New Style for an Old Boiled Wool Coat (Version 1)

It has been a while since I found my mom’s old boiled wool jackets and brought them home. I’m so happy I finally got around to reworking the first one into something more tailored and contemporary, so I can wear this sentimental coat every day.

Do you have an old coat you can’t bear to part with? Depending on your coat’s original design, you can alter it using these ideas, from simple to intricate:

  • Take in the side seams
  • Take in the back seam
  • add a gather or dart at the back waist
  • Take in the sleeve seams
  • Add darts or seaming in back and/ or front
  • Take apart and rework individual pieces

My original jackets are made by Geiger from Austria, bought about 20 years ago, and they’re very big and boxy. I have no idea how my mom carried off this look, as she was very petite, but in any case, the coats were ready for major alterations. I used a whole arsenal of tricks to create a new style on this first project, as you’ll see.

How to take in the sides of a boxy coat:

If you want to make a subtle change, you can take in the side seams without touching the sleeves, but for a radical change like mine, you’ll need to take off the sleeves, so you can take in the sides all the way from top to bottom. After prepping your coat by removing the sleeves or lining as needed, turn it inside out and put it on. Use pins or safety pins to shape the side seams the way you want them. You can flip it back right side out to see how it looks and adjust as needed (pictured below on left).

After pinning a shape you like, use some tailor’s chalk and a ruler to mark a new seam line and see along that line. (pictured below on right)

Try it on to check the fit and when you’re satisfied, trim the excess fabric.

Steps to altering a boxy old coat: taking in the side seams.  {Jewels at Home}

Steps to altering a boxy old coat: taking in the side seams.

How to take in the back of a boxy coat:

Similar to taking in the sides, prepare your coat by removing the lining if needed, turn it inside out and put it on. Use pins or safety pins to shape the back seam the way you like. You can flip it back right side out to see how it looks and adjust as needed (pictured below on left).

After pinning a shape you like, use some tailor’s chalk and a ruler to mark a new seam line and see along that line. (pictured below on right)

Try it on to check the fit and when you’re satisfied, trim the excess fabric.

How to alter an oversized jacket: taking in the back seam. {Jewels at Home}

How to alter an oversized jacket: taking in the back seam.

Adding a dart or gather to an oversized coat:

If you just need to add a little shape to the back of your coat, you can add a simple dart or gather. Because my original coat was so boxy, I did this in addition to taking in the back seam. Looking at the back seam, fold in a small amount from each side. Use pins or safety pins to hold down the fold and try it on. Adjust as needed and then sew in place. I sewed this part by hand, so the stitches wouldn’t show.

Steps to updating a boxy old jacket: adding a gather to the back. {Jewels at Home}

Steps to updating a boxy old jacket: adding a gather to the back.

How to take slim the sleeves of a boxy coat:

After I had already removed the sleeves of my coat and taken in the side seams, I measured the new sleeve holes by marking the top of the sleeve (top left picture below) and pinning it to the shoulder of the jacket and pinning the entire sleeve in place, so I could see how much needed to be removed from the bottom seam (top right picture below).  Using that measurement, I trimmed the sleeves at the bottom seam to match the new smaller arm holes. I used tailor’s chalk and a ruler to slim the sleeves an even amount all the way down (bottom picture below).

Updating an oversized jacket: taking in the sleeves. {Jewels at Home}

Updating an oversized jacket: taking in the sleeves.

After these steps, I had a jacket with a much better fit.

Step by step tutorial to altering an oversized and boxy jacket.  {Jewels at Home}

Results of altering an oversized and boxy jacket.

Adding contemporary style to an old coat:

I could have stopped at this point and had a comfortable fitted coat, but it felt so plain, and I wanted this to be a piece of clothing I’d love, so I decided to remove the old notched collar and use the lining material from the coat to make a larger collar. Finally, I added some more buttons, and I had a look that is completely new and I’d be happy to wear every day.

Complete steps to tailoring a boxy oversized coat. {Jewels at Home}

Complete steps to tailoring a boxy oversized coat. {Jewels at Home}

 

I’m so pleased with my “new” coat, that is filled with memories of my mom, and I’m looking forward to tinkering with the next one to create another cozy memory to wear.

“Jewels”

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5 thoughts on “New Style for an Old Boiled Wool Coat (Version 1)

  1. Pingback: Updating Old Boiled Wool Jackets | Jewels at Home

  2. Great idea! 🙂 I too, inherited a sweater jacket that needed to have the lining completely revamped. Every time I feel really blue and despondent — as life throws us all curves every now and then, I put on the sweater coat and feel my special loved friend, my iron strength, is hugging me with an all engulfing embrace.

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