Like many other people, I love to "upcycle" old clothing to make something new and beautiful. In this tutorial I'm going to show you how I took a wool skirt, flannel men's shirt and a few sewing tricks I've learned over the years and made it into a functional jacket.
This project cost me about 8 USD thanks to my local Savers. If there are things that are unclear, let me know and I will update and change them.
Step 1: What You Will Need
1. Old pencil skirt, larger than your own size (mine was wool for warmth)
2. Mens flannel (mine was size XL)
3. Thread to match the color of the skirt and shirt
4. Buttons (optional)
1. Sewing machine (you can hand sew but it will be a much more painstaking process)
2. Seam ripper (THIS IS ESSENTIAL)
3. Either a dress form, yourself or another person to fit jacket to
6. Iron and ironing board
7. chalk or marker for making marks on fabric.
Step 2: Gut the Skirt
The first thing you will need to do is remove any lining that may be in the skirt. This will require your seam ripper and a lot of patience. When removing the lining the waistband will most likely come apart from the body of the skirt; do not throw it away, you will need it later. If you aren't familiar with basic garment construction I would recommend closely observing how the skirt was put together and even taking pictures as you tear it apart. It never hurts to be overcautious.
Make sure that you remove all tags as they will only get in the way later on.
Then you will want to remove any closure devices such as zippers, buttons, clasps, or hook and eyes. You should not removed any closure device that is on the waist band such as the button and button hole on mine.
Step 3: Beginning to Fit the Jacket
This is step requires some knowledge of basic sewing. I understand that there may be people who have a very limited understanding of garment construction so this section will be very detailed.
First what we're going to be dealing with is darts. The purpose of a dart is to bring the garment close to your body so you aren't just wearing a square-shaped sack. There are many different types of darts that have many different shapes and looks. If you'd like to learn more you can look here:
Here, we are going to use a series of curved darts. First, you will need to put the skirt over whatever you're using to fit it, in my case it was a dress form with the wrong side facing out. If you are using yourself or another person you will need to seam rip all the way down the front of the skirt so it opens up and seam rip down the sides about 7 inches so your arms can move freely. With the front open you will need to pin or safety pin the open seam together so it stays closed.
Next, you will need a lot of pins to pull it into your body. To determain where to put the darts I used the skirt as my guide; for me there were 4 darts in it already (2 in front and 2 in back), a back and side seams. I took the four darts and extended the line down to follow the shape of my body first then took in the side seams. You don't need to put a dart in where the back seam is because you that will be where the buttons are. Make sure that it is snug as you will be adding in a strip from the men's shirt to accommodate for any room that you would need when wearing a sweatshirt of heavy clothing.
Once you have done that you may want to take out your chalk or other writing utensil to draw lines while it's still on the dress form/you/other person so you know where to sew.
When it comes to the sewing part don't be too worried, you can always rip a seam out if it doesn't look right to you. Just follow your chalk line or pins. Afterwards, make sure it still fits preferably with the good side towards the dress form/you/other person to ensure the fit. Later on we will cut away the extra fabric but for now we're going to leave it incase there needs to be adjustments later on.
Step 4: Adding Buttons
In this step we will be adding in the strips with the buttons and button holes from the mens shirt. As you can see in the first picture I took apart the shirt by using my seam ripper to get rid of the sleeves and simply cutting off the strips with buttons and button holes. At the top of the strips were the single button and button hole that fasten the collar which I decided to cut off.
Next, focusing on the strips I had cut I seam ripped the sides so that I could take the badly cut fabric and tuck it under so it wasn't seen. (as seen in the 2nd and 3rd picture) You may be thinking, "Why wouldn't you just take the roughly cut side and use it to sew to the coat?" The answer to that question is simply this; men and women's shirts have buttons on different sides, for women the buttons are on the left and for men they are on the right. I am making a women's jacket so I need to put the buttons on the left side.
So basically, I am finishing off the edge that was towards the outside of the shirt because it is now towards the inside. After tucking the cut edge in, I pinned it and sewed it shut so that it looked clean and finished off. (as seen in the 4th picture)
After that, you want to line up the strips with the right side of the strip facing the right side of the jacket as you pin then sew the strips on (see picture 5 for pining and completed in picture 6)
Step 5: Adding Sleeves
Now we will need the sleeves from the mens shirt you removed in the last step.
With the jacket on the dress form/yourself/other person draw lines under the arms for where the sleeve will go. If you are unsure where this would go take out a shirt that fits well and us the seam where the sleeve attaches to the rest of the shirt as a guide.
Then, starting at the armpit seam and working your way up pin the arm onto the jacket following the line you drew keeping the right side of the sleeve together with the right side of the jacket. (see picture 1) Once it's pinned you can sew it into place leaving the top part open.
With the extra slack in the sleeve you will have on top you will need to put in a gathering stitch. This can be done by sewing two rows of the longest stitches your machine will do (usually size 6) without backstitching in the beginning or end. (see picture 2) This is also referred to as a basting stitch when you are just holding two pieces together. With long thread left over on both sides take the two threads on the wrong side of the jacket on each side and pull them. (make sure you hold onto BOTH SIDES of this thread or you will pull it out which isn't very helpful) (see picture 3)
You should now have an evenly gathered sleeve. (see picture 4) The amount of gather put in mine was as much as I could possibly get but that was also based off what fit my shoulders best so it may vary from person to person.
Step 6: Cuffs
This is an optional step. For me the cuffs of my jacket were far too short so they had to be lengthened. This is how I did mine.
First, use your seam ripper to remove the current cuffs then cut off the side with the button hole, and the slight curve on the other side. You will also need to take off button(s) (see picture 1)
Then, there will be topstitching you will have to remove in order to open the cuff up. Once that is gone, iron flat and iron in all edges leaving you with a rectangle. (see picture 2) Then sew around the edges.
Lastly, you will want to gather the sleeves at the base like you did in step 5 in order to fit the cuff on properly. Adjust gathers until your cuff and sleeve are the same width. Pin and sew.
Add a button to hold it close. If you want you can use many buttons and make functional button holes but it's not necessary.
Step 7: Shoulder and Neck
This step requires you to take apart the remains of the mens shirt.
First I laid the mens shirt under the jacket to see about how much I would need to cut off to cover the neck and shoulders area. Using a marker I made a line about three inches long further down then needed on the mens shirt to mark where I should cut before chopping. (picture 1)
Then I removed the shirt from under the jacket and cut the top part off and used my seam ripper to remove the collar. (picture 2)
Next, I turned the coat inside out so that I could properly fit the neck and shoulder area to the rest of the jacket. Just like in step 3 and 5 I pinned and drew a line around where it was fitted to the dress form so that I had something to follow when sewing. (picture 3)
Now that this section is added to the jacket you can remove the gathering stitches (the big loose ones) as the shoulders will be gathered and held in place without them.
Now is also the time when you should trim away excesses fabric in your darts and seams. After it is all trimmed away PRESS ALL SEAMS AND DARTS OPEN. I cannot stress that enough. It may seem like a waste of time but your jacket will lay much flatter and look cleaner.
Step 8: Collar
The collar is made out of the waistband from the skirt which should be faced on the inside and outside. Take one side and with the right side facing the wrong side of the jacket pin and sew it along the top of the neck and shoulder band. (see picture 1)
Next, as the waist band is much longer than your collar will need to be you will have to fold the collar so that the good sides are facing each other and sew it off so it is even with the buttons. (picture 2) Then trim and clip corner (picture 3)
Fold the collar over the front and topstitch it in place.
Finalist in the
Sew Warm Contest