31 Days · Style · Thrifts

31 Days: The Thrift Project – Day 30: Gray Dana Coat

When I was in high school, our neighbors a few doors down had a garage sale. Of course, my dad and I walked down to check it out. They were selling a long navy wool coat with leather-wrapped buttons. It was in great shape, it had a little vintage vibe that I liked, and was $10. I didn’t like the length, though. It came down to my shins. I asked Dad if it could be resewn at a better length. He said he was sure my aunt, Dana, could do it.

When I got it back from Dana, I LOVED it. It fit perfectly, the length was just like I wanted, and she had even redone the lining to make it look as if it had always been that way. I was amazed. I didn’t even know how to sew then, so the transformation of that wool coat was awe-inspiring. I still wear that coat every winter. It is one of my favorites, it is in fantastic shape, and it’s style is timeless. (I would show a photo, but the coat is hanging in the closet of the room where Baby Girl is sleeping. I’m not risking waking her up. Will follow up with a pic soon.)

So when I came across this gray one at the thrift store a while back, I thought it would be a great project – FOR MY TAILOR! Chopping up outerwear is super intimidating, and I am no pro.

But then, as The Thrift Project has come along, I’ve tackled some pretty challenging projects, at least for me. I’ve pushed myself beyond my comfort zone several times, and the results have been pretty good. (A friend at Bunco the other night mentioned how funny it was that every other project had me saying, “This is in my top 3.” No one has been more surprised than I’ve been when these projects have turned out well. Seriously!)

So as The Thrift Project is drawing to a close, I’m going out with a bang. I’m remaking a big old wool coat. Here we go….

I started by trying it on and determining how long I wanted it to be. I marked 6″ up from the hem and cut the bottom off. When I tried it back on, I decided to cut another 4 1/2″ – I wanted a short coat, much shorter than my other pea coats.

This coat is fully lined, the biggest point of anxiety for me on this project, so I needed to adjust this, too. I cut the bottom of the lining away, leaving about 5″ to work with after I hemmed the coat.

I had to seam rip the lining from the coat, and this time, I didn’t cheat.

But before finishing the lining fabric, I needed to hem the coat. I used chalk to mark the bottom of the hem, and then I folded and pinned.

Sewing the hem was the easiest part – working with felted wool is very rewarding because you really don’t need perfectly finished hems, and even when it’s really thick, the needle slides though like a knife in warm butter.

So the lining. No photos here, but I basically created a double folded hem, about 1″ wide. If you’re going to do this, you just need to ensure the lining doesn’t hang below the hem of the coat. To be honest, my lining isn’t perfect, but it’s hemmed. Good enough.

What wasn’t good enough? The pockets. When I finished hemming the coat and the lining, I tried it on, and the pockets hung too far down below the hem. Looked a little silly.

So instead of shortening the pockets into tiny little things, I just closed them up. That’s right, my coat has faux pockets now. The picture above shows how shallow they are – only my fingertips will fit. A small sacrifice, really – I’ll just remember to always wear gloves with this coat.

And it’s finished!

I have more thoughts on all I’ve learned from The Thrift Project tomorrow, but this coat is kind of a symbol of how far I’ve come during 31 Days. I would NEVER have attempted something like this a month ago. Pretty cool.


  • This post is part of a 31 Day series. Find all the posts in this series here.

10 thoughts on “31 Days: The Thrift Project – Day 30: Gray Dana Coat

  1. My gosh! I can’t believe you did that! It looks great! You have more nerve when it comes to a pair of scissors than anyone I know! I would have been terrified! Aunt Dana has nothing on you!

    1. Well, I don’t know about that…. And really, what’s to lose when you’ve just spent $5 on the coat? That’s what I had to keep reminding myself.

  2. that turned out great. i have loved reading your blog. i feel pretty inspired to get going on some of my partially completed projects. :)

  3. i stumbled onto your blog from the nester- i always pick up a blog or two to read for the 31 days series…..i have totally loved seeing your projects!


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