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My First 40s Coat

Things are quite December-y around here, bare and cold, but I still have some photos left from earlier in the fall, so you’ll have to bear with a few slightly less seasonal posts, including this one. Although everything looks quite green, I assure you that it was actually freezing, which made it a perfect day to wear one of my proudest new acquisitions, my very first 1940s coat!

I picked up this coat around midsummer for a song (I think $25) due to its less-than-perfect condition. The insides of the shoulders were badly damaged, and the shoulder seams had been very shoddily reinforced by someone who did not quite understand how to sew. When I got the coat home, I set about undoing and redoing the shoulder seams (the shoulders could still use a good steaming) and making new shoulder pads to replace the disintegrating ones.

Unfortunately, the beautiful curly lamb collar is also pretty much shot. Part of my reason for taking these pictures was so that I could document the original collar in all its glory before I removed it from the coat!
Yes, really. I’m removing an enormous fur collar from a 1940s coat… because I was fortunate enough to find someone selling a fur collar in exactly the same shape and style! So this collar is coming off and that collar is going on and hopefully when I’m done you’ll never even know that it wasn’t the original.

So that’s the saga of the repair of this fantastic jacket! I may yet sew a new lining and just slip it in over the existing lining. Right now I’ve just got reinforcement patches whipstitched in over the missing parts, but that isn’t a great permanent solution.

And check out those sleeves! I think they’re my favorite part about this coat. Well, after the part where it weighs about 20 pounds and feels like wearing a heavy blanket.

I suppose the hat deserves a bit of mention, too. I didn’t have any hats that seemed like quite the right match for this ensemble, so I pulled out my trusty somewhat dilapidated black tilt hat and a sheet of fortuitously matchy craft felt and got to work. Yes, that’s right… all of those green lops are actually craft felt, cut by yours truly, held on with mostly a small collection of straight pins because I didn’t feel like sewing on what was meant to be a temporary decoration.

I kind of like it, though! I’ve been thinking this hat could use jazzing up, so perhaps I’ll find some actual wool felt (in a different color, probably) and make a more finished version which will actually be stitched on. What do you think? I could do pink, or maybe red…

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