How The Coat Check Salvages Old Things To Make New
We primarily use beautiful, collectible vintage materials to make our soft furnishings. This can be a labour intensive process. Below is one example of the rework process - how a fur coat becomes a fur pillow. (Back to about coat check)
Dismantling vintage coats
Fur coats are painstakingly made, so it sometimes feels like a shame to deconstruct them. Many coats are so intricately sewn they're easily on a par with French or Italian couture craftsmanship - a collar alone can be made of hundreds of tiny strips joined together - so it's sad to cut them apart. In addition, many have been custom-made and custom-fitted for a particular man or woman and often they're personalized with labels and monograms. In the pockets we've found monogrammed handkerchiefs, love letters, foreign currency, valium, locks of hair. Dismantling a coat can be poignant but by the time we get it its life is already at an end, usually because of a rip under an arm or a split elbow. These problems can be much too difficult or expensive to fix. Sometimes the problem is the style: very shortened sleeves from the midcentury; giant padded shoulders in the 1980s; or an unflattering, sack-like shape, in the case of a lot of midcentury women's coats.
A fur coat, a pair of scissors.
Careful removal of lining.
Fur coat inside out, without lining.
Removal of sleeves and then assessment of how much material we've got left to work with.
Mend all holes, mainly where hooks, eyes, buttons have been attached.
Coats are cut using a template.
Sew segments together, usually both front sections of a coat, including original pockets.
Match front and back, add non-toxic hide glue for attaching muslin reinforcement.
Reinforced front and back of pillows, ready to be sewn together.
One of many final stages of finessing and finishing, pulling hairs through stitch lines.
Vintage fur coat buttons.
The back side of a very old wolf pelt coat. Markings are in old Chinese script and mainly indicate correct orientation of pelt sections. With fur coats, what may appear to be a single expanse of fur pelt is usually in fact an intricately, expertly joined collection of small pieces. Variations in nap, texture and coloured patterning are produced in this way.
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