Introduction: How to Take in a Carhartt Jacket

About: Artist in Residence at Instructables. I'm a hardware hacker, artist, illustrator, and cartoonist. I make things with whatever tools I can. I design and build interactive art pieces, from museums all the way up…

I have had this Carhartt jacket for about 8 years, and have attached all my patches to it (a giant pain in the tuchus). I love it, but it's not fitted at all for women- even though this was a 'woman's' model. Having it more fitten would encourage me to wear it more often. They've improved their cut since then, but I'm not about to abandon ol' trusty- or move the patches. Don't mind me in my jim-jams, but take note of the baggy sides, especially around the waist. That's what I wanted to remove.

What you'll need:

A sewing machine (one that can do a zig-zag stitch is helpful for the last step) you could in theory do it by hand.

Thread (I'd recommend either a matching color or drastically contrasting one) I got a medium/quilting weight. Fun fact- The most common weight system specifies the length of the thread in kilometres required to weigh 1 kilogram.



something to mark the fabric

Illustrator or other program to print out dart pattern (or, graph paper would work fine)

8 years of your life to devote to volunteering to get enough patches that are a pain to move to another jacket, thusly giving the whole endeavor a purpose instead of just buying a new jacket like a normal person (optional)

Step 1: Measure It Out

I wanted to take in the jacket around my waist and just under my shoulders. I new I'd have to use a double-pointed dart or french dart (or 'longish diamond shape' if you want to get technical).

The carhartt has big, thick double-sewn seams, so undoing them and re-sewing them tighter was not an option. I decided to put two darts between the panels to take it in.

It was difficult to do off my body, so instead I just wore it and, feeling my torso through the jacket, marked the top and bottom of the area that I wanted to take in- in this case, a few inches below my armpit to just above my hip bone. That's how I go the length of the dart I'd need.

I then 'measured' the width of said dart simply by pinching the fabric along that vertical line until it was the snugness I desired. I highly recommend you make that snugness more of a 'loose' snugness than a 'party wiggle dress tube' snugness. You want to be able to still work in it (theoretically). To help figure out how snug that was, while pinching the fabric on both sides of my waist, I leaned forward (like riding a bike, or hunching over a welding table).

My dog was greatly intrigued by this step, as I was basically doing a strange version of the time warp wearing a work jacket and jim-jams.

Step 2: Measure, Make a Pattern

I measured the height and width of the area I wanted to take in, and made an illustrator drawing with those measurements. Easy peasy.

Darts MUST have straight sides, otherwise the fabric will do strange buckly-things. I know it's tempting, but just trust me. STRAIGHT EDGES. Got it? Good. Let's move on.

I printed out several of the patterns. Here I cut them out leaving a 1/4 border. In retrospect, leave more. you'll see why in a second.

Step 3: Cutty Cutty

This is the first sort of nerve-wracking step.

The inside of Carhartt jackets are lined. You might think it's nice wool, everyone thinks it's nice wool, but it's not. They're basically shoddy polyester horse blankets. Don't worry about it.

Pinch the lining away from the outer material and give it a snip. If you put your hand on the outside of the jacket, you can feel where you'll need to sew and cut the lining accordingly.

Step 4: Pin the Pattern to the Jacket

This part can be a bit fussy. From the inside, you have to fold the jacket fabric upwards and pin the pattern on it in the appropriate place.

Some tips on how to do this:

-fold the pattern in half, lengthwise

-fold the jacket into a sharp crease along where the dart will go. Iron it if you have an iron. I don't.

-poke pins through the outside of the jacket to the inside, at the top and bottom points of the dart (diamond). Then line up the pattern to that, poking the needles through the corresponding points on the pattern.

-trace out the outline with chalk if it's being stubborn

Pin down the pattern along that allowance I talked about earlier, and also down the crease to hold it in place.

Step 5: Sew the Dang Thing

What I recommend is that you do something called a 'basting stitch' first. Use the longest stitch length, and do not back-stitch. Put on the jacket after you've sewn both darts and check the fit. Adjust as needed. I would up extending dart on mine- making it much taller. The steps are the same if you want to adjust.

Once you like the fit, do the real stitching. Stitch with a short stitch length, and back-stitch at both ends, locking the stitch.

Step 6: Snip the Diamond

You'll have noticed there's some weird crumples when you put on the jacket. You need to snip the widest point of the dart, to relieve fabric stress. leaving about 1/4 inch between your snip and the seam. Take a deep breath, think of england, and cut.

Step 7: What It Looks Like From the Outside

You can see here how my chalk markings are lining up once sewn.

Step 8: Add a Satin Stitch

None of the other seams in the jacket had a blind ending, and I wanted to add an extra level of strength and detail, so I did a satin stitch at the top of both of the darts. A satin stitch is a very tight zig-zag done over the area several times.

Step 9: Sew Up the Lining

Use a hand needle and sew up the lining. Since it's now smaller, you'll have an extra bit of fabric to work with.

This is an optional step- the lining in my jacket was old and crappy, so I just cut it out. If needed I'll add back in some quilting later.

Step 10: Try That Sh*t On. You Look Fabulous.

Here I am demonstrating how the jacket now fits better around the waist. I could have made it tighter, but I ride my moto/bike in it and didn't want it to be constraining.