Replacing a Coat Lining

I knew it was time to replace the lining of my coat when I stood in the pouring rain outside my door and, fishing for the keys, realized that they’d slipped through a hole in the pocket to end up swimming in the hem somewhere 🙁

I’d imagined the job would take days but it turned out to be simpler and quicker, for three reasons:

1 Unpicking the old lining:

Using the seam ripper to remove the old lining isn’t the careful, slow process it would have to be if you were unpicking a mistake that you had to re-sew. A slapdash slash will suffice and you’ll be done in 30-60 minutes.

Tip: once the lining is off, you may discover that the inside of the coat has deposits of fluff, dust, grains of sand from historic visits to the seaside: all kinds of rubbish that dry cleaning didn’t expel.  Give it a vigorous beating, followed by a going-over with a lint roller.  Then, press seams open if they’ve flipped, fix shoulder pads in place and carry out  little satisfying bits of maintenance that will help keep the coat in shape.

2 Creating the Pattern

Unpick the pieces that make up the lining, press them and you have a template for the new lining, seam allowances included.  You only really need to do one half, i.e. one sleeve.  Pick the pieces that are in better condition, usually the left side if you’re right handed.  Unless your lining is complete coleslaw, you’ll be surprised how even the more destroyed-looking pieces look fine once pressed.  But (tip) do leave your iron on a low heat or else the lining will melt onto it 😯

3 Sewing

No need to finish off the seams when sewing the lining together: just press flat (to get rid of any puckers) then press open.


Further Tips from an Observant Newbie


The pockets will be the first bits that you’ll sew.  If you’re new to tailoring (like me 🙂 , unpick only one pocket to begin with.  Make new pocket pieces and use the original to copy from.


Bagging a Lining

Until I asked for your help at the start of the month (thanks for your comments!), I had no idea that this is the name of the easy method of attaching the lining to a garment.  Jen of Grainline has a clear and well illustrated bagging tutorial here but there are others.  My favourite bagging tip is to sew the garment and lining together inside out then slash open the underarm sleeve and turn garment right side out through the hole.  This way, you have two perfectly pressed edges to slipstitch closed.  This is a trick I’m going to apply on everything lined!

Lining Fabric

I’ve heard a few complaints that there isn’t enough choice in lining fabrics.  We  dream of silks in interesting patterns then find that they wouldn’t go with the clothes we wear under the lined garment.  Silk is in any case expensive and not durable enough for an everyday coat worn under a heavy bag.  Acetate is cheaper but snags and can be sweaty.  I took this complaint to Jeff and he immediately offered me Cupro: again, a new discovery.  It cost £8 a metre and I needed 1.5m though would recommend 2m.  Cupro is tougher than acetate, it’s apparently breathable and I found it easy to sew.  More on Cupro and an interesting discussion on lining fabrics in men’s suiting can be found here.

And in case you’re wondering, yes I probably will be wearing my coat this summer 🙁

Cobbler’s Children

I used to work on customer satisfaction surveys and once remarked to a (US) colleague that our agency never carried out market research with its own clients.  He agreed, saying, “Cobbler’s children wear no shoes.”  The expression, with hints of wretchedness and medieval-style child neglect, amused me no end.  Though it’s not in use here in the UK (that I know of), I’ve thought of it every time I’ve had occasion to wear my old leather jacket but couldn’t bear the risk of friends who know I sew glimpsing its shocking insides.  Which, once removed, looked like this:

Yes indeed, nice bum cheeks… 😯

But the jacket itself is going strong.  If truth be told, it’s acquired that slightly sickly whiff of leather in thrift shops but we have a history, my  jacket and I, and never will I tire of its petrol-slick shimmer. 

I gathered the courage to make a new lining for it after seeing this article.  I didn’t need to follow the tute too closely, as my jacket is very simple.  I was mostly spurred on by this promise from the contributor Cal Patch: “once you learn to reline your coats, you’ll never again have to carefully fold your coat over restaurant chairs so no will see the tattered lining inside.” 

Good grief, so I’m not the only one?!  Meggipeg recently commented that she rarely has time for making her own alterations so I was wondering if you too have a shaming equivalent to “cobbler’s children”?!  Are you perchance a hairdresser with inches of roots?  An IT specialist with years’-worth of photos dumped in hundreds of incorrectly dates folders?!  Or do you also remove your coat with stealth!?

Tips for Sewing with Leather

I have no wish to teach granny to suck eggs here (to use another favourite expression), but I’d like to finish with a few tips I picked up from sewing leather for the first time.

1. Buy a pack of leather needlesI broke the first one immediately when it got caught in the glue with which the pocket welts were stuck to the inside of the jacket. 

2. Keep stitches long, slightly short of the basting stitch.  Your machine will seem to advance in leaps as a result, so if you can, keep your speed slow for control.

3. Keep the lining on top.  When sewing leather to lining, keep the lining on top if you don’t have an even feed/walking foot.  Otherwise, the leather will advance more and the lining might stop short of the jacket.

A Quick Alteration

My mother asked if I could shorten her Liberty Lawn dress to make it less swamping.  The original (top left) was nearly floor length.  The fabric is fresh and the colours very much classic but the voluminous, dropped waist style….  With shoulder pads??  I didn’t dare whisper the embarrassing question: “Mum, is it from the eighties?!”  😯

We agreed to slice off 20cm which would have been a 15 minute job had I just taken them off the hem.  But that would have made the dress unbalanced, with a long waist and a relatively boxy skirt.  Instead, I took 10cm off the bodice and 10cm from the hem, a more time consuming job which involved:

1. Basting the skirt pleats in place

2. Unpicking the bottom of the zip from the centre back bodice

3. Separating the bodice from the skirt, trimming off 10cm from the bodice, creating a centre back seam in the skirt and re-attaching the zip to run into the skirt

4. Shortening and hemming the skirt

I’m not sure if the alteration (top right) is a particularly flattering improvement as I haven’t yet seen the dress on, but I hope that it gets a few outings over this summer, something this dress hasn’t had in a while.

The job took 2.5 hours.  Ok, so I did stop off for at least one dreamy tea break during which I wondered how much I’d charge for this kind of job had it been for a client rather than mum.  “Twenty quid?  For shortening a dress?  I can get a new dress for that,” I imagine the indignation. 

When I came back from the kitchen, I found this:

And this:

Me-Made-May & Giveaway

“I,  Marianna of Sew2Pro, hereby pledge allegiance to the worthy cause that is Me-Made-May.  Each day in the month of May ’13, I shall wear at least one garment made by myself.  And should the skies curse us with the same cold and ceaseless rain as we bore almost every day of May ’12 (grits teeth), I shall be covered; for I shall finally sew replacement lining for my old RTW coats and one leather jacket.  It’s my most procrastinated project ever!”

To kick off M-M-M, I’m wearing the latest Laurel (review here) with which I’ve entered the Laurel Contest.  Have you seen how many entries there are!?  They’re an imaginative, creative bunch, these sewists who favour independent patterns.  In other words, I don’t stand a chance of winning!  But I love my new dress.  The fabric, Zen Charmer from Alexander Henry, is from 2008, a stash treasure, and I hope I do it justice even as I currently wear it with flip-flops, horrendously neglected winter feet and leggings 😯 …. 

Are you taking part in Me-Made-May ’13?  Others’ outfits can be seen on this Flickr page.

But you’re here for the Giveaway!  Wow, that one was complicated.  Here are the results:

Laurel: Patty

Lily: Janey

Jasmine: Caroline

Clover: Sophie

Guys, I’m emailing you for your addresses.  Everybody else who commented on my previous post, thanks.  I’ve never had so many compliments. 

Oh, and if anyone has any good tips or links for sewing lining replacements, please pass ’em on!