After making the universally popular Polar Bear, I was keen to see how the Burda 9596 Pattern for a girl’s coat would turn out in a different fabric. My brief was to make a fun and smart cover-up for those colder days that await us in the next 6 months of our so-called British Summer Time. I wanted to use corduroy. As a little girl, I loved the corduroy flares that my grandmother had made me, and when I’d grown out of them, she converted one of the bell-bottoms into a pencil case for me! There was something very friendly and tactile about those velvety ridges.
It took me a while to find the right fabric. The shops had a limited range of corduroy in colours too dull for childrenswear, though some great needlecord samples came in the post from Brisbane Moss and Myfabrics. But a trip to Goldhawk Road proved decisive. I found a vivid purple at Orya Textiles and though I had some misgivings about the thick ridges (5 wale is the kind of thick corduroy used in upholstery), I spotted some lime-green cotton satin a couple of doors down in Unique Fabrics and, being a big fan of purple and green together, I grew determined to make the two work. The total cost of the fabrics came to £20 with another £4 for the buttons from MacCulloch & Wallis.
View A of the coat is quite fancy – with a peplum, topstitching and contrast cuffs. Much as I love it, I realized that the lime and white polka dot fabric that I’d bought for the cuffs would have been too much! So I made a last minute decision to go for the subtler View B with the length of View A (so as to keep the swingy skirt). I used the polka dot fabric for making the bodice lining, i.e. the inside parts that don’t need to be as slippy, whereas the sleeves and the skirt were lined with lime cotton satin. The only other modification to the pattern was the coat hook I added (pretty essential in a coat, I think). It was made from a tube of fabric and inserted between the collar and the back facing (pattern piece 14).
I’d say that there a three parts to making the Burda 9596. The first involved cutting out the 15 pattern pieces, marking them and applying the interfacing. This seemed to take ages. It was nerve racking having to stick to the grainlines so carefully: the up and down ridges would have given away the slightest mistake. But the second part – machine stitching – was relatively quick and straightforward. It’s a real moment of joy when the first sections come together and the coat begins to reveal its character!
The last part involved lots of handstitching. After a couple of hours of sewing the lining to the thick coat hem (which I haven’t done entirely evenly), my fingertips were so sore I had to take a day off before being able to face the buttons.
My daughter has named her coat Violet and seems pleased with it, though wondered why the lining is in two fabrics (the spots alone would have done!). She also pointed out that the coat is too big. I wish I’d know that a spring coat doesn’t need to accommodate layers of warm clothing underneath, or I might have graded it down. Hopefully, by the time I get to make Burda 9596 again, I’ll be closer to being a pro sewista and will manage to pull off a perfect version!
Finally, a couple of literary references that kept popping into my head as I wrote this. For the youngest readers and their mums, my daughter and I recommend “Corduroy” by Don Freeman. This beautifully illustrated story features a teddy bear in corduroy dungaress and a kind girl called Lisa.
Corduroy also features in the opening lines of one of my favourite Anne Tyler novels, “Ladder of Years” :
This all started on a Saturday morning in May, one of those warm spring days that smell like clean linen. Delia had gone to the supermarket to shop for the week’s meals. She was standing in the produce section, languidly choosing a bunch of celery. Grocery stores always made her reflective. Why was it, she was wondering, that celery was not called ‘corduroy plant’?