Thursday, January 13, 2011

Military Coat & Buttons

i found this awesome, amazing, wonderful old wool military jacket at value village, way back in november.  it was $10!  for a perfect wool coat!  although it was rather very large on me and the arms were way to long, i had visions of altering, de- and re- constructing it, and making it my very own.  the photos make it look much more gray than it actually is.  it's the perfect military, olive, drab green that i adore.

i thought i had before pictures so i could show you the jacket how i actually found it, with all the original military buttons still attached.  but no, there are no photos, or there are but i am not organized enough to find them now.  anyhow, imagine the jacket with big ugly plastic and brass military buttons and that's what it look liked when i discovered it.  i immediately thought of changing out the buttons, actually that was the whole point of having to have it, that it would be a super easy upgrade and simple way to make the jacket my own, if I could figure out how to alter the fit.  when i got the jacket home i started to get out my vintage button stash.  originally i was going with a combo of vintage blue, green and red buttons, all mix matched, all over the coat.  in all the jacket has 10 buttons.  the belt that came with the jacket had a heavy brass buckle on it.  cool, but didn't go with my buttons.  so i am digging thru a tin of buttons still on cards and low and behold, i come across two, yes 2!, vintage red belt buckles.  that settled it right there.  i wanted all red buttons, to go with the buckle and because the color just pops right off the green background.
the tin of buttons still on cards where i found the buckles

i keep all my loose buttons in old glass and silver coffee servers.  one is all shell buttons, one is all other white buttons and the other two are missed colors.

the unused belt buckle and the original price tag on the back.

above you can see one the remedies i came up with to make the sleeves work for me.  originally i thought i was seriously going to have to remove the entire sleeve, alter it, and reattach it to the coat body.  it seemed daunting and that's one reason it took me a couple months to actually start dealing with the coat.  but then as i was looking at it, i thought, why don't i just turn a bit of the sleeve under and hand stitch some embroidery thread around it and call it good.  o.k.  so i love how this stitching turned out, very "hand done" looking.  i was happy with the stitching but the arms and sleeves still fit weird, like way huge and bulky on me.  
inside view.  not fancy.  but fine.

 so then i figure i might as well try taking out some of the shoulder pad stuff that was in between the jacket and the lining so i ended up trimming away as much of that as i could get my hands on.  i got a lot of bulk out but the sleeves themselves were still big and bunchy so then i had a brilliant idea and said to myself, "hey, just wash it.  in really hot soapy water. and dry the hot heck out of it. it's wool.  just see what happens." 
i figured the worse that could happen is the sleeves would shrink and felt down too short.  in which case i would just undo the crooked embroidery thread stitching i just did and let it out.  turns out though, that washing it was just what it needed.  it shrunk perfectly and i love how it fits now.  it is slender and narrow through the torso yet the arms are full enough to allow me to really stretch and feel comfortable, yet not huge and gigantic.  the red buttons are fully functional and that darn buckle just sets it off! 
I love my "new" coat!

the only thing i might still do to it is put a bunch of patches down one arm.  when i first got the jacket it had a military patch on each shoulder at the top of the sleeve.  over at Honestly...WTF i had fallen in love with this look and thought the idea might translate well to this coat.
here are some patches i have that may, or may not, end up on the jacket:
  this is a large vintage patch i bought from my friend Marie at the antique mall for like $2.

and here are a few smaller.

i will post more photos if i add the patches but for now i think i will just go with it as is and see i decide to tackle all the detailed work of attaching patches.

working on a silver tote bag,

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