I joined a recycle challenge which pushed me to tackle a project I have been putting off for a while. I wanted to remake my 1980s wool winter coat. When it was in fashion, the coat was timely with gigantic shoulder pads, ankle length, and sporting black velvet trim. Now, in 2020, it looks like I’m wearing someone’s castoff. The wool coat recycle was a challenge – and I always enjoy a good challenge!
Sewing With Sandi is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. Sewing With Sandi also participates in the Awin and CJ Affiliate programs.
Making A Plan
I’m not an illustrator, but if I have a plan it’s much easier to get ideas set in my head. I did a little research on the Fall 2020 fashion shows and saw lots of wrap coats that were just tied up with a belt. Other details that popped out were contrasting facings, intricate details, and leather trim.
I dug through my pattern stash and found Vogue 8841, an older pattern, but a wrap coat. The collar was a little wider than I wanted, an easy fix. Also this pattern would make adding the details I had in mind fairly easy. This pattern seems to be out of print, but Minerva Crafts has several that will work as a substitute.
I started pulling fabrics from my stash. I knew I was going to use a lightweight stretch pleather for piping and trim but I needed a contrasting fabric. I settled on this leftover piece of woven giraffe upholstery fabric that brought in a bright element and was a good contrast to the brown wool.
Next step was to sketch out a design. Again, not a great drawer, but you get where I was going. It’s a good idea to start with a sketch, like a recipe, it can be a road map to keep you on the straight and narrow. But like any good cook, you change it up a little as you go based on what you have available.
It looks like there is a lot of fabric in this coat, but the cut of the two piece sleeve and the button holes on the left and right side of the front chewed up a good deal of fabric.
I ripped apart each seam instead of cutting them out because I was afraid I wouldn’t have big enough pieces. It was a process for sure, and I had little threads all over me and dog hair all over the coat – because she wanted to help! LOL!
I left the welt pockets intact, because they were looking good and a nice welt pocket is a high end detail.
Laying commercial pattern pieces over already cut remnants takes patience and brain power.
The sleeves were cut with a severe angle at the top to accommodate the huge shoulder pads so that became a challenge. My solution was to add more length at the bottom with contrasting fabric so I could avoid the curve of the upper sleeve. I also added a strip of piping down the top of the two-piece sleeve; joining it together so I could overlay the one piece sleeve on the new design.
Another issue in this wool coat recycle was cutting the front pieces. I had several chunks removed where the button holes were; giving me less fabric to work with. I solved that problem with darning the button holes openings and using the pleather, which is very light, to overlay a panel feature on the center front pieces.
The real stumper was a corner of the shoulder near the sleeve. I had to overlay the pattern over the pockets so they had the correct placement. That left me with a triangle of fabric on the shoulder that had no fabric coverage. After a fair amount of head scratching, I added a piece of the pleather welting and a triangle scrap. This worked well with the welting going down the sleeve along with the detail welting I planned for the arm scythe.
Editing Is Key
I didn’t care for the large lapel, so I skinnied that up a bit. I eliminated the lining which made the facing a little more bouncy. I ended up stitching in the ditch along the pleather trim to wrangle the facing into place.
To keep the proportions balanced, I nixed the giraffe around the bottom of the coat. It gave an unflattering horizontal line along the mid thigh – not a good look for me. I opted to turn the giraffe up and use it as a hem facing. That worked well. I also ended up skipping the belt for the same horizontal line distraction.
Designing on the fly takes some brain power. You need to think a few steps ahead so you don’t cross yourself up. One of the nice things about working on this project was that it cost me very little. A pattern from my stash, a coat ready for Goodwill, a scrap of fabric from another project, and black pleather that I keep in my stash always; combine to make the price of my new coat $0. I love that. I also love my new wool coat recycle.