Saturday, November 29, 2008

Coat (Embroidery) Issues

So here is my current dilemma. (One of many.) I set out to buy a short winter coat today, because my old one has a hole in it, which is not acceptable in Chicago winters. Macy's had a mongo sale, and I was able to find a ton of coats in my price range (under $200), many of which had been marked down significantly. Unfortunately, most were not in my size. Or were black, and I didn't want black. So of the few that were left, I settled on a dark purple coat in a luscious cashmere/lambswool blend, which is very touchable and fits me reasonably (only gaping very slightly at my rack o'doom). So far so good.

I came home and tried it on. And oh, this coat no longer pleases me. The color is still good, but it is so very very very boring. No bell sleeves, or puff sleeves, or any other kind of interesting sleeves. And while it's more fitted than my last coat (which is good, since Kevin said that one made me look like a hobbit), it doesn't flare out as delightfully as many other coats this season. Boring, right?

So I'm left with two options:

a) return it and try to find a prettier coat, maybe at Nordstrom or some such (I checked Anthropologie, but no dice; either out of my price range or out of my size)

b) try to improve the coat

And this is where I get a bit terrified. Because while yes, I took an embroidery class this past weekend, and it seemed fairly straightforward, and I can totally imagine adding some interest to this coat with embroidery, as so many gorgeous coats seem to have (if this Kashmir coat were more fitted, I'd be pretty tempted by it) -- I'm also afraid that a) you can't add embroidery at this late stage in the coat-making process (all the seams will show on the inside, after all, unless you take out the lining first, which I don't think I'm competent to do neatly), and b) even if you can, if I attempt it, I will ruin an expensive item of clothing with my ham-handed efforts.

Serious advice needed here. Is wool coat embroidery strictly a for-experienced-players-only sort of project? (If you think I can do it, where would be best? Along the center line on either side? Along the base? Somewhere else?)

Or if I should abandon the attempt, should I keep this coat, or is it really too boring to live? (Jed commented that it looked very professional. I have NO NEED to look professional in this coat. I want beautiful, lush, lovely, dammit.) Does it make me look like a constipated chipmunk? Advice, please!!!


Blogger BettyBoop53 said...

You could have the coat tailored for a better fit (I also have, ahem, gifts which do not lend well to off the rack purchases) then do a contrasting top stitch by hand which wouldn't go through the lining if you are careful.

2:05 AM  
Blogger LisaB said...

This coat is too serious and dark. The fit is also not great, but could be improved by a visit to your tailor. Maybe add a belt? I don't think it would be helped by embroidery, but a bright colored beautiful scarf, some sexy boots would make it more interesting. The very straight fit of the coat swallows you up. Ask the tailor if the coat could be more fitted, especially in the mid-section. How about a brighter colored coat? You are young and pretty and should wear bright pretty colors.

2:09 AM  
Blogger LauraP said...

I think it's the perfect coat to pair with your collection of wild, lush scarves.

7:08 AM  
Blogger georg said...

You need a plain coat to set off the brightly colored scarves, floral pins, hat, and gloves. If all else fails drape a shawl over it.

There are ways of hiding the embroidery ends of threads. I'm not the best at it- it's an advanced technique. If you do go the embroidered route, practice on a felted wool of similar thickness before committing to a design.

8:40 AM  
Blogger Caroline said...

I actually love the coat and think it looks great I would add a gorgeous scarf or a series of beautiful vintage pins, and yes, books. And you could do a touch of embroidery which would look fabulous.

9:03 AM  
Blogger Mary Anne Mohanraj said...

Thanks for all the comments so far; I think I'm figuring out some more of what I want in a coat.

- I do like it being a solid color; better for accessorizing fun with scarves and such

- I'd be okay with a brighter color, but am also fine with a dark color, since am planning on making gloves and scarf and hat, which can brighten it up as needed. Not interested in black, grey, white, or light cream.

- I think my big mistake was not having a v-neck and a more tailored shape (it's tailored a bit, but hard to see in the photo, and could be more so) -- I think that'd help a lot with the chest issues.

Maybe something like this in black orchid (love the sleeves...

Or this coat in chocolate?

I think the main take-away I'm getting though, is that I want a coat that works well without embroidery -- if I then decide to add try adding a bit of embroidery, bonus.

10:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Take it back.

10:59 AM  
Blogger Mary Anne Mohanraj said...

Heh. Yes, I think I'd pretty much decided that much, at least. This coat is not the coat for me, although it might well be lovely on someone else.

11:00 AM  
Blogger Mary Anne Mohanraj said...

Oh, and I note that while I love tailoring in theory, in practice, I've yet to find a good tailor in Chicago. The one time I tried a local dry-cleaner's tailoring service for anything beyond hemming (I asked them to take in a fancy Indian top, to add some shape to a boxy cut), they utterly failed. Would LOVE recommendations on good tailors in Chicago. Might possibly sell a piece of my soul for that!

11:04 AM  
Blogger Susanne said...

Constipated chipmunk??? Not sure about that but I would return the coat rather than try the embroidery, although I guess you could just rip out the embroidery if you didn't like it. I would try a great scarf and hat combo or a lucious cowl perhaps??

11:14 AM  
Blogger Susanne said...

Also, keep the top button open and insert a scarf there, that would give a more "open" feeling to the coat!

11:15 AM  
Blogger Barbara Bretton said...

You live in Chicago! Wouldn't an open neck be an invitation to death-by-freezing? I'm with those who like the coat. I think you look adorable in it and can imagine spicing it up with gorgeous shawls and scarves and pins. I grew up in NYC which means if it ain't black, I probably won't wear it. At least when it comes to coats. I had a camel-colored coat once and felt like I was wearing a costume.

I have to admit I'm of the "winter coats make you look like a walking wall of wool" school. A necessary evil but not necessarily cute.

I imagine the embroidery as more like a detachable ribbon kind of thing (can't think of what backing you could use but there must be something out there in a great fabric store) that you can add and remove at will. Esp around the cuffs. Like one of those gorgeous wide embroidered ribbons except we're talking wool.

12:04 PM  
Blogger Barbara Bretton said...

BTW, "constipated chipmunk" made me laugh tea all over my keyboard! Next time warn us, Mary Anne!

12:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You could get some really pretty roving and try needle felting. Unlike embroidery it can be removed if you don't like it.
Holly in CT

12:13 PM  
Blogger Mary Anne Mohanraj said...

Holly, I'm not even sure I know what needle felting is. There was an amazing tea cozy on Ravelry that used it, I think, to create a landscape, but I know nothing about it. I suppose I could look it up.

And Barbara, this is my intermediate-level coat. I get cold easily, so this is for those 40-degree days, when I'm fine in a 3/4 wool coat with scarf and hat and gloves (and half the rest of the people on the street are just in light jackets). When it gets actually cold, I abandon all hope of style and bundle myself into a massive down thingie that Kevin got me a few Christmases ago when he got sick of me complaining about the cold in Chicago. :-) It goes down to my ankles and has a huge fur hood around my face and I practically disappear in it. Oh, here it is -- I have it in periwinkle, and my students are all envious.

1:32 PM  
Blogger teabird said...

Anything in periwinkle gets my vote - however - keep the coat and trick it out with scarves, cowls, pins, cool gloves and mittens, and anything else that will make you happy. A nice neutral coat that doesn't call attention to itself is a perfect canvas!

Oh, and I snorted too when I read "constipated chipmunk."

2:39 PM  
Blogger Rooie said...

Hmmm...guess you've already decided to return the coat, but I wondered if you'd see betz white's post about "anthropologizing" a skirt:

Something like that could be cute on a coat.

5:02 PM  
Blogger Mary Anne Mohanraj said...

Rooie, that's really cool! I'll be replacing the coat (hopefully) with one that's similarly plain in style, just better fitted. So it should still be potentially a candidate for anthropologizing. :-)

6:15 PM  
Anonymous Linda L. said...

If you were to keep the coat, I would replace those boring buttons with some gorgeous jeweled or gold filigree ones; then find some velvet or brocade fabric with metallic accents that coordinates with the buttons and cover the collar and pocket flaps. I like the idea of a shawl - you could totally carry that off!

7:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Take the coat back. Find something in a pretty solid color with a wing or shawl collar. Then fill the space with a pretty scarf. Or make several scarves so you can change them around.

9:10 PM  
Blogger Barbara Bretton said...

Love the Kristen Blake--figures it's unavailable. The Simonton sleeves are fabulous--great coat. Now I see what you mean. The one you have doesn't compare.

9:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't settle for something you don't love. Just think of the coat in the color and style you want and focus only on that. You will find it.

8:46 AM  
Blogger Mary Anne Mohanraj said...

Thanks again, everyone, for all the advice -- I didn't expect my little query to kick off such a long thread! I've actually managed to order both coats mentioned above from Nordstrom (hopefully in my size, was guessing a bit), and they'll be here in a week. If they don't fit, return them both and keep looking (hooray for free holiday shipping), keeping the original coat as a back-up if needed. If one fits, return the other and the original coat.

Once I have a coat I like, will consider the whole embroidery issue again. I'm still tempted by at least a bit of it, although ideally, I think I'd like to do it very subtly, in a color just a tone or two off from the base wool coat color. That way, would still be able to vary outfit with scarves, etc. easily. Hmm...

2:11 PM  
Blogger trek said...

A beautiful, colorful hand-knit scarf would brighten it up a lot - and you could switch out at whim.

Tailoring is a great option. Check with Macy's - they tailor men's suits, why not women's coats?

9:48 AM  
Blogger Mary Anne Mohanraj said...

Huh -- great idea on Macy's tailoring -- totally hadn't thought of that as an option, even though I've used Nordstrom's tailoring before, for a suit. Interesting!

10:38 AM  

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