Thrift Store Couture: Sweater-Sleeve Coat

We’re reaching that time of year when I am absolutely sick of all of the cold weather articles of clothing I own—especially coats. Unfortunately in Chicago, it’ll be coat weather for a few more weeks at least. Time to mix it up a bit.

Lately I’ve been coveting the kind of slouchy, menswear-inspired silhouettes that I’ve seen the occasional blue-line hipster girl wear—like so:

slouchy coats

Clockwise from left: Philip Lim sweater sleeve maxi coat, Asos textured blazer coat, Asos vest in longline, To Be Adored coat, Clariana fleck wool drape coat by Theory

But the last thing I want to do in April is spend a bunch of moolah on a coat. My solution? Try to find this 90s-reminiscent silhouette at a thrift store.

I forgot to take a picture of the jacket before ripping the sleeves off the jacket—but you get the idea

I forgot to take a picture of the jacket before ripping the sleeves off—but you get the idea

I loved this coat (left)—it was less than $10 at Salvos—but it was slightly too big through the shoulders. Since I was going to take it apart anyway to work on the fit, I decided to Frankenstein it with a sweater (right).

Pattern pinned to coar

I used an old coat pattern that WAS my size as a rough guide for re-cutting the armholes.

I stitched the sweater sleeves to the coat—lining and all. So no, I didn’t really fix the lining the way I’m sure you’re supposed to. Instead I just made my own binding out of some ribbon to cover the raw edges.

Jacket Lining

You can see the raw edges on the wearer’s left armhole; the right armhole is finished.

Finished.

Finished.

sweater sleeve coat

Unknown-6

I wore this outfit to a jazz club with some friends—one of them told me I looked very Ralph Lauren, and another likened me to Katharine Hepburn. Not quite the look I was going for, but I’ll still take it!

Unknown-7

Skyline Tote Bag

Every year, my friends have an intensely festive Christmas party that involves the exchange of Secret Santa gifts. A lot of thought is put into these gifts—recipient names are usually drawn about a month in advance. Expectations run high, and those who fail to measure up are never allowed to forget it. Good-humored but merciless mocking is as much a holiday tradition as the exchange itself.

This year, I played Santa to a friend who is originally from St Louis but who now lives in Chicago—she loves the two cities. Inspired by pillows on Etsy, I decided to create something that incorporated both skylines.

This gift exchange also has a strict budget. I bought a large button-down shirt at a thrift store for $3 and used that as the primary material. I zig-zag stitched the skyline effect and then sewed up a tote bag loosely based on this tutorial.

DSCN4265_v2

Chicago on one side…

DSCN4268_v2

St Louis on the other. I also added the pocket from the button-down shirt as an external pocket. Crazy easy.

DSCN4270_v2

Detail of stitching.

a little personalization goes a long way

Just got this grey wool Gap coat from my awesome grandma for my birthday. It’s beautiful, classic, well-cut… and a little, well… expected.

 

New wool coat. (Incidentally – the quilt in the background was inherited and finished by hand by my grandma. It’s absolutely incredible.)

But that is easily fixed. I rooted around in my old-clothes-to-donate box (sometimes it comes in handy to be a procrastinating pack-rat), and found an old sweater with snaps. I removed both sides of one snap, and stitched them to the collar of the coat like so:

New snaps added.

Then, when the snap is fastened, the collar is asymmetrical and much more dramatic:

I added a vintage stick pin, which I believe ALSO was my grandma’s.

Final result.