Mending Matters: Winter Coat Maintenance

This is my favorite coat. I bought it when I first moved to Washington three years ago. I bought it second hand so, while it wasn’t expensive, I love the way it fits and it’s really comfortable. Plus, how many winter coats do you see with shoulder shaping?

Mending Matters Intro Shot.jpg
Mending Matters Right Arm Hole.jpg
Mending Matters Left Arm Hole.jpg

Not many, that’s for sure.


This coat has seen a few things. We take long walks together. Somehow, it’s lived together through my chaotic lifestyle.  

It’s seen better days, though.

This coat is falling apart- each of the arm holes are torn, change falls through my pockets in to the lining, and it’s wearing a little thin.


I was recently matched with a sewing from Merrillee’s Sewing Studio. She made sure I had everything I needed to get started. I’ve sewn many outfits in the past but, like most makers, I very rarely get around to doing much-needed maintenance on my own wardrobe.


It’s time to change that. I set up the machine and pulled out my mountain of fluff.

If you think you have enough to stuff your coat, double that amount.

If you think you have enough to stuff your coat, double that amount.

For this project, I brought out the Poly-Fill. I normally use it to make stuffed animals and pincushions, but it works well as insulation for coats, quilts, and blankets.

The inside of my pockets were so shredded, I could pull out the old lining without having to open up any seams.

The inside of my pockets were so shredded, I could pull out the old lining without having to open up any seams.

Poly-fill is a versatile tool to have in your supply chest (or closet, or room…), as long as you don’t plan on wearing it against your skin.


It’s important to take the time to separate it properly, though. Poly-fill gets really lumpy in the package, so you have to break these up before use. If you’re fancy, you can use a carder.


I don’t have one of these, so I did it by hand. I’ll admit- it’s not the most entertaining thing in the world, but it’s worth the hassle and expense of buying another coat.

Poly-fill is also great for silly wigs.

Poly-fill is also great for silly wigs.

I made a video to show you how thin the Poly-fill was before I inserted it into my jacket. I stuffed layers of really thin sheeting through the holes in the pocket and arm seams. If you don’t wait as long as I do to mend your clothing, you can use a seam ripper to open up the arms and sleeves.

I didn’t get any photos of how the coat fit when I was shaping the lining, but I just played it by eye. The joy of mending your own clothes means you can make it as warm as you like.  My arms are a little larger than what traditional seams allow, so I left those alone to maintain a range of motion in the coat. I focused on the core and back of the garment, since these are the places I get cold and where the lining was most thin. It made the shape of the coat a little more bulky, but I knew the end result would be a coat that would actually keep me warm through deep winter.


A few hours later, my office was a mess, but I was happy with the shape and ready to sew. A note here- overstuff your jacket! Poly-fill will settle once it’s inside your coat, so the fluffiness will die down after a few weeks. Best to go a little bit over and have the coat be too bulky for a little while instead of having to do this again next winter.

For seaming, I didn’t need any extra allowances for fit. I made sure to fold the insides (the frayed lines in the photo below) onto each other, and pinned a seam just below the previously sewn holes. Sewing the intact fabric to itself makes a stronger seam, so I won’t have to worry about breaking anything when I wear my bulkier sweaters. The joy of making clothes your own means you can fit them however you like.

A photo showing the transparency of the Poly-fill before stuffing- like playing with clouds

A photo showing the transparency of the Poly-fill before stuffing- like playing with clouds

Once I was happy with the seams, I tried the coat on to make sure nothing was obviously crooked. Measure twice, right?

A photo of the old seam before I pinned it for sewing. When creating a new seam, it’s important to sew below the original seam line. This makes the new seam strong, so I won’t have to worry about wearing bulky sweaters underneath or raising my arms too high.

A photo of the old seam before I pinned it for sewing. When creating a new seam, it’s important to sew below the original seam line. This makes the new seam strong, so I won’t have to worry about wearing bulky sweaters underneath or raising my arms too high.

I pinned the seams and tried the coat on to make sure the fit was even.

I pinned the seams and tried the coat on to make sure the fit was even.

Here’s the finished seam after running it through my machine. Most coats like these can be sewn by hand, too.

Here’s the finished seam after running it through my machine. Most coats like these can be sewn by hand, too.

The pockets were a little more tricky. If I reallllly wanted to, I could undo the lining underneath the pocket, fix the seams, sew the pocket back together, then sew the lining back to the coat, but I had already spent enough time doing the heavy lifting. I simply turned the pockets to they were outside my coat, pinned them, and seamed them by hand. This means I can feel the seam of the pocket when I put my hands all the way in the coat, but hey- I’m just happy my wallet stays where it’s supposed to. (Fun fact- I left a penny inside my coat- d’oh!)


I’m very pleased with the results. My coat will last a few more PNW winters, so I’m thankful to have it in working shape!


Below is a photo of the fit after the Poly-fill settled. My coat is warmer for having the additional lining and the fixed seams mean I’m protected from the wind.

It’s stuffed, but I’m warm and happy!

It’s stuffed, but I’m warm and happy!

Mending Matters Finished Shot.jpg

Clothing maintenance isn’t always ‘gram-worthy, but proper maintenance is important! It keeps your clothes in good condition and can help you feel more confident about your wardrobe. Plus, holding on to your clothes keeps waste out of landfills.

Next up: boots.


How do you keep your wardrobe ready for winter? Leave us a comment below or get in touch at trex@whiskeyknits.com