I love a challenge that allows me to think creatively and combine past projects. When I first acquired a set of fireman’s turnout gear (also known as bunker gear), my mind went crazy with the possibilities. For the most part there are three layers; the outer canvas, and the lining, which consists of a padded quilted thermal layer and a thin water barrier. Some parts of the canvas also contain sections of goretex. So to see exactly what I had to work with, I started taking the jacket apart by pulling out the stitches. It is pretty interesting seeing the way it was put together and reinforced.
Where does “bunker gear” get its name? I found a few theories, one of the most likely from this site said it comes from two places – military and maritime. In WW1, American artillery crews were in small bunkers to protect them from enemy fire as they fought. To deal with the hot shells ejected from the breeches, they were issued thick lined pants and boots, called bunker pants.
On the maritime side of things, when ships were crossing the Atlantic by steam, a couple of steamship lines gave the men who shoveled coal bunker pants that they could leave near the coal bunkers so they didn’t track coal dust through the rest of the ship. Another popular thought is that the name comes from them being traditionally kept next to the firefighter’s bunk.
With the invaluable help of my husband (It’s always good to get a man’s opinion when designing something for a man!), I created a number of items which are available at my etsy store. I love the idea of objects which have history to them, like my quilt which used fabric from our wedding table runners, or the wooden picture frames made from reclaimed barn wood. It just seems to carry more interest and meaning. I’m looking forward to working on a number of other items, enjoying the challenge!