Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Hip To Be (Afghan) Square - From Cot Blanket to Blanket Coat (Now With Added Pockets)



In late November 1966 with the arrival of her first born imminent, my 24 year-old mother got out her crochet hooks. The Afghan Square cot blanket she created served its purpose and continued to be useful for years, passed on to my brother born just eighteen months later, as a bed for several of the eleven cats that shared our family home and wrapped around our shoulders on a winter's evening in the draughty Edwardian home in which we lived. Forty-five years later when the house became empty, I reclaimed our childhood blanket where it moved around Stonecroft, tossed across the foot of the bed, draped across the back of the settee or tossed over the arm of a Victorian day bed long since moved into the shed.

(That's the letter Grandma wrote to Mum the day I was born)

Taken way back in 2012

Kelly, who blogs at Mother of Reinvention, commented that the crochet skirt I wore on Friday's post reminded her of a Dior dress she'd fallen in love with ages ago. After a bit of a Google I found this image, Cate Blanchet in a Dior dress from 2012. Isn't it fabulous?


Then inspiration struck. Why didn't I unpick my blanket and re-purpose the squares into something else? There weren't enough to make a dress and, as I've got plenty, it would be a shame to refashion them into a maxi skirt which I'd only wear occasionally. As it's so ridiculously cold at the moment how about a coat that I can wear over everything?

Apologies for the deranged face, Jon called me Crochet Jesus as I posed for this, I couldn't keep a straight face.

So, after washing the blanket & leaving it to dry, I carefully unpicked each square (you need a bright spot, with plenty of natural daylight so that you only unpick the stitches attaching each square rather than the crochet itself ) then laid them out on the floor in the shape I wanted. I sewed each piece together by hand using vintage darning wool I'd had in my stash for years and this was the result.

Brass tribal necklace - from Orissa, bought in Tamil Nadu, 2011
It's not quite finished. I need to blanket stitch the edges and add pockets - but I've run out of wool.

WEARING: Me-made blanket coat, 1970s brushed denim maxi skirt (eBay, 2011), vintage suede waistcoat (present), red leather 1970s platforms (vintage fair, 2015), 1970s dagger collar wool blouse (nicked from the stockroom)
Ta-dah! Now with blanket stitched edging and added pockets. I wasn't happy about the way the jacket was hanging when I saw the photos so I've also unpicked and restitched the front section. I'm happy now.



House news! I'm a bit taken aback, I've been inundated with offers, some for even more than the asking price. What on earth's that all about? Oh well, it's been empty for seven years, there's no need to rush into any decisions yet. I'll keep you posted.

See you soon!

66 comments:

  1. That looks gorgeous on you! I bet it's nice & snuggly warm too.
    Great news on the house- how lucky you are! The real estate market for homes usually goes dead around the holidays in the US.
    xox

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    1. Thank you! It's so cold here, I've got a feeling it'll be worn to death!
      We wondered whether it was a good idea putting the house on the market so close to the silly season, even the estate agent is overwhelmed by the response. xxx

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  2. Wow, seven offers! Nice reuse of that blanket, and definitely representative of fashion in the late 60s and early 70s

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    1. Seven years empty - more than seven offers. Madness, I tell you! Every time we go past The Cottage there's a different car parked outside with people staring longingly at it! x

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  3. Cool! What a great way to continue using your blanket. You have the most amazing creative mind.

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    1. Thanks, Bobbi! I surprise myself sometimes! xxx

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  4. Wow you are so clever , You have so much patience too , Good luck with the house i am sure you will make the right decision xxx

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    1. Thank you! Once I get an idea in my head I have to carry it out! x

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  5. I so love that - what a lovely way to reuse your blanket! I have a pile of granny squares I made to sew into a jacket but I lost motivation half way through! I do have a groovy brown and cream version I bought from a charity shop though :) xx

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    1. I like the sound of your brown and cream one, very 1970s!!
      This took an age to sew together and I've got the blisters to prove it. I ended up unpicking the front panel and redoing it, too - at least it kept my lap warm. xxx

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  6. I saw this on instagram just minutes ago and hoped there'd be a post! I absolutely love it. You know how I am about crochet and I was sitting thinking about making a granny square jacket just last night, spooky same wavelength moment. It's the best piece of upcycling, especially as your mum made it.
    It looks gorgeous too by the way xxx

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    1. What a coincidence. i'm so glad you like it. Hope you get your jacket made! xxx

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  7. That's absolutely fabulous. And precious too. And it's in such good shape for all those years. Hey, just like you, girl! What a stupendous job you've done. I luv it. Brilliant.

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    1. Thank you so much, Pao!! I'm really happy with it! xxx

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  8. the amazing technicolor dreamcoat! ;-DDD
    totally fabulous!!! this is a genius idea, looks very cool and i´m sure its cozy and warm! of cause it needs pockets!
    fingers, toes and paws crossed for the house sale!
    xxxxx

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    1. Thank you so much, Beate! I've added pockets now and it's so much better. xxx

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  9. Joseph has nothing on you. Well done, sewing granny squares together takes patience, like Susie I lost motivation when making my blanket so just have lots of long strips which have been sitting there in a basket for some years now. Brilliant news 're the cottage.xx

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    1. The sewing together was a bit tedious especially after I decided it looked a bit wonky and had to redo the front panel all over again! It is wonderfully warm and snug though. It'll be great for the festival season, too! xxx

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  10. Oh my word, your coat is way better than Ms. Blanchett's dress. I LOVE this. the colours are fantastic and it is so nice that you have repurposed your Mum's old blanket. It is so gloriously bright and really will go with everything. Definite yes to the pockets. Everything should have 'em. I am glad that you have got some good offers on your house and are not waiting an age for it to sell. Mine should be up on the websites on Monday. It is great fun looking for another house though. :) Xx

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    1. I'm so glad you liked it! You were my inspiration. I'm going to stalking the chazzas for brightly coloured blankets now.
      I bet the house search is wonderfully exciting. Hope you find your dream home very soon! xxx

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  11. I’m loving the story behind your coat of many colours Vix. It’s amazing it’s stayed in such wonderful condition after all these years. It’s so special.
    How fantastic to have so many offers on the house. I’m not surprised though, it’s lovely xxx

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    1. Thanks, Lynn! You know I love a but of recycling. Whatever next? xxx

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  12. That Dior dress is fabulous, but so is your coat! What's making it even more special is that it used to be your cot blanket. What an absolutely lovely idea! I am surprised that it's still in such great condition, after all these years of wear and tear. How splendid that you already received so many offers on the house. You're right not to rush into any decisions yet, but you'll have to let it go at some point. It's not easy, though, isn't it? xxx

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    1. The Dior dress is amazing, isn't it? Mind you, Cate Blanchett would look fabulous in a bin bag!!
      The blanket has been through the wash that many times I swear it'll survive nuclear war.
      I'm so glad we've got a wonderfully helpful estate agent who talks me through absolutely everything. xxx

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  13. OMG, just found your blog and have to comment that I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE your coat. Very creative and beautiful! Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Nawm! Thank you so much and thanks for visiting! x

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  14. What a wonderful way to continue enjoying something you've had your entire life. How sweet is the letter from your grandmother to you mum!

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    1. My Mum would be so impressed, she used to sell her crochet coats back in the 1970s - kept her in booze and fags!! xxx

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  15. Great idea on repurposing those afghans. We have several around the house as well, and the cats have claimed most of them:)

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    1. Thanks, Tilly! This was one of the cat's - if you look closely it's hairy! xxx

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  16. What a wonderful thing to be wearing a coat made from your baby blanket.
    The colours are stunning.
    Hugs-x-

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    1. Hello Sheila!! thank you so much! Isn't it bright for something almost 51 years old? xxx

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  17. wonderful remake for a childhood friend.

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  18. SQUEEE!!! The coat is genius - I have just rooted around in our glory hole and found a bag of granny squares that I bought from a charity shop (a year or so ago) to make bunting from. Not as tasteful as yours (well, I think they may have started off as being considered and thought out and then went lurid in their colour combos lol) but there's loads of them - plus a ball of yarn and wool needles to join them up! Just need to grab a dressing-gown to use as a pattern!

    Fab to hear the house-selling is buzzing! I hope your lovely old-house-renovation lady is a front-runner.

    Elaine Tralala

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    1. Ohhhh, I'm so excited you've found a bag of granny squares so you can make your own. That was a lucky purchase.
      I laid my squares out on the floor until they resembled a coat then sewed it all together. I'm amazed it turned out as well as it did. A kimono would be a brilliant shape to copy.
      The house news is very exciting. I've been looking the people who've made offers up on Facebook to see if they're worthy owners. The lady from last week is still my favourite. xxx

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  19. I still have a baby blanket that my grandmother made for me and I treasure it, but it's not as funky as yours! I love that you're getting use out of it, like a hug from your mum every time you wear it.

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    1. A hug from my mum! What a lovely thing to say! Thank you! xxx

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  20. How creative to reuse you baby blanket in this way! A few weeks ago, I met a lady who repurposed vintage wool blankets into capes! They were pretty fab and unusual but I wasn't willing to part with $100 for it. Good luck with making the decision about the house offer. Xxx

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    1. I've seen some great capes made from vintage blankets. You should have a go yourself. xxx

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  21. How marvellous to have that letter. Just love the coat you made. The colours are amazing. No fading at all. I can't imagine the how much time you spent unpicking but so worth it. Wearing it must be like having your mum cuddle you. I get very sentimental. The one thing I would take with me if there was a fire is a drawer packed with letters.

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    1. Thanks, Sally! The letter is quite funny, Grandma talks of having to tell someone at church that I was premature as I arrived only five months after Mum & Dad got married! xxx

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  22. such a magnificent idea!, and such a fabulous piece you made, love those big sleeves!. I've been thinking on making something similar with my own blanket, but I think that I prefer to keep it!. Anyway, I could crochet some kind of coat!
    You look so delightfully colorful and inspiring!. Fabulous!!
    besos

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    1. You could easily make something similar, Monica. You're so creative. It's all in the colour, isn't it? I fancied turning an old blanket into a cape but all mine are either pastel coloured or drab! xxx

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  23. This coat represents a labor of love, Vix, very much like the effort you made to incorporate family ephemera into your scrap screen. What a wise woman you are to recognize the presence of the past in your present!

    Sometimes you remind me of the line from "Auntie Mame": "Life's a buffet and most poor suckers are starving to death."

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    1. Beth, as always your comments are so thoughtful and clever. I love that quote.
      I love finding new used for ancient things, I love being able to enjoy them rather than just looking at them. xxx

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  24. I just read Beth's comment above and I have to concur!!! I love this soooo much, and not just the item but what it represents about your spirit. I'm ALWAYS refreshed by your Vix-ishness, and want to say thanks!!!!! xoxoxo

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    1. Beth certainly does have a way with words! I'm so glad you like my coat, you are always inspiring when it comes to making something new and fabulous out of something old and tired! xxx

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  25. Good news at the interest in the house!

    I love your blanket coat! I'm also astonished and not a little awed at how vibrant the colours still are after all these years. Did your mum crochet it in wool or acrylic knit? And how lovely it is that the coat has special and unique memories stitched into it.
    I have seen some astonishing crocheted clothes since I've been on Pinterest which is about 3 years now.

    I love your maxi skirt with those fab boots. I saw a pair of 1970s white plastic platform boots in a charity shop today but they were too big by a mile.

    xxxx

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    1. I think it must be an acrylic knit as it dries really quickly after I've washed it and keep its shape really well.
      There's some amazing crochet dresses on American eBay made from Afghan squares, they sell for $$$$$. I'm trying to hunt down a replacement nude slip to wear under my crochet wedding dress, I can't wear it until I find one! xxx

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  26. I adore the blanket coat! It is wonderful!x

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  27. What a wonderful way of giving a new lease of life to something your Mum so lovingly crafted for you. 7 offers are no less than The Cottage deserves. I have an almost identical photo of me being held as a baby in the garden! xx

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    1. Thank you!! Holding a baby in the garden must have been the 1960s equivalent of the selfie! xxx

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  28. Maybe you did see it as a young person and don't remember - as you certainly live the wardrobe of those pages every day of your life, with flair and class :)

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    1. You are kind, thank you!
      Honestly though, I really don't think I'd ever seen that book before. Mum & Dad had hundreds and hundreds of books but I recognised all of them except for this! xxx

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  29. What a great idea! Your coat looks fabulous and it's so lovely that it has all that history behind it. Great news about the house too xx

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    1. Thanks, Sarah! It's barely been off my back since I made it! xxx

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  30. Bravo! I just love that you were able to re-fashion something that has provided comfort to you, your pets and your family members since it was created into a very funky coat. I would imagine that every time you wear it, you'll not only be kept warm by the wool squares, but by the love with which it was made.

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    1. Thank you! It's definitely got a lot of love woven into each square. I'm having to keep in hanging up away from the cats' clutches, they'll be wanting it back! x

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  31. This is a BRILLIANT idea!!! Alas, I do not have anything from my own childhood, but I collected some most loved pieces of Anya's clothes with the idea in mind to make a blanket of memories for her. I've never done patchwork style sewing before, but who knows, maybe some day I'll learn! Your idea is just in reverse, and I LOVE IT!!! I can only imagine how many of your fans will want to do just the same!!! :)

    Happy for your house news too!!!

    PS Justin bought Exotic Styling for me for Xmas :))) for less than $5! I am in heaven!

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    1. Justin's wonderful and what a bargain, too. You'll love Exotic Styling. The embroidered bag reminded me of something you'd wear!
      I like my patchwork not to be an exact science, just cut into squares and sew it all together. Mine's often a bit wonky but the colours r=distract from any dodgy sewing! xxx

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  32. I love what you've done with this blanket, it's awesome.
    Great news on the house offers, it's such a lovely house I'm not surprised you've been inundated.

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    1. Thanks, Hazel! We really didn't think we'd have that much interest, everyone's been surprised! xxx

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  33. How lovely to finmd a new way to enjoy your blanket.

    And congrats on the house offers - this means you can get someone who'll appreciate it for what it is in there, not someone who'll wreck the place.

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    1. Thanks, Mim!
      Yes, sale agreed to a lovely couple who, apparently, were nearly squealing with excitement when they heard that their offer had been accepted. There was an even higher offer but it was a developer - no thanks! x

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Love from Vix
xxx