Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Making Winter Coats

Why am I talking about a winter coat in the summer? Because...

"Say what?"

If you've read our blog for any length of time, you know we're all geeks here.  It was only a matter of time before a Game of Thrones reference was made. But it's also relevant to this article because if you want to make a coat for winter you'd best start working on it now. 

I was initially going to show you how to crochet or knit a coat, but that would have made this post super-long. After the success of my apron post, I realized I don't have to break this down to such a level; there are a lot of resources out there that show how to make coats and can explain it far better than I can.

The Capote
A good example of a multi-purpose that is easy to make is the Capote (pronounced capo -- it's French), or blanket coat, of the North American frontier. These coats kept you warm but weren't fancy at all -- not unless you were fortunate enough to have a significant other who was a fair hand at embroidery or bead work.

The blanket coat is just that, a coat made out of a blanket, and I'm fairly certain quite a few people can immediately see the advantages to this:

  • Your blanket is already right there, cutting down on the amount you have to carry otherwise.
  • In summertime, it's your bed. 
  • Remember way back when I published my first security articles? I made mention of the wardrobe changes you should consider for SHTF (for reasons such as "being less of a target"). Coats like this hide your chest and hips really well. 
  • You can use a specific color pattern to identify yourselves, either individually or as a group, to each other when out and about in camp or in town. 
If you like how the capote looks, you can check The Matoska Trading Company.  They have several capote patterns based on the various geographical regions.  (Yes, there were differences in capote designs from area to area, but that's a historical subject and beyond the scope of this post.) There are also several capote patterns on Amazon.

Alternately, you can try your hand at making your own using these patterns I found on Pinterest:

Other Types of Coats
Back in the Middle Ages, the word "coat" referred to armor like chainmail. Outerwear was more like the cloaks and capes that many of us today think of as some kind of fantasy costume. What we would consider a modern coat didn't become the norm until roughly the mid-1800s.  Frequently used interchangeably with the word jacket by American English speakers, there's a huge catalog of the different types of both.

If you're going to make your own coat, there are things you must consider just as if you were buying one instead.
  1. What's the activity I'm going to doing the most while wearing the coat? 
    This helps you decide on the material composition. For example, if you're going to be outside working with animals, it's going to need to be sturdy and not stain easily.
  2. What is the most common kind of weather that I may be wearing this in? This determines how thick, water resistant, or breathable you'll need it to be, and helps you determine the materials. 
  3. How much bending am I going to be doing? Do you need it to be fitted or can it a loose coat?
  4. Can I find what I need already made? Probably, but you have to decide your financial and time budget first.
Once you've gotten that figured out, it's time to hit the web!

  1. If you can sew, check with your local fabric shops first and go through the outerwear patterns they have available. Start in mid-summer as well, so that you aren't fighting against the deadline of cold weather.
  2. If you're making for kids, size it up a size or two, especially if they're in that 8-12 year range. Growth spurts are bad enough, and being cold during them is no fun.
  3. Trawl YouTube for instructional videos. Making coats can be hard, so learn as many tips and tricks as you can!
  4. If you commission someone else to make it, DON'T SHORT THEM ON PAYMENT. Coats take time and patience.
Once you decide on your coat, save those patterns. If they work, you'll want to make more of them. If they don't, take note of what did work and why, and then what didn't work and why -- the material, the construction, the cut, everything -- so you learn from the experience. 

Winter is coming. Stay warm!

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