A vintage painter's smock

I’m pretty sure this isn’t supposed to be a painter’s smock, but that’s certainly what this feels like to me! In the October edition of BurdaStyle magazine Burda call it a “retro short coat” – a reprint of a vintage pattern that originally appeared in 1952. From the magazine and original sketch, it reminded me loads of a coat Bel wore to the country house party in the first season of The Hour, so I was keen to make it to inject some vintage styling into my usual modern wardrobe.

(It’s available to download from Burda’s English site if you like it, or just fancy reading the instruction pdf)

I made it here in some silver-grey linen gifted to me by Veronica when I was in Paris. It’s nice fabric, but I think the colour isn’t helping the smock comparisons! Maybe it needs something brighter…

Burda’s patterns are very nearly always well-made, but this one in particular is impeccable drafted (well, except for the curved collar), with tons of inset corners that joined up perfectly. It’s one of those patterns that’s a joy to sew, when everything matches up and just comes together like a little puzzle – match up corners and notches here, a bit of gathering there, pieces join to be the Centre Back in unexpected ways – that sort of thing! If I wanted to be picky, there’s some generous gathering across the back, but there wasn’t quite enough gathering on the front seams for my liking. Personally, I’d rather the gathering be concentrated in a smaller area than have it be wide and hardly any gathers.

Loads of people complain about Burda’s sparse directions (and, truth be told, I hardly ever read them myself), but I followed them here since the construction was so unique, and they really weren’t bad at all. They kinda fell apart at the very end, where you attach the facing to the rest of the coat, which could’ve been just said in two sentences instead of a long, confusing paragraph.

Oh, but the curved lapel edges of the front and the front facing just DO NOT MATCH. I don’t know if this is a mistake or some sort of weird vintage tailoring technique that’s lost on me, but the curves are different (and I double checked the pattern pieces). So you may want to adjust that if you’re going to sew it yourself.

But overall, it’s a nice pattern.

So why isn’t it finished here? Because the style really doesn’t suit me, and I cannot imagine myself ever wearing it – the oversized look just really isn’t me, it’s too lightweight to be of any warmth (any thicker fabric and the gathers would be a mess!), and with no fastenings, it’d just blow right open anyway.

But for someone in a warmer climate with different tastes, I think this is a really nice pattern. It’s just not me, so I’ll be abandoning this without a lining or pocket bags, and I’m fine with that.


Check out the beautiful undercollar piece (I ran out of fabric so mine’s in grey flannel)

But no hard feelings, Burda. I still loves ya baby!

(Confession – I was really just wearing my “Ich liebe Burda Style” shirt today as a complete coincidence, so I just kept it on for the photoshoot!)

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