Runway Sewn Your Way: Pamela Howard’s Cape Sleeve CoatIntriguing open sleeves were inspired by Max Mara designs
For the Runway Sewn Your Way Challenge, I drew loads of inspiration from Max Mara jacket and coat designs. I modified a well-fitting lined coat pattern #101 from Burda Style March 2019 to include a cape sleeve and some features I liked from the designs I flagged while scrolling through Pinterest.
The pattern went through many changes. I created hidden buttoning down the front; redesigned the sleeve; added an inverted closed pleat to the center back; included a bomber-style collar; and topstitched multiple seams. The results made me happy. Let’s take a closer look.
The hidden buttoning closure gives the coat front a streamlined look. It’s a designer technique I discovered in a sewing book from the 1960s and which I explain how to do Runway Sewn Your Way Technique: Pamela Howard Adds Hidden Buttoning.
Inspired by the cape-style sleeves in Max Mara jackets and coats, I altered the Burda Style coat pattern’s sleeve with the help of the Vogue 1263 jacket by Donna Karan (out of print). The new sleeve follows the sleeve-cap area of the Burda Style pattern in order to fit into the armscye seam. But the two-piece pattern morphs into the bell sleeve of the Vogue pattern starting at the biceps level and ending at the sleeve hem. I also moved the sleeve seam closer to the body, similar to where it would be in men’s dress shirts. Since they were two-piece sleeves, I stitched the seams closest to the underarms about 4 inches from the armscye and left the remainder open to give them more of a cape sleeve look. The cape sleeves are my favorite detail in this project.
Max Mara designs show the cape-style sleeves at different lengths.
I took time to determine how long I wanted my cape sleeves.
After trying on the test muslin, I factored in where my arm would bend and how much room I needed to raise my arm comfortably. Then I made sure I cut the fabric extralong, so I had some leeway when hemming the sleeves. In the end, I made them long enough to graze the middle of my hands.
Inverted pleat at center back
To add interest to the coat back, I drafted and installed an inverted closed pleat below the yoke.
Originally, I wanted to create an inverted pleat that opened all the way to the hem.
While this worked well in the muslin, the extrawide pleat would not lie correctly in the denim I had chosen. I hung the coat on my door for a couple of days trying to devise a solution. Diagonal stitching across the pleat, which worked on another garment, did the trick. I also cut away the extra pleat fabric below the diagonal stitching to sew a closed seam to the hem.
The bomber-style collars on several Max Mara designs looked so comfortable. I adapted the collar piece in the Vogue 9275 bomber jacket to work on the collarless coat pattern I was using. I shaved off 1/4 inch to 3/8 inch from the collar pattern’s neck seamline to create the right height for my neck.
In order for the collar to sit correctly in denim, it would have needed to be cut on the bias. Instead, I opted for the matching and comfortably soft wool jersey from my stash. Two layers of lightweight interfacing went into the collar to give it structure.
Because this was a denim coat, topstitching offered the perfect finishing treatment for many seams. I topstitched the pockets, for example.
After converting two shaping darts in the coat back into seams, I also topstitched those. Back yoke seams and front princess seams also were topstitched. For each armscye seam, I pressed the seam allowances in the direction of the coat body and then topstitched them.
A worthwhile challenge
The decision I made to use the silk geometric print georgette for the lining ended up being a true challenge. I took extra care to make sure the lining fit into the coat so it didn’t blouse out too much. The fabric is a beautiful contrast to the outer fabric and because it is nearly sheer, I can see what garment construction I did on the inside.
When I was laying out the lining fabric and trying to figure out how to match the geometric print across seams, I didn’t need a cold compress or feel the need to go lie own before I cut. I just went for it, and the print ended up lining up just fine at the seams.
The Runway Sewn Your Way Challenge gave me a chance to try an intriguing technique (hidden buttoning), construct stylish caped sleeves, and have another excuse to create outerwear—my favorite garments to sew.
Photos: Mike Yamin, except where noted.
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