined elements of trains, airplanes, and ships.
This fascination with “tomorrow” made its way into the domestic space as well, in the form of Moderne homes filled with items in harmonious style: clocks, radios, lamps, vacuum cleaners were all designed to outfit the home’s inhabitants on their journey into the future. Many of these thoughtfully designed articles were even considered works of art. Architect and Designer Norman Bel Geddes prophesied a future in which the design of everyday objects would necessitate a marriage of function and style. He wrote that, “art in the coming generations will have less to do with frames, pedestals, museums, books, and concert halls and more to do with people and their life.”
Moderne is now available as a PDF pattern! Since the print version won't be ready for a few weeks, I've made the PDF version as user friendly as possible. The download includes a layered multi page PDF (so you can print only the sizes you need using Adobe Acrobat) as well as both a 36" wide copyshop and A0 copyshop version.