CPR for a Wool Coat

My wool and cashmere coat had seen better days. My mom bought it for me way back when I was a freshman in college and had to hike a mile between buildings in the bitter cold several times a day going to and from classes on opposite sides of the campus.

I don’t “do” cold weather. I have poor circulation and as soon as the thermometer dips below 60 degrees F (that’s about 15 C for my metric friends), I break out the warm wooly things. Around here that means I wear my coat daily from about September to April.

Needless to say, it’s worn out. I’ve reattached several of the buttons – even replaced one that was totally lost. There were holes wearing in the pocket linings and the fuzz and fur that collects all over it simply won’t come out with dry cleaning anymore.

However, I don’t want to buy a new coat because there is a “dream coat” floating around in my head. I’ve been hoarding the pattern, vintage Simplicity 2136 for years now

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but the perfect fabric has remained elusive. I want a special shade of deep red wool melton coating that I can’t seem to find. I’m willing to shell out the bucks for it (at least within reason, I’m not a $2,000 coat kinda gal) when I finally find THE FABRIC but it has yet to “materialize.” I’m not about to spend all the time and money it takes to make a proper warm coat if it’s not just perfect.

That said, the old coat needed a little CPR to revive it for one more winter while I continue my search for that special fabric.

This time around, the top button was missing, along with one from the sleeve – perhaps the only two on the coat that I hadn’t stitched back on yet. The other buttons were pretty sorry to boot. I mean – look at this:

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And there were a couple more holes in the pockets:

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So I went in search of matching buttons. Again. Big black buttons are easy to match, right? Nope. But I DID come up with these little cuties:

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SNOWFLAKES!

I usually wear a sparkly silver snowflake brooch on the lapel of the coat so I figured why not swap it out for 4 big snowflake buttons instead? They came in a multi-pack with big and little ones.

I ran the idea by a friend before I went hog wild ripping buttons off and stitching on these kitschy little numbers. She either humored me or honestly agreed that it would be cute so as soon as I got the coat back from the “in by 9 out by 5” dry cleaner, I set to work.

I pulled the remaining three buttons off the front and replaced them all with the snowflakes. This coat fabric is a bit too thick for the old “toothpick under the button” trick to create a shank. I tested a pencil but found that to be too thick. I settled on rolling up a scrap of brown construction paper and taping it into a tube shape which I placed under the button as I stitched over it. Once I got the main stitches in place, I pulled out the paper and wrapped the thread around the stitches under the button to create a nice deep shank. Perhaps these buttons won’t pop off like the others since they have a deep enough shank underneath.

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I chose the least “sad” looking old button and stitched it to the cuff where there was a button once-upon-a-time. I bought enough snowflakes for the cuffs but then realized that they would probably snag things all the time so I opted to stick with the old ones. I kept the old buttons on the back belt for the same reason.

I gave the pockets a few rescue stitches. Then I hand picked every bit of fuzz and fur that I could get off of it.

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There. Now I have revived this sad old coat from the brink of death. I look like I’m walking in a winter wonderland and maybe it will hang in there long enough for me to find (and make) that dream coat.

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