I made our little niece a vintage ’30s coat as a Hannukah gift. For the pattern I used Pictorial Review 6128, a double-breasted coat with optional back belt and pockets.
Here’s the diagram and description from the envelope back. It’s a unisex coat for small children, and was available only in sizes 1 to 6:
The recommended fabrics were flannel, camel’s hair, piqué, velveteen, cheviot, and serge. We had a length of purple Woolrich tweed that felt the right weight for a coat. (Established in 1830, Woolrich is North America’s oldest woolen mill. Today, Woolrich tweed is a wool-nylon blend for durability.) I cut some leather trim for the welt pockets from an old pair of leather gloves, and my modest button stash yielded a set of one-inch vintage Civil Defence buttons for the front and belt.
Since the pattern is the old die-cut type and needed no alterations, I tried cutting using the original tissue pieces held down with weights.
I’m new to tailoring (and coat-making), so throughout the process I referred to Paco Peralta’s tailoring tutorial and my 1970s Vogue Sewing Book on tailoring techniques. The coat collar gave me the opportunity to try out pad stitching. The pattern even gave instructions; the undercollar is to be interfaced with muslin and pad stitched, with the collar stand first worked with a running stitch:
Here are some progress photos of the pad stitched undercollar:
This is the undercollar attached to the coat body:
You could call my approach to the coat half-tailored—somewhere between the pattern’s Depression-era muslin collar interlining and modern tailoring’s padstitched hair canvas interfacing, all catch-stitched along the seam lines. As a compromise between vintage and modern methods I used a sew-in interfacing on coat facings, belt, and pocket welts. (None was called for in the pattern.) To handle the heavy tweed, I had no tailor’s clapper, so I pounded the steamed seams and edges with a small cedar block we had on hand. Paco’s tip of making a few stitches across lapel corners worked wonders for my first-ever lapels.
I bagged the lining and added handworked keyhole buttonholes—fanned at one end, with a bar tack at the other. Partway through making the coat we decided against the convertible collar, so I omitted the lapel buttonholes. (As with many vintage patterns, there were no button/buttonhole markings.) It was my first stab at handworked buttonholes on heavy fabric; I love how the hand stitches create an edge that curves out to the ridge of knots that lines the buttonhole opening.
Here are some photos of the finished coat:
I think of Civil Defence buttons as ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ buttons since the font and crown are similar to those on the WW2 propaganda poster originally produced by Britain’s Ministry of Information. (More on the Keep Calm font here.) Some closeup views of the buttons and buttonholes:
And the little back belt:
Our loft’s walls have some mysterious industrial hardware that proved useful in showing the scale of the coat:
Cutting straight from a die-cut pattern was an interesting experience, but I still prefer printed or traced tissue for cutting and marking. An oft-cited drawback of unprinted patterns is that the notches and other markings don’t always line up. This was true of the coat pattern, but it wasn’t hard to correct.
It’s always a pleasure working with wool, and I really enjoyed the challenge of trying out tailoring with a heavy fabric. The finished coat is something our niece will grow into, especially in the shoulders. But she does love the pockets! I see more coat-making in our future…
(Cross-posted to We Sew Retro.)
12 thoughts on “1930s Children’s Coat – Pictorial Review 6128”
Soooo cute! What a lovely present! I have on my list to make my niece a coat from a 1940 McCall pattern!
Thanks, Debi! I was wondering who would be the recipient(s) of your 1940 children’s sewing 😉
You have done a lovely job on the construction, especially the collar. Don’t you love pad stitching? I find it so calming. I thought the buttons were Christian Dior, at first glance!
I made my 2yr old grandson a full length 1955ish raglan sleeved, roll (tuxedo) collared dressing gown in lemon wool. He loves wearing it, and it is so much nicer than the fluffy-polyester navy-blue character-logo RTW boy’s dressing gowns in the shops.
I wasn’t expecting to enjoy pad stitching the way I did! I’m actually planning a vintage dressing gown for our nephew..
This is so cute! And BEAUTIFULLY made. Your niece is a lucky little girl! Now how to hit it with a ray gun to get it in my size…..
You have created a very special gift for your niece. This coat is darling! This is something your niece will treasure even long after she has grown out of it. Your workmanship is lovely – and inspiring.
It’s beautiful! What a lovely gift that will most certainly be treasured. How wonderful to put so much attention to construction into such a tiny coat. Certainly a modern heirloom!
I saw this post on we so retro, I love this coat I have vintage coat pattern for my little one and I’m making it thanks to you.
Thanks, Zynthia! Best of luck with your vintage coat 🙂
Hi there! I have nominated you for the Liebster Award http://montanadesigns.wordpress.com/2014/03/15/liebster-award-nom/
I love this adorable vintage coat. What excellent construction, and an inspired creation. Congratulations on such a wonderful result!
Thanks so much, everyone!