A Suit Coat Upcycle Project

by - 1:01 PM

A High-end suit coat from “Mr. Sid” gains new life as flashy, reflective dog couture and a matching Dog collar – Meeeeeeow!

I LOVE to sew for my clients, for one they never turn around to ask “Does this make me look fat?”.  When you are sewing for the furry, four legged crowd it doesn’t matter how cute or good a piece looks it still really has to be utilitarian, no other reason in my eyes to dress a dog… really.

So, With the Polar Vortex sweeping through the U.S. this winter its now become the new buzz word; if you live in the northern hemisphere you’ve probably experienced it.  There are some lengthy discussions and descriptions of what it is but to simplify: it’s damn cold. 

As explained in past blogs, my “inherited” dog has some problematic health issues.  As a result of these issues his weight can drop like a concrete block leaving this skinny guy shaking and shivering from the cold.  In short, this mountain lion who has been stalking neighborhoods for pets to snack on would pass him over.  It was time to put a coat together for Buddy to get him through the rest of this winter.

This high-end men's store has been in business
since 1967 and has been voted Boston Magazine's
"Best of Boston Menswear" 16 times as well as
regarded as a "Top 100" store by Esquire Magazine.
Since I have a passion for recycling discarded clothing I took a look through the attic first for some retired coats but nothing seemed right and I found myself drawn to my husband’s closet for something he might not be wearing.  I snagged a well-made wool suit coat from high-end menswear store Mr. Sid.   

Based in Newton, Massachusetts their philosophy of “We sew our reputation into everything we sell” transcended into the coat I held in my hands. Ultimately though, it no longer fit my husband which meant it was now mine – and would soon be Buddy’s  if I could get his buy in.  With a quick phone call he agreed to let it go, he’s a nice guy like that.

Excitedly I planned to use the wool for the outside shell for Buddy’s new coat and some soft, fluffy fleece for the inside.  Simple as that seems initially I thought just by looking at the coat I would have more than enough material to get started.  However, I was mistaken.  An important point to note when recycling clothing into something else is to envision the material as a flat piece of virgin fabric and take note of details like pockets, collars, lapels etc., which might be in the way and then... cut appropriately.  I had not first considered this and when applying the pattern I found I had a large enough piece of fleece for the inside but the outside was not going to be so easy.  Since there were a lot of details on the Mr. Sid coat I would need to plan wisely before I cut the coat apart or find myself begging for a new one.

Since I was not able to get an entire single flat piece I would need to cut a left and right piece and put the two together somehow.  Even after carefully picking the coat apart I wouldn’t have enough wool to allow for seam allowance along the spine where I would sew to make one piece leaving the outside smaller than the inside piece.  Simply, I would need to meld the left and right cut pieces together without sewing them together.  Rustling through drawers of scrap material I found some iron on reflective tape that might just get these two pieces together, more importantly it would allow us to be seen in the dark -- even better!
Oops, not enough material to make one piece as the pattern called for...
Solved!  I ironed and then topstitched this heavy duty reflective
tape to bring the two pieces together, now it is one piece
and more importantly... the right size.

I carefully ironed on the reflective tape and topstitched for extra reinforcement and was pleased to find how clean it looked.  After that it was just a matter of putting the coat together.  Essentially I had three main pattern pieces times two for the lining and the shell: a collar, main body and a stomach belt.  I won’t bore you with the process of sewing them together or the matter of my making a few mistakes along the way.  

He looks like hot stuff now in his new coat and matching collar and I completed the finished pieces just in time as more snow is blowing through New England with a return of the Polar Vortex.  Hot, hot, hot stuff…..  Thank you Mr. Sid!
Side view of the finished piece.  Details include: reflective piping on the collar, (I love that stuff and always buys some to have on hand for future projects.) flannel pockets, fleece lining, flannel collar lining, velcro enclosures and vintage metal buttons.  I only wish I had trimmed the body of the coat with additional piping as I think that helps to hold the overall shape and with the fleece lining the back curls up a bit.
Buddy all toasty and warm!
What?  Matching accessories?  Yes!  any chance you can get....
The end...

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