Tuesday, January 4, 2011

My Cozy Upcycled Wool Coat

I've been wearing my purple wool coat for a couple of weeks now.  Love it!  As you can tell its been cold here and I've already gotten it dirty up against the back of the car unloading groceries.  And my husband didn't mention that the scarf was hanging out the bottom when he took photos for me.  Oh, well - this is what I look like most of the time anyway!

Everyone thought I might really be losing my mind when I bid 99 cents for this on ebay last summer.  But I could see the potential!  Click here to see the original coat as it looked on ebay.

The first step was the hardest - I dropped the whole thing in the washing machine for a cold water cycle and hoped for the best.  When it came out the wool was great, even clearer purple after washing away the years of dry cleaning solvents.  But the lining was ruined.  It was made of cheap acetate fabric which is not even nice stuff when it's brand new. 

So I cut out the old lining, took out the shoulder pads, decided not to keep the black buttons and chopped about 12" off the bottom hem.  I searched online for some new lining fabric, then discovered I had a remnant in my fabric stash from when I worked closely with a local fabric store ten years ago.  It is navy blue and the heavier weight type that has a flannel backing to it.  I had just enough to squeeze out the pieces, using the old lining pieces for a pattern.  Since I had the whole coat torn apart, I decided to use some of the scraps from the bottom to extend the length of the sleeves a few inches. 

I searched for purple buttons, even visiting Emmy Lou's, a local thrift store that specializes in old buttons.  But I couldn't find anything that I liked as well as these gold buttons from my stash, or rather Sarah's stash.  Sarah's husband surprised me one Saturday years ago when he drove up with an old button cabinet in the back of his truck.  He said Sarah had sent him and that I needed these buttons.  They were from her long closed fabric store.  I wasn't sure I wanted the cabinet and buttons in my basement, but I could tell that Bill was not in the mood to negotiate!  I am sure his next stop was the landfill!     

So, the result is -  I wear it.  I have received several compliments on it.  Its a little brighter than things I see in the retail stores now which is what I wanted.  My key advice to anyone trying the same project is to focus on finding the best coat lining fabric available.  I have decided that the warmth and feel of a coat are not about the outside, but rather ALL about the lining!  This one just feels good! 

This was my first experience to work with wool and I was very pleased with how easy it is.  I never thought of wool as a stretch fabric, but I guess you might say it was the first knit fabric made.  It stretches just a little as you sew it - which suits me.  Since this project went so well, I have started gathering up old wool sweaters and cutting them into cardigans, shrugs and leg warmers for my granddaughter. 

This was the outfit underneath.  I have tap dance lessons on Mondays with four other women.  The youngest is not quite fifty years old yet and the oldest is 83.  They have danced together for years, but this is only my third year with them.  We have quite a time! 

Sweater dress:  ebay, $4.99
Tights:  TJ Maxx, $5
Boots:  ebay, I bought two pairs (a navy pair and a brown pair) from someone for $15 total
Coat:  ebay $.99, upcycled with lining and buttons I already had
Handmade Scarf:  Trunk Thrift Store in Manhattan, Kansas $3.49


Terri said...

Kitty--the coat turned out wonderfully! It looks to me like you've taken some of the fullness out of it, but perhaps that happened naturally when you simply shortened it. Did you make a foldable cuff when you added to the length? The color is wonderful, although purple is always difficult to photograph--at least for me. I can never get the color to look as true in the photos as in real life.

Where is Emmy Lou's? Emporia? My husband I drove to Topeka and Lawrence to thrift this past weekend. I really like MajR Thrift in Topeka, where I find lots of upscale women's items. But I'm always on the look out for a new thrift.

Kitty said...

Oops - its Ellie Lou's in downtown Emporia across the street from the courthouse. She specializes in buttons, old patterns and fabrics. Also some housewares, books and linens. She's not open very many hours a week: 10-3 on Tues,Wed and Sat. 10-5 on Thurs and Fri. Last time I was there she said she has a booth in a big Flea Market in Salina too.

Thanks for the tip on MajR in Topeka. I have only been to Goodwill next to Fairlawn Plaza. A new place I found recently is in downtown Lyndon - LOTS of childrens items and teen clothes. The womens clothing selection is smaller but nice.

Terri said...

Kitty--I think we've browsed the one in Lyndon! Don't recall that I bought anything as DH was worn out from my thrifting. He likes to thrift too, though. Maybe Beto Junction is the place to meet.