33. How to Improve Your Wardrobe

Decorate your ugly plastic hangers to make your wardrobe prettier

This episode is subtitled: ‘Sooty causes mayhem…’

Last week I told you that you might get a peek into my wardrobe this week, as long as the creative project went okay. Well, it didn’t go too badly so I am able to let you in.

I’m not a great lover of clothes. I don’t like shopping so I don’t have a new outfit for every occasion or endless pairs of shoes; a few cosy favourites is more my style. It suits my life too, which consists mainly of working in a cold flower shop and going on long walks with Blue. So wellies, boots and trainers dominate my footwear selection and my clothes are mainly casual and layer-able, although I do tend to buy one new Whitestuff outfit per year if I manage to get my act together.

That does, however, put me at a disadvantage when I go out with Kim because Kim loves her ‘high end’ clothes and shoes. Even when we just go for a drink at The March Hare, unless we go straight from work, she has full make-up, dress from somewhere like Coast and matching shoes, making me feel decidedly underdressed (although happy not to have to hold my tummy in or be careful how I sit down or walk to the bar).Blue with lead

On Tuesday Gary was away at an architects’ conference and Kim couldn’t be bothered to cook for herself so we went to The March Hare for an early evening meal. It’s not far for either of us so we went home first to get cleaned up and changed. Also, it meant I could drop Blue off at home. Even though they don’t mind quiet dogs before 8pm, his cuteness attracts so much attention that Kim and I can’t have a proper chat when other people keep approaching to pet him and enquire about him.

We opted for a proper dining table instead of our usual spot on the sofas in the window bay – less distance between plate and mouth so less chance of Kim having to get her dress dry cleaned afterwards. As it turned out, our table was in a bay, but this one had French doors, which were open onto a small manicured section of garden and beyond that was the car park. The sun was still quite strong after a lovely warm August day.

From my seat I had a good view of the other three tables in our little section of the wine bar, giving me an opportunity to do some people-watching while Kim chose her meal. I know it’s boring but I always go for mushroom risotto when I eat in The March Hare because I know it’s great and I don’t want to be disappointed if I choose something else.

I could see a couple, probably in their thirties, both far more interested in what was on their phones than having a conversation – it’s sad to see so many people out but not talking to each other these days. That definitely wasn’t the case with the young family closest to the French doors. They were lively and having lots of fun, Dad making up stories and pulling funny faces to occupy the children until their ice cream sundaes arrived. And then there was a couple about the same age as Kim and me, nervous in case their young dog didn’t behave properly while they were out. He was a gorgeous black Scottish Terrier who was being as good as gold under the table while the couple ate.

I was watching the dog, Sooty, who was half asleep in the warm atmosphere, occasionally looking up as something caught his eye, then settling back down again to snooze. A butterfly, one of those dark red ones, had been fluttering around outside but, in error, it had ventured in through the door slightly and had decided to settle on the curtains for a few seconds. I was the only one to notice this – the children were preoccupied because the waitress was heading for their table with their extravagant desserts – but when the butterfly set off again Sooty was suddenly completely alert and bounded towards the open doors after it. He crashed into the waitress who was so startled that the sundaes flew into the air as he dashed outside!

I leaped up out of my seat and headed after him, conscious that in no time at all he’d be through the garden and into the car park. His frantic owners followed, desperately calling his name. By the time they’d caught up with me I’d scooped him up safe and sound and he was licking my arm, having completely forgotten about the butterfly. Thank goodness for cosy clothes and sensible shoes!

So all was well outside, but when we got back indoors we could see that, apart from the mess on the carpet, there was a great big dollop of raspberry coulis down the back of Kim’s dress – dry cleaning was required after all!

Blue's signatureSo my wardrobe isn’t as exciting as Kim’s but I do like my small collection of clothes to be neat and orderly and over the years I seem to have gathered a motley set of coat hangers, which makes everything look quite ugly. I’ve considered getting rid of the old hangers and buying some lovely wooden ones, but then again, why wouldn’t I try and cover them instead? Most tutorials for covering coat hangers are for wooden ones, which in my view are the type that don’t need to be improved anyway. Although these odd shaped plastic ones would be more tricky, I decided to have a go at improving them.

Decorate your ugly plastic hangers to make your wardrobe prettier

For the first one I found some wadding (not sure what I had this for, but I suspect any sort of wadding would do) and cut a strip that would fit all the way round the hanger, with a little to spare. I wasn’t really interested in making it very padded, my aim was to make the hanger look a lot prettier.

Decorate your ugly plastic hangers to make your wardrobe prettier

Now I’m describing this to you I don’ t know why I opted to wrap it round horizontally, overlapping in the middle, rather than cutting a piece that I could fold up to meet at the neck.

Decorate your ugly plastic hangers to make your wardrobe prettier

I pinned it into place before sewing a running stitch just outside the plastic, all the way round. The stitches were probably about 1cm from the hanger. I should have sewn this in a dark colour to show you!

Decorate your ugly plastic hangers to make your wardrobe prettier

Decorate your ugly plastic hangers to make your wardrobe prettier

Then I cut the wadding just outside the stitches.

Decorate your ugly plastic hangers to make your wardrobe prettier

I made a pattern for one arm of the hanger by placing it on an old magazine page and drawing round it with a felt tipped pen, then adding another centimetre all round for seam allowance. I added more than 1cm at the point of the overlap (below the metal hook) when I did the second one because it was a bit snug first time around.

Decorate your ugly plastic hangers to make your wardrobe prettier

Time to choose the fabric. My choice is shown below with the paper pattern. I chose one that I knew I had matching ribbon for because you always see covered hangers with ribbon, even though I was hoping I wouldn’t need this (a bit fussy for me!).

Decorate your ugly plastic hangers to make your wardrobe prettier

I cut out the four pieces and pinned each sleeve together. Maybe I was a bit over the top with the pins!

Decorate your ugly plastic hangers to make your wardrobe prettier

After I’d stitched round one of the sleeves (except for the vertical opening where the two sleeves would overlap) I thought it was best to test it inside out before trimming the edges and cutting some notches in the round part.

Decorate your ugly plastic hangers to make your wardrobe prettier

Decorate your ugly plastic hangers to make your wardrobe prettier

I used a paintbrush handle to help me turn them right way out. Doesn’t it look small?

Decorate your ugly plastic hangers to make your wardrobe prettier

But it did fit! I was able to pin the two pieces together at the overlap and hand stitch them together.

Decorate your ugly plastic hangers to make your wardrobe prettier

Decorate your ugly plastic hangers to make your wardrobe prettier

Although my stitching was quite neat, I did feel it needed the ribbon to finish it off after all.

Decorate your ugly plastic hangers to make your wardrobe prettier

I thought I’d try another method for the second one and wrapped my spare bits and pieces of wadding round the hanger, securing it by binding it with thread.

Decorate your ugly plastic hangers to make your wardrobe prettier

Decorate your ugly plastic hangers to make your wardrobe prettier

I chose a different fabric, made a new pattern (because the hangers were different and I needed to allow for the padding being thicker) and made a better job of the overlap. Here it is, again inside out, showing the overlap that I carefully turned over and ironed so I could get a neater seam.

Decorate your ugly plastic hangers to make your wardrobe prettier

I don’t keep a pin cushion actually on the sewing machine but I wanted to show you how last week’s trinket dish has found a new use as a pin tray!

Decorate your ugly plastic hangers to make your wardrobe prettier

Then I decided to improve a few more hangers with a faster technique – just a bit of fabric (scraps from the jeans motif from a couple of weeks ago) and some Mod Podge. I later added some bling with a few sticky diamantés.

Decorate your ugly plastic hangers to make your wardrobe prettier

I just couldn’t stop! The next thing I tried was some paint over the ugly label, which I later embellished with a silver Sharpie.

Decorate your ugly plastic hangers to make your wardrobe prettier

And there you have it, a set of improved hangers!

Decorate your ugly plastic hangers to make your wardrobe prettier

If you didn’t want to keep your wooden ones plain then you could always use some other things that we’ve made over the last few months. From left to right they are the leather bag charm from episode 14, tassel key ring from episode 16 and lavender bags from episode 28.

Decorate your ugly plastic hangers to make your wardrobe prettier

Tips:

  • If you cover a hanger and lose the notches for hanging up a skirt, you could stitch a button on the top of each arm to hang your skirt on.
  • Don’t forget that if you use my second method for attaching the padding, it will be fatter so you’ll need to increase the size of the ‘sleeves’ accordingly.
  • I used this tutorial from Threads and Snippets as a guide for covering my hangers, although I did have to adapt it because my padding was different.

Salvaged Items:

  • Old plastic coat hangers
  • Scraps of fabric

It was a mammoth post this week so I hope you managed to stay with me until the end, and I hope you enjoy sprucing up your own hangers!

See you all again next week.

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4 thoughts on “33. How to Improve Your Wardrobe

  1. Hi Jenny
    I loved your story this week. I always look forward to and thoroughly enjoy my Salvage Box emails. The idea for the coat hangers is brilliant and they would be nice to give as a gift.
    Thanks for the giggles.
    Alma.
    XXXX

  2. Hello Jenny, you have inspired me to sort out my wardrobe, plus it is raining today so no gardening for me. I can be a bit OTT and like to hang everything in groups of colours. Perhaps I will colour code my hangers as well if I have enough different material.

    • Colour coding your hangers to match your clothes – I love that idea! Although, in reality, I’d never be disciplined enough to follow it through. Thanks for the suggestion, Pat. Jenny xx

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