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Sometimes Simple is Best: A Hemp and Cotton Work Coat

Written on March 8, 2013

HempMomenHanten01I’m showing this understated, rather self-effacing sleeveless work coat today as a study in subtlety.   Because the format of blogs and because viewing websites is done on a small screen, I generally like to show punchier textiles that will read better on these fleeting, electronic media. But today I’m showing something very simple.

HempMomenHanten01aIt’s a classic work coat, which I find to be extremely attractive, and it’s woven from hemp and cotton.  You’ll probably be able to see some cotton slubs which indicate this mix of fibers.

HempMomenHanten01bThe surface texture is just beautiful.  And looking carefully at the back of this coat, shown below, it’s fairly evident that this was used for work as some of the surface cotton slubs are worn away in the center of the back. Perhaps the former owner of the coat carried burden?  Highly likely.

HempMomenHanten01cThe cotton collar is not hand woven and is dyed black, probably a synthetic dye.  This tells us that this coat probably dates to the mid-twentieth century.  Also, this coat is missing sleeves, which doesn’t mean that it’s a sleeveless garment.  It simply means that the sleeves are not on the coat right now.  Sleeves and collars were often removed and re-attached during the lifetime of a garment, which often spanned generations.

HempMomenHanten01dBeautiful texture, isn’t it?




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  1. Comment by Clare:

    For me, part of the whole *point* of Sri is that textiles simply cannot be appreciated entirely over “fleeting electronic media”– they must be perceived in the flesh to be loved properly.

    I love this piece too! A question though: Given that, as you say, collars and sleeves are often removed and replaced, how can we assume that the coat itself is of the same vintage as its collar?

    March 8, 2013 @ 10:32 pm

  2. Comment by jean betts:

    as a spinner of both hemp and cotton I love the rustic texture of the weft threads, prepared and spun out of need – how remarkably it served heavy use.

    March 10, 2013 @ 1:20 pm