20th Century, Textiles & Costume

Elise’s gift: the leaf green velvet jacket

Silk and rayon velvets were very popular in 1930s fashion, particularly for evening wear.  Last week I showed you a devore velvet gown in royal blue (the most fashionable colour for velvet).  This week Elise’s gift is another velvet item, but in a much more unusual colour.

Leaf green velvet jacket

Isn’t the colour scrumptious?  Silk velvet in that colour is top of my fabric wish-list at the moment.

The jacket is a lovely example of the Renaissance influence on 1930s fashion.  You can see it in the puffed upper sleeves, and in the padded, sculptural collar.

Puffed sleeves and ruched collar

The sleeve puffs are controlled and structured over the shoulders with rows of gathering stitches.

Controlled gathers over the shoulders

The controlled gathers at the top of the sleeve turn into soft, unstructured gathers at the bottom of the poof, so it droops gracefully over the slim lower sleeve.

The sleeve

Lines of gathering stitches also keep the ruching of the puffed collar

The elaborately puffed and ruched collar

As you may have guessed from the elaborate and clever cutting and shaping of the jacket, this garment, unlike the blue devore dress, probably isn’t a homemade article.

The cream rayon jacket lining

It doesn’t have a label inside, so either it has been taken off, or the jacket was made by a very skilled seamstress who didn’t label her work.

Commercial or skilled seamstress, I really want to recreate this jacket.  First, because I love the colour, second because it is so clever and cunning and darling, and finally because of this:

Terrible insect and age damage

Sadly, the jacket is in terrible condition.  It’s got small holes on most of the proper right half, extensive damage on the PR collar, and is missing huge portions of the PR sleeve.

Damage to the collar and sleeve

While the damage is sad, and makes the garment unwearable, and un-displayable, it does have the lovely advantage of really allowing the construction details to be studied.

Fabric disintegration on the collar

The collar is padded out with loose cotton wadding, held in with a cotton mesh .  The cotton wadding is quite natural – very lightly processed.

The muslin inter-lining on the sleeve

The sleeves are interlined with a very lightweight cotton muslin which has slight overall foxing.

The sleeve interlining

All of the interlining adds a little support and structure to the very soft velvet, but without adding weight or making it too stiff.

So that’s the jacket: lovely but damaged.

I can just imagine how it would look over a really simple 1930s evening dress like my wedding dress.  Mmmm…yummy!

I’ll keep you updated if I ever find that leaf green silk velvet!


  1. The construction quality is amazing, and worth study, but the garment itself is not the sort of thing I personally fancy (either for the color or the style).

    In addition, even if the jacket were not damaged, it’s become sadly rumpled over the years, and ironing it effectively would be tough.

    But it’s yours now, and I wish you much enjoyment of it. Good luck finding that silk velvet.

    • I can see this not being your thing. I rather like the rumpled look – it’s such soft velvet that it looks correct crushed.

      • It’s kind of like carefully controlled crushing, isn’t it? Lovely.

        I like the top of the sleeve heads, I’ve used that method of controlling gathering (and softening it) a few times and it works well for me.

  2. Wow, what a color…reminds me of the joy of finding a inch worm as a child. While it is a shame it is in such disrepair I am grateful for the construction insights….as always.

    Looking forward to seeing you version

    • What a lovely memory – “the joy of finding an inch worm”. They never excited me much, but the green does remind me of new leaves unfurling, and tiny sprouts peeking out of the ground (the joys of planting your own flower garden and seeing the seeds come up!). It may be some time before my version.

  3. Beautiful, and it reminds me of my grandmother’s 1930s wedding – she had a Renaissance/Elizabethan influenced gown and the theme was the 1600s.

    • Oh, how lovely! I’d love to see pictures someday. A lot of wedding dresses in the ’30s were Renaissance/Medieval/Elizabethan influenced, though it usually wasn’t explicitly stated.

  4. Lynne says

    I think that’s a beautiful ‘pattern’ – I would love to see a ‘new’ one. The colour is lovely, but I could find a place in my wardrobe for one in black velvet…

    • It would be easier to match with everything if it was black, but I rather love the ‘doesn’t go with anything’ colour of this top. And it would look fabulous over a LBD.

  5. The green is yummy. I can’t think of a better word, even though I would not eat it!
    So it’s sad and lucky rolled into one – sad that it’s so damaged, and lucky that you get to see the construction. Like Catherine, I can’t say it’s a style I like, but the fabric makes up for it tenfold – it’s absolutely adorable.

  6. Stella says

    The colour is gorgeous, but I have to be honest here: I just don’t like the design.

  7. Elise says

    I just love the gathers at the shoulders, and I love the descriptions of the inchworm/April green! It reminds me of Hawaii grass.

    Funny how people love it or don’t. “but it’s yours now” cracked me up! I can’t wear puffed shoulder things, so I’m jealous of anyone who can. I bet that it would look lovely over a simple white dress…

  8. Poppet I am SURE that Madame O had an entire bolt of silk rayon velvet in that colour… 🙂

    • I think she has a bolt of silk rayon velvet in something two shades brighter. Still gorgeous, but a bit much for me (or a jacket like this!). If if is this shade though…

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