Restyle: relining a coat

This is among the best of all my thrift store scores. I took this awful beast:


Oh my gawd!

And transformed it into this sweet thing:


Outside . . .


. . . inside!

I followed the wonderfully simple instructions on CraftStylish, which I found on Pinterest.

Problem numero uno wasn’t even the shredded, tissue paper-like lining. It was the smell. Most items that come from the thrift store smell like Gain laundry detergent, and continue to do so for a wash or two. No biggie since the smell is not offensive and I am not allergic to artificial fragrances. This thing, though – P.U.! From a distance it wasn’t bad at all. It smelled like perfume, but it smelled like a nice perfume. Something my aunt Toni used to wear, in fact. But when I got it into an enclosed space (my car) I realized just how strong the smell was. It wasn’t like someone had a heavy hand with the atomizer. It was like someone had emptied an entire bottle of perfume into the bathtub and then rolled in it like a dog.

I tried everything. I started small: I washed it normally and hung it to dry. No change. I washed it with heavy duty scented detergent. No change. I doused it with a vodka and water mixture recommended by theater actors. No change. I soaked it in, and then washed it in, baking soda and water and rinsed with vinegar and water. No change. I hung it outside for a week. No change. After three more soak-and-washes with regular detergent and another time-out on the laundry line it was down to a manageable level.

But in the processed it had pilled like a poodle.

My sweater shaver, one of those cheap models from the fabric store, gave up after about half a sleeve. I threw it out and ordered a Sweater Stone. Let me say this about the vaunted Sweater Stone: 1) It works. It works well. 2) It smells like sulfur. 3) It makes an incredible mess.


Before Sweater Stone.


After Sweater Stone.


The Sweater Stone and the mess it creates. (This after just a few strokes.) Also shown is one of my favorite clothing care tools: a rubber lint brush that removes any loose stuff, like shaved pills or sawdust or pet hair, and rinses clean.

At that point I could finally start the lining replacement procedure. I removed the existing lining, ironed it flat, and taped up the zillions of tears. Someone had already replaced the sleeves with some sturdy brown ripstop nylon so I left those alone and just whipstitched them to the new body lining. I used the old lining as a pattern for the new lining, which I cut out of metallic gold synthetic brocade. Installing the lining was much easier than I anticipated. Even getting all that wool and slippery brocade through the sewing machine wasn’t too hard. Hemming the lining was a bitch for some reason, but I got it to work well enough in the end and I even learned how to do French tacks.

Now I just need to replace the buttons. (It’s missing one and they’re kind of ugly and dated. Also, I just like replacing buttons.)

This project was a definite success: my five dollar thrift store score now looks like a several hundred dollar off-the-rack coat and I gained some serious sewing confidence. I look forward to repeating this experiment with other coats and jackets – maybe even some of the unlined ones in my existing wardrobe!

Another great tutorial on lining coats, this one bag-style, can be found on GrainlineStudio.

— Amanda


Restyle: Taking in a knit shirt





The first time we went to Ireland was in 2005. On our first day we ended up making an unscheduled stop in the village of Lahinch, owing to our having accidentally picked up a hitchhiker.* While in Lahinch, we watched completely insane surfers braving the frigid Christmastime ocean, hit a nice little bookstore, had a tasty lunch, and visited a clothing boutique where Matt spent a startling sum of money on an outfit for me.

Most of the clothes I have shrunk out of in the long, exhaustive process of weight loss have gone to the thrift store because alterations are expensive to have done and nerve-wracking to do. (For me, at least.) So far it’s been cheaper and easier to replace clothes via the thrift store. But this top and the skirt that goes with it have significantly more sentimental value than your average clearance-rack spring frock.

An advantage to trying to downsize this shirt is the fact that it is a simple, flat knit tee without any complicating darts or other shaping. So I crossed my fingers and re-read Kathleen Frances’s excellent tutorial on resizing sweaters over at Grosgrain Fabulous.


I followed her directions, putting the shirt on inside out and pinning as close to my body as I wanted it to fit. I used safety pins so that I wouldn’t end up with any new piercings in the process of getting the shirt off, but they were fiddly and difficult and I ended up cussing just as much as if I had been poked.

While I was at it I also shortened the sleeves quite a bit. Back in 2005 I liked my sleeves to hit my knuckles. These days I am most at home in a 3/4 sleeve.


Holy crap – I didn’t ruin my beloved €60 shirt! Success!

— Amanda

* Something not covered in our guidebooks was this tidbit: when someone in Ireland, walking along the side of the road, points down at the centerline (or where a centerline would be if this were the US and they believed in wasting money on such things when anyone with a driver’s license ought to have the brains to stay on his own side of the bloody road) it does not mean that they want to cross the road – it means that they want a ride. We stopped to let a fellow cross and were pretty startled when the guy opened the back door of our rental, shoved our luggage aside, and made himself at home. He was a drunken geologist on holiday and he wanted us to take him to Lahinch (which was the very next town on the highway) so that he could “have a lie down at me brother’s place for a bit”.

Restyling beaded necklaces

necklaces before after with words

BEFORE: All three are too long and one is the wrong color. AFTER: All three have been shortened. The black and chrome necklace is now mustard yellow. Red and yellow necklaces have had earrings made and the blue one, as you can see, matches perfectly the earrings Grandma brought me from Arizona.

I love costume jewelry, especially graduated bead necklaces. I inherited a bunch from my great aunt but with all the strange new colors working their way into my wardrobe I have “needed” some new ones. Big, ugly plastic jewelry in garish colors is called “statement jewelry” these days – but the prices, if you ask me, are not in keeping with the garishness and plasticity of the pieces. (Then again, I am pretty cheap.) So I kept my eyes peeled at the thrift stores and scored: three beaded necklaces in one day and each one less than $3.00 each!

(What follows is not intended as a tutorial. I totally have no idea what I’m talking about. There are plenty of online resources for learning easy jewelry making and repair. I am so not one of them.)

I busted out my little set of jewelry tools from the craft store and went to work. I used an existing necklace from my collection (coincidentally, another thrift store score that I had shortened and made matching earrings for) to determine how many beads on either end of the necklaces needed to go.

Some of the beads needed a little sanding, like this one that has a factory flaw:

The black and chrome necklace was going to be spray-painted, so I restrung it very loosely on button and carpet threat and tied it to an old coat hanger.

Which I then hung in the forge and painted. (Side note: You know how the back of the spray paint can says to hold the can at least X inches from the surface to be painted? If you fail to do that – like me – you will get globby, rough texturing. Not cool.)

The blue necklace was a little easier. I just disassembled it, removed the little silver spacer beads, and restrung it at the length that I wanted. I already had matching earrings, so this one was done!

The dinner napkin keeps the beads from rolling off the table.

The red necklace needed to be shortened and have earrings made. Complicating this was the fact that it is made of multiple strands and strung on unwieldy plastic “thread”. I managed to get it down to size but I shortened all the strands equally so the necklace doesn’t lay quite right. After half an hour of arguing with the stiff plastic stringing material, however, I was more than happy to live with a little imperfection. Removed beads were saved for earrings.

I’m pretty low-tech so all my restringing was done on button and carpet thread (cheap, on-hand, needs no beading needle). I use the little bead-tip terminators that you thread your stringing material through and knot a bijillion times as ugly as you like and then squeeze shut. They really make this whole process less painful – as does the pliers set. For earrings I simply shove a headpin through a bead saved from the shortening process and attach it to an earring finding.

— Amanda