Sunday, October 30, 2016

Old and new

In the deep fall, at the threshold of winter, in the beginning of the new wool season… Socktober, Wovember… December??  How should we call December? Oh, and then January and February, solid winter months when woolens are the base of the wardrobe. There is no snow yet, but it is cold, the sun does not have the strength to climb high anymore and in no time, we are in the middle of the dark, arctic long night. And I am totally fine with it.

Thank you for waiting and coming back after all this time, I am happy to see you, xx. 

Dropping temperatures forced me to do some rearranging of clothing and shoes. While putting away light, summery stuff some time ago, and taking winter clothing out of the closet, I came across this beige coat. (I have to say that I am not proud of these pictures, but I was quickly taking them along the way and did not focus on them at all; but since they are essential for this post, here they are anyway.)

It hung in the closet, all forgotten and forlorn. I took a long look at it and thought about returning it to the place I got it from. It was either last winter or the one before, when I bought it from the Flee market with the intention to upcycle it. It is my size and I like the A-line shape, it is very feminine, but it had a closure problem.
See… it has these straps that are supposed to close onto these tiny, little metal “things” and two out of the three are missing. It was very cheap in the market, most likely because of this problem. The fabric has wool 64% of its contents and the rest are polyamide, acryl, viscose and nylon, so it is reasonable. The surface of the fabric looked quite clean when I bought it, and only the sleeve cuffs were dirty. The care label tells you not to wash it with water, but I did not think that was a problem and decided to get it and finally try to remake something.

I brought it home, dunked it into the washing machine and thought that the little coat either survives the treatment or then not. I suspected it would come out right, I mean, polyamide, acryl, viscose and nylon could most likely take any kind of modern washing treatment, but because of the “high” wool content, the label advised against water treatment. The coat came out clean and nice smelling. It has a little fake fur trimming that adorns the hood and I washed it too.

Then I hung it in the closet and let it rest there with other coats, that need something. I have few old coats that have not been used very much and that I still like and haven’t been able take them into recycling bin. Before I could take my scissors and needles with the intention of remaking my old “good” coats, I needed to have a practice piece and that is the reason I needed to buy this little coat.
This fall would be perfect timing! I am getting to the age where you cannot postpone things too much.
At first I brushed the coat. I used these tools, the little brush is very good at taking all the pills out and every time I had brushed the area, I lifted the loose fluff with the sticky lint roller. There was not much pilling, hardly any, the underarms don’t show much use, neither the place where the hand bag usually eats fabric away. Once it was brushed and cleaned, I steamed it. The water treatment had of course caused some wrinkling, but steaming took it all away.
The fake fur was a tangled mess and I meticulously brushed it. Fake fur cannot take harsh brushing, so it was more a less one hair at a time. I know, it took a lot of time, but then I am in no hurry. It has stayed in the closet for two years, another few weeks would not do any damage… obviously, I don’t need this coat.
The closure needed to be fixed first. All the other work would be for vain if I could not get the coat to close and I was not up to cutting it quite yet. There is a zipper, a metal one, that is the primary closure but then the three straps are there for the looks.
I knew that I could not just get rid of them because there would probably be permanent marks on the fabric.

After some thought I decided to add buttons and snap fasteners, although I realized that these two would add some bulk and I was not so keen on that. Since I am new to all this remake-movement, I could not think of better way. I know there are wealth of pictures in Pinterest, but the problem with all of them is, that while they provide wealth of inspiration, every single piece of cloth is unique, and must be handled the best way suitable for that special piece.
But the buttons. They needed to be small, because with the added bulk of the big snap fastener, the two together would need to go through the metal rectangle. They also needed to be shiny to match the shiny rectangles. Fingers crossed I went through my button box and found these duck buttons. What luck! It certainly was the right time to tackle this coat.
The metal remains of the previous fasteners had to come out. There was no other way but to pick out the sewing thread and take out the fake leather straps. The lining of the coat needed to be undone too on the left side, so that I could sew the straps back on with the new buttons. It took hours of careful and tedious hand sewing but it was totally worth it! I think, the new buttons do look good and the bulk is not an issue after all.

The coat is now usable.
I am going to secure the small buttons around the hood next, put the fake fur back on, and then I will tackle the sleeves. I want to keep the fake fur. The new buttons and the fur in place will hopefully tell me what direction I should take with the sleeves. They are little bit too long for me, even though I do have long arms, but this way I also get rid of the stained cuffs, which I truly want to do. Should I shorten the sleeves a lot and then knit new long ribbed cuffs to them? Hmm… I don’t know, but I will tell you all about the sleeves next time. This was the old and then some new…
The shawl I have been crocheting for ages, is finally done.
The bad: I should have used a bigger hook, it is too thick somehow, it does not drape nicely, but it is usable, so not all bad.
The good: I love the look, it is almost like woven, the colorful stripes are lovely. I am happily surprised with the design. I intend to use this in the future projects. The yarns were Hjertegarn Kunstgarn for the pearly stripes and the back ground colors were Navia Uno in various natural shades.  
But the little coat needs attention, the little buttons first and then the sleeves. I cannot wait to see what it becomes.
Wool with you,
PS. Hopefully I will have you some sock photos next week. I did finish four pairs of socks this Socktober.


  1. I have never done any work with leather, so those straps might have scared me off this project. Thanks for helping me to learn to think of even leather as a modifiable medium. I always love your posts.

  2. I envy you your wool weather - it is going to be in the 70's here this week, we still haven't had a hard frost, still mowing the lawn - ugh! We talk of moving further north, but not as far north as you. ;-) Love what you did with the coat, can't wait to see the sleeve solution.

  3. I thought maybe you were going to say that you are going to add some of your lovely wool embroidery to the sleeves, and was excited to see it!

  4. Anonymous03:01

    THAT shawl is stunning!

  5. Great work on the coat - so pretty with the duck buttons. Knitted cuffs would be great...or embroidery as one suggested. Your shawl looks amazing - so beautiful!

  6. I love your re-purposing of the coat! It is so important to have several coat choices when faced with a long offers a rare bit of variety when things feel long, cold, and dark. We are starting our period of short, dark days here in Winnipeg and I applaud your positive outlook at the start of the season!

  7. Beth in Maryland20:53

    What an interesting post! The colors you chose for the shawl are simply inspired. Not having much crochet experience, I'm wondering how you stitched those lines of color.

  8. Wonderful! Wonderful work, indeed!- And the shawl came out so nicely! The stitch looks really like woven fabric!

  9. Excellent work on the coat. A nice save. The shawl is lovely and will certainly keep you warm this winter.

  10. Wonderful. Reminded me of my childhood when our mothers use to do all this because financially it was not affordable to buy new always. Once again proves poverty or resource crunch makes you more innovative and skillful. Resource abundance only makes you use and throw kind where as resource shortage motivates you to enjoy every bit of resource., May it be money, cloth, food, space, toys, books, or any thing. In ancient times even kings did not allow their young ones to enjoy the royal resources available.

  11. Your posts transport me. Thank you for sharing your work. Is there a pattern for the shawl?