Last week I had the pleasure of presenting a program on the Bog Coat to the wearables group of the Kingwood Area Quilt Guild. This was inspired by my experience with making this coat:
Below are my notes on making a bog coat including references that include a set of instructions from the 2003 Bog Coat challenge done by the Houston Quilt Guild wearables group .
THE BOG COAT
A bog coat is a garment constructed out of a rectangle of fabric with the only waste being the opening for your neck. The label, bog coat, was developed as some of the earliest examples were seen in excavations of old bogs In Denmark. Other examples date back about 4,000 years. The style has gone in and out of favor at various times throughout the world. A more contemporary example of this design can be seen in coats made from Hudson Bay blankets in Canada.
The design appears to be based on garments made from animal hides, excluding the extremities. The size of the fabric rectangle is determined by how long and how wide the final garment needs to be. I have attached a set of instructions from the Houston Quilt Guild Wearable Arts Bee challenge from 2003 as a starting point in your design.
1. How wide do you want the sleeve to be? This measurement is done from the tip of your shoulder, over your bust to 1 – 2” below your bust. This is typically 11 – 12”.
2. The length of the coat is the next measurement. From the point where you measured your sleeve width at the shoulder, measure down over your bust to where you would like it fall. The length is entirely up to you but can be anywhere from your waist to ankles.
3. Next determine how wide you want your garment. Measure your biggest bit… bust, tummy or hip.
Now you can calculate the size of your rectangle -
Sleeve width (1) ______ plus garment length (2) _________ = _____Side A.
Width (3) _______ plus 6” = __________ side B.
Example: Side A - 12 + 30 = 42 inches
Side B – 40 + 6 = 46 inches
Size of rectangle = 42 x 46 inches
Any and all fabrics can be used for a bog coat as long as they have a bit of drape. Having measurements in hand before you buy fabric can really help in fabric selection. In the example above one side of my rectangle needs to be 42” … a convenient size for quilting cottons if I am not going to quilt the garment. If I were quilting the garment, I may opt for creating the rectangle out of two lengths of fabric, joining them to create the final size plus 2- 4”before quilting.
Cutting out the Garment
There are four cuts that have to be made. The first is for the center front on a side that equals your width. Cut into the middle of this your sleeve width plus 4”. Make a neck oval about 6” wide at this point. Discard this oval or use it for a patch pocket. In the example measurements this cut would be 21” from one side and 16” long.
The third and fourth cuts are from the length sides. Cut into the rectangle twice the width of the sleeve for ¼ of the width. In the example size, these two cuts would be 24” from the side you cut the center front for 11 ½ “. See your pattern template of the Houston instructions for clarity.
Anything goes here – seam the sleeves and around to the center, bind all the edges and sew the edges butted together, join the edges with ties so the garment can become a blanket, serge the seams together, add decorative bands down the front and around the sleeves and on and on and on.
Beyond the Bog Coat by Linda Halpin, RCW Publishing, 1993, Out of Print but available as a pattern directly from the Author – I used this book as the basis for my reversible bog coat with Afghani and Seminole patchwork bands.
Cut My Cote by Dorothy K. Burnham, Royal Ontario Museum, 1973, Out of Print – This little gem has many pieces of clothing constructed with little or no waste in their construction.
Quilts to Wear by Virginia Avery, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1982, Out of Print - This book has beautiful quilted garments, all of which can be adapted to the bog coat concept.
Google ‘Bog Coat’ on the internet for many examples of bog coats, construction variations and a plethora of fabric choices. One technique I am anxious to try is one similar to the Folk Wear Tibetan Coat pattern that uses gussets for additional shaping.
Houston Quilt Guild Instructions - http://www.thequiltercommunity.com/Wc8f1c1a1f8b9e.htm.
The wearables group has decided to have a challenge of our own over the next few months to construct our own bog coats. I am so looking forward to seeing what everyone comes up with as a one of the women came up with about a dozen variations in about two minutes after we had taken our measurements. I wonder what I will create?