Refashioned: $8 Wool Coat


One of the best thrift-shopping excursions I had in a while was when I led a thrifting excursion back in October with a few Sewing Summit Peeps. There I scored tons of awesome stuff, among them: this coat. It’s nearly impossible for me to find awesome vintage winter coats that fit. Usually they’re too short in the arms or too wide in the shoulders & sleeves. It’s not a bad problem to have, but it forces me to always be on the lookout for a coat that actually fits. Even when it’s not coat weather.

I love this coat! It’s 100% awesome wool with a 100% silk lining. Oh yeah, you heard me, this coat is legit. Not even Anthro provides coats this nice at their $300 premium. The only problems I had with this coat straight off the rack were the short sleeves and the trench-like length. The sleeves were just about a half inch too short & the length about 8 inches too long. It took me a long while to figure out how I would adjust this coat & thought I would share with you my thought process & how I came up with the final refashion.

  1. Originally I thought I would lengthen the sleeves by adding the equivalent to a sleeve dickie, but as the sleeves had button enclosures, I didn’t really see how that would work in my favor.
  2. Then Liz gave me the brilliant idea to add fur cuffs to the coat. I found some inspiration & I even bought some killer zebra fur, but it quickly became a giant hot mess as I got to sewing. Real fur is a giant mess to work with. Yuck.
  3. After seeing a giant hot mess of my awesome coat I really wanted to give up, but I still had 6 inches of wool that I cut off the bottom left to use as scrap. I used every last bit of those scraps to make new cuffs and sewed some linear details on the cuffs to match the collar.

So, once I finally figured out the vision, the coat didn’t take a whole lot to revamp. Here’s the list of final alterations:

  • shortened hem by 8 inches
  • hemmed the silk lining, didn’t need to hem the wool part, though (YAY!)
  • removed old cuff & used as a pattern template for longer sleeves
  • bought brass buttons for a double button closure on the sleeves
Overall this alteration took 9-10 hours to complete. I’m sure it would’ve been faster if my studio were remotely organized & I didn’t watch so much tv while doing the refashion. So, what do you think? Good fix? I do. I’m really excited to sport my fancy coat at Alt next week!
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    1. marissa says:

      you’re a genius! that is beautiful!

    2. Rebecca says:

      This cost is gorgeous, what a find! Perfect alterations, too. I seriously want to go thrifting with you, I think you might be good luck!

      Rebecca (hearts)…

    3. Kersey says:

      Love it! So cute and fancy. Have fun at Alt!

    4. Linda says:

      Classy coat and cuffs. I like the look with your new glasses!

    5. Ashlee says:

      First- totally gorgeous. Second- I really missed the thrift-a-thin this year and want to do it again! And third- where did you get the shoes? I’m in love!

    6. Jessi says:

      It is perfect. I am so inspired by your talent, girl.

    7. Shaela says:

      that’s awesome!! love the refashion :)

    8. goooorgeous! 8-9 hours seems like a small price to pay for the awesomeness of wearing this coat. i wish i had the energy to come home from work and sew even a couple of nights each week, because your posts are always so inspiring!

    9. WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I love love love love love it! You are a GENIUSSSSSSS btw I would have never ever thought of hemming it and using the fabric to lengthen the sleeves. That coat is lovely. You are lovely. I find vintage coats all the time for my Etsy shop and like you said they are usually too short in the sleeves if they fit in the shoulders. But recently I have gotten extra lucky and found this one for $5 and all it needed was to be dry cleaned. (the navy one its super warm and heavy wool.)

      I kept it for myself!!! Because I’m greedy when it comes to coats haha Well done Melissa!!!

    10. Kelley says:

      WOW. Love it. What a great score and then your alterations are beauty!

      It looks great on you!

    11. says:

      I think you did an ah-mazing job!!! Very inspiring. And, also, the before picture of you is da bomb.

    12. I love this restyle! Those cuffs really made it more modern!!

    13. tute-bot says:

      You are amazing! I would have just worn the coat as is and suffered with the awkward fit because I wouldn’t have been brave enough to try the refashion.

    14. Amanda says:

      I am impressed, but not amazed, because I already knew you had mad skillz. Those sleeves are killer–you’d NEVER know they weren’t original. I need to get my little booty over to D.I. to find me a wool coat! But first you will have to share some of your patience and diligence with me.

    15. Sarah says:

      I love it! This is a very timely post for me, because I just inherited some coats that will likely need a refashion. I was a little nervous, but not so much anymore. I can’t even tell you how much you’ve inspired me. I bought some boots the other day at savers and thought of you. And i got some killer pants that will hopefully be awesome after i skinnify them. Whenever I see clothes, I ask what would melissa do with this? I actually want to start a blog just so I can post my own refashions. What do you think of the name “experiments in domesticity”?

    16. Emily says:

      Love! I will look at coats in a new light now. :)

    17. Amy says:

      I’d say it’s an epic victory. Very cute!

    18. Valerie says:

      Never would have thought of lengthening the sleeves this way! It turned out so incredibly lovely!

    19. It looks great. I should get around to doing something like that with the purple coat I inherited from my grandmother.

    20. You did a great job. I love thrifting especially for jackets. I have a few very cute ones. I can wear the now but I’ll eventually o some tweaking.

    21. Love this! This coat looks amazing now, it is such a gorgeous colour too.

    22. Zoe says:

      Love it! Have you thought about replacing the buttons on the front of the coat as well? Seems like it would be super fun to do something a bit funky/ contrasting with those! I agree with the commenter who said they think “What would Melissa do?” when thrifting – I have totally become more expansive in my thinking about what to do with pieces that have cool elements but aren’t exactly right!

    23. Katie says:

      I am speechless. This coat turned out absolutely amazing – perfect fit, perfect color, gosh, just perfect everything.

    24. Bellesme says:

      WOW! LOVE it.. I really need a Mellissa E in my house =) Can you move back here?

    25. ira lee henson says:

      that is awesome!!!

    26. Tara says:

      Fantastic job! Another example of subtle alteration for huge change in feel of piece. Well done :)

    27. Christy says:

      It’s fantastic! I really like the shorter length too. Makes it a bit more trendy than the trench length.

    28. Preethi says:

      I LOVE this idea and am totally inspired to look through some of my mom’s old coats now. Nice work!

      lace, etc.

    29. Tubs says:

      Very niftily (is that even a word?) done, and looks gorgeous on you. Perfect length of coat and sleeves now (:

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    34. Lizzy says:

      I have the same problem ESPECALLY with vintage coats . I recently inherited my grandmothers 50’s coat like this but it was more of a tartan plain type print and there was no way I was takeing the bottom off it was to special. My original idea was like yours to just add a cute fur and I found like a mink but the more I thought about it the more I did not like the idea anymore. I still have not lengthens the sleeves but I think I’m going to make a crocet cuff to add to them :)

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