Essential sewing keeping me clothed and sane




The Dutch Chapter of the Red Hat Society

The Dutch Chapter of the Red Hat Society

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I’m tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick flowers in other people’s gardens
And learn to spit.

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.

But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple. 

Jenny Joseph
Today I am practicing.
I bought this fabric way back in the summer at only £4 p/m and it’s 100% wool! It came from Myfabrics – online and I didn’t really know what it was like until it arrived. You only have to look at it and it frays, so the overlocker was taken from the dog house and stitched all round the pieces for a winter coat. I wanted an easy, relaxed, everyday coat and this turned out to be just that.
You looked at it!!!

You looked at it!!!

Pattern is Vogue (of course) 8841. This is actually a Wardrobe collection not just the coat, so with the little bit or yardage left over I made the skirt as well.
I made the shorter version A and skirt E. The coat is a relatively easy make – no tailoring or collar band – none of that stuff, so it sews up fairly quickly. Hardest part is the notched collar – but then it always is for me; and the fact that this fabric is thick and frays! Lots of steam and bashing was in order to tame the seam allowances as I didn’t want to trim too close to the edge in case the whole thing unravelled! There are no fastenings apart from a tie belt, but I made one button hole at the end of the lapel and sewed on one purple velvet covered button that has lurked around the button box since this was made 6 years ago! Then a found a little one that matched and sewed it onto the lapel, like a brooch. Now the orphan buttons have a home.
I must admit that the sleeves went in like a dream and believe me, it has nothing to do with my sewing skills. It is such a pleasure to work with wool – shrinking, stretching and just so malleable. I even managed to get the grey/purple stripes to run across the front and sleeves – but that was just pure fluke rather than planning. I did put in a couple of shoulder pads just to help the shape and hang but nothing else: no sleeve heads.
The skirt, I think, is rather underestimated. It is a straight, knee length sort of skirt but it has side pockets and a front split (which I left out in this version). It’s a good wearable, everyday skirt that seems to have been lost in amongst the coats and collars of this pattern.
DSC00597 DSC00598
For being a brand new coat, this already feels like an old friend – one who has been with me since uni and seen things and been places that nobody should see – the secrets the two of us have! Using it as a blanket when I slept on the sofa at somebody’s student flat late one night; following the Circuit of Ireland Rally round every nook and cranny of countryside and sleeping in the car; beach parties in November – I wore this coat; it was my cover-up as I dressed as Cleopatra, black wig and bed sheet, for one of many parties; I wrapped it around the wet and cold shoulders of my toddler son when he went out paddling too far into the Atlantic one early Easter; it’s been a picnic blanket when the grass was wet, a cover for two when the heavens opened unexpectedly during a weekend in Paris; all this and more. It’s absolutely shapeless, a few small darts at the shoulders is all, but I love it. It’s comfy and warm and wrap-up-able. It’s got pockets too. The collar wants to stand up, so I’m letting it.DSC00599
Now, all I need is a red hat, some satin sandals, a bottle of brandy and I’m ready for old age – bring it on!

50 thoughts on “Warning

  1. Very evocative description of a lovely garment. You could write for the J. Peterman Owners Manual (catalog).

  2. This is a great outfit! Love that the fabric worked well for not only the coat but the skirt too! Simply lovely.

  3. Well, I’ll join you, especially if you’ll bring the brandy 😉 I hear so often about matchy, matchy and that it’s not young and fresh. Well, I like matchy, matchy a lot! And I especially love your ensemble.

  4. Oh Ruth! I have a Perry Ellis scarf like that coat!!!

    Great NEW coat!

  5. This is so sharp you always make me want to stretch myself and try something tailored. You fit vixen!

  6. I used to know a woman who did custom couture/dress making and she said, when you make a coat, you ALWAYS make a skirt to match. It is just about the only thing I remember her telling me about her work. She said it made a very polished outfit, even if you didn’t wear the skirt often, it would come in handy. I see why now, your outfit is stunning.

    BTW-you are no where nearly old enough for a red hat.

  7. Love the whole outfit you are ready to leap into winter with this ensemble

  8. Love the whole outfit you are ready to leap into winter with this ensemble Didn’t mean to post as anonymous Pauline PDiddly

  9. Love,love this outfit but especially the coat! Very sophisticated !

  10. wonderful old friend of a coat and here’s to the red hat! Another amazing sew Ruth.

  11. Great combo. Matching skirt and overcoat is the optimal of chic. And we should all wear purple NOW, and not wait until we get old. 😉

  12. What a wonderful coat. Can tell you love it like an old friend. And you look beautiful wearing it.

  13. Another triumph Ruth,

    Looks fabulous on you. I love the coat with the matching skirt.
    So cosy and warm …………how about a summer get together with red hats and gin!!!!!!!!

  14. Fabulous coat and skirt, love the velvet button…it does look very warm and comforting. I really enjoyed reading this post. Very entertaining.

  15. If you make it a single malt I will come with you – I will even bring the sausages!
    That is a fabulous coat – and I quite understand what you mean about a new garment that feels like an old friend. Treasure it because it really doesn’t happen very often. I hadn’t thought of a coat/skirt combination but it looks fabulous. Enjoy them both often this winter.

    • Oh brilliant – brandy, gin and single malt (I have to stipulate Irish here!)
      Is anyone going to contribute the non-alcoholic elements to this cocktail? Otherwise there won’t be much sewing done……

      • Sice I almost called a horse ‘Tullamore Dew’ I think I can bring Irish! I could also be persuaded to carry mixers and snacks (you have to have something to soak it all up!)
        Were we meant to be sewing……?

  16. Dear Ruth,
    the coat is fabulous, the skirt is great, the color is good! But the best of all is the poem. Please can you give me informations about the reference? I found Jenny Joseph but not the book with the poem.
    Thank you Mema

  17. Love the poem and the coat!!

  18. FAB! and with you complexion and coloring it is perfect! My very best friend gave me that poem years ago (we were not even 40, but thinking then how old we were).

    Ruth, to tell the truth, you cannot be older than I am. And if you are, you certainly do not look it.

    The pop up collar is a very stylish feature. I’d let it do it too.

    • I’m 50. 50 and nearly 1/2 to be exact – you know like when you were 7 and the 1/2 made all the difference? I am becoming so much more confident in who and what I am the older I get – it’s like a freedom and I love it. Personal confidence and attitude – what would we like if we had this at 18? Unbearable I would think. It is a benefit of years of experience. For example, at last, a colour I suit? Thanks Chris. Your words of wisdom aways bear fruit

  19. Love this. Such a boring looking pattern, but I have it due to the KK Craftsy class. Your rendition is great. Perhaps I might get to making it one day….and the skirt too.

    • Oh Vicki – get out the scissors and cut and sew! It really is a very wearable, everyday coat. Sort of in between a long jacket and a short over coat – perfect for car journeys.

  20. Hilarious posting!! I’m ready for a red/purple combo already – it is funny, but since that poem, they have almost become accepted colors and not so shocking. I do love seeing ladies out and about with their red hats on – they always look as thought they are having such a great time!

    Your coat is fabulous – just what you need to keep that cold Irish weather at bay – and a ‘free’ skirt as well!! I love it when I have leftover fabric to make something free!! So glad that you have a new ‘old’ friend!!

    • I know, it’s funny how the colours that we told should never be worn together are now commonplace! Oh this modern world…LOL
      Thanks Twotoast – it’s to become cold next week so the timing could not have been more perfect.

  21. It’s a great make, I love that fabric and the color and the matching skirt, everything!

  22. You have nailed it. Colour is perfect on you. Shapes too. Well done.

  23. Dear,nice coat and skirt,and the color is matching with your hair.
    It is not a color for old people,you seems so young,or i am old too:because i am making nearly the same,with a black lining(we say:reversible).But no enough fabric for a skirt!
    I love your ideas.

  24. Awesome fabric. Love the coat and skirt!!! Well done!

  25. 50 is a long way from being old and you look lovely in your purple.
    linda in Australia.

  26. You look so great in all your clothes! That is exactly the kind of coat I love best.

  27. Ruth, though the color purple isn’t for me, it looks wonderful on you. The whole ensemble, you look very elegant. I can only aspire for a result like that. Great job!

Let's talk.....

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s