story coat

this was my dad’s blanket. he bought it when he first arrived in ithaca, ny from taiwan. age 14, didn’t speak english, no parents around. he’s brought this blanket on every move he’s made since: to university in canada, to med school in los angeles, up and down california for residency, research, and jobs and finally to where we’ve settled since.

this blanket wears the marks of time and two generations of childhoods. there is a hole that needs to be mended, an old nosebleed stain in the corner, discolouring, but it’s still in tact and warm as it ever was. my mom had stowed it away in the garage years ago, and it sat collecting spiderwebs and dust, until i found it again one afternoon and decided to give it another life.

so i made a coat out of it. a pretty modified all well cardigan coat that i was trying to make look like the wiksten haori. i should just buy that pattern but i’m too cheap at this point. the quilting lines don’t completely line up and the discolouring is blinding, particularly at the shoulder seams because i didn’t cut around it. the hole in the blanket sits directly on the back of the coat. but although the outward appearance of this coat is shabby, it was made with care. i bias bound all the seams on the inside, and the hems, even handsewing it shut so the binding would be neat. and i have ideas on how to fix the discolouring. i want to dye the entire coat with indigo, and embroider over the hole in the back. it’s still an ongoing process and i’m excited to continue. making this coat, especially knowing the history of the quilt it’s made from, made me ridiculously happy for some reason. so here’s the base. i need to go out and buy some materials for indigo dyeing, and i’m hoping to finish it before i leave for college this summer. maybe i will even bring it with me. i like the idea of things coming full circle – my dad bought the quilt in ithaca, and now his daughter is returning there, with the same quilt. but if i don’t finish by then, i’m ok with that too. this quilt has lasted over thirty years and it still has more life to live. there’s no rush.

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