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Lady Violette

The Romantic Lifestyle

Vintage Coat ~ Found at The Goodwill, Then Refurbished, Repaired and Restored, What’s Involved ?

March 30th, 2011 by violette

1940's Plaid Wool Vintage Coat

Well, here it is. Finally finished and I have been wearing it for a few days. And people are saying it is so neat and I am so lucky to find such wonderful things. Then they tell me they look but never find anything so cool.

This was not as you see it now when I found it. So I want to explain what was involved.

It was extremely dirty, the lining was rotted and torn. When I slipped the coat on to try it for style and size the lining tore. It was essentially decomposing. The coat was missing several but not all of its buttons. They were same cloth as the coat covered ones rimmed in brass metal.

I decided the coat was worth attempting to restore style wise. Step number one was buy it. It cost $19.99. Take it home, quickly remove the lining, and wash it by hand to use as a pattern for making a new lining. Then package the coat in plastic, in case it had any moths living in it. I never risk letting moths come into my home and get into my clothing. Then, I immediately put it in my car and next day took it to the dry cleaners.

It cost $20 to clean the coat. While that was being done i shopped for lining fabric. I got a shiny satin like milium lining in a rust orange color. I removed all the seams in the lining I had removed and washed. I pressed it. Then I laid them out and pinned them down to my new lining fabric like pattern pieces and cut out my new lining. I sewed it together. And pressed a narrow hem into the raw edges all the way around.

I picked up the coat at the cleaners. It was not looking bad! But it needed some reweaving where the weaving of the tweed, which is a loose weave needed to be reinforced. And some of the seams needed to be redone as the old fabric and thread was beginning to rot. I re-stitched most of the seams for this reason. some by machine and many by hand.

Then I inserted the new lining and hand stitched it into the coat at all the edgings. This was quite time consuming actually! But it was looking good and seeming worth the effort.

The last thing that needed to be addressed was the buttons. I looked at modern ones. I went to four fabric stores looking! They just didn’t cut it. So I ended up moving two of the original 6 covered buttons onto the cuffs. I went though my huge stash of vintage buttons and, luckily I found three strange giant brown ones either plastic or bakelite, that had a perfect accurate 1940’s feel to them – because of course they were from that era! Nothing newer, that I could find would work on this coat.

I decided that it was OK to use different buttons on  the cuffs and on the front of the coat! So that is what I did. I have two covered buttons on  the cuffs and the big authentic 40’s ones down the front. The coat is finished!

It is lovely and warm because the collar buttons up to the neck snugly. The plaids are perfectly matched in he way the pattern was put together and sewn. The colors look very good on me. I’ve gotten a lot of compliments on the coat! Such as, yesterday in an elevator somebody said to me, “Wow! You’ve totally nailed that vintage look!” (That’s a compliment.)

The coat is wonderful now because I saw its potential and I was willing to put the time, money and effort into restoring and repairing it. I didn’t just buy it off the shelf that way! I have seldom found any piece that didn’t require restoration. I put many hours into sewing it back together and looking for the lining fabric and buttons.  All that and the expensive professional dry cleaning! I won’t wear anything used with out washing it or having it cleaned. You never know where it has been or what it has been through when you get it at these places.

So, I paid about $23 for the coat with tax, same for the dry-cleaning$23 with tax , then for the new lining fabric we can safely say another $25, the 3 special large vintage buttons I used on the front would easily be $8 apiece at a bargain. – that gets us up  another  $27 including tax had I had to buy them. (I had them on hand but had bought them earlier.) When all of this is accounted for I have spent about $100 for the coat plus my time, knowledge and tailoring expertise to reline and reassemble it. I know this would have cost at least $100 if you had to have a tailor do it.

I do have a fabulous vintage wardrobe, but probably because I have been collecting things and repairing them over many years. Not because I walk in and buy them that way at the Goodwill or Salvation Army.

I have bought some things that were not strong enough to make it through cleaning. When that happens it is just a risk you took. And when that happens you have lost the money you paid for the article plus the cost of cleaning and you have nothing for it! It can be very disappointing!

I do not see my plaid 40’s coat as a bargain! I think I paid quite a lot for it in terms of time, effort and money. I really like it and it is a very warm practical unique coat so it is completely worth it to me.

Contrary to what some people think you don’t often buy vintage items off the rack ready to wear. There is often a lot of work of be done to get old garments to that point.



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