Giving New Life (+ Lining) to An Old Coat

14 Mar

Hi everyone!

Wow. It’s been a minute, huh? Many, many thanks/hugs/appreciation for everyone who reached out regarding my dad. Every single comment, email, text message, card – I read every single one of them. While I can’t possibly reply to every single one of them, I do want to thank all of you, as I found them all so comforting. I feel like I am saying this way too much lately, but y’all truly all are the best.

As it is, it’s time to jump back into real life. Actually, I did that pretty much the day after the funeral – I went to Leesburg, VA to teach a workshop at Finch Knitting and Sewing Studio, which was really wonderful and a very welcome distraction from what I had been dealing with the week prior. The next weekend, I flew to Brooklyn, NY to teach my Jeans Making Intensive and Pants Making Intensive classes at Workroom Social. I just got home about a week ago, and have spent this time trying to catch up all the things I’d set aside while I was gone- boring adult-y things, like work and cleaning my much-neglected apartment. I’ve finally gotten a chance to get back into my normal life indulgences – like sewing! – and man, it feels good to be back!

Before I get into the post, I did want to announce my next upcoming workshop in May! I will be traveling to Hyattsville, MD to teach another workshop at Three Little Birds Sewing Company May 13th and 14th (and also a meet and greet / project gossip the evening of May 12th, because wine). This is like all the other workshops I do (other than the pants-specific ones in Brooklyn, which are also Workroom Social specific ;)) – you get to choose whatever project you want to work on that weekend! Whether you want to make a lined dress, a fabulous pair of jeans, a new winter coat, your first bra, whatever – I’ll be there to support ya! And if you don’t have a particular project that is screaming for support, can I just say that this is also a great excuse to make your sewing a little more social for the weekend πŸ˜‰ I always have such a great time running these workshops, and I’m so excited to do it again!! You can read more about the workshop here, and also sign up! It’s going to be an awesome weekend πŸ˜€

Ok, now for the post!

Re-Lining a Coat - before

This is a bit different that what I usually post about – it involves repairing an existing garment, rather than making a new one from the start. I think most of us have announced at some point or another that we’d rather make a new piece than alter or repair one that needed it. I know I’m guilty of it! But lately, I’ve been making a bigger effort to reduce waste whenever I can, and repairing garments that need it is a great place to do this!

I bought this coat at Banana Republic when I was 19. I remember being super proud of the purchase – it was one of the first “nice” things I ever bought with my own money (well, and the help of some gift cards). It’s not the nicest thing I own – and I can certainly produce better garments out of my own sewing room today – but it’s followed me around for the past 12 years regardless. I love the color and I love the way it fits me. It has certainly seen it’s share of wear over the last decade, though – the lining was shredding in several places (I can specifically vouch that the lining at the hip was probably torn by my studded belt – YES, THAT’S HOW LONG I’VE HAD THIS DAMN COAT), and I recently ripped a huge hole in the sleeve lining while trying to put it on. I realized that I would either need to replace the lining entirely, or just get rid of the coat. Y’all all know that I am pretty much always up for a challenge, so I decided to give it a shot! Worst thing that could happen was that I’d ruin a coat – which, admittedly, was already kind of halfway ruined anyway.

Re-Lining a Coat

Re-Lining a Coat - before

Re-Lining a Coat - before

Here you can see some of the places the lining was tearing. The lining was also discolored, especially under the arms, and wearing very thin in several places.

I actually planned this project last year, in December. I waited until I could go to Mood Fabrics in NYC and pick my replacement lining fabric in person – the green wool is a really unique shade, and I wanted to try to match or coordinate with it as much as possible. Spoiler, I never did find a perfect match to the green (not surprised), but I found a print that I adore, so there’s that!

Re-Lining a Coat - process

This is the silk that I went home with meΒ – it was with the rest of the silk prints on the 2nd floor. I am not sure what type of silk it is specifically – it has a heavy, fluid hand just like silk charmeuse, but it is slightly textured, almost like a twill. I suspect it may also be a blend, because it didn’t take to pressing as well as I would have liked. I bought 2 yards (after consulting with the guy who cut my fabric and going by his suggestion), which ended up being plenty. I actually have leftovers – matching silk top, anyone? πŸ™‚

After I bought the lining fabric, this project had to sit on hold for about 3 weeks while I went to Egypt. I haaate leaving stuff half-finished if I’m going to be gone for longer than a weekend, and this project I especially didn’t want to have a lapse in, since I was kind of winging it. So I didn’t actually start until the end of January, but fortunately it did not take very long!

I should confess: I had every intention of turning this post into a tutorial on how to re-line a coat. I started with a bunch of photos, but as soon as I got to the sewing part – guys, it’s pretty much impossible to photograph these steps. Plus, every coat is a little bit different in how it’s constructed. So this post is more of a loose guide if you’re considering doing this yourself, and I have linked to the resources that I found useful when I was in the throes of my repair. Also, I should point out that I have made several lined coats at this point, so the process isn’t really that different from sewing a coat and then adding the lining. If you have sewn a lined coat, you can totally handle this. If you have yet to hit this milestone in your sewing practice, maybe wait before you tackle this project πŸ™‚

Re-Lining a Coat - lining removed

The first step is removing the lining from the coat entirely. This part wasn’t difficult, but it was annoyingly tedious. I knew I didn’t want to deal with the drama of drafting a lining, so I needed to keep the lining pieces as intact as possible in order to use them as my pattern pieces. I removed the lining from all the way around the facing of the coat, being sure to take notes and photos of anything that I might need to know when I was putting it back in – such as the seam allowances used, how the back pleat was sewn in, stuff like that. This was the #1 reason why I waited to start this project – I knew I’d forget everything while I was in Egypt!

Re-Lining a Coat - lining removed

Pulling out lining can be kind of interesting though – you get to look into the guts of the coat and see how it was put together! I’m always fascinated to see how RTW does things, as opposed to what the home sewer does. For example, they sewed small rectangles of the lining into the seam allowances where one traditionally puts thread chains (such as under the arms). Then, the rectangles were sewn directly to the seam allowances of the outer, eliminately the time it takes to make a thread chain and attach it. I thought that was pretty cool!

Re-Lining a Coat - lining removed

Another thing I found interesting was the tailoring done on the coat. It’s actually pretty nicely tailored (with fusible interfacing), considering its just a coat from Banana Republic.

Re-Lining a Coat - process

After I had the lining out of the coat, I carefully separated all the pieces and marked which one was which. I flattened them with an iron and marked grainlines. I will be honest here – I used a similarly-styled jacket pattern I had in my stash to figure out where the grainlines were. They might be slightly off, but eh, it’s a lining. I could NOT for the life of me see where the grain was on the actually pattern pieces, and the fabric was so delicate that is just kind of disintegrated when I tried to rip it.

One thing I will point out when you are marking your pattern pieces – it is really important to mark the sleeve front and back, and also where the sleeve cap hits the shoulder seam. You can snip directly into the seam allowances before taking the pieces apart – presto, notches πŸ˜‰

From there, you just lay your pattern pieces on the fabric and cut them out. Remember, they already have seam allowances – no need to add those.

I should also point out that I did not pre-wash my silk before cutting it. Since the jacket outer is wool/polyester, it is dry clean only. Which means this silk will never hit a washing machine, so I didn’t bother to wash it! I DID wash the leftover piece after I finished the coat, and it changed the texture of the silk a bit. More on that if I ever get around to sewing that piece up haha.

Re-Lining a Coat - process

Next, you assemble the lining to make a lining-coat. Easy stuff!

Ummmm so here’s where I stopped taking pictures haha. I had to figure out how to get the lining into the coat shell, and not a single one of those steps was remotely photogenic πŸ˜‰

You have two options when putting the lining in- One, you can do it the old school couture way, and hand sew it around the entire perimeter of the facing. This is definitely the easier of the two options, but it’s more time-consuming. The second option is bagging the lining into the coat – sewing everything together at the hems and pulling the coat through a hole in the lining. This step is much more fiddly – you have to set everything up properly so you don’t twist the sleeves or whatever, and it totally looks like a hot mess until the very end. Also, I realized this a bit late in the game – but it’s reaaaally finicky to sew the lining to the facing at the neck (where the collar is). The layers are super bulky and you don’t have much of a seam allowance to work with. I made it work, obviously, but I did end up un-picking out my stitches a few times.

If you need help bagging a lining, this tutorial on bagging a lining from Grainline Studio is great. For the back vent, I watched this YouTube video from FashionSewingBlogTV on sewing a lining to a vent.

Re-Lining a Coat - process

So, I bagged my lining, pulled everything from a hole in the sleeve, and then went back on the inside and attached the lining to the shell with thread chains (I wasn’t even gonna try those weird lining rectangle things haha). Then I pressed everything really well, and attached new buttons. Oh, and I sewed the labels back on too – the original BR one, and one from Mood Fabrics (the sizing and fiber info tag is underneath the Mood tag, fyi). It’s kind of a collab coat now, you know?

Sooooo, drumroll pls…

Re-Lining a Coat - after

Yay!!! I just love it so much πŸ™‚

Re-Lining a Coat - after

Due to the new layer of silk, the jacket is actually much warmer now (the old lining was polyester). Always a plus!

Re-Lining a Coat - after

Re-Lining a Coat - after

The colorful new lining makes me so happy!

Re-Lining a Coat - after

Re-Lining a Coat - after

Re-Lining a Coat - after

Re-Lining a Coat - after

Re-Lining a Coat - after

I also replaced the buttons, with something similar but a little more refined. These buttons are from Pacific Trimming, which I also picked up while I was lining shopping. I reallllly wanted to do self-covered buttons, but I could not find anything that remotely matched this green. So I went with tortoiseshell, although these are shank buttons (the original buttons are flat).

Re-Lining a Coat - after

I really enjoyed the challenge of working on this project – in fact, taking things apart and putting them back together was how I originally taught myself how to sew, so it was a cool throwback to revisit those roots. I like doing things that force me to slow down (and/or walk away) and think, and this was definitely one of those. And hell yeah, this coat is finally back in rotation! Feels good!

Note: The silk fabric used in this post were purchased with my monthly Mood Fabrics allowance, in exchange for my participation in the Mood Sewing Network.

56 Responses to “Giving New Life (+ Lining) to An Old Coat”

  1. LinB March 14, 2017 at 9:29 am #

    Hurray! New-old coat! It is very satisfying to rescue a beloved garment.

    And you’re right, sometimes stitching up by hand is far faster than doing it on a machine — and the machine stitching is not always stronger.

    I, too, had trouble finding olive green buttons, for a boring-but-necessary shirtwaist dress in olive drab cotton broadcloth. It’s from a 1970s pattern (deep pockets! low, open neckline! pleated skirt!) and I wanted big ol’ plastic 1970s-style buttons to finish the thing. Finally found some at Hancocks (silently weep for the loss of them) some months after the rest of the dress was finished. Wear it constantly now.

    • LLADYBIRD March 14, 2017 at 1:27 pm #

      Super satisfying indeed! I am so so SO happy to get to keep wearing this great coat!

      Um that shirt dress sounds fantastic! Boring stuff is totally my jam now, it’s so useful in my current wardrobe πŸ™‚ Glad to hear that you were finally able to source some buttons!

  2. Indoor Kitty March 14, 2017 at 9:34 am #

    Fantastic. I’m guessing that the silk doesn’t give you that horror show static problem that poly lining does.

    • LLADYBIRD March 14, 2017 at 1:29 pm #

      Nope, you are correct! Although, to be fair, I never experienced a static problem with the original poly lining, either πŸ™‚

  3. Michelle March 14, 2017 at 9:43 am #

    WOW, nice work!!

  4. MayravB March 14, 2017 at 10:10 am #

    I love the print! So much more fun than a matching lining. I have a coat that I’ve been waiting until I’m a strong enough sewist to do it without wrecking the coat…maybe another few years haha.

    • LLADYBIRD March 14, 2017 at 1:30 pm #

      I agree! I love a good printed lining, it’s such a fun surprise πŸ™‚ You’ll get there eventually, just keep honing those skills!

  5. Kelly March 14, 2017 at 10:13 am #

    Nice! It’s a very good coat, you had a good eye all those years ago. Glad you made it work for another 10-20 years πŸ™‚

    • LLADYBIRD March 14, 2017 at 1:30 pm #

      Thank you! I am hoping I can get another 10-20 years out of it, that would be the dream! πŸ™‚

  6. heather March 14, 2017 at 10:47 am #

    so cool- i love your “new” coat! thank you for sharing! i’ve been thinking of making a coat & your post inspires me! πŸ™‚ (i’ve actually taken apart some gap dresses of my daughter’s for the fabric (cannot find it anywhere else) & to see how they constructed them were interesting…)

    • LLADYBIRD March 14, 2017 at 1:31 pm #

      Thank you!! Making coats is SUPER fun – I definitely recommend it!

  7. mnahmiyaz March 14, 2017 at 10:56 am #

    I think that my heart just skipped a beat when I saw the lining fabric of this coat :), it is just gorgeousss! I have a coat that shares the same kind of story (been with me many years, has holes in the lining) but I still could not bring myself to do it. Maybe motivating lining fabric will solve the problem. Real nice work.

    • LLADYBIRD March 14, 2017 at 1:32 pm #

      I felt the same way when I saw the lining fabric – it is so beautiful! I’m so happy that it coordinates with my coat and was also the right weight (I didn’t want to use a flimsy lining and risk needing to replace it in a couple of years). I would keep an eye out for your dream lining fabric – you’re right, it may just be the key to getting you to give it a refresh πŸ™‚

  8. Inclement March 14, 2017 at 11:22 am #

    Love the “new” coat – but what I’m really commenting for is to pass this along to a fellow cat person –

    It’s in NYC – a friend of mine recently mentioned it to me. I may never get there, but since you go to New York so much, if you ever feel in dire need of kitty snuggles (and/or pastry)…

    • LLADYBIRD March 14, 2017 at 1:33 pm #

      OMG HOW AMAZING. Definitely going to try to check that place out when I’m back up there! Kittiesssss!!!

  9. morningsprite March 14, 2017 at 11:51 am #

    Your workshop is so close, but I have plans that weekend….! I am holding out hope that you’ll end up at Stitch Sew Shop in Alexandria on a weekend I am home….

    • LLADYBIRD March 14, 2017 at 1:39 pm #

      Aw, bummer! I would like to teach at Stitch; I chatted with the owner about it last year but we weren’t able to coordinate schedules. Maybe in 2017! You should ask her about it haha

  10. Philippa March 14, 2017 at 12:29 pm #

    I love the way your coat looks now, new lining has completely revitalised it. Will bookmark this page as have a coat I would like to reline and am going to steal your idea of putting something printed in. Won’t be doing it until the Autumn though – have just been for a dog walk, spring flowers are out, thinking about spring and Summer sewing!

    • LLADYBIRD March 14, 2017 at 1:40 pm #

      I don’t blame you one bit for waiting! Up until the weekend, we were having crazy spring weather (blooming flowers and all), but then we got a random snow and it’s been cold ever since. I am hoping it goes away soon because this girl is ready to start sewing for warmer weather! πŸ™‚

  11. Deborah Penner March 14, 2017 at 1:37 pm #

    Glad you are back posting again, Lauren. Love the lining print and the demonstration. Just the thing I need to get inspired to do the same with an older trench coat I have. Never considered a power print lining!

    • LLADYBIRD March 14, 2017 at 1:40 pm #

      Power prints FTW! Everyone needs a happy lining print πŸ™‚ And I am happy to be back posting too! ❀

  12. bethnegrey March 14, 2017 at 3:17 pm #

    When I got to the “ta-da…done!” pics, I can totally understand why you’ve kept this coat. It’s a beauty and with the new lining and buttons, it’s just smiling right along with you. One of the reasons I was so interested in reading this post is because for YEARS, I’ve had a really cool leather bag languishing in my closet (actually, it’s languished in at least 3 closets by now…) because the lining tore on one side of the top edge. Total shame because the fabric is fabulous amazing, but…. Your comments have given me encouragement to cut that old lining out, use it as a pattern for a new one and try to get that bag back where it belongs….being totally admired and coveted. Thanks!

    • LLADYBIRD March 15, 2017 at 9:35 am #

      Yes!! Go replace that lining and put that bag back to use! It’s not doing you any good languishing in your closet – a beautiful bag deserves to be used and appreciated! πŸ™‚

  13. Wrenna March 14, 2017 at 4:59 pm #

    You are a truly inspiring human. I share your reduce/reuse ethic, but I’m nowhere near as skilled as you…yet! Thanks for continuing to encourage me to stretch my skills.

    • LLADYBIRD March 15, 2017 at 9:36 am #

      Aw, thank you so much! ❀

  14. Kit March 14, 2017 at 5:58 pm #


  15. Tomasa March 14, 2017 at 6:24 pm #

    What a fab coat…I can see why you’ve loved and worn it for so long. You did a great job with the fun lining and those buttons are perfect.

  16. Heather Myers March 14, 2017 at 6:34 pm #

    Oh man! This reminds me I need to reline a winter coat I made years ago… Yours looks great! And inspires me to have a colorful lining.

    • LLADYBIRD March 15, 2017 at 9:36 am #

      Thank you! Definitely go for the colorful lining, it’ll make you happy every time you wear the coat πŸ˜€

  17. redsilvia March 14, 2017 at 8:42 pm #

    I hope studded belts don’t come back too soon…super cute lining and I adore that picture of you talking to your left boob while flashing us the lining. Excellent work!

    • LLADYBIRD March 15, 2017 at 9:37 am #

      Haha right!? That is one part of my past style that I’m not in a hurry to bring back (and I was soOoOoOo pUnK RoCk that my belt had 3 rows of studs… hahah oh man). if anything, they will tear your coat lining πŸ˜› And I ALWAYS talk to my left boob, do you not? πŸ˜‰

  18. seagyrl March 15, 2017 at 8:29 am #

    I have a vintage wool sweater where the lining is falling out. Maybe I’ll try re lining it. If you’re gonna spend money on clothing, always go for quality. I have a sweater that I still love that I bought for a quarter 40… count em 40 years ago. Quality never goes out of style. πŸ™‚

    • LLADYBIRD March 15, 2017 at 9:40 am #

      I agree! I would rather spend 5x as much on one thing that I don’t have to replace for 10-20 years, then something cheaper that needs to be re-bought every season. And throwing stuff away makes me so sad!! Quality over quantity, always πŸ™‚

  19. Alison March 15, 2017 at 10:30 pm #

    Good on ya for repairing instead of replacing! I have never sewn anything without a teacher present, but you’re making me want to sew soft linings into my itchy hand-knit hats!

    • LLADYBIRD March 16, 2017 at 9:43 am #

      Sounds like it’s time for you to branch out on your own πŸ™‚ You can dooo it!

  20. WolfChild Designs March 16, 2017 at 7:33 am #

    Great job! Much like a few other people who commented, I also have a coat I’ve had forever that needs re-lining. It’s a leather trench coat I got when I was about 14 years old from a thrift store. The lining is so far gone now that it’s missing a whole sleeve and more than half of the body is completely in tatters. I may have to draft a new lining from the jacket itself. But seeing your post makes me think I can do it. It’s going to be an undertaking though. πŸ˜€

    • LLADYBIRD March 16, 2017 at 9:44 am #

      Definitely an undertaking, but it sounds like it’ll be worth it! Maybe you can use the tattered remains to kind of half draft the lining pattern? Realistically, you only need half of it – since there are two sides! πŸ™‚ Either way, I think it’ll totally be worth it!

  21. Miss Celie March 16, 2017 at 9:04 am #

    I have an old blazer from the GAP. Like 15 to 20 years old. And, it’s still in really good shape and super well made. There was a time (gah I sound old) that those stores clothes were great products. It’s funny now to think I bought suits from the GAP post college.

    I admire and applaud you for re-lining the because I just would not. I actually gave away a me-made coat that needed a new lining because I couldn’t stomach it πŸ˜€

    Enjoy Hyattsville! I lived there during college and it’s become a strangely fun and hip inner suburb of DC.

    • LLADYBIRD March 16, 2017 at 9:49 am #

      Ugh I feel the same way about clothes I wore 10-20 years ago vs now. I have cheap stuff I got from the mall that is nicer than what Express is trying to pass off as “quality” these days. Even my banquet dress from Sr. Year (a cotton 1950-style dress with a built-in petticoat that I bought at Hot Topic, lolz), which I still have, was made in the USA. I recall it costing about $40 too (which was a lot when you only made $5 an hour haha).

      I am excited to see Hyattsville! If you’re free that weekend, we should totally go for another round of drinking πŸ˜›

      • Miss Celie March 20, 2017 at 2:00 pm #

        I would of course hitch hike to see you. But, we have a wedding in Kansas City that weekend. I thought I was all done with multiple weddings in a year. But, we have four thanks to Jordan.

        • LLADYBIRD March 23, 2017 at 9:47 am #

          Dammit, Jordan!! πŸ˜› I guess you’ll just have to come to Nashville and eat hot chicken with me instead :B

  22. Miss Celie March 16, 2017 at 9:06 am #

    Oh, also. This is kind of strange. But, every year on the anniversary of my mom’s passing I reread the comments, emails and notes I received from the sewing community. Hearing from so many people really helped and I just wanted to hug and thank everyone for a solid two years.

    • LLADYBIRD March 16, 2017 at 9:49 am #

      I don’t think that sounds strange at all, it actually sounds really lovely. I am saving all the cards and messages I have gotten specifically for that reason ❀ Everyone has been so, so lovely and kind and supportive. This community is absolutely amazing.

  23. Tumultuous Tailor March 17, 2017 at 1:49 pm #

    Simply amazing! I hate dealing with lining as it is, each time I use it for a dress I curse myself and wish I have just used a simple facing πŸ˜‰ Having to get rid off the damaged lining and replace it with a new one? No way.

    The coat looks great though! Jealous πŸ˜‰

    • LLADYBIRD March 23, 2017 at 9:48 am #

      Haha I usually feel that way myself, but sometimes it’s worth the additional struggle! I loved this coat enough to put up with dealing with re-lining it and I have no regrets! πŸ™‚

  24. whofilets March 21, 2017 at 5:52 pm #

    That’s a great new lining! You gave new life to your signature coat and made it even more your own.
    Your class schedule makes me wish I still lived in Maryland! But I’m way out in Montana now, oof.

    • LLADYBIRD March 23, 2017 at 9:50 am #

      Aw! I would say that maybe I’ll make it out to Montana, but I’m not so sure about that πŸ™‚ But maybe west coast-ish somewhere? I’m working on that! πŸ™‚

  25. Sherine March 26, 2017 at 5:14 pm #

    Waw amazing and very good idea, it means that we are not going to get rid of any old clothes in our cupboard, really i loved the idea
    keep the good work Lauren

  26. Earl Craig February 11, 2018 at 5:32 pm #

    Hello I have a heavy wool Filson Mackinaw coat and I’m wondering if it would be crazy expensive to ask a tailor to do something like this to it?

    Wool coats without linings are sort of “sticky” when putting them on. I absolutely LOVE the coats and jackets I have that have a satin type lining. They slide over sweaters and wool shirts with ease.

    But is this cost prohibitive? I live in a small town in Montana and the one person I asked just waved it off and said it would not be worth it.

    Earl Craig

    • LLADYBIRD February 12, 2018 at 12:01 pm #

      Yeah, it would be pretty expensive. It sounds like your coat doesn’t already have a lining, which means you’d have to hire someone to draft a lining (versus using the existing lining as a pattern, which is faster), plus all the labor of sewing and installing the lining (not to mention the cost of the fabric itself). I can’t speak for what the charge would be where you live, but based on my hourly rate I would charge $300-$400 just for the labor… not including the cost of the fabric, or the time involved with drafting the lining.

  27. Anonymous December 4, 2020 at 11:02 am #

    I can’t believe my luck that I received this email today! I have 2 leather jackets that are in dire need of re-lining and I’ve been putting it off and putting it off and putting it off! I just wasn’t confident enough to get started. You addressed some of my concerns and I think I’m ready – thank you!!!


  1. 2017: A Year in Review | LLADYBIRD - December 31, 2017

    […] Re-lining a RTW Coat […]

  2. Completed: Reworking A Vintage Blazer | LLADYBIRD - October 7, 2020

    […] used the pieces to cut a new lining from a piece of silk charmeuse that I already had in my stash (here is a blog post I wrote a few years ago about replacing a lining in a coat, which is the same process I used!). I made sure to add my alteration adjustments and sleeve […]

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