Tuesday, August 29, 2017

A Question of Nappy and Smooth and Dropped Shoulders

Last year, or perhaps the year before (one works on a protracted timeline when one has chronic fatigue), I decided I needed a brown wool coat for winter.

The first step was to pick out a pattern. I didn't happen to much like any of the coat patterns available, but ended up settling for this one, which is the Isaac Mizrahi-designed V1479 from Vogue Patterns. I'd have liked something with a little more shape and without dropped shoulders, but then, as I told myself, a winter coat does need to be roomy and this piece isn't without style.

Then I scoured Toronto's fabric stores and online fabric shops for the right fabric. I wanted a chocolate brown wool, and it was surprisingly difficult to find a plain dark brown wool. Finally I found what I was looking for -- in a cashmere no less. I also bought a dark brown kasha lining for the inside, and plain dark brown buttons because I couldn't find anything more interesting that would do.

But when the time came to begin cutting, I was suddenly seized with indecision. What was the right side of the wool? Was it the nappy side or the smooth side? This was the first new winter coat I'd had in ten years, and I wanted to be sure I got it right. I ended up posting the question to Ask Metafilter, with an accompanying link to the above picture (the nappy side is on the left and the smooth on the right) to ask which the sewers of the Metafilter community thought was the right side. A lively discussion ensued, with people voting for nappy or smooth and giving their reasons therefore, and the end result was that out of the twelve commenters who participated, one voted for the nappy side, six voted for the smooth side, three told me to use whatever side I wanted, and two suggested I use both sides strategically for the sake of textural interest.

Ultimately, I chose the smooth side. The selvage definitely looked better on that side. And given how the nappy side responded to being stitched (it acquired bald spots!), I am confident that I chose the correct side.

I am not thrilled with the result. I mean, the coat certainly turned out acceptably well. But I am suffering from pattern remorse. I wish I'd waited until I found a coat pattern I really loved, or failing that, I really wish I'd at least fixed those dropped shoulders. I would certainly done so had I been working with a knit pattern, but I'm not as confident of my sewing projects as I am of my knitting skills, and sewing is also a less forgiving medium -- knitting can almost always be ripped out and done again, but once that fabric is cut, it's cut -- and this was such an expensive and time-consuming project. So I didn't do it, and now the dropped shoulders give me the look of a quarterbacker.

Oh well, what's sewn is sewn. The coat is done, it's warm, wearable, and presentable, and while I don't love it the way I wanted to, I don't hate it either, and I can certainly live with it for five years or so until I can justify the expense of replacing it.

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