Making the Swing Coat (part 1)

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Suburban stockade introductionNow, onto the “swing coat.” This is a coat for the spring and fall; warm but not very warm, particularly as it has an open front due to the hooks and eyes. When I make this pattern again — and I will! — I’ll use a zipper to close it.

swing coat finished

The finished swing jacket

I love my ivory coat but it’s too warm for some purposes. While I was finishing it, I was already planning on what I was going to wear for the Peschel Press booth at the Arts on Chocolate show in May. We were pretty successful so we’ll be doing it again in May of 2016. Hope to see you there!

Anyway, what I wanted to wear was important. Bill and I have done two bigger shows (Arts on Chocolate and the annual Hershey Winter Arts and Crafts show plus the small Derry Twp. Historical Society shows and a library event. We’ll be doing the Winter Show again, on Saturday, 7 Nov. at Hershey High School. Hope to see you there! I have also done the Derry Twp. Environmental Action Team dog-and-pony show at several farmer’s markets at the Cocoa Beanery (every Thursday in the summer).

What we noticed, and were rather surprised by, was how many of the vendors didn’t dress for the part. If you’re selling jewelry or clothing, you should wear what you’re selling! As much as you can, without looking like your closet attacked you. If you’re selling something that can’t be worn, then wear a T-shirt that advertises what you sell! A goat cheese vendor at the last Cocoa Beanery Farmer’s Market had a terrific chef’s apron in maroon with his goat cheese company logo on it. He looked great and he told me that it made him stand out more than a logo t-shirt had done. Cafe Press can make up garments for this purpose and for custom work, they aren’t that expensive. This way, everyone knows who you are, they know who to give the money to, and as you walk around the show, you continue to advertise your stuff! This is also tax-deductible as an advertising expense.

I think this is particularly important for artists as you can use your appearance to advertise your artistic sensibilities and styles. If you’re heavily into manga, then dress the part. If you’re selling ethnic goods from someplace other than central PA, why not dress the part? Selling cowboy art? Wear that Stetson, those boots, and a plaid shirt with shiny snaps. This draws the eye, separates you from the crowd, gives people a reason to approach you and something they can talk about. It also helps to ensure that a potential customer knows who to give the money to. Don’t ever make it hard for a customer to pay.

Art on Chocolate Everlasting Images

Photo by everlasting images of Hershey.

Bill already has a uniform. He wears the typefont shirt (which I made for him) with his kangaroo leather hat. He wears this combination to shows, lectures, and conventions. People who’ve met him previously may not remember his face or the name, but they sure remember the shirt. I also made Bill a shirt covered with dictionary definitions (ANOTHER PIX). He wears that on the second day of a convention. These shirts act as conversation starters, memory aids, and advertise that he is a writer.

AV1741I started understanding the purpose of show garments after the Winter Arts and Crafts show, where we studied what the other vendors were doing. So, I repurposed an existing sweatshirt with the Peschel Press logo for my show wear. My mother gave it to Bill, but he doesn’t wear it, so I remade it for me. The slogan on the front works very well for us, as writers. I’ll wear it at the Winter Arts Show, helping us to advertise ourselves, wherever I am in the building.

So I needed something to wear, something eye-catching, something that I wouldn’t melt in during the hottest May in years. I couldn’t wear the sweat-shirt, and, the ivory coat would probably be too hot as well. So I rooted around in my pattern cabinet and dug through the stash, looking for something that would be striking, memorable, unique and guaranteed to get me noticed.

Success! I had bought the most beautiful pattern for a swing jacket at the annual Quilt Show at Hershey Lodge. I go every year to see what’s new, remind myself to get back to work, and to get more compression gloves (ANOTHER LINK). The lady in the booth, Gabreile Bullard of Fabrilish, was wearing her beautifully hand-dyed fabric that she had made up into her own garments. She had the swing jacket on display. I tried it on and loved the way the coat looked, moved, and felt. I bought the pattern. Ms. Bullard understands the importance of wearing your product; it certainly sold me.

This pattern is from CNT Pattern Co. You can order it from their website or go to sewing and quilt shows and hope to buy it there. This is not a pattern you will find at the chain sewing/craft stores. An independently owned and operated sewing store may be able to help you.

The Arts on Chocolate show looked like a good opportunity to try it out, if I could find a compatible fabric. I don’t buy material anymore as I have too much fabric on hand now. For reasons of space and thrift, I try very hard to use only what I already paid for.

So I found this gorgeous yardage that I bought on spec years ago at the PA Fabric Outlet in Lemoyne. I loved that store and, sadly, it is now no more as the owner decided to retire. This is a lightweight, silky sort of fabric. I’ve no idea what it is made of, possibly some kind of micro-fiber polyester. It hangs and drapes like a dream and I had plenty of it, more than enough to make the swing jacket. I have enough cloth left over that it will reappear as a shirt for my dear son.

Next Week: Finishing Up the Swing Coat