"Penny Lane" Jacket Challenge
Updated: Jan 19
This is my latest custom order request completed and “de-livert”!!!! I could not post without a full description of the meticulous work involved.
Costume designer Betsy Heimann is the woman behind the original jacket "Penny Lane" (Kate Hudson) wore in the 2000 movie Almost Famous. According to one article, Heimann states that she made 3 coats. Not sure how identical the three of them were. Unfortunately, the whereabouts of two of them were unknown. From the online interest, I realized that the jacket is a very sort after item by many. Along comes a client who wants the exact replica or something very close to the overall style. I had no idea what I had committed to.
Each article I found online helped get a glimpse into the story behind the piece including how it was made. Or should I say, what fabrics were used to make it? Below is a snippet from an article I found on Dazeddigital.com
“We knew that Penny Lane had a coat. There was no picture reference for that at all, I just felt like she was so vulnerable on the inside and so strong on the outside, that this coat was her armor. She could wrap herself up in it and no matter how low or insecure she was feeling, she put on that coat and she became Penny Lane. It was her protection. I immediately felt it had to have a little bit of fur. I actually made that coat out of a rug with the collar and some upholstery fabric that I found and it was inspired by a 1920s opera coat because they were longer in the back than they were at the front.” -Betsy Heimann
First things first, I had to research photos of the jacket along with as much background information as I could get. I would eventually have to purchase and watch the movie. Actually, I purchased and re-watched just the jacket scenes 100 bazillion times. I knew that every aspect of the coat was going to be completely custom. #iwasntready
Starting with the fabric, I figured it had to be upholstery fabric because it reminded me of old curtains from my childhood.
(Side note: I am 40 years young) Custom dyeing was going to be the best option in order to get the color I wanted. After picking up about 7 different fabric varieties. I settled on a heavy textured velvet looking fabric and dyed it to one to the perceived shades of the original. #whatcolorisit Each photo and video showed the jacket in different lighting so the color never looked the same. I did the best I could to get close. At some point, the fabric just wouldn't accept any more dye. Overall, I was pleased with the end color.
Lesson Learned: This sort of heavy fabric project requires a larger dye pot. #dearsanta
How about that detailed design in the fabric?
At first, I thought it was embroidered but I knew that would take far more time than I had. I was willing to go that route if need be. After a closer look at the movie shots, I thought it would look truer the original from my perspective if it were engraved.
BUT HOW? I didn't know just yet. Back to the research we go!
Long story short, I ordered fabric etching gel. Little did I know that that process would also be very time-consuming. Custom dyed, custom hand engraved and custom-designed, that pretty much sums up the brand #taosh.
Let's take a look at the inside layer. The client wanted a heavy coat that she could also wear as an everyday jacket in the winter months. I decided on a quilted layer instead of just a simple lining. It also includes some simple pockets inside. Who doesn't love extra pockets?!
Learned a very frustrating lesson about spray-on Heatbond. So, over time (not immediately after like weeks later), the sprayed areas tend to discolor. Especially, on thin fabrics like lining, mesh and some thin satin. It is on the inside I suppose but splotchy wasn't the look I wanted. It was too late to redo. #clockwasticking
It's not quite finished in the top photo. And you can clearly see how the color completely changes in certain light. It really is not that green. The bottom photos capture the true color of the actual fabric. Middle photo below is that of the front pockets. The details are not too bad considering. They look much better in person.
What I ended up using was a grinding type bit in a rotary tool to etch the design. It was created from a rough self-made basic stencil. I free styled the rest. Moving forward I think I will do a stencil and mark before cutting the pattern. The etching gel worked only 60% but it broke down the fibers a little making the tool craving easier. I figured the fabric was just too heavy and I was afraid to try too much etching gel as I didn't want a rugged look.
The finished product.....I will just let the jacket speak for itself. I am exhausted!