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Topic: the Sherlock Polar Vortex coat  (Read 23432 times)
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I like to make wearable things out of things that aren't wearable.
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« on: January 21, 2014 07:45:53 PM »

Living in Chicago when the Polar Vortex is at play is no laughing matter. With -14 degree Fahrenheit temperatures and wind chill that makes it feel like its -50, theres no room to mess around with staying warm. Unfortunately, I am a picky soul, and I can never bring myself to simply go to the North Face and buy a bland, puffy down coat, no matter how warm it will keep me. Not to mention the fact that my bank account cannot afford a luxury like that.

Luckily for me I have ingenuity and an extensive sewing prowess on my side.

When I moved back to Chicago last fall my dad offered up his huge, heavy wool coat that he had bought from some military surplus store back in the 60s. He had used it to stay warm through the frigid Boston winters of his youth, so it was only fitting that it should find its way to Chicago to keep me safe from the Arctic temperatures. I was given free reign to do with it as I saw fit.
But I knew that wool alone would not keep me warm enough, so I went scavenging until I found a full-length down coat at Goodwill. I cannot spend $500 on a good winter coat, but I can spend $50. I decided the best thing to do would be to combine them into one coat that would be capable of both appearing semi-stylish and keeping me cozy as possible.

So with much hefting and seam ripping and combining I managed to bring together one coat, with a woolen shell and a down interior, lined with silk polka dots and orange taping (because I am not one for subtlety). While I tailored the entire coat to fit me, tapering the waist and shoulder width while shortening the sleeves, I made sure to maintain original features. All of the original buttons are still on, the epaulettes have been moved to the cuffs, and the original pleat in the back was used as inspiration for the now-elaborate pleating that I created.

As a final feather in my cap, while I was working on it I researched the buttons (one holds the initials NFS while all of the others are three sprawling lions) I discovered that this is an original coat from the National Fire Service in England. Which I find highly appropriate, given the fact that once I put on the finished product, I noticed it held a remarkable similarity to Sherlocks flipped-collar coat.

The game is afoot, Polar Vortex.

Sherlock Coat by graceduVal, on Flickr

And because this is always fun, here are the two coats BEFORE:

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« Reply #1 on: January 21, 2014 07:52:50 PM »

Nicely done!  Congrats on your stylish new coat.  It looks very flattering on you in the pictures.

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    « Reply #2 on: January 21, 2014 09:17:49 PM »

    Gorgeous! I'm totally jealous of people who can sew and make lovely flattering items out of shapeless lumps of fabric.
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    « Reply #3 on: January 21, 2014 10:08:38 PM »

    What a gorgeous coat! Stylish and warm. The best of both worlds.
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    « Reply #4 on: January 21, 2014 10:59:00 PM »

    That is one epic coat!!
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    « Reply #5 on: January 22, 2014 12:29:40 AM »

    Ah, I'm a bit sad that this was reconstructed with your own amazing sewing talent and that there's no pattern you can point me to. I have an amazing ankle length wool coat that I bought second hand and have been wearing the last seven winters. You read that right: seven years on me, and it was already second hand. I still get compliments on it from time to time, because the cut is amazing, but it's getting too worn out. Pilling in lots of places, cuffs and collar wearing out, thinning on my bottom, etc. This is the second winter in a row that I'm looking for its replacement, but the longest to be found in the stores right now is just above knee-length, and even those are very rare at that.

    The coat you just made however, is SOOOOOOOOO pretty I really want it too. It's a masterpiece, it doesn't look bulky at all (and that's an accomplishment with down linings!) it accents your waist, nicely accentuates your bottom and doesn't crush your bosom. You're getting a THIS ROCKS Smiley
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    « Reply #6 on: January 22, 2014 03:48:03 AM »

    Epic reconstruction and the coat is so stylish.  Smiley
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    « Reply #7 on: January 22, 2014 05:47:15 AM »

    Awesome work! It came out amazing.
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    « Reply #8 on: January 22, 2014 06:37:53 AM »

    Fantastic! thank you for the before pics as from looking at the after pic no one would ever guess  Grin
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    « Reply #9 on: January 22, 2014 08:32:52 AM »

    Absolutely beautiful! You are an amazing tailor. This rocks.
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    « Reply #10 on: January 22, 2014 09:27:27 AM »

    this is wonderful! Great job! Love the collar.   "this Rocks!"  Smiley
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    « Reply #11 on: January 22, 2014 10:44:15 AM »

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    « Reply #12 on: January 24, 2014 02:49:04 PM »

    This definitely rocks and makes me think of all the possibilities hidden in my down coat that is getting worn out more and more....
    Really inspiring.
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    « Reply #13 on: January 24, 2014 03:52:15 PM »

    Great job!
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    « Reply #14 on: January 25, 2014 04:37:13 PM »

    Absolutely fantastic idea and reconstruction here!! Really makes me want to do something similar.
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    « Reply #15 on: January 26, 2014 08:19:43 AM »

    This was so wonderfully done. I am super impressed! I like how you made an inner collar with the down coat, because the one thing I can't stand about my thrift store wool coat is how low the neck opening is. (I mean, isn't it supposed to keep you warm!?)
    But this looks polar-vortex-ready. Fantastic.
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    « Reply #16 on: January 26, 2014 09:18:38 AM »

    Amazing work!  The pleating looks fantastic.
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    « Reply #17 on: January 26, 2014 12:14:54 PM »

    you are an artist!
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    « Reply #18 on: January 28, 2014 06:58:51 AM »

    Wow! This coat is simply gorgeous, and it's amazing it came from those two (much less flattering!) coats! ^____^
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    « Reply #19 on: January 29, 2014 07:30:48 AM »

    Wow, that is gorgeous! I'm trying to figure how you attached that inner layer--wasn't it really thick to sew through all that wool?
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    « Reply #20 on: January 29, 2014 01:00:00 PM »

    Congratulations! This has been chosen as a Featured ProjectSmiley
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    « Reply #21 on: January 29, 2014 06:03:50 PM »

    It's adorable, great job!
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    « Reply #22 on: January 29, 2014 06:09:48 PM »

    This is fantastic!  You did a nice job of solving the problem I always have where nice coats aren't warm enough, and warm coats are ugly.
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    « Reply #23 on: January 29, 2014 06:57:18 PM »


    Epic work of beauty. What a wonderful job you did!
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    « Reply #24 on: January 29, 2014 09:34:59 PM »

    Good god, this is remarkable! I wouldn't have believed that you could achieve such a stylish silhouette with so much bulky material. You have really achieved something here!
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    « Reply #25 on: February 01, 2014 05:46:57 PM »

    Awesome job. It looks amazing!
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    « Reply #26 on: February 02, 2014 03:24:51 PM »

    I love this so much I cannot even....  Just amazing, especially considering the shapeless original and the god-awful-but-warm down coat.  You are my new sewing god.
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    « Reply #27 on: February 10, 2014 12:35:13 PM »

    Wow, how did I miss this.  That is a beautiful coat, and represents incredible work on your part.  I would be terrified to tackle that sort of a project.  Great job. 
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    « Reply #28 on: February 17, 2014 05:29:19 PM »

    oooohhh!  I want one.  i have an old 3rd hand wool coat, no idea where it came from before it came to our family, sort of wonder if something similar could be done with it.  do you have any pictures from along your journey that might help me?  I too live in the cold.  I was just at a funeral, my husband was freezing, after i had told him to dress warmer I commented "did you see me?"  he looked funny at me for a moment before i broke up laughing and gasped, "that's right, you didn't, because I was bundled up and warm!"  I hate being cold, and unless I am being tortured I see no reason to be cold, but if i could stay warm fashionably I would enjoy it even more.
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    « Reply #29 on: February 17, 2014 06:23:21 PM »

    Luscious! Well done. Sounds like the kind of project that would make me curse and throw things, but you did an excellent job. Smiley
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    « Reply #30 on: February 18, 2014 10:34:18 AM »

    amazing! I wish I was able to do this!  Smiley
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    « Reply #31 on: February 20, 2014 07:06:03 PM »

    Holy wow. This looks incredible! Well done.
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    « Reply #32 on: March 05, 2014 10:58:35 AM »

    omg this is AMAZING! great job! i can imagine how awesome you feel wearing that Wink
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    « Reply #33 on: April 01, 2014 03:00:13 PM »

    I can't believe that such a beautiful coat came from them two coats. It is amazing, I wish there was a pattern! Serious talent!
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    « Reply #34 on: April 10, 2014 06:45:03 AM »

    I totally want this coat! I'm always cold, and I love this style of coat! Unfortunately, given my height, trench coats swallow me, and I just end up looking like a child in daddy's coat...  Embarrassed
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