20 Ways to Repair or Refashion an Old Coat or Jacket

Can you rehabilitate a letter jacket?
A cool patch can cover up a rip or stain.

Not gonna lie–I do sometimes lose track of aesthetic value in my DIY coat repairs. Remember how puffer jackets were ALL THE THING a few years ago? Yeah, I literally repaired the tears in my kids’ puffer jackets with duct tape. I mean, it wasn’t the cutest, maybe, but it worked!

But fortunately, coat and jacket repair isn’t all duct tape and staples (I swear I only use staples in an emergency!). Good, aesthetically pleasing repair work gives your outerwear longevity, allowing even that fast fashion or thrifted piece a permanent place in your wardrobe.

And when the end of a jacket’s useful life finally comes, there are also some pretty great ways to refashion it into a new piece of clothing. Very little of your formerly go-to winter wear needs to find its way into a sanitary landfill.

So check out my round-up of all my favorite ways to repair and refashion your old coats and jackets. I think you might just find your next new eco-friendly crafting project!

Repair Your Coat or Jacket

Check out this relatively simple way to completely replace a coat pocket, so it's even sturdier than the original.

  • replace a coat pocketA torn pocket can make a favorite coat almost instantly non-functional. Here’s how to replace that torn pocket with a new, handmade pocket that’s bigger, comfier, AND sturdier.
  • mend a puffer jacketUmmm… I probably should have done a little Googling before I just slapped duct tape on my kids’ ripped puffer jackets…
Replace a Broken Zipper via A Living Sacrifice
Replace a Broken Zipper image via A Living Sacrifice
  • replace a broken zipper. A broken zipper doesn’t have to be the end of your favorite coat! Here’s how to easily replace it.
  • repair a ripped seamThis is the #1 repair job that sad-eyed friends bring to me, and fortunately, the fix is super quick and easy!
Hem the Sleeves via Chambray Blues
How to Hem Suit Coat Sleeves image via Chambray Blues
  • hem the sleevesOkay, hemming sleeves isn’t exactly a repair or a refashion, but it certainly makes a coat more wearable!
  • mend a zipper. A broken zipper isn’t always a dire emergency in need of replacement. Here are several ways to repair that wonky zipper so that you don’t need to replace it.

Refashion Your Coat or Jacket

Coat to Overall Dress via Our Life is Beautiful
Coat to Overall Dress image via Our Life is Beautiful
  • turn it into an overall dressCoats have so much variety in their fabrics that you can find just about any fabric you need for a particular makeover. Here, this thick wool fabric looks just right as an overall dress.
  • add a hoodFor bonus points, the hood in this tutorial is upcycled from a quilt!
Tailoring a Trench Coat by Kara Metta
Tailoring a Trench Coat image via Kara Metta
  • tailor to fitSometimes a hand-me-down or thrifted piece has tons of potential, but is just too large or too boxy. Fortunately, big and boxy is the perfect combination of qualities that make a piece amenable to tailoring!
  • add a new collar and cuffsThe cuffs and collar of a coat are often the first places to show visible wear. If you still love the body of your coat but those pesky cuffs and collar are looking bad, just replace them!
  • change the liningGive your coat a new look and feel by taking out the old lining (which is often the least sturdy part of the coat, anyway) and sewing in a new one.
Jacket to Snowpants from Angie's Whim
Jacket to Snowpants image via Angie’s Whim
  • refashion into snowpants Back in the day, I never remembered to check the fit of my kids’ snowpants until the first snow of the year, and by then all the competent parents had already bought every pair of children’s snowpants for sale in every store on the planet. Refashioning an adult’s waterproof jacket into a pair of children’s snowpants would honestly have taken a LOT less time than scouring all the big-box stores in my town with my two cranky kids in tow.
  • sew in a scarfThe scarf sewn to the front edges of this jacket changes its look completely.
  • cut it down for a kidI LOVED upcycling adult clothes for my little kids! Depending on the size of the adult coat and the size of the kid, you’ll often have plenty of fabric to seam rip that adult coat and use the fabric to sew your kid a completely new coat using the pattern of your choice.
Tasseled Khaki Jacket DIY Refashion by So Much Love Mary
Tasseled Khaki Jacket DIY Refashion image by So Much Love Mary
  • add tassels and bell sleevesSometimes, a coat just needs some new details to make it feel fresh. Here, this khaki coat gets bell sleeves, a belt, and… TASSELS!!!
  • add a drawstringThis is a great way to make a boxy fit more flattering.
  • distress itMake your denim jacket look a billion years old!
Downsize a Jacket from Cotton and Curls
Downsize a Jacket image via Cotton and Curls
  • downsizeIf you have a too-large jacket with clean, simple lines, and a well-fitting jacket also with clean, simple lines, use one as a template to help you take apart and downsize the other.
  • lengthen the sleeves. This sock method was my go-to for lengthening my kids’ shirt sleeves when they were busily growing like weeds. It also works a treat for adult sleeves!
  • sew a hand muffHere’s a good way to use up extra fabric from a previous refashioning project–turn that excess jacket fabric into a comfy, cozy hand muff!

Do you have the BEST idea for refashioning your old winter coat, or have you done the most genius repair job EVER on your favorite jacket? Pretty please let me know about it in the Comments below! I’m always looking for new ways to make my stuff cuter and more functional!

Written by Julie Finn

I'm a writer, crafter, Zombie Preparedness Planner, and homeschooling momma of two kids who will hopefully someday transition into using their genius for good, not the evil machinations and mess-making in which they currently indulge. I'm interested in recycling and nature crafts, food security, STEM education, and the DIY lifestyle, however it's manifested--making myself some underwear out of T-shirts? Done it. Teaching myself guitar? Doing it right now.

Visit my blog Craft Knife for a peek at our very weird handmade homeschool life, and my etsy shop Pumpkin+Bear for a truly odd number of rainbow-themed beeswax pretties.

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