Revisiting the Fabiani Coat – and I Hit The Holy Grail

30 Jan

Guys. Remember when I made this coat last year?
Coat front
This is Vogue 2925, which is one of them special designer patterns from the 70s. The pattern is really wonderful – the instructions include light tailoring, with the pad stitching and the fancy interfacing and back stay and all that good stuff. I spent about a month working on the coat, from the muslin to the finishing touches – truly a labor of love. Sadly, I haven’t worn it much this year because I’ve lost weight and it doesn’t fit me as well as it did. But, ugh, whatever about that, that’s not the point of this post.

The point of this post is that I got an email a couple of weeks ago from someone who actually made the coat when the pattern was originally released in the 70s. AND she lives in Nashville. AND she wanted to meet up.



Fabiani coat - the original!

Fabiani coat - the original!

How many times have we looked at vintage patterns and thought, “I’d love to know who made that, for what purpose, and what fabric they used.” How excited do we get when we find little scraps of fabric or newspaper clippings in the pattern envelopes, offering a little hint to the pattern’s previous life? I don’t know about y’all, but my favorite part about vintage stuff is learning the history behind the people who previously owned them. So to say that I was excited to get to hash this stuff out in real time is a bit of an understatement.

Karen, the original owner/maker of the pattern, agreed to let me take some pictures of the coat and share some information about making it. We met up at Bread & Company on Sunday afternoon and ended up chatting for over 2 hours – about all kinds of stuff, not just sewing! Although sewing stuff came up too πŸ™‚ We brought our coats and showed them off, compared sewing notes and talked about our fabric and finishing choices. You know, basically sewer’s heaven πŸ™‚ The pictures of Karen above were taken in 1973 – she made the entire outfit (pants and top included) for a sewing contest. Although she didn’t win (which surprised me – but hold up, bc I got pictures of the winners too ahaha), she did win the regionals and got a Singer Genie sewing machine out of it.

Fabiani coat - the original!
The coat really is a thing of beauty – I think it’s waaaay better than mine, for sure! Karen said she spent an entire summer working on it for her tailoring class, and the workmanship is just amazing. So much detail and care went into everything – all the way down to how the buttons are sewn on.

Fabiani coat - the original!
Look at that beautiful top stitching!

Fabiani coat - the original!

Fabiani coat - the original!

Fabiani coat - the original!
I love how she added piping between the lining and the coating – as well as the fabric covered snaps.

Fabiani coat - the original!

Fabiani coat - the original!

Karen also brought the pattern envelopes, as well as swatches for all the garments she made. Sadly, the coat is the only piece that still exists, but between the pattern envelopes, swatches, and those 8×10 photos, you can get a pretty good idea of how the entire outfit turned out.

Fabiani coat - the original!
Here’s the coat – with swatches for coating (which cost $25/yard in 1973! Ouch!), lining, interlining, and the horsehair interfacing.

Fabiani coat - the original!
The turtleneck, and the knit fabric.

Fabiani coat - the original!
And the pantssss!! MAN, I wish these pants still existed!!!

After seeing all this stuff (and rubbing my hands all over the coat, bc SHIT), I was really curious to see who won the contest! It would have to be something amazing to win out over a hand-tailored, wool designer coat, you know?

The winners were separated by age groups – Karen was 17 at the time, so here are the people who beat her out:
Fabiani coat - the original!
WHY OH WHY did they not include the pattern numbers?! I need that Heidi-esque Vogue coat!!

Fabiani coat - the original!
Look at the age bracket for these winners – 13-15??? How…?

CFabiani coat - the original!IMG0021
How many 10 year olds do you know who can make a suit set? Or a hooded coat?? Mind blown over here.

And here’s the best part-
Fabiani coat - the original!
Karen let me try on the coat!! Ahhhahahaha, so awesome! It actually fits better than mine does, yeah?

Fabiani coat - the original!
Of course, this post wouldn’t be complete without a picture of us both wearing our coats πŸ™‚

So yeah, that was a pretty cool way to spend a Sunday! I just love how sewing and blogging can bring people together like that. I had a wonderful time meeting with Karen and talking shop – and trying on that coat! Oh oh, she even gave me a copy of Seventeen magazine from 1976… I’ve been flipping through it over the past few days, and the advertisements alone are just amazing. I may have some post some pictures of that, too, there are even ones for sewing patterns πŸ™‚ Big thanks to Karen – for emailing me, for meeting up with me, and for letting me post these pictures on my blog so we could all enjoy them!

In other news, I just wanted to give y’all a heads up about a Kickstarter that my best friend, Morgan, is raising money for right now. You may or may not remember my talking about when she joined the Peace Corps and moved to Macedonia – which was hard on all of us (but duh, especially me because I need my bestie πŸ˜‰ ). She accomplished a lot in the year that she was there – in addition to teaching English, she opened a dance studio and taught dance camp. She is back in the US now, but she wants to return to the ‘donia and teach another dance camp this summer, hence the purpose of raising the funds. You can read more about the cause here, and contribute to the Kickstarter here – backing starts at $1. ONE DOLLAR, PEOPLE.

And in case you were wondering how the hell this relates to this here sewing blog (other than the fact that Morgan is my Life Partner and such as), I have been promised Macedonian fabrics. Here is the piece she bought me last year (it’s still waiting to be sewn; haven’t found the perfect pattern yet!), the softest, most beautiful cotton dream fabric. And obviously I need more. So let’s pull those dollars out and help me get more of that fabric. I mean, shucks. I might even get her to buy two pieces an host an awesome giveaway!

Oh, and Morgan also promised a video teaching us how to curse in Macedonian. So there’s that, too πŸ˜‰


73 Responses to “Revisiting the Fabiani Coat – and I Hit The Holy Grail”

  1. K-Line January 30, 2013 at 2:11 pm #

    This is utterly awesome. What a wonderful story and those photos of Karen are amazing.

    • LLADYBIRD January 30, 2013 at 2:12 pm #

      I know, isn’t she a babe? I would destroy small cities just to have that fabulous floppy hat.

  2. Maggie January 30, 2013 at 2:12 pm #

    That is completely amazing! That is my favorite part too about vintage patterns, old receipts, hand-written notes, and such! You definitely hit the jackpot! Thanks so much to Karen for sharing with all of us!

  3. Leslie January 30, 2013 at 2:17 pm #

    Both of your coats are fabulous! What an amazing way to meet someone and share such a fun connection! I love the photos you posted of the other winners and their entries. I’m blown away too that there was an age 10-12 bracket!

  4. Leezee January 30, 2013 at 2:21 pm #

    I too made that pattern, back in the day. Still have the pattern too, but the coat has long since gone on to better things. Nice to see it brought to life again by two talented people.

    • LLADYBIRD January 30, 2013 at 2:22 pm #

      !! If you have any pictures that you wouldn’t mind sharing, I would LOVE to see it. It’s such a great pattern, and a beautiful coat.

      • Leezee February 3, 2013 at 11:48 am #

        I don’t have any pictures of that coat, sorry. Back in the day taking pictures was a much bigger deal than it is now. It involved film, and going to the camera store for developing, and going back to the camera store to pick up the prints, and I would have rather spent my money on fabric! It was black cashmere lined in black flannel-backed satin (I’m a Chicago girl who likes to be warm) and because of the work involved I kept it for a long time after I stopped wearing it. Thanks for your interest, though!

  5. Lysette January 30, 2013 at 2:36 pm #

    Thanks for sharing this story. How great is it that she still fits the jacket she made when she was 17!

  6. MadeByMeg January 30, 2013 at 2:40 pm #

    omg that is so amazing! what a great story!

  7. Jenni Lithgow January 30, 2013 at 2:43 pm #

    That is the coolest thing ever! I love both the coats!

  8. Claire (aka Seemane) January 30, 2013 at 2:47 pm #

    Love this post!!! I wonder if in 20-30 years time someone will make the pattern again, and you will meet up with them… will we see 3D-hologram vids on the web then πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ !!

  9. Jenny January 30, 2013 at 2:49 pm #

    So awesome!! That truly is an incredible story because seriously – how many people do you get to meet who sewed up the same jacket 39 years ago!! I love that she shared her photos with you (and us) – what an awesome lady!

  10. Kerry January 30, 2013 at 2:50 pm #

    What a great story, and wow those photos of the other winners are just amazing, what fantastic sewing skills.

  11. Tasha @ By gum, by golly! January 30, 2013 at 3:00 pm #

    That is wonderful beyond words! It brought tears to my eyes reading it. I’m so glad Karen reached out to you and let you share that amazing story (and coat!!!) with all of us. πŸ™‚

  12. Peter January 30, 2013 at 3:23 pm #

    What a fabulous story! Both coats look great, imo.

  13. Lisa January 30, 2013 at 3:25 pm #

    That’s so neat your coats (and you coat-makers, for that matter) got to meet each other! I cannot get OVER how much I love the collar on that. Or on the Heidi one in the picture. And good Lord, 10-12 year old seventies’ kids, you are sewing circles around today’s 10-12 year olds. Imagine how good those kids were by the time they reached the “Deb” bracket! Great story.

  14. New Ribena January 30, 2013 at 3:27 pm #

    Wow, that is such a special and heartwarming story.

  15. denimskirtsetc January 30, 2013 at 3:35 pm #

    I love this post! The coat and the story behind it is amazing!

  16. Susan January 30, 2013 at 3:39 pm #

    LOVE THIS SO MUCH — that coat was awesome before, but is truly exceptional with this story. Yay!

  17. Marie January 30, 2013 at 3:48 pm #

    This is literally the best post ever…how cool that Karen sewed the coat originally, lives in Nashville AND still has the coat which looks pristine!?! It’s amazing that you got to hang out and I love the photos of Karen from back then and how unbelievable about the ages of those contestants and the quality of their makes!!!

  18. Tracy January 30, 2013 at 3:55 pm #

    I just used a calculator to adjust for inflation and $25 in 1973 is like $124.81 in 2011 (I realize it is 2013 but the calculator only went up to 2011). WOW! Karen and her coat are SO COOL.

  19. Robin January 30, 2013 at 3:56 pm #

    what an enjoyable post! both of your coats look splendid and I am so impressed with Karen’s accomplishments! wowza!

  20. carmencitabs January 30, 2013 at 3:59 pm #

    This is soooo rad! Wow! It’s so totally cool that I hereupon wish this happens to everyone of us. I would love to see an original make of Vogue 1557 or the Infinite Dress. Man you got good karma girl, good for you.

  21. liza jane January 30, 2013 at 4:21 pm #

    Such a cool story!

  22. Rochelle New January 30, 2013 at 4:38 pm #

    That is seriously one of the coolest things I’ve ever read!!! Isn’t it amazing how sewing can bring people together like that? That’s so, so cool. Both of your coats are awesome, but I think people generally spent more time on sewing and tailoring decades ago than they do now. I’m inspired to pay more attention to detail πŸ™‚ And dude. WTH was I doing when I was ten?!? Certainly not being that awesome!!! Lol

  23. Karen January 30, 2013 at 4:40 pm #

    Wow. That is an awesome encounter. My sister was in school with Anne from Ames, IA in the 10-12 yr old category. What a small world!

    • LLADYBIRD January 30, 2013 at 4:41 pm #

      REALLY!? Haha!! That is so cool!!

  24. Trisha January 30, 2013 at 4:57 pm #

    What an amazing story! This seriously gave me a warm-fuzzy feeling inside. Sewing people are AWESOME!

  25. Rebecca Wagner January 30, 2013 at 5:59 pm #

    Aww such a cute post:) 10!! Woah.. I’m about a million years behind hah

  26. Barbara Crisp January 30, 2013 at 6:17 pm #

    Great story! Reminds me of good ol’ Butterick 3836, which I used in 1975 to make a dress and jacket for grad, then used again in 2001 when my eldest daughter needed a dress to wear to her friend’s grad party. Timeless!

  27. Sofie January 30, 2013 at 6:21 pm #

    I love this story. What a great meet up. What serendipity to have her in the vicinity to have this meet up! I love that she has the swatches and patterns still and HOLY COW, that it still fits. Classic!!

  28. kimmie January 30, 2013 at 6:26 pm #

    I love this! I also am a huge fan of the buttons that Karen used on the coat! SO chic. Old buttons made me wish that I was worth a crap with sewing. I love seeing the stuff my mom made when she was younger. They all have custom “made by hand by carol jones” tags. Another thing that makes me want to sew. I want labels..

    • LLADYBIRD January 31, 2013 at 9:00 am #

      I WANT LABELS. That’s like, a ~sewing dream for me!

  29. Lori January 30, 2013 at 6:37 pm #

    This is an incredible story. How fun to meet her, see the jacket and learn all about it. Her coat looks amazing, so happy she still has it and all the pictures and swatches. Your coat is amazing, too. Thanks so much for sharing this.

  30. Landgirl January 30, 2013 at 7:14 pm #

    Every single thing about this story is amazing, and I am so in awe of the skill that went into that coat, it’s breathtaking, a something so amazing looking about that fabric no wonder it cost so much. That thing about the 10-12 category!!! The past is indeed another country.

  31. weefrills January 30, 2013 at 8:58 pm #

    So awesome! Thanks for getting in touch with Lauren, Karen!!!

  32. gladysb January 30, 2013 at 9:10 pm #

    What a great post and what a great story. Karen’s coat is amazing and inspirational. Thanks Lauren.

  33. Sewing Sveta January 30, 2013 at 9:23 pm #

    So nice story and meeting! The winners are amazing%))

  34. Adrienne January 30, 2013 at 9:37 pm #

    I agree that online sewing is pretty cool in leading to meeting like that! I wonder if these sewing contests still exist!

  35. Deb January 30, 2013 at 9:43 pm #

    What a wonderful experience that you and Karen were able to share Lauren, very special. The skill level of those young girls back then is most definitely something to aspire to, thank you for sharing with us.

  36. Lyncat January 30, 2013 at 10:38 pm #

    I just love this story. I made this coat in 1973 in 3rd year high school home-ec (tailoring and we also made a wedding cake!) I wish I still had it, although I only weighed about 90 lbs and there is no way I could fit into it. Thanks for bringing back some good memories. P.S. when I was 12 my best friend Lori and I made a new dress every week all summer and wore them to church the next Sunday.

  37. Jennifer January 30, 2013 at 11:00 pm #

    Wow, that’s really incredible! It’s wonderful how a timeless hobby brings people together. Thanks so much to Karen, and you, for sharing!

  38. crystalpleats January 30, 2013 at 11:34 pm #

    What a cool story. Not every day something like that occurs;) That was some pretty awesome photography in the 70s, and I, too, am very impressed with the age brackets.

  39. Phil January 31, 2013 at 1:12 am #

    This was a lovely way to start my day (read over my breakfast bagel!). You both look fabulous in your coats πŸ™‚

  40. kristonlion January 31, 2013 at 3:07 am #

    This is so awesome! And swearing in Macedonian would be useful in so many situations!

  41. Tamsin W-P January 31, 2013 at 3:50 am #

    That’s a pretty amazing story – thanks for sharing!

  42. black label January 31, 2013 at 4:03 am #

    how cool is this story!

  43. Sassy T January 31, 2013 at 5:35 am #

    What a lovely post. Karen is fabulous.

  44. Kimberly January 31, 2013 at 6:38 am #

    1) that is so awesome and her workmanship is really beautiful and you two look cute in your matching coats

    2) OMG that’s my fabric!!!! The plaid wool blend that she made pants out of? Someone gave me some fabric just like that about a decade ago and I made a dress out of it last year! I’ve not seen any like it anywhere else, and now I know why… it was from the 70’s! I’m just totally fabric-geeking out over this πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

    • LLADYBIRD January 31, 2013 at 9:01 am #

      whaaaat!! That’s so awesome! Let’s see the dress, please please!

      • Kimberly January 31, 2013 at 9:06 am #

        I made it into Simplicity 7236 (with some modifications) which my mother had made in white (including the jacket) once when she was younger. Unfortunately there are no pictures of her creation since she “hated it” and it “never fit right.” oh well. Here’s the link to my final post on that dress so you can see the fabric.

        • LLADYBIRD January 31, 2013 at 10:32 am #

          Oh, I love it!! Perfect match-up of pattern with fabric πŸ™‚

  45. oonaballoona January 31, 2013 at 6:50 am #

    THIS IS SO MIND NUMBINGLY COOL. i’m surprised sewists across the world didn’t feel a shift in the matrix.

    and hell yeah dance camp. visiting KS today.

  46. tinygoldenpins January 31, 2013 at 7:16 am #

    This brought tears to my eyes. Just such a beautiful and happy story. I love her for seeking you out and for keeping the coat and still being able to wear it! Women rule!

  47. Handmade Jane January 31, 2013 at 7:50 am #

    This has to be one if my favourite sewing posts EVER! Just wonderful. x

  48. tia January 31, 2013 at 8:25 am #

    Hey fellow Nashvillian. I love this story. How great that she still had the original coat and wanted to share. The Heidi coat kinda looks Vogue 2765 from fall/winter 1972 but there’s no muff. Looks like the girl in the photo kinda combined versions E and D.

    • LLADYBIRD January 31, 2013 at 9:02 am #

      You are totally right – that’s probably the pattern she used. Damn, you’re good at this πŸ™‚ Now to add this pattern to my neverending wishlist of patterns I need (also including, like, half your Etsy shop bc FUCK).

  49. sallie January 31, 2013 at 8:38 am #

    That is so cool! I just love this whole story! You guys are too cool in your matching coats, which are both beautiful, but the attention to detail in Karen’s is really stunning (love that piping!!! gotta remember that!) I’ve loved that since I’ve started sewing I feel like I can connect to a whole other generation of women. Aunts and mother’s friends that I really didn’t have much in common with before all the sudden start emailing me or want to see what I’ve recently made when I come home. It’s such a blast – this sewing community thing!

  50. ShanniLoves... January 31, 2013 at 10:31 am #

    Oh wow Lauren this has to be the coolest story everl! I actually got a little teary eyed reading it. I’m so sentimental!! Really neat seeing those pictures and there is even a fellow Hoosier in the 10-12 group. Amazing!! I wish I would of started sewing that young.

  51. Whitney January 31, 2013 at 10:44 am #

    This has got to be my favorite sewing post of any blogger of all time!

  52. Lynn January 31, 2013 at 12:00 pm #

    Great post! Karen’s coat is beautiful! How nice of her to share!

  53. Debi January 31, 2013 at 12:44 pm #

    Freakin’ awesome!!!

  54. raesock January 31, 2013 at 2:41 pm #

    this is so great! i love that she contacted you and you met up to see the coat! i am blown away that anyone can make a coat by hand and hers is just so beautiful!

  55. kelley January 31, 2013 at 2:46 pm #

    This is the coolest post ever! Lauren, thank you for sharing this story. It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy thinking about being a part of the sewing community and the continuity of this craft.

  56. missjoiedevivre January 31, 2013 at 2:52 pm #

    That is amazing. Just goes to show that a well made garment is an investment. How fantastic to get to meet her and see the jacket and ooh the workmanship! I’m surprised the two of you together in one room didn’t tear a hole in the universe. If I ever get to be half as good as either of you I’d be happy!

  57. hannybobbins January 31, 2013 at 4:48 pm #

    Just makes you realise what a natural inter-generational thing sewing is! Great post, thankyou

  58. Alicia January 31, 2013 at 5:26 pm #

    This whole story is pretty much the coolest thing ever.

  59. Max February 1, 2013 at 12:51 am #

    GET OUT! This is Amazing!!! I can’t. All of this.

  60. Ai February 1, 2013 at 2:09 am #

    This was an amazing post! So great to see the way how sewing brings people together, like you said. Great job both of you!

  61. Ana February 1, 2013 at 1:08 pm #

    This is seriously the best post ever! SO AWESOME!!! How amazing that you got to meet her, and thank you for sharing! I am totally ashamed at my sewing skills seeing what all those much younger girls were capable of.

  62. gingermakes February 2, 2013 at 12:30 pm #

    This is SO COOL! I’m so glad you got to meet her and share this post! Both coats are to die for! And her whole outfit was so fun and cool! Seriously mind-blowing!

  63. Lizzy February 6, 2013 at 10:52 am #

    Wow!! so cool!!! thanks for sharing it!! both coats are very pretty!! I loved the post!!

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