The “Make Meaning” Coat

I test-drove my coat during Vancouver's annual day of snow. Kept me warm even unlined!

Fabric: 4 yards of vintage wool bought at an estate sale. Cost: $8
Pattern:
Butterick 5569
Year: 2010
Notions: 3 wooden buttons and one snap ($7.50 for the buttons).
Time to complete: 8 hours
First worn: To the theatre, January 2012
Wear again? Hell yes!

Total price: $15.50

I love these wood buttons.

Back in August I went to an estate sale put on by an elderly woman who was moving from a house into an assisted living facility. Not only was there a whole room of fabric for sale, but also the clothes she had made over the decades. Racks and racks of dresses from a lifetime of sewing – most of which had sat in a closet since the seventies. While I felt lucky at the chance at some of her never-used fabric, her presence there selling her things was a reminder of the impermanence of the work we do in our lives. At some point we no longer have a use for all we have done, and as we move on, so our possessions go into the hands of others.

But still and all, it was a bit of a party at the community centre, as men and women shared sewing tidbits, fabric tips and gossip with each other. And while I managed to keep myself away from the clothing, I left with several metres of vintage wools and cottons – all at two dollars a metre. So far I have made another jacket and a skirt from some of what I picked up there, but today’s challenge creation is without a doubt the finest garment from that sale yet.

The pattern called for four yards of fabric, and of course I didn’t have quite enough of one to do the job, so I used two co-ordinating prints to make up the coat. (With about one metre of each left, I’ve still got enough for a skirt!)

The Butterick pattern was one I picked up on sale last year for $2, and is probably the easiest jacket/coat pattern you could hope to do. I’m really proud of my job on this one as the inside is nicely finished (I used my false-overlock stitch to great effect), the sleeves went in without any problem, and I managed buttonholes for the first time. My buttonholes aren’t the best, but with the large wood buttons purchased at Button Button in Vancouver, I figure not many people will notice.

I first wore this coat on Sunday to see Waiting for Godot – an existential play which asks “in the absence of God, how do we find meaning?” to which some philosophers would answer “the meaning of life is what you make it”.  And it seems appropriate to name my coat after that first outing. For just as the elderly woman selling her things found much meaning in her life through working with her hands to make beautiful clothing, so many of us make meaning through art and craft (and sharing that with our families and communities).

So don’t let anyone tell you that sewing isn’t important! It’s as important to making sense of the world as anything else.

Author

meganeliza

Megan Eliza is almost forty and lives in Vancouver, BC. Love, home, sewing, craft, writing, grad school, gardening, cooking and even sometimes politics are what make her life joyous and complete!

20 Comments

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  1. I think the two fabrics make your coat more interesting. You did such a good job with the plaid on the bias. My daughter just recently read ‘Waiting for Godot’ and she will certainly get a kick out of you naming your new coat after that! Keep up the great work.

  2. I love the ‘Waiting for Godot’ reference, and I love your coat. You did a great job using the two different fabrics.

  3. Great coat! I really like the effect of using the 2 different fabrics and the big buttons are fab!

  4. Very pretty! I love the plaid and the wooden buttons! What a great price for the fabric too!

  5. Lovely jacket! There is nothing like that really proud feeling when you make something you truly love and you know you will continue to love for many years to come. Well done.

  6. The means by which you came into possession of this beautiful fabric is sad but I love the way you talk about it here–with a little bit of awe and reverence.

    The coat is lovely, by-the-by. I really like the lapels.

  7. Great pairing of the two fabrics ( and I like the reasoning behind your title). I have not been a fan of large collars, but I see clearly the balance that yours provides and really like the way it looks.

  8. Very nice coat. I love it. I want to make one from a patter I found in an old Threads book but so far I haven’t had time for serious sewing for about a year.
    Love this though, great job.

  9. What fab big buttons! Love it.

  10. Gorgeous coat, Megan. Really like the buttons. I think I have one like it in my stash collecting dust because I didn’t know what to do with it. Your coat is great inspiration.

  11. Just stunning! And those huge buttons totally make it for me. And quite the prosaic story surrounding it!

  12. …here here, fab coat indeed Megan those buttons are great and I love the colour and different fabrics too. Looking forward to seeing the skirt sometime soon.

  13. This looks like absolute fun!

  14. Lovely writing, and the large collar is great on you – well done!

  15. I love the big buttons and the collar!

  16. That coat is wonderful: it’s fun and pretty and it looks great on you!

    Your post is so heartfelt and true; thank you so much for expressing this so well.

  17. I love this! It looks like a pricey vintage coat I’d find in one of those posh vintage stores!

  18. Wow. I am totally overwhelmed by all the comments on this post. Thanks so much everyone! *Smiling*

  19. this is fab, great job Megan, I love the big buttons

  20. I love the use of the plaid and plain wools, and the coat looks great on you. Even more? I love your story, the woman, Waiting for Godot.