Making a Cocoon (or Poiret) Coat

Who amongst us hasn’t wanted to emulate Phryne Fisher‘s effortless art deco style?

Miss Fisher in an iconic cocoon coat.

I’ve loved the idea of wearing a cocoon coat for awhile now, and thanks to the bargain basement at 2019 Costume College I had a fabric I was ready to use for it. (The bargain basement is fabulous. I got a TON of useful items for my beginner sewing room here. From notions to thread holders to patterns, it is a great use of time and money, and I highly recommend checking it out to stock up your starter sewing room.)

There were also some costume pieces up for grabs at the bargain basement, and I picked up this GORGEOUS icy blue velvet coat. I believe it was used for stage before I ended up with it, and it is divine, but… it was too fancy for me to just wear around the house.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been taking a lot of video calls this year, and I wanted to have something to wear that looked professional but was also comfy. Something that gave me the casual elegance of Miss Fisher but could easily go over my stretchy pants and t-shirt. So this is pretty much a historybounding project because it isn’t historically accurate.

Making the cocoon coat

A quick search made it clear there was one really good pattern for this, the Folkwear one linked below. Once I decided I was going for this, I bought it and went to work. I think I got it done in a weekend, but I cut corners, as you’ll see below.

Materials used:

If you’re gonna make this, clear off a large floor space. I love that this pattern is essentially one piece that gets magically folded and gathered into a coat, but because of that it takes a lot of space. As you can see below, once unfolded, I used the majority of my living room to pin the lining to the fashion fabric.

On the living room floor with my massive coat.

I also adjusted the pattern for my height (as you can see below). This coat is fairly forgiving tbh. Any extra fabric can be tacked or gathered to add to the dramatic draping going on here.

Height adjustment.

In terms of construction, I winged a lot of it because I was just using two layers: fashion fabric and lining. That was my choice because I wanted something for house lounging.

If you want to make one that isn’t as casual, the pattern has ample instructions and you should go for a non-stretch fabric.

Finished coat on dress form.

Some notes on the finished coat:

  • I didn’t add a fur collar yet. I wanted to have a simple coat for lounging and fur seemed a little TOO much for that, ya know? I may add a simple black collar in the future, but right now it suits my needs.
  • I’m going to add some internal fastenings at some point to help keep the folded under flap in place.
  • I didn’t go all-out with lining and interfacing. I know. I’m a monster. But, I wanted a coat I could wear at my desk, while I work, probably while I eat. I’m gonna get it dirty, and I wanted to make something that was gonna get washed frequently.
  • Yes, I used *gasp* cosplay velvet. I KNOW. It’s not “real” velvet and it has some stretch. But, again, this is a lounging outfit and I’m not going for historical accuracy. I wanted the look and any stretching that may happen in the top layer is gonna be fine with the dramatic draping here.
Finished coat.

Quick Background

In the 1910s the silhouette was changing. Waistlines were dropping and construction was getting slouchy and boxy. During this time, designer Paul Poiret mastered this cocoon coat. He did a lot more than the cocoon coat, like the hobble skirt and other opulent art deco outfits. Looking back at his work, I think there could be some very fair criticism of his exoticization of Asian culture in some of his designs, and lack of credit given to the communities he borrowed from at the time. If you want more info on him check here.

Research

When I was looking for more on this coast I found the following very helpful!

Pro-tip: If I’m using a pattern for a project, I always see what previous content is out there on that pattern. You can check Google for blogs, YouTube for tutorials and Facebook for groups (usually those are for the umbrella of the pattern-maker, not pattern specific, but once you join you can totally search or even ask for help). I also like checking Instagram. Usually pattern users will have a simple hashtag (#folkwear503, #folkwearpatterns, #s8866, #simplicity8866), but it may take some detective work. You should also check the pattern-maker’s IG profile and see what photos are in their tagged tab, sometimes that’s useful too.

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