Rowan’s Upcycled Coat

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This late fall/winter military-inspired peacoat is made from nearly all upcycled fabrics.  The outside is a one-of-a-kind, 100% wool hand-knit sweater made by a mother in Nepal who lives in a community that shears, dyes, and spins their own yarn; I got it years ago at a Mom-and-Pop type of antique/vintage/rare arts/fare trade barn shop in Richmond, Illinois (Ginger Blossom, Rte 173, Richmond,IL).  I have always loved this sweater for its warmth and gorgeous colorway (the pallet seems very J. Crew/Calvin Klein to me), but it was way too itchy to be worn alone and most places are adequately heated, so layering was not an option, and I never wore it.  Then, I discovered knitting and felting, so I felted the sweater thinking I’d make a diaper cover, but it wasn’t stretchy enough for that anymore, so it sat.  Then The Robug needed a coat, and the sweater volunteered.
I cut off the sleeves, resized them, and then reattached them; I did not cut off the neck—rather, I used it as a “lining” for the collar.  Then I cut the front about 1.5” from the left side of the cable for the opening.  Needing to replace that “missing” fabric so that the coat can overlap, I pulled out the legs from a pair of jeans I had leftover from making cut-offs and used them to create the overlapping panel.  I also used the seams of the jeans to create the strap closures on the inside of the coat; these close with the clear buttons that are sewn behind the decorative buttons on the outside to stabilize them. I decided to do the top stabilizing button purple to match the others on the coat so that when the collar is worn open, there’s a consistency in the buttons going down the right side.  The hem from the bottom of the jeans was cut off and attached much like piping to add detail to the sleeves, and I used the remaining denim fabric to create the straps on the shoulders as well as the back and to make the detailing on the bottom of the coat.
Because these buttons were so big and the fabric so very thick, my machine button-holer could not do the job, so I got a little crafty.  I did the button holes using a very narrowly-spaced but wide zig-zag stitch: I sewed to rows next to each other, used a seam-ripper to open the space between the two rows, and then zig-zagged over it to cover over the cut edge.  
The flannel lining was the only fabric purchased; I quilted two layers of flannel together (with nothing in between) for added warmth. The front closure buttons were purchased specifically for this coat and are dyed chestnuts; all other buttons were from what I’ve collected over the years.
I did not create a pattern for this piece; I used The Robug’s coat from last year as a reference for sizing and looked at daddy’s coat for shape, but pretty much let it happen organically.  
If I had foresight, I would have taken pictures of the before and after for this one because it was a fun and amazing transformation.

The green flannel and purple buttons were strategic choices because I wanted this coat to be able to be worn by a brother or sister (if we are so blessed), but there’s no telling what we’ll get and I wanted to use a girly color too. So, the green complemented the colors in the yarn and is gender-neutral and the purple is girly and complements the colorway. If, then, we are so blessed with a boy (no, I’m not pregnant, I’m talking in the future), I can simply remove the purple girl-connotative color and replace them with any other gender neutral/boy-connotative color!  Done.  Love it 🙂

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26 thoughts on “Rowan’s Upcycled Coat

  1. This is a great refashion! It’s so true how many refashions happen organically and we create and problem solve as we go along. I think that’s the beauty of the kind of sewing we do. Thanks for sharing!@
    I found you from Creating my way to Success.

    1. Thank you so much! This coat has ended up as one of my all-time favorite pieces because of the process. Upcycling is so much fun because of the organic process. In many ways, I think it’s a lot more difficult to work with already-made items because there are limitations. It’s definitely a huge part of the beauty. Thank you so much for stopping by and I’m now following your blog 🙂

  2. Jacki,

    Thank you so much for entering this darling coat in season 4. I sometimes think it is so much more difficult to recycle rather than start from scratch—-so kudos on your beautiful jacket!

    Can’t wait to see what you sew next!

  3. This is so creative and adorable! I love upcycling sweaters too. I hope you will stop by SewCountry Chick and post it on Sew&Telll Saturday!
    Www dot sewcountrychick dot com

    1. Thank you so much! I absolutely love how it came out 🙂 I’m going to be doing another one very soon that is a windbreaker with removable sleeves–so excited! I will definitely come by and post and check out the other cute ideas–thanks for the invite!

  4. hey again! hopped over for PRP. i’m impressed that you could repurpose all of that for a coat. it’s not cold enough here for long enough to make me want to sew our winter wear. Now swimsuits, maybe I should look into that. best of luck at PRP! i entered too, but I’m totally feeling intimidated now.

    jess @

    1. I’m so scared of trying swimsuits! I’m going to be watching your blog for one, now :). Quite honestly, I wasn’t even thinking of what I was using when I made the coat-I just grabbed what I had that I thought would work. Once it was together and I actually realized it, I was quite amazed myself 🙂 Thanks for coming over–I looked at your Newsie outfit and it’s making me want to have a boy someday soooooo bad! Great job! I am so intimidated by all of the other entries, especially because I only did a coat!

    1. Thank you very much! The Robug is my little tomboy, but she’s actually in a tutu on my post on building a bedframe. Thanks for following, and I can’t wait to see more great stuff on your blog 🙂

  5. This is amazing and I can tell you put in lot of time and talent into. Seriously so amazing. Thank you so much for linking up and sharing on Blissful and Domestic

  6. Oh wow, you have such a talent. It’s interesting to hear the history behind some of the pieces of fabric. Thanks so much for sharing at our party today.

    1. Thank you so much, and thank you for hosting and stopping by! Getting the meaning behind a piece makes it so much more meaningful and fun 🙂 I’m following you as well!

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