Taking the scenic route with Gigli wannabe coat

Unlike the Selfish Seamstress and her recent finished-in-less-than-a-day dress, I take the scenic routes with my sewing projects.

V 1159 is simmering along nicely. It only took me like 2-3 weeks to research, trace out & adjust the pattern, order & prep the fabrics, and finally cutting out the pieces. Still need to transfer the markings. And sewing up, that’ll probably take another week or two at 2-3 seams per day. All relatively rabbit-fast to the tortoise that is my Romeo Gigli wannabe coat from ages ago.

Here’s the inspiration…

At $4000+ back in 1989, there was no way I could have bought it. So I vowed to make a copy. Fortunately I was able to examine one in a store (though how good I was in analysing and recreating is a totally different matter). Here’s my rough pattern sketches from back then.

Even more fortunate was a runway report from Paper magazine which had this close up of the embroidery. I was able to trace and enlarge the pattern on a copier. It saved me from having to recreate it freehand.

So the flurry of activity started in 1989. But it took me another 13 years to finish the coat, partly because I got bored of all the hand applique and embroidery, partly because I moved across the pond so the project had to go into hibernation like forever.

Here’s the end result.

Unfortunately, it turn out to be a massive oops.
(That unlucky 13!)

Oop no.1: As usual, I didn’t check the scale and silhouette first. The coat swamped my frame. I eventually gave it to a friend who is taller and fuller than me. Her vivacious personality and socially active lifestyle really brought the coat to life. In my hand, it just languished in the closet. She wore it out, even for grocery shopping, and got compliments after compliments. Once she was in Harvey Nicols (a very posh London department store) and a gentleman asked where she got it. He wanted to get one for his wife. The other time she was at the opera in NYC and another lady also complimented the coat. Made all that effort so worthwhile, even if it wasn’t me wearing it.

Oops no.2: Cotton velvet wasn’t the best choice of fabric. It wasn’t as drapy as rayon or silk velvet, so looked bulky and too big on me. And although the coat looked like it should be quite cozy, it was actually not very warm. Again probably the cotton to blame. (Didn’t help that I’m a girl of the Tropics either.)

Oops no.3: I didn’t think through the button-hole choices and went for hand sewn ones. Turned out a bit wonky. Luckily I had some stretch brown cords which I was able to fashion into fancy loops that pretty much covered up the wonky button holes.

Not an Oops: The embroidery I’m quite proud of. The applique was made with China Silk, outlined with green embroidery cords. The embroidered parts were backed by wadding to give the collar and cuffs a bit of body, maybe a tad too much. Here are some close-ups.

Here’s what it looks like inside.

A fittingly Tragic Romantic Ending…

Sadly the coat was too delicate to withstand the fast paced lifestyle of my friend. Buttoned up the bottom is rather narrow. So one day one of the buttons came off, not being able to cope with her grand strides. It tore the fabric where it was attached to. I tried to repair it clumsily with fusible. Of course that didn’t work with velvet. So now you see the outline of the fusible patch where the tear was. My friend decided not to take it back as she felt guilty about the tear.

So like a faded grand dame it has retired back into my closet. But I’m glad it had gotten a good leash on life. Better to have lived and be torn than to be pristine in a sterile ivory tower!

10 comments on “Taking the scenic route with Gigli wannabe coat

  1. As ever, all roads to cool clothes lead to you (in this case for me a google image search). I think after the decade I’ve spent trying to make one that works for my sister, I can draft a pattern from your sketches. And as ever, you are so very very very amazing

  2. Françoise says:

    This is a great work !!!!!
    So beautifull – your appliqué is incredible
    But can’t you not use it on another coat ?
    Best wishes

  3. You are way too hard on yourself! This is an absolutely stunning result and I think you look lovely! Just wear a sleek black or bronze dress underneath. Kudos!

  4. Please oh please- sell your pattern. Your Gigli coat is now my latest obsession. Diana from San Francisco

    • Sorry, I’m afraid I don’t have the pattern anymore.

      The closest I have is that drawing in the post which shows roughly the shapes of the pattern pieces. I’d have take out the coat & check if the sleeves were basically rectangles or shaped at the armhole.

  5. Linda says:

    Oh, Girl, that coat needs to LIVE! I stumbled into your website when I went looking for pictures of a made up Folkwear pattern Poiret coat. Thanks for saving me from an expensive mistake. But then I scrolled down to see your interpretation of the Gigli coat. Wow! I was almost drooling with envy as I read about its construction, and then how you gave it to a taller friend. Oh, please take that gorgeous thing out of the closet! I’d certainly be interested. Even if you don’t want to sell it, please think about how you can let it see the light of day (or the lights of nights) again.
    All the best,

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