The last few days before Otley Show were spent stitching padded coat-hangers. I used to make quite a few as Christmas presents during my years as an impoverished student nurse but I confess I haven’t made one for years!
I was amazed how difficult it is to buy a simple wooden coat-hanger, I used to buy them in Woolworths but now I can only find them on line! I had lots of material to choose from as I used to make ball gowns for friends for the nurses balls, later on it was wedding dresses and bridesmaids, my rule on whether to keep a scrap of material was whether it was big enough to cover a coat-hanger, so I had various silks and satins to choose from.
I padded them first with thick (6oz I think) wadding. I made a length of rouleaux to cover the actual hanger first, I’ve got a rouleaux turner now and it does make it easier, much quicker than faffing round with a bodkin and a thread!
The first hanger I made was covered with a gorgeous silk satin, I wanted a smooth finish so I made a tiny hole in the middle so I could put it over the hanger and stitch a seam along the bottom.
I puzzled for a while over the ends and how to make them neat, I’ve tried various methods over the years with varying degrees of success. I had a brain wave! I turned under the edges, stitched a tiny gathering stitch, pulled it tight in together, then stitched a decorative button over the hole. I think it looks really neat! I cut flowers and leaves left over from my wedding shawl to embellish round the middle and used one of the flowers on a tiny lavender bag.
For the second hanger I decided to use some of the lace left over from my wedding dress. I had a small piece of silk dupion in a soft gold which look really pretty underneath, so I covered the hanger in the silk first.
I had just enough of the lace edge to incorporate it into the design. I stitched this one the other way up with the lace edge along the top. Instead of using buttons to cover the ends I cut out two of the lace flowers and stitched them over the ends. A ribbon bow and a matching lavender bag completed the hanger. I won second prize for this one.
The final hanger looks a little plain from a distance but it was stitched for a special purpose. Years ago I made Helen a beautiful smocked and embroidered dress, she’ll have been about two at the time, I have it hanging in my sewing room but I would like to have it framed in such a way that it hangs, rather than being flattened. Having spoken with the framers I needed a padded coat-hanger. A friend with a big posh circular saw cut the ends off one of the coat-hangers to make it baby length.
I used a fine cotton lawn which I had started embroidering years ago to make another smocked dress, I lost the will to live after doing several rows of tiny rosebuds so it was abandoned! I managed to position the roses so there were three down each side and four across the top. I stitched it with the seam at the bottom and a covered button at each end (with a rose on of course!) It needed a bit more so I embroidered a bullion bar rose, some leaves and a few French knots to echo the embroidery down the front of the dress.
It compliments the dress perfectly!