Monthly Archives: February 2014

My Inspiration: The Swiss Army Albion

Last fall when Colette Patterns released their Albion coat pattern it looked like an attractive and rugged coat; when I did the test muslin (see former posts) I gained a lot of confidence in knowing that I was able to complete a piece of lined outerwear.  I just could not get inspired over appropriate fabric decisions.  The wool at stores was bland and not made well and I was reluctant to spend too much money online when I could not see and feel the fabric, (O.K,,that never stopped me before… I was just fabric-“uninspired”).

Like most folks my sewing time is precious, cathartic and incredibly sacred.  I have to feel that something is going to feel right and really connects from step to step. That does not mean it will always turn out but i am not into something just to “crank a project out”. I believe it is this process that focuses my attention ever so briefly away from the struggle of Trigeminal Neuralgia and into my version of normalcy and purpose.

Now that I have that behind me, I turn my attention to December 6th, 2013. I had almost decided to pass on making it when I saw something on a random internet search.  It was wool, it had great detail…but it was not “fabric”.  But why in the world couldn’t I use it? So I purchased, did a London shrink to see if it would be destroyed and I was happy to find the whole piece intact and softened. I decided it must be fate.

Well, I have dragged this on entirely too long! I am speaking of a Swiss Army Blanket……

Inspiration_0225I let all this sit for a while and of course worried that it would be too bland, too obvious, over or under done.  But that certainly was not going to stop me.  The first thing I did was to search google/ebay/etsy to make sure this had not been done a million times.  There were, of course, actual coats made by Swiss Army Co and vintage coats for sale on all the sites but I did not see ANY photo of a coat that was constructed out of the blanket(s).  If there are coats out there that I missed, do not tell me.  I did not see them and this coat is my labor of love constructed by my own vision.

The first issue at hand was placement of the red, stripes and crosses.  In some ways I was limited since there are two stripes per blanket and they were at the top and the bottom.  I did a bit of sketching to see what might work:

Sketch 2_0246Sketch1_0244

DSC_0247

I did not really have anything set in stone until I had my major pattern pieces cut and started moving them around to see where I could insert the red.  I had planned on off-centering the cross on the left shoulder but when I tested and had the hood hang down CB, it looked like I had made a mistake and tried to correct it.  So, right smack in the middle it went and I ended up liking it.

Chris back_0228I know I skipped right to the finished product but it had to be done!   Next up is something I found when testing thread, thread color and stitches.  It is called the double overlock but to me it looked EXACTLY like the stitches on the edges of the original blanket.  I did not want to ‘force’ the coat to look like a blanket but I did want to pay homage.  Here are stitches that I used on the hood, front and back yokes and front pockets, basically everywhere it called for top stitching and a few extra spots:

Blanket stitch_0212

The only design change I made was on the front pieces:  I wanted to have a red stripe corresponding with the pocket flaps and the only way to do that was to slash the body on the left and right front, so I marked and cut above the pocket and added seam allowance at either side.

Front layout_0183See fancy black arrow (above)….

My next super exciting item is the Swiss Army authentic brass buttons I found on Etsy.  I wanted to incorporate tabs so here is how they came into play, first on the sleeve placket:

Sleeve tab_0205 Chris tab_0239An then, above on the tab closures, which are brown and red so they can be flipped around for fun and variety.. if by chance you could handle the craziness.

Well, let’s see what have I missed.?  The lining!  Such a beautiful plaid flannel that seemed to be the lively counterpart to the serious outside. I really slashed quite a bit off the lining sleeve since my muslin seemed to have too much and it kept bunching up.

A full flip to see the inside,

Inside Out_0198 open to inside 076

I loved this project.  Every time I steamed, it released a beautiful earthy smell and every step was like putting a really great puzzle together. So far, the best feedback I could get is from the man that now owns this coat and just look at his smile!

Chris smile 089

I did have a couple other photos that I took and wanted to share:

door front_0207 elements_0210Thanks for stopping by, I hope you like it!!

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