Monday, November 26, 2012

Re-Lining a Vintage Coat

Re-lining old coats and jackets is really a fun project - and pretty straight forward.

The first step is most important - taking out the lining and remembering how it was sewn in. I took notes, drew a little diagram and took some pictures. Most linings aren't this involved but even with more simple patterns, these preliminary notes are really handy to have, especially if you take the whole liner out at once.

Since this coat had an insulating liner as well, there were more construction notes than usual.

I ripped the seams around the cuffs and along the collar and front lapels. Then I took note of where the tailor had tacked the lining into place.

Once the liner was out, I carefully de-constructed one side completely so that I could use the pieces to make the new pattern from. I left the other half so that I could see the way it was put together in case my notes were incomplete. This came in really handy.

These are the three pieces. I took out the seams and darts and pressed them well. Then I traced these onto paper to make a new pattern. The arm holes were pretty deteriorated so I was very careful to keep the pattern as close as possible.

This is the pattern complete with dart markings. I cut out the new pattern and used my notes to construct the first half. The new fabric was satin so I finished the edges with my over-lock machine to keep it from fraying before attaching the pieces together. 
The dart in the sleeve elbow was sewn together with the insulating liner. I re-used the gray insulating liner because it was in fine shape and saved a lot of time and money. You can see from this picture how there are cutouts in the insulation to allow for movement. The gray liner is also the part that is tacked into the outer shell to hold everything in place. 

I attached the front pieces together and then attached the sleeve. There was a slight gather in the shoulder located at the top, which was part of the pattern. 

I constructed the other half the same way and attached them at the back center. 

I removed the rest of the old, red liner from the insulation and sewed the new one into place.

It's ready!

I had the shell of the coat dry-cleaned and then I replaced the buttons since there were several broken or missing. There were some minor repairs to the seams, the hem, the pockets and the belt. I also reinforced the hood and collar in places. 

Yay! Almost done!


Pulling the sleeves inside-out I pinned the liner cuffs to the shell cuffs and sewed them together.

With those in place, I turned the coat right side out and flipped the liner inside. 

At this point I tacked the shoulders in place and then flipped he liner back out to pin the raw liner edges to the outside shell. The lapels needed some tailor tacking to keep them laying properly.

Tailor tacking 


I steamed the liner instead of pressing because the material is a bit delicate.

The hem of the liner I stitched by hand.
More projects coming soon!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Cushion Cover

I've been working on so many new projects and totally slacking on the blog-factor - Sew... here goes some catching up! (Whoo bad jokes!)
First up - a really fast - and fairly half-assed - cushion cover:

It's a bad color, it's covered in stains, it's really gross! But I love this chair - it spins!
So first we have to check out how this thing was put together - then make a plan to re-do it.

You can see here we've got two sets of ties to hold it to the frame. We also have 6 buttons that go through the foam of the cushion to the other side - these are tied to another button on the reverse side with thick upholstery thread. You can also (kindof) see from here that the cushions are zipped into the case.
The zipper is pretty pointless though since you can't remove the cushions without ripping the buttons out anyway. Hence the stains remaining in situ.

The next step was doing just that - removing the foam cushions. I'm re-using those suckers. Again this was a fast and fairly half-assed approach.

So now we have the empty case - all I have to do is trace the outline onto new fabric.
The top piece is one full outline.
The back is 2 pieces with openings to fit the cushions into.

You can see below there are two open zippers between the back panels. Screw those zippers - they are totally unnecessary. All you really need in place of this is some extra fabric that lays over the opening, hiding the cushion and holding it in place. Think pillow shams.

 So here you see the new cover, sewn together and stuffed - The lines you see are from the back of the chair - Like I was saying before, I'm a slacker and I finished this a while ago so it's been in use!

You can see from the second picture that I also ditched the button fasteners. Besides being unnecessary, those things create unsanitary conditions - I want to be able to wash this thing and also have the option of replacing the old foam eventually, because let's face it, it's totally disgusting. I live with a 5 year-old, people. That boy shows couches no mercy.

Here's a close-up of the sham-flap thing I substituted for the zippers. So much easier! Really I was just looking for functional here so it didn't need to be beautiful.

I pinned the whole thing together inside-out and sewed all around the cover. Then I flipped it right side out and sewed a line straight down the middle of the flap. By doing this it separated the two sections - You can see how the flap overlaps the two back pieces.

I sewed the side ties into the outside seam as well - I reinforced those seams well.

Yay! It's done! Sooo much better!

Next project coming soon :)

Thursday, August 9, 2012


I'm going to backtrack once again and showcase my design portfolio from my senior year of college. There were 5 pieces altogether, 3 of which were Halloween costumes that I made for friends.

The fabric I used for the Fox pictured here is a thick, fuzzy polyester material. I used only my regular sewing machine as I didn't have an overlock machine at the time. I had to clear lint from the bobbin often to keep the machine running smoothly.

I included photographs of the patterns I created. Newspaper is a free and recyclable material to use for pattern making but there are much better materials available if you are willing to pay a few dollars per yard.  I had limited sources available when I was working on these and newspaper worked just fine. 

A lot of these shapes I was able to draw freehand and others I traced from garments and altered with a styling ruler. 

This costume was based off of an action figure of mine, dubbed El Salvador:

I was very pleased with the results! I used most of the same pattern for the Fox but made a different tail and a few other details.

The last two pieces were not designed as costumes, though the first one shown here was used as a Cindy-Lou-Who costume a few years later.

My idea was to create Spring-inspired cuts that were warm enough to wear during a Vermont Winter. I used heavy red denim and attached a layered petticoat underneath the skirt that was very warm.

The back of the suspenders had a zipper near the bottom to allow some adjustment. This way a thicker sweater or a thinner shirt could be worn underneath comfortably.  

This is probably my favorite piece. The red and brown plaids I used were from 2 pairs of vintage, woolen, Pendleton trousers. 

The pattern was a simple and flattering design that I was very happy with. The only disappointment was that I had such a limited amount of the fabric that I was unable to line up the skirt panels on a bias.

In fact I couldn't really make the lines remain straight up and down either, I had to cut the pieces however they would fit. I carefully deconstructed the pants, pressing everything as I went to make sure I was saving as much of the fabric as possible. Then I sewed pieces together to make the largest panels I could, matching the plaid meticulously so that you couldn't notice a break in the pattern. Then I traced the newspaper patterns as best I could.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Pants Repair!

A decent portion of my usual repair work is for jeans - People's favorite jeans - Extremely worn jeans - Jeans that folks want tapered (though I wish more people would let me put in huge bells....I love doing that!) Here is a pair of pants that I had patched previously and were worn through again. A well-loved article :)

As always I have to warn folks that once the patching begins, it's an uphill battle to keep them going. I often reinforce weak areas with large panels. Then I quilt through the layers with designs to keep them sturdy.

This is what the inside looks like with new panels, though you can see where they were worn through again. I always serge the edges of the patch before pinning in place and sewing together. It is important to trace the shape carefully for these kinds of repairs because if the crotch shape isn't cut right it will be uncomfortable and it will be difficult to sew in place. I attach these panels right to the seams, often to the edges of the pockets and sometimes further down the pant legs.

Here's the inside after further reinforcement.

And the outside again. 

Sometimes folks give me fabric they prefer to have as patches. The green denim which I used for these was fairly worn already so we knew this would wear through quickly. Patching behind this with darker denim creates a nice contrast and the scruffy frayed edges of the original holes look cool after a few washes. Sometimes its best to cut those frayed parts out when sewing in a patch so that you can really secure those weak edges and make sure fabric is sturdy. Other times you can get away with leaving some for show. 

Here is an example of a less noticeable patch of the same sort. 

If I used black denim it would have been a bit more hidden, but she wasn't terribly concerned with the visibility so I used what I had. I didn't make full panel patches for these because it is more time consuming and we wanted to keep the cost down for the repair. They were cheap jeans, but a good fit and this small repair will give them several more months of steady wear for the low cost of about 15 bucks.

Some repairs are more fun to patch from the outside. These are one of my favorite pairs of pants and I like to let them get pretty destroyed before patching again. I add from the outside and let the edges fray. They are surprisingly sturdy from years of quilting and many layers of fabrics.

I started sewing because I wanted to save my favorite pants so this is a specialty of mine and something I have been practicing for over 10 years. If you are desperate to save a favorite pair get in touch! You can check out my clothing repair website or email me at - I'd love to help you!