1960s coat revamp

When we were planning our trip to the US, in winter no less, I started looking around for a warm coat to take. I knew that I had a reversible thick wool coat made by my mother in the 1960s somewhere in a box, so dragged it out and tried it on. My dear old Mum is very small – she would be lucky to be 4’9″ on a good day – and so the sleeves, even with the cuffs rolled down were three-quarter length on me, which is not ideal in the cold.

I considered my options as I needed to make the sleeves longer somehow, but also keep the reversibility of the coat and also make it look like it was original. I took the coat off to a few fabric shops to see if I could find some sort of a match and my husband decided to tag along to give me the benefit of his vast experience in, er, something! We finished up in Spotlight and I found some faux shearling, which was a good match and which would work with the reversibility. As I was getting it cut I asked Mark how much I should buy, as I was thinking 20cms. He suggested a metre and before I knew it, that’s what was cut!

All the raw edges on the coat are bound with braid which would be impossible to match, so I carefully unpicked it from around the sleeves and sewed it back on to the shearling, which gave a nice finish and tied the sleeves back in to the rest of the coat.


Let me say at this point that my mother had sewn that braid on very well with perfectly matching thread, and I didn’t enjoy the unpicking one little bit. I finally got the coat finished and am so thrilled that I could take it on my holiday as it was a bit like having my mother along in spirit.

As I’ve worn the coat I’ve paid attention to how it was made. The sleeves are constructed in two pieces, with the back body and back of the sleeves cut as one piece.


The front sleeves are cut on the bias and joined into a raglan by a flat felled seam, and there is a shoulder dart. The buttonholes are just zigzagged – Mum obviously didn’t have a buttonhole attachment on her machine back then.


She obviously couldn’t get the pattern matching perfect on the sleeves, but she did brilliantly on the side seams.


The pockets on this side are simple patch pockets and on the other side they are welted.


This coat is incredibly warm; I thought I’d show you this photo where I am wrapped up like a mummy in front of  Capitol Hill in Washington DC.


and here on the Hi-Line in New York City. That blue sky looks amazing but it was -9°C at that moment! I’m also wearing a cream alpaca scarf that I had knitted for Mark’s mother and which I retrieved after she passed away late last year. I brought it on the trip so that she would be with us in spirit as well. I look quite round and that’s not just caused by excessive cake eating – I have four layers of clothing on under the coat.


Note the red gloves: last year was the winter of the single red glove, but you’ll be pleased to know that I knitted it a mate and I now have two of these incredibly warm gloves.

Another shot of my coat and scarf in action digging around some fabric in a shop on the Lower East Side in New York called “Joe’s Fabrics”. It sells mostly upholstery fabric but there is some amazing stuff in here and I will be returning.




35 thoughts on “1960s coat revamp

  1. What an amazingly well-made coat, and your enhancements compliment the style an fabric very professionally!
    love your scarf too!

    1. Wendy, that would be so awesome but I’m not getting that far this time. I don’t know when I will be getting there but will let you know if a trip is imminent! Thank you!

  2. Excellent save of a beautifully coat made by your Mum. Nice that she, in the form of the coat & your mother-in-law, in the form of the scarf, could accompany you & your husband!
    And I don’t think you look round—- you look bundled up!

  3. Can’t wait to see this amazing coat IRL. Your mum was a great sewist for sure! And look at you and Mark all wrapped up warmly as if it was cold. See you soonish xx

  4. I’m glad you were able to save the coat! The shearling cuffs look completely intentional and the coat is beautiful 🙂 I wish you two a great time in the US!

  5. What a good fix of this cozy coat! It was a clever idea saving the braid and the shearling‘s brown colour is matching so well! Your mother‘s work is very neat and I like the bias front sleeves. Have a great journey!

  6. Great post. The pattern for the coat is really interesting. Did she self draft it? Quite intriguing and worth making a copy I’m sure. X

    1. I don’t know if she self drafted. I could ask her but she’s 94 and a bit deaf. She also has cognitive disfunction so her memory isn’t brilliant. I may make a copy but this coat has years left in it.

  7. What a precious treasure you have in this absolutely marvelous coat. So glad you were able to alter it to not only be wearable, but be a hardworking coat for your trip. And so very glad your lonely red glove now has a matching mate! Hee!Hee! Seriously….. absolutely adore your red accents in the gloves and such cool shoes. You look very stylish as you are keeping warm.

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