More thoughts on the Jacobean Coat

Coat Design

Coat Design

The design wraps around the back of the coat, leaving the front mostly unadorned. There are sprigs placed on the sleeves, too, one of them above the elbow, and the one on the opposite side below it. Remember the comments I’ve made in the past, about taking inspiration from Grinling Gibbons, and aiming for balance rather than symmetry? That goes for the placement of design elements in apparel as well as anything decorative.

Starting Stems

Starting Stems

My mother has commissioned the coat with various other garments and accessories in mind, and one of the ways we thought would help to tie the coat in with them would be to use a knitting wool which is involved in those accessories. Now, as it happens, I have experience with this sort of trailing design (remember the Piano Shawl?), and I remember that it can feel very disjointed and dispiriting as you work individual motifs, and however confident you are of the whole, it’s hard to be motivated when it keeps looking spotty and halfhearted.

However, the stems pull it together, so I thought this time I would start with the stems. It’s a big, chunky, variegated knitting yarn, so I will end up with the skeleton of the design, and all sorts of colours within it. I’m catching it in place with a fine woollen yarn, using small oblique stitches buried within the twist. They should be almost invisible.

Trialling Colours

Trialling Colours

However, that too is going to take a while, so I can trial colour placement for the motifs themselves! As you can see, we aren’t aiming for a naturalistic colour scheme. This may not be the final arrangement, and there will be tweaks along the way, but I’m happy with this as a starting point.


  1. Sue Jones says:

    This is going to be very impressive, isn’t it? The design looks nicely balanced. It will need to stay fairly balanced as your catwalk model turns and moves, but I looks like that will happen naturally. For durability, it’s probably worth making sure that the thick wool on the stems is sufficiently caught down that it can’t snag on things too easily, even if the couching threads are less invisible than they could be, Most of those big, twisted threads just love an excuse to throw out ragged streamers of fluff. The usual Jacobean stitches and crewel yarn are fairly resistant – they were selected to suit clothes and bed curtains and cushions and things – but soft and loose yarns can cause pulling and pilling problems in wear.

  2. Your mum is very lucky to have you making something so unique! I love the variegated yarn you are using for the stems and can’t wait to see what the rest of the colours will look like in yarn!

  3. Terrie says:

    Looks delicate design. Must be something special after finished.

  4. Lady Fi says:

    So pretty!

  5. Jen Mullen says:

    I can’t wait to see the finished coat; however, I also love seeing the step by step process and the choices you make.

  6. Lin Tarrant says:

    Sounds like a good plan. xx

  7. Catherine says:

    I like the idea of starting with something to help keep you grounded and not awash with where the design is going. The colour of the thread is really lovely, and I like your Jacobean style colour arrangement.

  8. Alex Hall says:

    Starting with the bare bones of the design is a good idea, I think. Hopefully it will help you see how the whole thing is going to balance out.

  9. Susan N. says:

    The design is lovely and flowing. It’s going to be interesting to follow, because I haven’t done anything like this ever. When I CQ something that’s viney, though, I do start with the stems, so maybe it won’t be completely foreign to me. I predict this will be beautiful!

  10. I agree, it is good to start with the stem and leave the placement of leaves and flowers later.

  11. Sheryl says:

    A lovely design Rachel, I think you would have to start with the stems to not get in a muddle, It will be interesting to see how this develops.

  12. Carolyn Foley says:

    This is going to be a lovely coat. I love the design and the way it flows. Having embroidered in wool on clothing before there are a few draw backs with snagging of the threads but I’m sure you have thought of that.