The Old Coat…

Last weekend I did a bit of sewing that I didn’t share. Honestly, it wasn’t that interesting to anyone by me but I thought I’d share the story as it might motivate you.

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Twenty years ago I was fairly fresh out of college and working in my chosen field of radio broadcasting making about $5.50 an hour, working odd overnight and early morning airshifts and the odd DJ gig at various bars and roller skating rinks. If it sounds glamorous let me assure you it was! I was being paid in fun and for a 21-year-old you really couldn’t ask for more. I needed a nice winter coat and it had to look smart because working in radio in the 90’s with deregulation and small stations being bought up by larger companies you never knew when you came in for work each day if you would have a job or if your station would have new owners and would have fired everyone. Hence I had to look good for my constant hobby of interviewing for new jobs. I went into TJ Maxx on a mission and found the most beautiful burgundy wool coat that was tailor-made for me it seemed. It was double-breasted, knee-length with a fabulous weight and the perfect color. It was also $60 so I thought long and hard about buying it as it was easily half of my take home pay that week. I bought it and never once regretted that purchase. I rarely carry a purse so my keys would rip holes in the pockets which I mended. I replaced buttons after they gave out from getting caught in the holes of my laundry baskets from my pre house owning trips to the laundromat and later getting caught in shopping carts lifting my kids for cart to car seat. That coat saw me through many adventures.

About 2 years ago I had to face facts, the pockets could no longer be mended and the lining was in tatters. Mending might not be able to cut it this time. Feeling fairly competent I bought a couple of yards of burgundy satin (for $8 at Mardens-a local discoutn fabric store) and a matching spool of thread and decided I would sew a new lining for my coat. Now, I am the type of person who needs to jump in and do a project the moment I get inspired because If I spend to long thinking about it or researching different ways to do it I get overwhelmed. I read too many tutorials, I asked to many proper sewists how they would do it and ultimately I did nothing.  The coat sat in my closet unworn while I grabbed lesser coats to wear outside. Because I felt fat and dumpy in my other coats I didn’t want to go out often in the cold. I didn’t pop into the library to grab a book and chat with the librarian when I was out, I didn’t feel good about myself in those coats so I would simply wait in the car to pick up my kids, heaven forbid if anyone saw me. All that wasted time, even if it was just a few minutes it was wasted.

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As you know over the past year I had held each of my possessions in my hand and asked if they “sparked joy” and my old red coat still made me happy yet I kept those other very “unsparky” coats because I needed something I could actually wear outside (and quite frankly if you are going to do any serious work or play outside in the snow you want a machine washable parka.) Because of undergoing the Konmari method from the book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up I had fallen down the rabbit hole of other mindfulness and minimalism bloggers and last Saturday I happened to be reading an article about fast fashion. The article referenced a documentary on Netflix and I had a burst of motivation. I grabbed my sewing kit, beautiful coat and fabric and set to work on mending my coat as I watched the documentary. I started by cutting out the pockets and using them as templates to make new ones out of satin. I sewed them on my machine then hand stitched them in to my coat. I examined the lining which was the most overwhelming task and realized that most of the tears were on seams so I hand stitched the small awkward rips and machine sewed the rest. Turns out it was not as big of a project as I thought! By the end of the hour and a half documentary (which was not that great) I had a fully functional coat! I dug out my Dryell home dry cleaning kit that I haven’t used in over a decade and cleaned my coat (and I was super excited to see they still make Dryell! It is such a fantastic invention!) and it looked fabulous. I realized it had lost a button at some point but I had a matching one in my stash so I stitched that on and it was as good as new. Maybe better than new because the satin I made the pockets from was thicker and sturdier than the original. It also made me glad I didn’t rip out the lining because I think the satin might have been too stiff to work as a lining fabric. Here is my 22-year-old coat as good as new and still my favorite!

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The old saying goes: “They don’t make them like they used to…” and in this case I agree. I had tried on other coats over the years thinking that I could just replace my old beloved red wool coat but the coats I found felt cheap, flimsy and just didn’t feel right or make me feel the way I wanted to in them. I think we often try to buy something because we think it will rekindle the feeling we had when we bought a similar thing. That’s why fast fashion has such popularity, you can buy something new and cheap to replace something old and dull but the novelty soon wears off. I think that the amount of thought you put into a purchase is related to the enjoyment you will get out of it.

I have grown a lot over the past year of decluttering. Two years ago when I bought the fabric and spool of thread to take on this project I thought I was being smart and thrifty. Turns out I already had a spool of thread in the exact color I needed and I only really needed enough fabric to make pockets and not replace the entire lining. I could have done this repair with 1/4 yard of fabric at $1 vs the 2 yards of fabric plus spool of thread for $10. Also I would have actually done the project quickly because I would not have been hung up on what I thought I needed to do instead of what I really needed to do.  Still its way less wasteful and less expensive than buying a new coat of that quality which would cost about $200. I hope this post inspires you to tackle a task you have been meaning to do but overwhelmed by. Do what needs to be done and enjoy life now. It’s usually less work than you think it will be and always worth it because even if you mess up a project you learn something new! What are you going to do today? Let me know in the comments below and til next time happy crafting!

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75 Responses

  1. What a wonderful story Lindsay. You make me proud ! Thanks for sharing. Hilary

    Liked by 3 people

  2. That coat does not look 20 years old. How wonderful to do minor repairs and keep using. Looks like you did a great job.

    Liked by 2 people

    • 20 years old with thousands of wearings:) I think the key is spot cleaning if it gets dirty so the fabric doesn’t disintegrate.

      Like

  3. What an inspiring article, thank you. The coat is gorgeous, too

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Awesome I keep my coats forever, some need pockets replaced! Thanks for that inspiration!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Your coat looks fabulous Lindsay! Thanks so much for sharing this story as it is very inspiring just like you!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Totally agree “they don’t make them like they used to”. I still enjoy my old coats because I too cannot find another one to replace it in terms of quality and if you do, the price is certainly going to put a dent in your pocket. I find that I now tend to mend things I like instead of throwing it out….is it because I’m getting older (54)…….

    Liked by 3 people

  7. You are so right about The Coat, I bought one for $70 45 years ago. It was a camel beauty made just right for me. I outgrew it but the memory is there and I never found another to replace how I felt wearing it. Congratulations on your save.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Fantastic. Beautiful coat and no doubt it is stunning on you ! I recently moved to the UK from Bermuda and found a full length wool coat in Salvation Army store for £50. i wish I had bought it !! Instead I found a similar one, new, from one of the chains (forgotten which !) but it’s nowhere near as thick and heavy as the SA one – but was £5 cheaper!!
    S I G H

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I actually wrote a post a few weeks back basically asking if women still sewed because the only time I hear the act of sewing mentioned it is by men. Thanks for answering my question, I enjoyed your post.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. P.S. As a new blogger I am not exactly sure about sharing etiquette so please excuse my ignorance, but would it be okay if I shared this article on my blog? I think that it would compliment the post that I previously mentioned well. I will attach a link for you to check out the post before you respond. I apologize for asking this in a comment, but I did not see another method of contact on your page. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Hmmm like many women, I don’t think I would fit into a coat that was 22 yrs old however my coat from the used clothing store is probably the same age!! I do have a heavy blanket cape that I made in high school that is still hanging around. Use your satin material for a junk journal cover…it would remind you of your coat every time you open it!!! Have a great day.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. I grew up in New England knowing the value of a good, timeless, winter coat. Great post. And I appreciate your advice.
    My to do today is to spend time in my creativity space with the hope that inspiration will strike. I began KonMari in my creativity room and have gotten stuck at 60% done. KonMari has two categories: keep or go. I end up with three: love it keep, don’t love it go, and the ambivalent “want it but don’t not want it either and feel 50/50 about it”, which is always the largest pile by far. I love the space that is now clear and really want this final 40% of “want but don’t want stuff” either used or gone.

    Liked by 3 people

  13. I am a dressmaker and I was inspired by this story! I tend to leave all of my personal repair sewing for last. Pants hems will be tucked under etc. thank you for reminding me that everything doesn’t have to be a huge deal!

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Love the coat, love the color, but mostly impressed that after twins, you still fit the coat! Thanks for the inspiring words.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Yes! My best coat cost me 25¢ as a kid!!! Lol

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Kudos for getting in there and doing it! And it’s a favorite still! Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Wonderful writing, beautiful sharing, stunning coat! I wish I could still fit into my coat of 20 years ago! I have some of my mom’s handmade quilts that need mending. Maybe that’s a start for me.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. Love your story. I know what you mean about saving, mending and remending some thing you love. It’s such a blessing my mother taught me how to sew. It’s not only people who have favourites. My granddaughter has two rescue dogs who are getting old. They each have a favourite stuffed animal they love and once in awhile one has a tear. she has a great picture of her fiancé sewing a tear while the dog is watching him. If they can’t find their ‘stuffie’ They come and whine at them. When they get tired at night they pick up their stuffie, carry it to bed and curl up with it. Too sweet for words.

    Liked by 2 people

  19. I think it’s wonderful that you would take the time to do it. I’m sure I would have hired someone to do it or got rid of the coat. I’m such a procrastinator when it comes to fixing things, even shortening pants. What can I say. Yea for you.

    Liked by 2 people

  20. What a lovely read, thankyou for sharing x

    Liked by 2 people

  21. It is absolutely beautiful…and the memories made in that coat can travel with you for many more years. Reminded me of the pea coat my hubby bought for me 34 yrs ago. Unfortunately I outgrew mine. Yours is the perfect color for your hair! Frugal (and Smart!) Crafter you are.

    Liked by 2 people

  22. A great story and inspiring too! Your comment about having to jump into a project or risk overanalyzing, overthinking it hit home for me. And you must look fabulous in that coat!

    Liked by 2 people

  23. Fantastic, so inspiring. You are a great writer!

    Liked by 3 people

  24. Lindsay, you r truly inspiring!! I haven’t sewn in 30 years other than the odd hole in my grandsons’ basketball warm-up pants! I have a couple of unfinished tunics that I made 30 years ago & have decided to properly finish them. I have an old sewing machine that my MOM gave me 9 years ago before she passed away. It’s always been intimidating for me but I just dropped my paint brush & dragged it out, so tomorrow perhaps I’ll have a new (only to others) top to wear. I always enjoy your painting posts & even if I’ve only been painting for under 2 years, you always give me the confidence I really need to keep painting. Thanks for all you do!! Linda

    Liked by 2 people

  25. What i will do today??? Trying to clean up my desk… I am unable to do stuff since 6 weeks cause of a surgery of my wrist and shoulder. Instead of getting better it is getting worse. I thought it was between my ears… I was exaggerating. Finely I called the doctor crying of pain. He came and now I have a “frozen shoulder”… tomorrow going to hospital and perhaps I have a second surgery. But I hope it comes okay… I am so tired of having pain and getting bored… even drawing hurts. Because I need my both hands… to lean on, turn my page, strange but true… everything I do, even when I don’t use my arm that was operate on I still have pain…
    So i hope to do some painting… watercolours. Or some drawing… and sleeping… I wish I could sleep for a couple of hours…
    Anyhow.. I am already glad they have a name to label it… my worried mind is a bit at rest…
    I also have to make some sketching to make a junk journal as gift for my new neighbour… her name is Charlie… 💗

    Liked by 3 people

  26. in the early 50″s I had a great red coat that I loved. warm and wonderful. I lived in Ohio almost to the Michigan border. I can’t remember what happened to that coat but I loved it. I don’t remember having another coat until I had 3 children in the mid 60’s. now I’m 87 and live in sunny california near San Diego so I don’t need a warm coat but I still remember how great that coat was.Betty

    Liked by 2 people

  27. It’s a gorgeous coat and I can see why you’d look a million bucks in it.
    It’s also a great story, and your stories so often inspire me. I’m guilty of buying the ‘ingredients’ (what do you call them when they are for crafts?), watching all the ‘how to’ videos and then the project stalls in a panic of “I can’t do it” – translation “mine might not be perfect and I’d ruin it” – so I shelve the project. Occasionally i follow through and find it wasnt such a huge deal.
    You inspire me often just to have a try – your enthusiasm and unnflappability (new word) teach me to not be afraid, and that it’s supposed to be pleasure not stress.
    Thank you so much.

    Liked by 2 people

  28. You always uplift me, Lindsey, and this was no exception. You’ve inspired me to get busy….thanks so!

    Liked by 2 people

  29. I have been looking for a long, red, wool coat after having seen one on a pharmaceutical sales lady coming out of a doctors office two years ago. Still no luck this year, but I am determined to hold out till I find that one that “sparks joy”. Your’s is beautiful.

    Liked by 2 people

  30. That is a lovely coat, a timeless classic that so many women would love to get their hands on. Well worth the repairs. I hope it gives you many more wearable years.

    Long ago as a professional seamstress (mostly alterations & repairs) my own cloths would have to get in line behind the paying customers. but OH!! the lovely clothes I got to work on. I tell you there is nothing like digging into the structure of a well made garment to see the techniques that were used de-construct/re-construct – I love my puzzles, and some of the design houses really took the construction layers to a whole new level. With higher end garments you truly got what you paid for. Now days there is such a demarcation – it’s either high end or just down right disposable.

    Keep that lovely coat. You really saved a lot of money by doing the repairs in house and not going to the dry cleaners or a taylors shop. And now you have some lovely sating to play with like.. lining a chic clutch, pants lining, bows, lining for a new coat, permanent pattern block (with fray check)…. have fun.

    Liked by 2 people

  31. Great story! Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  32. Lindsay, This is such a cute story. I must admit though that I thought the title was: The old GOAT. LOL You certainly lucked out with that coat. I live in Pennsylvania and hate wearing coats while driving. I would love one as nice as yours. You are right…they don’t make them like they used to.

    Liked by 1 person

  33. How glorious your coat is! My mom had a sheered sheep coat, called Mouton. I loved when she would come home from the cold and I would snuggle in it and smell her powder. I was given a similar coat recently and need to lose about 15 more pounds to close it. I love to touch it and remember.

    Liked by 1 person

  34. What a joyful post. There were a couple of coats I should have saved. Funny I did not, I am frugal to a fault. Yes, I have an antique platform rocker to upholster. I did the matching one in an antique look floral. The burgundy velour upholstery awaits this already stripped chair with swan neck arms. Can’t tell you how long I’ve had it hidden in my upstairs bedroom. Hope to get on it before gardening season! Thanks for the inspiration.

    Liked by 1 person

  35. Lindsay I loved the story of your beloved wool coat. If I ma, let me tell you about a coat I have, and it may be food for thought (and possibly repairs to your pockets at a later time). It is a Navy (not the color but the military) blue wool coat with the most marvelously warm pockets I have ever experienced.

    The pockets are made of corduroy. Imagine my joy the first time I put my cold hands into the pockets. I love this coat and wear it often and the pockets have never worn out b/c of the material.
    I really don’t like cold nylon or satin pockets because they are always cold and your keys will poke holes in them quickly.

    Hope you enjoy your new, old coat.

    Liked by 2 people

  36. That was a great result, the coat is lovely. Really liked the message…I tend to over think things, get overwhelmed, and then get nothing done!! I had a couple of what I thought would be huge projects this past weekend and just jumped into them without trying to plan them out to the nth degree and you know what? They got done in much less time than I thought they would! You are so right!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  37. Love the coat style color and your story was wonderful you are the best

    Liked by 1 person

  38. What a beautiful story and a beautiful coat. It looks like new. Items like that, which give us comfort and good “feels”, needs to stay with us for life. Years ago I made my own clothes, but after a while I did not enjoy it. I only sew now when I have to make repairs and put it off as long as I can……. except when it is time to repair a treasure like your coat! I’ll take my time and relish prolonging its life!

    Liked by 2 people

  39. I just love this post, it’s me in a nutshell and I can totally relate! Thank you for the inspiration and especially about just moving on with things rather than getting captured. What a great gift to give ourselves! Love, Anne 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  40. I enjoyed your story and your coat is beautiful! Today we are such a throw away society. It’s refreshing to know people still enjoy repairing items, and very often they are better then new store bought ones!
    Good for you!

    Take Care,
    Linda

    Liked by 2 people

  41. Love your coat story. About 15 years ago I purchased a 100% wool coat that I paid over $400.00 for. I thought it was a small fortune. However I have always been a firm believer in the saying, “You get what you pay for.” Every spring, after getting me through a Chicago winter, it goes to the cleaners and comes back looking as good as the day I bought it. I consider it a wise investment. Your coat is a classic style that should last for at least 20 more years!

    Liked by 2 people

  42. I love your article about your old coat. I too have some old clothes I treasure. Currently I am declutering my clothes closet. I had so many clothes in there that I can’t or don’t wear. They are being donated and the clothes I had left, now have “breathing” space. It feels so good!

    Liked by 3 people

  43. What wonderful work! Coat and story ❤ Truly inspiring. So happy to see your blogs. Thank you for sharing such beautiful bits of yourself with us. I feel blessed by you and your creativity. Thank you!

    Liked by 2 people

  44. I have a coat bought in Holland around 1987 ish and have relined it last year……….. its 100% wool, red, swing shaped and detachable scarf in same fabric. I had worn holes in the lining so unpicked it ironed it flat, laid it out on the new lining fabric, cut it out made it up and inserted back into position. The only prob I have is the moulded shoulder pads made of sponge have completely disintergrated so cant replace but am not bothered as at some time Im going to tailor the fit of the shoulders and take in the excess fabric. Love my coat!!

    Liked by 2 people

  45. What a great story, I have a favorite coat and hope to use it next year, I can’t make it 4 sizes bigger but I can make me 4 sizes smaller. thanks for the inspiration you give day after day…by the way lovely coat I would have thought it brand new

    Liked by 3 people

  46. I loved this post! I too have an old wool coat that belonged to my grandmother. I wear it whenever the temperature drops below zero and imagine where my grandmother might have worn it. It is missing a button and your post has inspired me to sew on a new one.

    Liked by 2 people

  47. Lindsay…your ‘old coat’ story just made me cry about myself. You have NO idea what I’ve been struggling with the last few weeks (and years). I am sooo overwhelmed with my Art projects that I start and just don’t ever finish because I get side-tracked…like I need to clean house…or un-needed errands to run (cabin fever) …or just some lame excuse not to stay focused on what I LOVE the most…”ART”. I get realllly excited about something I see on youtube and if I don’t sit down and try it right then and there…I totally forget about it…goes on the back burner for later, and it becomes just a lost memory. You hit the nail on the head this morning…your story was about ‘me’…yep…thats what I do too!!!
    Strange as it may seem, this post was a real wake up call for me and it came at the most PERFECT time. Like a God Send. My ‘old coat’ is stacks and stack’s of canvas’s …tons of paints’..several different mediums…books that I absolutely needed and never ever read…art supplies that I ran out and bought because I saw it on a posting (now, I forgot what they were for). Not to mention the $$$ invested. I sometimes think I’m the ONLY person this happens to and when I read your INSPIRING post this morning it just made my day..its ‘a new day…a new year’. THANK YOU soooo very much for sharing your story. LOVED IT. I’m going to tackle my ‘old coat’ and enjoy LIFE. Retired, fat and happy!!!!!!!!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Oh Rose, Sending you big hugs and lots of positive love and support so you can start this minute tackling your “old coat” too!

      Like

      • I’m naming my Art Studio the ‘Old Coat’ so that when I get off track I will be reminded of your amazing story. LOL

        Like

  48. Maybe the spare room closet…maybe 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  49. Brilliant Lindsay, I think that it is wonderful that you still have such a coat and that you can fit into that said coat. You are amazing! :O)

    ;

    Liked by 1 person

  50. Hi Lindsay,

    Thank you for sending me this email with the link to your latest blog post – The Old Coat

    I read through your blog post and then re-read it and finally I left a comment there.

    What you did with the coat is amazing!

    Till your next email

    Lorraine heart-and-crafts.blogspot.co.uk

    :O)

    >

    Like

  51. Love your story about your old coat, it’s beautiful!
    I have an old sewing machine like yours, the Egyptian head, love it!
    I’ve been meaning to clean it up and refinish the cabinet it’s in, I really need to get to that. It’s definitely a job I’m overthinking;)

    Liked by 1 person

  52. Lindsay,

    This post touched my heart so much! Thank you for sharing something so personal.

    I know it probably sounds silly, but if we lived geographically closer, we probably could’ve been close friends. 😁

    God bless you and your loved ones, Jacqui

    But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus–the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God. Acts 20:24

    >

    Liked by 1 person

  53. So love everything about this! I really love everything you do and really love that you can share your insight, along with everything else. Thanks for that!

    Liked by 1 person

  54. Thank you for the words of encouragement. Now if I could only tackle my craft room. You would have thought that your decluttering videos would have gotten me going. Wish me luck ! I’m heading in!!

    Liked by 1 person

  55. Great story. How fabulous you still fit into it after all these years. Yes, you have inspired me My project is a lot bigger than a coat. My basement will take many days and many hours to get it straightened out. I figure my husband and I can just little away at it a little at a time and eventually we will get there. Thank you from speaking from your heart and for your great insight. You know, people talk about videos need to be about 30 seconds and blogs should not be too long or people won’t read them. Well I disagree. I believe that if something is of value people will invest their time. Just thought I would throw this out there in case someone ever tells you your blogs are too long. At 63, I get so tired of everything being instantaneous , or people expecting it to be that way. Keep writing, you’re good at it.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I really appreciate your comment! I just recorded a watercolor pencil video that is about 40 minutes long and I was thinking about speeding it up but now I think I’ll leave it long:) Thanks!

      Like

  56. Wonderful story, wonderful lesson learned and shared.

    Liked by 1 person

  57. Your coat re-do story is a great motivator and the coat is beautiful. You would have a hard time finding such nice quality today at a reasonable price. Re-purpose, re-pair, re-use – I like all those directives and when I can’t find at item of clothing that is exactly what “I” want, I make my own and feel so much better. Thanks for your inspiring messages.

    Like

  58. I really thought I was the only one who fretted a project way out of proportion! LOL I’ve been procrastinating on reorganizing my laundry room for at least 6 months. Meanwhile the sheets and towels that need to go in that closet are piled in my bedroom. You have inspired me to just do it. Thanks!

    Like

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