Adding a zipper front to Moderne

Now that spring is on the horizon I've been thinking about transitional wardrobe pieces. The Moderne Coat is a fantastic light coat and a perfect piece to add to your spring wardrobe. I've decided to share a blog series this month I'm calling Moderne March (clever, right?) that will include suggestions and tips for sewing the Moderne coat as well as some great pattern hacks! I'll be sharing these all month long, so stay tuned!

A Zipper Placket for Moderne

Don’t get me wrong, I love buttons as much as the next gal. In New England, however, there’s at least a few months out of the year where cold wind sneaks right into your coat between the buttons and a zipper is absolutely necessary.

I went back and forth about including a zipper placket option in the pattern but decided ultimately to include it as an extra. There’s only so many pattern pieces and so many instructions before a pattern gets too crazy. This seemed like an easy addition (plus, there’s just something nice about a free pattern bonus, isn’t there?)

This zipper is actually sewn into the placket for a nice clean finish. It also leaves space if you want to add additional snaps to the placket, like you see on your favorite RTW jackets.

To start, print off the Zipper Placket Addition PDF (download it here!)* Be sure 'scaling' is turned off or set to 100%. Print page one and measure the rectangle to ensure it has printed at the correct size.

*If you downloaded the zipper placket addition before 3/10/18 please note that there was a small error in the seam allowance which has now been fixed. For more info and how to fix this if you've already cut your fabric, visit our errata page.

You'll need a 22-24" zipper. If you're the kind of person who likes having a bit of room to kick at the front of their coat, I'd got for the 22".

Cutting & Marking

The new placket is made up of two pieces and they should fit in the same amount of space on your cutting layout. However, instead of cutting on the fold, each piece must be cut (especially if you’re making V2) from the right side of the fabric with the pattern piece facing up.

You should end up with two of the exact same pieces, rather than mirrored pieces as in the original pattern. If using fusible interfacing, be sure to cut in the same fashion, with the glue side (bumpy side) up. This doesn't matter so much for version 1, as the pieces are rectangular, but is crucial for V2. The pieces below are cut for V1, but the dashed line represents what it would look like for v2.


Be sure to mark your notches and the small circle markings (choose the correct circle based on version and bust size).

Instructions for attaching the zipper

Interface your placket pieces as usual. If using a stiff fabric or sew in interfacing, you may want to trim down the interfacing seam allowances to 1/8" to reduce bulk.

With your zipper facing up, mark the left and right side at the top of the tape (with chalk or removable pen). This will also indicate the right side of the zipper.


Lay out your wider placket pieces side by side. Separate the zipper and turn the left zipper piece over so the wrong side is facing up and the teeth are on the left. The right side of the zipper with remain with the right side facing up, teeth also on the left.

Pin each zipper to the right side of the wider placket piece, positioning the top of the zipper teeth with the circle marking.

The teeth of the zipper should be 5/8” from the edge of the placket pieces. Fold the extra zipper tape towards the fabric edge at a 45 degree angle.


Baste each zipper in place by hand or machine at 3/8" seam allowance. At this point, zip your zipper together to check the that two placket pieces align correctly at the top and bottom.


Place each narrow placket piece on top of the wide placket piece with right sides together and with the zipper sandwiched between, matching the notch.


Using a zipper foot, sew together at a 1/2” seam allowance. Repeat for the 2nd placket.
Press the seam allowance on both plackets towards the narrower piece. If using a plastic zipper, avoid ironing over the zipper teeth, they can melt!


Edge stitch along the right side of the each zipper, catching the seam allowance underneath. Be sure to pull the fabric away from the zipper as you sew. It's easy for this seam to want to fold back closer to the zipper, especially if the fabric is thick. You want at least 1/8" space between the zipper teeth and fabric to allow the zipper to open and close without getting caught.

If you like, you can fold over the placket, matching the notches on each side and press. Your finished placket pieces should look like this:


Both zippers facing left, the wrong side of the zipper showing on the left placket.
It’s important not to get these two plackets mixed up in the sewing phase or your zipper will be upside down. Before sewing them to the coat, mark the left and right plackets. Then, sew your coat as directed, substituting the altered plackets for the originals.

I added a zipper haphazardly to my sample V2 Moderne when I needed a quick fix for super cold weather, but I may eventually go back and re-sew the placket.

The version of Moderne I'm working on in this post will debut in its finished state in a few weeks, as I've used it to demonstrate several different pattern hacks! Next up, adding a lining to V1 (with some bonus pattern pieces!)


Introducing Moderne!

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

Version 1

Version 1

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)

Version 2

Version 2

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.

Modern Diner, Pawtucket RI

Modern Diner, Pawtucket RI

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.”
A Moderne home via

A Moderne home via

A streamline locamotive from 1938

A streamline locamotive from 1938

Art Moderne clock via

Art Moderne clock via

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.