I own a number of covered coathangers which belonged to my mother. I think that she may have inherited them from other generations of family members. I decided this weekend to remove the covers from the coathangers (since the covers were showing signs of wear, as seen in the photo). I had several surprises which you’ll see below.
All the hangers were covered in fabric. The one above was once a pretty cream with tiny blue polka-dots design. I suspect most of the hangers once had the hook bound in fabric too – just the remnants remain here. This was a light, drapey fabric.
Having unpicked the top layerof each hanger, there were different arrangements beneath. This golden yellow hanger had a layer of wadding carefully bound onto the hanger with strong thread.
The wadding itself was loose unbleached cotton.
I can only guess at the age of the coathanger, perhaps from the 1940s? Under its worn cover it looked pristine!
Under the first covering of this hanger, there was a surprise.
One hanger had a rather more solid layer of cotton wadding under the outer fabric. The wadding was held in place by overcast stitches.
Another had a ribbed brown satin ribbon as its outer layer. Below that was a shiny fabric in an olive green colour, which I think is silk. Below that was a soft blue flannel. Again, it looks as if the cover was repaired when the silk layer began to show signs of wear.
This hanger was covered in a orange satin.
Underneath the top layer was a strip of soft thick fabric, wound round and stitched.
It was quite hard to take the layers off!
Finally this one had a real surprise beneath the top layer. It was bound with stockings. Once again these were very firmly stitched and difficult to remove.
I do love textiles (well, you would expect that, wouldn’t you?) but I really felt moved by the exploration of these hangers. Unknown hands padded, bound, covered and beautified these hangers at some point in the last 90 odd years. I don’t know who they were, but there are human traces everywhere, from the mended ladder in the stocking to the buttonhole stitch on the outside of the covers.
What we make with our hands when we stitch is important and we should remember that it may last many decades.
4 thoughts on “Textile history on a coathanger”
I love the links to all those women who usd what they had to create somethng useful and good looking!
Yes, it was quite an adventure.
What a marvellous find, to get down to the original fabrics and stuffings. They sound very familiar and were probably Christmas presents over time.were there any makers names or addresses on the coat hangers? S.
No names anywhere, sadly and my mother died many years ago, so no-one to ask. She (my mother) trained as a nurse in London in the Second World War. The re-used, mended stocking made me think of ‘Make Do and Mend’ practices, but it’s impossible to date them too closely.