From Old Jacket to Cosy Zip-up

Rachel Smyth
by Rachel Smyth
4 Materials
1 Day

How I transformed the fleece lining from an old men's jacket into a comfy and easy-to-throw-on zip-up jumper

My dad was clearing out his wardrobe last month for the first time in years and I helped him sort clothes into piles for donation or recycling. Some pieces, however, weren't suitable for either or caught my eye as a potential upcycling project. I decided to start with this old, paint splattered jacket and see what I could make from it.

While the outer shell was pretty marked and worn, I was drawn to the bright colour of the inner fleece. The navy fabric had lost much of its waterproofness and was starting to flake away on the inside, so I needed to completely remove it from the red lining.

Using a seam ripper, I carefully worked my way around the collar, zip and hem to detach the two layers. I set aside the chunky centre zip and adjustable elastic from the hem to use later.

To downsize the lining into a fleece that would fit me, I first had to dissassemble the garment. I fully removed the sleeves and opened up the side seams. The pieces were now only joined at the shoulder seams. Next, I folded the lining in half and traced a new side seam and arm hole, pinning the seam and trying it on to check the fit. I continued to edit the chalk line until I was happy with the fit.

I then cut around the line on both sides, leaving a centimetre seam allowance. My lining had a built in pocket so I made sure to leave adequate space around the pocket opening.

Moving to the sewing machine, I sewed all along the side seam on both sides.

At this point, I got a bit engrossed in the process and forgot to take photos! But here's what I did next:

  1. I tried on the sleeves that I set aside earlier and took a few inches off the underarm seam to create a slimmer arm. I also trimmed the top of each sleeve to fit into the new armhole I created in the previous step.
  2. Right sides together, I placed each sleeve inside the armhole of the body and pinned it in place before sewing around the hole. Make sure to align the underarm seam with the side seam of the body.
  3. To create a raised collar, I traced a wider neckline with chalk and cut it away. I used another fleece as a template for this. I then measured around the new neck opening and cut 2 strips of the same length from the excess sleeve/side seam fabric. As I was working with a small amount of fabric, I made sure to use the full width available.
  4. I sewed the strips together along one long side and pressed it open. With right sides together, I sewed one long edge of the collar to the garment's neckline. I flipped the collar back around to the front and pressed. I pressed under a small hem on the other edge, ensuring that it still overlapped with the seam I'd just created. From the right side, stitch-in-the-ditch to secure the collar on the inside.

Next, I tried on the fleece and decided to shorten it to fit my frame better. I experimented with different lengths by folding up a makeshift hem and pinning it.

I then unfolded it and cut off the desired amount.

I folded under an inch hem and pressed before folding up again to enclose the raw edge and create a tube along the bottom of the garment. I sewed the hem, keeping close to the top folded edge. The pockets would have hung out the bottom of the shorter jumper so I decided to enclose them in the hem instead of editing them separately.

To finish the hem, I reinserted the adjustable elastic and toggle from the old jacket. I seam ripped a small hole in the tube at the side seams and threaded through the end of the elastic cord to the centre front. I secured this in place with a few invisible stitches at the front.The toggle was added before pushing the other end of the cord to the next hole, adding another toggle and securing the final end to the other centre front. Now I could use the toggles to pull the fleece tighter or looser at the bottom.

Similarly to the bottom hem, I hemmed the sleeves by checking the length, cutting off a small amount and folding them over twice before stitching around.

To finish, I measured the zip from the old jacket along the front opening and trimmed the top to fit the newly cropped fleece. I used a glue gun to create a new stopper at the top and fold down the raw edge of the zip. I careful pegged the zip along the front edges, right sides together and sewed in place. In order to keep some of the contrasting navy (to match the pockets), I used a regular foot, not a zipper foot and didn't stitch close to the teeth.

Et voilà!! I was pleasantly suprised with the outcome of this little "thrifted transformation". While it's not super trendy or fashionable, it's perfect for that extra bit of warmth in the cooler months (which in Ireland is every month!) or while working from home. Plus the bright red adds a fun pop of colour that I might not have gone for otherwise.

If you have a jacket lining or oversized jumper you want to upcycle I'd love to see your results! Please share below or tag me with your creations on Instagram @sewing.rachel. Embrace the upcycling fun and get creative icon

Suggested materials:
  • Old men's jacket   (Second hand)
  • Sewing machine
  • Coordinating thread
See all materials

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