Vintage Inspiration: A Capitol Silk Coat

Winter Rose Smocked Coat

Many of the designs we feature in Sew Beautiful are inspired by beautiful heirlooms from generations past, and the Winter Rose Smocked Coat from designer Laurie Anderson is no exception. This design, which serves as the free pattern in our December / January issue, was adapted from a piece straight out of Martha Pullen’s antique collection.

The authentic vintage lines really stand out on this children’s garment, and Laurie worked a geometric smocking design in ecru with pink cast-on roses below the round yoke and embroidered a chevron blanket stitch around the collar and cuffs to recreate the jacket for today’s little one. 

Below, peek inside Martha’s Attic and read what she has to say about the original coat as we take a closer look at this timeless design:

Babette: A Capitol Silk Coat

This Babette Coat was custom made or sold presumably by Capitol sometime, I believe, around 1920. How do I know this? It still retains the labels inside, “Babette A Capitol Silk Coat, size 2.” It’s always such a rewarding experience to find an antique garment that comes with its own information. I found this piece in Lebanon, Ohio on one of my teaching trips to Columbus. Although I have been unable to verify that “Capitol” refers to Columbus, that city is the Capitol of Ohio, so it is a relatively safe bet that the coat originated or was sold there. The hand embroidery, smocking and crochet elements suggest it was custom made to sell in a clothing shop.

The little jewel is not in the best condition; the silk is stained in several areas, and the smocking is starting to come out. However, hand smocked pieces are very hard to come by, so I overlooked its flaws. The style is a round yoke; the yoke is self-piped. Just under the corded yoke are three rows of cables smocked completely around the coat very loosely, as the coat is not particularly full. Every 2-3/4 inches, between the first and third rows of smocking, is a three-step wave, leaving a little space into which a small lazy daisy flower has been stitched. This creates a little “puffiness” in the smocked section, which is very pretty.

Martha discovered this coat during a teaching trip in Lebanon, Ohio.

The collar fronts are embellished with touches of embroidery – lazy daisies, French knots and stem stitches – worked in the same peachy/pink shade as the coat. The collar edge is trimmed in slightly gathered hand crochet lace, which is also found on the 2-inch sleeve cuffs. Snaps, sewn on by hand, secure the coat in front and are topped with five decorative buttons. The lining appears to be a silk broadcloth; combined with a flannel interlining, it turns a very delicate-looking coat into a much warmer option.

Click here to read more about the designs featured in our December / January issue!

Sew On, Sew Well, Sew Beautiful,
Cyndi and Amelia

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