a coat for a fiver

So theres a coat, reduced from 20 to 10 to 5….. its wool cashmere, no pocket shaping dart getting in the way, long, navy, and although a mans coat, there was sufficient fabric around the hips for a remake.  I got this coat last spring and put in to the ‘to do’ side.

remake a coat upcycle a coat

There a a few things I have found useful in remaking wool coats

1.  A size 10 will never make a size 12.  This is an obvious one, but sometimes my enthusiasm makes me think I can.  For me, generally, the best way to use up the fabric effectively  is to work with the same style, and also the easiest.  A raglan sleeve is best left a raglan sleeve. I also choose in this case to keep the pockets.  I had originally thought to take these out and try and conceal a dart in this line, but I also thought why not just do it the easiest way.  

2.  Steam and rest fabric.  After taking the coat apart, I brushed and steam ironed each piece.  I sometimes use a water vinegar spray to help lift the pile and flatten some pressed seams and creases.  Then if the fabric is rested overnight, so it can relax back into shape very well indeed.  This I should have done, but I was a bit impatient and only left it for a few hours, and paid for it when I put in the facings!

3.  New lining is probably best.  In general the lining is often not worth reusing and it is difficult to recut, and I can reuse it in smaller projects.   I reused this as it looked so warm and was in good condition, and had loads of inside pockets.  However, I did have a twist in the recut sleeve linings, it doesn’t show when wearing, but the seam is skewed on the inside and I only found this out after it was sewn, so I unpicked the sleeve lining hem, and let it hang naturally, repinned, resewed.  Who knows if this was my cut or the old lining, but if faced with same dilemma again, I would re-cut the sleeves from fresh lining..  The last jacket I tried a cotton sheet for lining and it was not warm . Also, the slash for the slit in the original coat was left and I just did a patch repair.  As its a ‘casual’ coat, I am not overly bothered.

4.  Press and rest as you go.  It really makes a difference.  It was an Ann Ladbury tip from ‘Clothes that Count’ where she suggested when you have finished making your coat, to give it a final steam and light press, and then to put it on a dress form overnight so it could relax into its new shape.  I tend to do this as much as I can after each sewing session also, and had to do extra for all the in-betweens for this coat to compensate for the rushed start.

I had rushed the beginning of this coat as I had hoped to wear it to a lunch with my sister and in the end, I didn’t as I had to rework one or two areas over my rushed start.  The facings were a problem as it was a mans coat so I used the buttonhole facing on the button side (ladies side) so I zig-zag closed the small bit of button hole that was visible as the popper covers it pretty much..  I decided to go with covered poppers as closures.  As the one with the silver sticky out bit was more attractive, I left this facing out, and I have poppers done both ways on various coats. 

I used the collar for the neck facing and its clunky but serviceable.  I was trying to save as much fabric as I could for the detachable hood.  

so the coat was a fiver, I reused the lining, and the poppers cost a whole SIX euro!!!.  I love the coat, its perfect.  The hood is great, but as the autumn weather has been bright and dry I have been wearing it without, and I prefer the coat without the hood, but if its raining, hoods are much handier than hats or umbrellas so its great to have the option.

and finally, my friend Cathriona took some photographs…. a gazillion thanks as I am a rather impatient subject!


5 thoughts on “a coat for a fiver

  1. Eimear Greaney says:

    thank you Lynn. our weather has been mild – but that can be usual for this time of the year, and a bit jealous of hot weather, as the temperatures here barely got beyond 20 all year! there is something always so gleeful about having a new coat at the ready for winter.


  2. wrongdoll says:

    After a marathon Sunday sewing session, I am finally sitting down glass of wine in hand, to have a look at your post. Blimey Eimear – you sure do know what you are doing. Fantastic – you have a totally wearable item that has cost you peanuts. I love it – especially the hood! You must have such a sense of satisfaction with these re imaginings. It's propelling me to move beyond smocks .. in the far distant future! I would like to try more heavyweight fabrics in future and be more inventive. I wish you lived locally and I could hire you for some pattern drafting classes! On that subject, do you have any recommendations for books, clips about drafting your own patterns? I am always on the look out for courses but they are so expensive and usually not convenient as I work full time. Part of me is just happy I am gaining the skills to work from patterns and make minor adjustments but there is another part that would really like to create a whole thing from scratch including the design.


  3. Eimear Greaney says:

    Thanks Aimee…. Pattern drafting is not that difficult (perfecting it/getting the finesse, on the other hand is the tricky bit, and I am convinced this can only happen thru practice, time and confidence, all of which I am still working on!). I use winifred aldrich metric pattern cutting – and its what we were taught years ago in the cutting course – if you can pick up the 80s version, you should get it for about 5pound or so. before that, I had drafted my own based on mathematics when I was about 16…. ie if my chest measurement is 34 then quarter that is my centre front line on the fold etc…. and looking back it was not that dumb an idea! I also have a thing for the vintage patterns as they have those subtle lines in the curves which is the finese part and is why I justify sewing them, as it gives me a better feel for drafting.

    anyway, whatever about drafting them, then you have to tweak blocks, make them up from old sheets is an inexpensive way(the 'toile'), where you will test and tweak, you can generally sew in a basting stitch on the machine, and if you are impatient like me you will not take notes, and rue it later! I am only beginning to get in the habit of marking the toile properly with a sharpie or a pen(ie marking the full hip line across so you can see if its sitting right when you try on the toile) I think you would have no problems with this as your tailoring is genuinely good,

    I will scan a few pages for you and send them to you this week on fb to give you an idea. there are loads of lovely resources online. Studio Faro blog – well suited goes thru some construction (http://www.studiofaro.com/well-suited) after the basic blocks – and also resulted in my first blog post! and also http://moldesdicasmoda.com/detalhe-de-modelacao-23/ which is a more notebook look, but shows some fun looks.
    I really think you should be able to develop a few simple patterns easily on your own – I also wished you lived locally as I really do not know enough people who sew!


  4. wrongdoll says:

    Thank you so much for your comprehensive reply Eimear – that's so kind of you to offer to scan some pages for me. I'll have a look at the links you suggest and also look out for that Winifred Aldrich book. I have an old version of the Readers Digest Complete Guide to Sewing which has a section on basic blocks which I should revisit – it freaked me out when I first looked at it but I'm a bit more confident now. I think my New Year's Resolution (not that I'm really struck on them) will be to learn how to do some basic pattern drafting. Thank you 🙂


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