Ugly Amnesty 2 – The Coat of Many Colours

The Oath of Finished Uglies

I, the undersigned, swear to hereby clear my make of all crimes against fashion or wearability. I promise to love it, cherish it, and allow its inner beauty to shine. I will not banish it to a cupboard, take it to a charity shop, do the dusting with it or gift it to a friend. I will learn to love my Finished Ugly…

Welcome, friends. It’s time for the second Ugly Amnesty interview and Suzanne of Minou’s Minute was kind enough to immediately volunteer after reading Portia’s interview. Remember, there are no judgers here, only enablers. It’s time to enable another Finished Ugly revelation!

What can I tell you about Suzanne? She’s clearly the queen of multi-tasking. Why labour over a quilt and a fashionable piece of clothing when you can make both at the same time? 15 years ago, Suzanne decided to make a two-in-one item – a coat that looks like a blanket, or a quilt with sleeves? You decide. Little did Suzanne know back then, but one day her coat would become a cornerstone of Ugly Amnesty.

Let’s hear Suzanne tell us all about the inspiration behind an item of clothing that leaves her children begging her to walk the streets of her home town in her shirt sleeves. ‘Leave the coat at home, Mom!’

Momma sewed the rags together
Sewin every piece with love
She made my coat of many colors
That I was so proud of…

Do Suzanne’s children ever sing this song, do you wonder?

1. Suzanne – I happen to know that an awful lot of work went into the making of this coat. Could you talk us through the process and how many hours were spent creating this … special item?

Though I did not keep track of the time, it was a large space of late night sewing. I made the coat when my kids were young and I used to sew after they went to sleep. The coat was made in stages: piecing the outer layer, layering the outer top with two pieces of flannel (batting and outer coat layer), quilting, washing and shrinking, cutting out pattern pieces and … sewing!

2. How did the finished coat affect your relationship with your family? Did you find your children walking ten paces behind you, for example?

The coat has the magical quality of making me invisible. My (now adult) children pretend to not know me when I am wearing it. When I wear it in public, I get one of two reactions: ‘Oh, I love your coat’ (usually spoken by a fellow quilter/seamstress/grey-haired grandma) or ‘Ah, that’s an interesting coat’ (usually spoken by fashionistas under the age of 18). I usually only wear it out to the mail box or when I have to go feed the dogs … in the winter snow … when it’s cold … and no one’s around.

3. I understand this coat was made as part of a course that you paid good money for. Did you ever consider taking legal action? What was the tutor thinking of?!

No legal action but I definitely learnt a lot from the $12 fee. My husband says I paid too much. A friend finished her coat too, then donated it to the second hand store. I don’t think any of the other ladies ever finished their coats. Hmmm…

4. Where did the scraps of fabric come from and have you used them in any other items?

I am a quilter and come from a long line of women who have sewed, so I had a lot of scraps to choose from. I have enough scraps to keep going for years. I still make scrap quilts for use when we are camping or for the dogs to sleep on.

5. What did this process teach you about sizing? The coat looks a bit, um, voluminous.

ALWAYS make a muslin … always! My mom was an amazing seamstress and rarely made a muslin, but I need to when using a new pattern. I made the jacket first by the packet measurements, then had to pull it all apart and re-sew a smaller size. Now that I’ve lost some major weight, it’s even more voluminous. I’ve been tempted to pull it apart again. It could make a couple, okay, a few coats for small children.

6. Finally, on a serious note, I would love to hear more about your career as a maker of costumes.

I was adopted into a family of excellent singers, who were always performing in the community shows or Church. I’m an okay singer, but prefer to stay in the wings, so I always volunteered to sew costumes. I started by making costume repairs (you have to sew quickly), then Shakespearian era costumes, then went on to planning out whole casts of costumes. Sewing costumes teaches many skills that come in handy when putting a nice finish on your everyday clothing. I am now moving towards combining my art quilts with wearable clothing. I have a huge box of coat patterns I have never tried … where’s my muslin?

It would be a shame to see the back of this coat.

Thank you so much, Suzanne! I feel privileged to share such a special sewing experience. There are many positive conclusions we can all take from this Ugly Amnesty:

  • Suzanne’s right, a school of small children could be clothed with a remake.
  • Any fool out there can charge $12 for a sewing ‘experience’.
  • Suzanne makes quilts for her dogs to lie on! Those are some lucky dogs.
  • Avoiding singing in a choir can make you a better Sewist.

Thank you so much, Suzanne. Check out her blog! There’s a wonderful piece on Suzanne celebrating birthdays over the years. that brought a tear to my eye. But I’m not so chocked up that my eagle eye is not keenly roving, looking for the next Ugly Amnesty. Come on in, the water’s lovely! Let me know if you have a scarf, a coat, an anything to share.

It’s not the taking part that counts, it’s the fouling it up. And I know I’m not the only Sewist who’s cherishing a Finished Ugly…

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8 Responses to Ugly Amnesty 2 – The Coat of Many Colours

  1. lydia says:

    little did she know, she had invented the quilted snuggie…

  2. You know, there was something that made me think of a snuggie, too!

  3. Portia says:

    He he!! See! We’re NOT the only ones Karen. I feel better now 😉

  4. Suzanne says:

    Oh my goodness….I invented the snugglie and never realized it! I could have been a rich woman. Think of all the coat patterns and fabric I could have purchased with my fortune! Lol…………………

  5. KC says:

    I think it’s a snuggie if you wear it backwards, right? To me it looks like a giant jockey’s jersey, but I’ve been reading a lot of Dick Francis lately.

  6. SewOm says:

    Price of the class: $12
    Participation in the Ugly Amnesty: Priceless!

    Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  7. Sophia says:

    What a cute feature…. It’s great to see sewists who can poke fun at themselves. 🙂

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