Project: Vogue 9820 (1959), the Leopard Collar Jacket

Readers,

Do you have a dream project you’ve been on the verge of doing for years?

Isn't she a honey?

Isn’t she a honey?

I do. It’s my leopard collar jacket.

This Vogue pattern from 1959, which I bought in an eBay auction,  has captured my imagination since at least 2002. I know that for sure because I bought the leopard-print velveteen that year for this very jacket.

My swatch card for the leopard-print velveteen, purchased in November 2002!

My swatch card for the leopard-print velveteen, purchased in November 2002! I had originally planned to sew the coat with a black angora-wool blend.

The plush, nutmeg-colored, Italian wool-cashmere purchase dates from 2005, when I scooped it up at the Textile Center’s annual, not-to-be-missed fabric garage sale.

The velveteen and the soft, pettable jacket fabric make beautiful music together.

The velveteen and the soft, pettable jacket fabric make beautiful music together.

Many sewing dreams have come and gone, but the leopard-collar jacket dream has had such staying power that I can almost imagine it hanging in the coat closet now, ready to slip on for an evening out.

From 1959, but as fresh as today.

From 1959, but as fresh as today.

A big reason why I hadn’t tackled this project in the past was not wanting to cut into such beautiful and hard-to-replace fabrics till I knew I could do them justice. So the amazing dreamcoat project sat from one year to the next, waiting till I was “ready.”

You might reasonably ask how I defined “ready.” In short, I never had defined it.  I just knew I wasn’t–not yet. But I would be, oh yes, someday!

Guess what, readers: “Someday” is now, and I’m defining “ready.”

“Ready” is no big mystery after all. It includes

  • pulling the instructions out of the envelope
  • reading the instructions
  • noting what I do and don’t understand
  • getting help with the parts I don’t understand

    Here I will part ways with the instructions: I will NOT hand-sew the lining in, as was done back then.

    Here I will part ways with the instructions: I will NOT hand-sew the lining in, as was done back then.

Yup, it took me over a decade to do this. Pathetic, huh?

“Ready” also means

  • inspecting my fabrics for flaws and characteristics
  • cutting big swatches to test interfacings, stitch lengths and topstitching
  • making a muslin to test construction techniques and fit
  • altering pattern pieces

    Oops--the fabric I bought secondhand was visited by moths. But I think there's still enough that's usable.

    Oops–the fabric I bought secondhand was visited by moths. But I think there’s still enough that’s usable.

I’ve done all these things dozens–maybe hundreds–of times before, so why should this project be any different? All I can figure is, when my expectations are high and I imagine I have a lot at stake, the risk of failure and disappointment go up, too.

My old light box serves a new purpose: illuminating fabric flaws.

My old light box serves a new purpose: illuminating fabric flaws.

What point am I driving at? Readers, it’s like this.

When I was learning to bake bread at home, squandering a few pounds of flour and some yeast in the pursuit of a properly made loaf was an acceptable tradeoff.  I wasn’t attached to a certain bag of flour I’d been hoarding for years for the right occasion. I saw flour as a commodity, and pretty much one sack could substitute for another.

But I see the fabrics in my stash as unique or at least very hard to replace. Combine two of my precious fabrics for a dream project, and now that combination would really be hard to replace. Impossible, in my mind.

Can you blame me for wanting to be ready before I wield the dressmaker's shears?

Can you blame me for wanting to be ready before I wield the dressmaker’s shears?

And at the point where I assume something’s impossible, I can just stop imagining ways to make it possible.

The precious fabrics don’t get ruined, true, but at the cost of not realizing the precious dream.

The closest matches to this nutmeg-colored wool are on the Yellow-Orange card of my 3-in-1 Color Tool.

The closest matches to this nutmeg-colored wool are on the Yellow-Orange card of my 3-in-1 Color Tool.

Enough of that! Readers, the death knell for that self-defeating attitude is sounding. The contemplation stage is over; the preparation stage is beginning.

To ensure no backsliding, I’ve signed up for Coat Craze, a coat-making class at Treadle Yard Goods that starts October 19.

On your mark. Get set. Sew!

The coat is coming! The coat is coming!

The coat is coming! The coat is coming!

This entry was posted in Process, Sewing Projects and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 thoughts on “Project: Vogue 9820 (1959), the Leopard Collar Jacket

Comments are closed.