1912 Duster for Fall.

I chose to try this Duster from the VPLL 1912 Titanic Sewing Project as a fall coat because I had enough of just the right coloured medium weight fabric for that season. So although I lined it, I didn’t add extra warm lining, I used regular Kasha coat lining and no inner layer between the outer fabric and the lining. The lovely moss-green velveteen which I wanted to combine with a striped fabric in a greenish gold colour with dashes of rust and dark green would reflect autumn perfectly.


I used the Kasha lining for the body and sleeves and just for fun, I used an *eyelash* fabric for the collar and cuffs’ lining in a similar moss-green.

After printing it out and measuring the armhole size, I realized that I would have to enlarge it because I am fairly broad-shouldered and know from experience that the early 1900s jackets and coats which were meant to be tight are usually quite uncomfortably tight for me. I enlarged the armhole by cutting it lower about 1 ½” and tapering the new cutting line up to half-way up the armhole. Because of enlarging the armhole, I also added that same extra measurement to the sleeve pieces by extending the cutting line by ¾ ” on each sleeve piece. When cutting velvet and its derivatives (velveteen and corduroy), all pattern pieces must point in the same direction and I prefer to place them so the nap from the velvet runs UPWARDS: that makes the colour look darker.


Another change I made: I made a cuff pattern to its full size because I wanted to cut it on striped fabric and I wanted to make sure each cuff would be properly centred on a stripe.


The two collar pieces are sewn in the centre back for both outer fabric shell and the lining. I got this done before adding either trim or piping. The pattern calls for trim on the collar and cuffs… I opted for a lovely thick rust silk piping which exactly matched the rust in the contrast fabric for the collar and cuffs. I sewed this on both the outer collar edge and the upper cuff edge. When sewing piping on the outer edge of corners, one must remember to cut into the seam allowance of the piping to ease it around the corner and make a sharper corner.


The collar and turn-up cuffs are lined… which means that the lining fabric has to be sewn to the outside fabric of the coat and the proper collar fabric is sewn to the lining. I thought it would be easier to assemble that way. Similarly, the cuff lining was sewn to the outside sleeve fabric and the contrast fabric was sewn to the lining. After assembling the two sleeve pieces to make a sleeve in both the outer fabric and the lining, I sewed the sleeves into tubes at the underarm seam. It is important to align the cuffs’ seam to the side seam slightly which is slightly to the side of the centre seam and NOT to the centre sleeve seam, otherwise the buttoned notches would not be facing the right way.

These older patterns have a curve in the sleeve pieces that make it easy to see which arm is which! It also makes the sleeves more comfortable and less bulky. So now I have a lining sleeve with the cuff fabric sewn to it and an outer fabric sleeve with a lining cuff sewn to it. I sewed the two sleeve parts to each other at the edge of the cuffs. Clipped the inside corners for a nice square corner and pulled the lining back into the sleeve. My sleeves were ready… just one more thing to do to facilitate sewing them into the armhole: a quick basting stitch around the edge of the sleeve top where it is sewn to the coat. And I turned the cuffs up.

I came back to the duster body. I sewed the front and back at the shoulder seams and on the sides for each part: the outer shell and the lining. I then sewed the lining to the outer coat from the centre collar seam down the collar and then down the front of the coat and to the hem and returned to sew the second side the same way. I find it easier to sew the collar on that way, without the weight and bulk of the sleeves getting in the way. It was time to give everything a slight press with the iron. Again it’s easier dealing with this without the sleeves dangling and falling off the ironing board.

I made lined pockets… I even added them to the coat on the indicated lines on the paper pattern… but I took the pockets off as I disliked the extra bulk on the coat. I prefer inside (or slashed) pockets if I put pockets on a coat at all. And… I must admit that my choice of fabrics may have been perfect colourwise, but because it is velvet, this duster does look a bit like a dressing gown… the pockets emphasized that and so I removed them… :-(.


Now to attach the sleeves… Because I basted the sleeve edges I didn’t need to stay-stitch them. It was a simple task to align the sleeve centre seam to the side seam of the body and start pinning the set-in sleeve. I sewed the two layers from the sleeves to the outside shell of the coat. When both were done, I turned 3/8″ seam allowance down and pinned it all in place to hand stitch the lining neatly to the sleeve seam.

It took me two days to find the buttons I used. I have a dozen shoe boxes filled with thousands of buttons, most of them vintage! 3 of those boxes were just coat buttons. But… it took me the two days of rummaging through everything to make sure none had got mixed up in other boxes. (This happens over the year of work. Once a year I have to go through everything, putting the hastily thrown in buttons back in their proper homes. I have labeled the boxes by colour and size… ) I was hoping to find one set for all the buttons needed for this coat: 3 on each lapel, 2 on each cuff and 4 down the front. By the end of my first day of searching I had found three sets that would work well together as I never had enough of ONE kind to do all the buttons. Since I used a contrast fabric for the lapels and cuffs, I thought I might find 2 sets that would work, one for each fabric. But not. :-(. So the next day as I was making the final round of shoe box labeling, I discovered 2 boxes that had been pushed far back on the shelf! And within these boxes I found two sets that worked even better than the first I found the day before! There were in fact 7 matching buttons for the green body of the coat and 16 (!!! 16!!!) matching buttons that perfectly picked up the colours of the striped contrast fabric!!


So I measured the large green buttons for the front and decided to use 6 of them and keep a spare, and made 1 ¼” buttonholes. I used that many buttons to make sure the coat stays closed… I am permanently cold from October to end of May. The wind flapping my coat open makes me crazy!!!  In December I change coats and move to the heavy-duty clothing I also make… usually with zippers and a buttoned flap to cover the zipper. I sewed 3 buttons on each lapel and each cuff, leaving 4 spares. Once all that was done, I hemmed the coat and the lining separately and took pictures. I intend to make the *Mature Lady’s Hat* in the same moss-green to match the coat. But first I have to write and post this blog!!