I bought this parka about a year ago at the Salvation Army. It is a handmade coat, made from an old wool blanket and lovingly decorated with appliquéd scenes of Arctic life. I don’t know much about it’s provenance — these parkas were made by collectives all across the North and sold to markets in the south. You could also buy patterns so it could have been made anytime by anyone anywhere.
One thing I can tell you with certainty is that even though it is made by hand, it had been carelessly stored and as a result, the fur trim was mounting and there were moth holes galore. I wanted to honour the original makers labour by restoring the jacket. Over the last 10 months or so I removed the fur, put the jacket out in freezing temperatures to kill an left over moth larvae, and started to fix the holes with invisible mending.
The biggest obstacles I encountered trying to do a straight restoration was sourcing fur and the amount of time required to patch all the holes. With stores closed because of the pandemic, I couldn’t source the materials I needed to replace the trim or match the colour of the blanket for invisible mending.
So at some point I said heck, instead of a restoration, why not upcycling in a way that still pays tribute to the original (and without getting into cultural appropriation territory). After a chat with my friend Katya, I decided to try appliqué to cover the remaining moth holes. And I’ve attached some fun fur trim from Dollarama instead of the real stuff (although I may replace it with something fluffier when sewing supply shops reopen).
What to appliqué was my next hurdle. I took a nap and a solution was revealed to me in a dream: just put your name across the back like on a sports jersey. I am pleased with the final result.