Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Retro Restyle: Felix and Val's

This past winter I scored a fabulous wool club jacket at an estate sale.  It was dirty and moth-eaten and my husband couldn't believe I actual put it on to take these photos, but the embroidery on the back was too cool!  Felix and Val!  Well, that's almost as slick sounding as Lenny and Squiggy! 

Hoffman Construction Co.
On the front of the jacket was a large patch advertising the Hoffman Construction Company.  After a little online research, I found that they were started before the turn of the century and based in Appleton, Wisconsin.  So why was Wausau listed on the patch as well?  Did Felix and Val own a local branch office of Hoffman's?  Like a lumberyard?  I immediately sent an email off to the company to find out.  

In the mean time, I debated what to do with the jacket.  It was gross.  And much too big for me.  As I do with almost all of my restyle projects, I took a scissors to it.  Cut off the garbage and washed the good stuff.  There was just enough left for me to squeak out a jacket in my size!

1940s McCalls 4161

I decided to start with a 1940s coat pattern.  It had an interesting neckline with no lapels.  The back and trim pieces were cut from the navy blue wool.  Then I pulled a brown plaid from my stash to use for the front and sleeves.  Of course a matching skirt was an obvious choice, as well.

I cropped the jacket and added a waistband.  The front is softly shaped with darts coming off the shoulder yokes.

vintage wooden shank buttons

The only thing missing on the jacket are front pockets.  I'm always trying to slip my hands into nothing!  And unfortunately I couldn't add the large Hoffman patch back on the front.  It measures nearly 7 inches across and just didn't fit in my scaled-down jacket.  But I'll definitely keep it for a future project.

elbow patches were my husband's idea

If I may make a few suggestions about working with these old club jackets...the navy wool is so thick and dense, it was tough to bend and roll the seams.  My finishing work on the inside isn't as pretty as I'd like it to be because I couldn't roll the salvage edges under.  It was just too bulky.  I also gave up on hand-stitching the cuffs and bottom waistband.  Again, too bulky.  So instead I did some extra top-stitching to really nail the wool flat where several layers met. 

My skirt pattern is one that I drafted myself from a store-bought pencil skirt.  I mimicked the shoulder yokes off the jacket when shaping the pockets, and then added an extra button-down flap just for fun.  I was really pleased with how my plaid matched up (across the front of the jacket and the side seams on the skirt).  The only spot that somehow I didn't notice (til it was too late of course) was my center stripe right down the front of the skirt. I'll have to remember never to stand square when I talk to people.  

Well, about three months after sending off that email to the Hoffman Construction Company, I finally received a reply.  Turns out Felix and Val didn't own a branch office.  They headed up a bowling team!  Evidently if a construction crew was going to be working a particular job site for an extended length of time, the company would sponsor a bowling team for those employees.  How cool is that?!  So as much as I wanted to do a photo shoot at a local bowling alley for this blog post, I decided to opt for the construction site in my own backyard.  The rams are finally getting new housing that doesn't let in the wind and rain.  I'll blog about that later, but for now I need to wipe the mud off my shoes and hit the lanes!


  1. bopeep - you are the greatest!!!
    this is just gorgeous what you have done with the old jacket. the whole suit is incredible. fabulous. trés chic.
    love your investigation about felix and val. bowling team :-) did you send a picture of your suit to the company?
    if you ever work with thick felted wool like this again - don´t fold the salvage under. the material will not fray. same with cuffs and waistband. inspect some old navy stuff, then you know what i mean.
    missed you - lot of work at the homestead?

    1. Thanks Beate! Yes, at first I tried to fold the salvage under on the cuffs and waistband. Too thick so I decided to just sew them flat. And yes, I'm recovering from a three week sinus infection. Ug! I had no energy to do anything. Now the weather is warming up and I'm feeling much better. :)

  2. Just ... Wow! Love your post! Especially love what you did with the skirt pockets.
    Best regards,
    Tina in San Diego

  3. Wow, this is such a clever restyle. I love the embroidery! Nice work on giving this jacket a second life. I bet it will look fabulous with jeans too.

  4. As a huge fan of vintage clothing and having the utmost respect for those talented enough to repurpose items no longer in wearable condition...I am thoroughly impressed with your work and find your passion refreshing! Amazing! - Tracy, Marketing Specialist at Hoffman Planning, Design & Construction, Inc. (formerly Hoffman Construction Co.)

    1. Tracy, thank you so much! I love salvaging pieces and giving them new life. After I took the scissors to this, I wondered if it was a priceless Hoffman heirloom!

  5. You are SO TALENTED! I almost can't stand it. What you did with that jacket is amazing!

  6. Your creativity is a-ma-zing! I just love the jacket and skirt. It is adorable and fits you well.

  7. ahoi - awards on your way:

  8. Wow! You are amazing! I found you from "We sew retro" and I had to come visit you, love your creativity and I'm ecstatic watching all the details of your suit!

  9. I always love reading your post.


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