Saturday, November 30, 2013

A Tale of Two Coats

After my sister Chris died, two years ago, I found a coat hanging over her dining room chair, a coat I remembered her wearing. Seeing it and touching it made me feel close to her, so I asked her husband if I could have it, even though I could see that one of the heavy-duty snaps was missing from one of the cuffs.

"Maybe I can repair it," I thought. When I got home, I took it to a tailor, but they said there was nothing they could do. I still thought I could somehow repair it but - between the emotional and time-consuming process of taking over the guardianship of my father and then dealing with the death of my son six weeks after my sister passed - I forgot about fixing the coat, until my sister's October birthday this year when I brought it out and thought about it again.  

Back to the tailor I went with a different request.

"Would you please remove all the snaps from the cuffs?" I asked. I quickly reassured them that I realized this would leave holes and I was prepared to deal with that. Hesitantly they agreed.

Tonight, I finished the project, after several weeks of repairing the holes, sewing on new buttons, and securely sewing Velcro where the inside snaps had been. I had to switch from regular thread to carpet thread and I bent my heavy-duty needle, but it's done! (The picture, above, was taken before I started on the Velcro.)  

While I worked on this project, I fondly recalled a long-forgotten memory from my young teen years.  My "big sister" replaced her reversible ski jacket. She had always worn it showing the white with red flowers and that side had now faded. I loved that side because it was "her", but I also loved the red side that she always kept on the inside. And now that she didn't want the coat anymore, I was free to take it if I wanted to. 

There was just one problem. While the red side was not faded, the seams on that side were completely unraveled. How could I sew them up, without a major overhaul, since - being a reversible coat - the inside and outside were completely sewn together at the bottom?

"Aha!" I had an idea. I carefully ripped open the pockets with a seam ripper tool. Then I slowly, gently pulled the fabric from one side through that pocket in order to sew the seam back up, first one side, and then the other. Then I whip-stitched the pockets back up so they would be usable. 

Since I was wearing the reverse side, I felt like I had a brand-new jacket, and yet I felt like I was wearing my sister's coat, too. I wore that jacket for many more years, even into my young adulthood. 

I expect I will wear this coat for many years also, as it warms me on the coldest days, and brings back memories of my sister, too.