That old army coat

Early next year I’m planning to make a zero waste coat. I plan these things ahead: a few zero waste layouts are rolling around in my head, I’ve found/bought fabric for samples (despite the number of sheep here, it’s not easy to buy wool coating in Australia in January) and I’m considering the garment details….and suddenly my eyes have become attuned to coat details!

We have in our house an old army coat. It’s not a thing that’s been passed through our family – Mr Haywood bought it somewhere about 10 years ago.

He thought it was from the Korean war but it’s too young. The label says 1967, so it’s more Vietnam war era, but no-one wore heavy wool coats in tropical ‘Nam! The coat was made in Victoria, Australia.

Label in army coat 1967

The coat is a fairly small size. It’s too small for him but our 12 year old discovered it fitted her (and of course it looked fabulous on her). It also fits me.

Army coat worn by Liz
Here it is on me. It’s very heavy to wear.

The coat has some neat design features that caught my eye. I thought I’d share them with you…

Army coat collar
The wonderful collar and lapels are the highlight of this coat. The lapels can be pulled across to buttons hidden under the collar.
Storm flap on collar of army coat
Then there’s kind of a throat latch that buttons across the collar. My 12 year old wasn’t familiar with these but was interested when I showed her how it worked.
Throat latch buttoned to inside the coat's front
When not in use, the throat latch is stored on extra buttons inside one of the coat’s fronts.

You might have noticed the fabric. It’s been fulled so thoroughly that it doesn’t fray at all – something you don’t see too often now. It has raw edges left throughout.

Coat half lining and sleeve lining
The coat is half lined with twill weave cotton. The sleeves are lined with a semi-slippery cotton to allow one’s arms to glide into the sleeves.
Twill weave fabric used as interfacing
It looks like the same twill weave cotton was used as a kind of interfacing for the front facing (and maybe the collar?)
Back half belt on army coat
The back has an inverted pleat with a half belt that buttons.
Slits in the sides to pull the belt through
At the sides, on the inside, there are slits in the side seams to pull the belt to the inside.
Showing the back vent with the buttons
The back vent is quite long, with buttons to close it.
Flap pockets on army coat
The flap pockets are very robust…….
front pocket bags on army coat
……and just as robust on the inside.

I wonder if anyone wore this army coat? There’s no name in it. It has a few little moth holes and a bit of fraying on the label, but otherwise is in excellent condition for a 54 year old coat.

Cheers!

10 Comments

  1. Carol in Denver on October 26, 2021 at 7:21 am

    So interesting to see details such as this. Thank you for taking the time to share them.

    • lizhaywood on October 26, 2021 at 8:54 am

      Cheers, Carol – glad other people find these things interesting too.

  2. Val Freebairn on October 26, 2021 at 8:25 am

    Hi Liz. Bill graduated from the Army Apprentice School at Balcombe, Victoria a few weeks after you were born – I’ll bet the apprentices all had one of those!

    • lizhaywood on October 26, 2021 at 8:52 am

      I’d forgotten about that – yes, it’s his era. It would fit D now! Thanks Mum 🙂

  3. Denise on October 26, 2021 at 5:57 pm

    Hi Liz and thank you for a very interesting post. Just wondered what you meant by the fabric being ‘fulled’ so it doesn’t fray?

    • lizhaywood on October 26, 2021 at 6:55 pm

      Hi Denise, fulling is something they do to fabric after weaving it. I’m no expert, but handweavers know about it. I understand it’s kind of like felting; it shrinks the threads together. https://fashion-history.lovetoknow.com/fabrics-fibers/fulling
      As you know, felt doesn’t fray, and the army coat’s fabric is almost like felt even though it’s woven. If you have an opportunity to look at coats made a long time ago (eg US Civil war era, Regency etc) sometimes the front and lower edges are raw – the fabric is so dense and fulled so thoroughly that the tailor just left them. There’s one example here: https://augusta-auction.com/search-past-sales?view=lot&id=4826&auction_file_id=8

  4. Sara on October 28, 2021 at 11:26 am

    What an amazing number of design details in this coat. My brain can’t help thinking what could be incorporated in general sewing construction. The different fabrics for lining to accommodate the use of each piece, the buttonholes on the back vent, and the really well made pockets. If anything is going to wear out first on any of my husband’s clothes it will be the pockets! No matter where they are located. Maybe we tend to put pockets on almost as an afterthought, saying how practical they are, or how good they look, but not really giving them the consideration for the hard work they do. I will have to think about this.
    Thank you for such an interesting post.

    • lizhaywood on October 28, 2021 at 11:43 am

      Military clothes of any era are just fascinating, Sara. They’re “everything you need and nothing you don’t” and always have clever, practical details.
      The pockets on this coat are so strongly constructed – you can see the backing is stitched around the top and sides of the opening.

  5. /anne... on November 9, 2021 at 3:08 pm

    Ten years after this coat was made a friend of mine bought a Bluey (navy fulled wool jacket sold as work wear) to wear on her trip to Europe between high school and uni.

    They were legendarily impervious to wind and rain.

    • lizhaywood on November 11, 2021 at 2:23 pm

      An excellent choice for a trip. I wonder if anyone makes them like this now?

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