Monday, March 18, 2013

Mend It Monday: winter coat

***Announcement! I've teamed up with Andrea over at Four Square Walls, and Trisha at Made By Trisha to take part in their S.O.S. (Stashbusting Our Sister fabric) challenge. We all have the same sister fabric, this navy nautical print from Girl Charlee:

The challenge is to use up this fabric and rescue it from stash-languishing oblivion. The results of our secret projects will be revealed on our blogs on April 2nd.

I think it will be really fun to see what we come up with, all using the same fabric. In my case, I have a scant 34" (I bought a "half yard" from GC and that's what arrived!). It's certainly been challenging deciding what to do, but I'm excited to reveal all on April 2nd! Here's a little sneak peek of where my project is going:

Normally on Mondays I write up a bit about my current inspiration, but I want to start doing something different, so hang with me for a minute. I know I'm not the only one who watches Downton Abbey (no spoilers, I'm still working my way through the DVDs!!!). Have you ever noticed that when the servants sit around talking, they're usually mending? It's also interesting that many of the characters wear the same clothing over and over, even (especially) the rich ones. Last week I realized that I had an ever-growing stack of garments that need fixing. For centuries, sewing has been a skill utilized for the very useful purpose of mending. Recent trends of cheap clothing have forced a decline in mending. If something is damaged, we typically think that it was so inexpensive that it's not worth fixing, and we throw it out. As an avid sewer, I'd like to pretend that I mend regularly and happily...but I'm just as guilty as any other consumer. So, I decided I should have "Mend It Monday," where I feature a mending project. Hopefully, this experiment will force some accountability on me, and I'll also be able to reclaim some of my favorite clothes (because it's always the favorites that become damaged!).

A quick note about education: if you feel a little lost with mending, or just need some inspiration, I highly recommend Mend It Better  by Kristin M. Roach. I read it a few months ago and it's fabulous and adorably designed.

My first mending project is a coat that I purchased at Plato's Closet in 2010. It's from Abercrombie and I think it was around $30, so I felt like I was getting a fairly good deal. It's a wool blend with a quilted lining, so quite warm. I wore it pretty regularly that winter. During the winter of 2011, the zipper broke. I literally got stuck inside the coat for a while and needed my husband's help to get out! Right after that, one of my dogs chewed off one of the wood toggles. Not closing the coat worked for a while, because I was pregnant anyway. But as the winter progressed, I was TOO pregnant, so I switched to a bigger pea coat that accommodated my belly. The winter of 2012 rolled around, and I was no longer pregnant. But the zipper was still broken and the toggle was still missing. Fastening the remaining two toggles wasn't cutting it.

I examined the zipper to see if I could replace it with my new-found sewing skills. It appears to be sandwiched between two tightly topstitched layers of fabric. No good. Then I looked at the toggles to see if they could be replaced. Maybe, but I'd have to rip up the square patches holding down the loops and hope they went back on without looking cray-cray. Finally, I decided it would be easiest to just sew on some snaps.

I got these at Jo-Ann's for a couple bucks. They're 1/2", so I felt like they could withstand the rigors of outerwear. The instructions for sewing them on were simple. So simple, in fact, that Dritz didn't even need words to describe the process.

To figure out where to sew the snaps, I put on the coat and held it closed in various places near my neck, until I decided how high I wanted it to go. I marked it with chalk, and then measured from that spot to the end of the coat (there is already a small snap on the end). I divided the distance by 4 (the amount of snaps I had) and then placed marks evenly. The photo above shows that you should sew one hole at a time, but I found that the snaps were sliding around too much, so I put one quick stitch through each hole before going back over it more securely. I think I did about five stitches per hole.

The snaps are nice and bright and industrial-looking, and don't seem out of place at all on this jacket. I considered cutting off the zipper, but I'm glad I didn't, because the metal zipper and metal snaps go well together.

I didn't cut off the zipper, but I decided to cut off all the toggles. It just looked too obvious (and dumb) that one was missing. And bonus, now I have two nice wooden toggles to use on a different project.


I'm very happy with the results. Snaps, of course, are not as protective against the elements as a zipper, but I can live with that rather than buying a new jacket. I wore the coat this weekend, and it was surprisingly satisfying to know I'd saved it from a dust-filled destiny in the closet.

What about you? What articles of clothing do you have wasting away for want of a small repair?


  1. Whoa--you only have 34"?!?! That is a challenge!

  2. Yes, so there will definitely be some secondary fabric entering the picture!


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