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Salvaging a Wonderful Coat

WandaJ | Posted in Fitting on

It is hoped that some of the members of Gatherings can give me some guidance on salvaging a wonderful white wool, alpaca and mohair coat my mom purchased for my sister for a Christmas gift.  Unfortunately, the coat was purchased as a final sale (no return!), and I’d like to cut it down for myself.

The problem with the coat is that it is too big in the shoulders, and it looks to me like if the shoulder width is reduced the sleeve will not fit in the shoulder area, and if I cut down into the sleeve it will be too short.

Will this be the case if I follow the above description of trying to fit the coat, or, should I find a similarly designed pattern, take the coat loose and re-cut it?

I’m looking forward to Gathering member’s input.




  1. user-51823 | | #1

    am trying to picture the coat; am assuming it's a fitted sleeve, not raglan?

    1. WandaJ | | #2

      Yes, it is a fitted sleeve; however, it is not a tight fit. Butterick pattern 6900 is similar in design i.e., not view A.

      View Image 

      1. Ralphetta | | #3

        I have  to take in the shoulders on my rtw suits all the time.  It amazes me how much difference just 3/8 on each side can make.  If I have to take them in a lot, I often take in the underarm seam a little or sometimes I use a diamond shaped gusset to fill in the hole.  The gusset probably wouldn't be a good option in heavy coat material.   If the sleeves are too short, can you get enough from the hem to make cuffs? You need to decide how much work you are willing to do in order to salvage the coat.   You might be pleasantly surprised that just taking in the shoulders as much as you can without making the sleeves too short would be enough.

  2. katina | | #4

    Some years ago a friend asked me to help her with a similar problem. In her case, the shoulders needed narrowing by an inch. The fabric was pure wool and the coat was lined, but did not have a lot of padding in the shoulders. I unpicked the lining and ran a gathering thread along the shoulder seam, adjusting the fullness evenly. I was then able to steam the seam and ease the fullness out; I used darts in the lining. She still wears the coat. Could this perhaps work in your case?

    Good luck.


  3. HeartFire2 | | #5

    If it has a center back seam, can you take it in there? you will have to put a seam in the center back of the colar, but sometimes that doesn't look too bad

  4. Pansy | | #6

    Could you put darts or tucks in the shoulder seams instead of adjusting at the sleeve seam?

    1. WandaJ | | #7

      Perhaps darts, or tucks will/could work in the shoulder seams; however, this coat is made of a bulky material, and I still would have to adjust the sleeve seam in the lower back starting at the tip of my 'angel wings :->' to the underarm and parallel to the 'angel wing' point in the front.

      Pretty much...what I've decided to do is purchase the Butterick Pattern (Joann's has a sale coming up within the week on these patterns- I think??) I previously posted and then, I will take the coat apart and cut it down.

      This method will be  a first for me, so I'm looking forward to trying it, even though it includes seam ripping and putting back together...lining and coat.

      Either while I'm going through the process, or when I'm finished I will try to remember to post the results!!

      Thanks for the input I've received thus far.

      1. sewpro | | #8

        Whoa! I don't think you need to take the whole thing apart, unless it is too big in the neck. You do need to remove the sleeves completely and reset them. You will need to let down the sleeve hems and face them (I like to use a good lining and interface it with an iron-on). As a dressmaker I have done this alteration many times and haven't needed to take the entire coat apart. Good luck.

        1. WandaJ | | #9

          Thanks for the tip. I did think about not taking the back apart at the center line/seam, and not doing anything to the center front. I was looking at just the shoulders, armhole and sleeve.

          Am I now on-track with my planned adjustments/alterations?

          1. sewpro | | #10

            You should only have to rip the stitches attaching the sleeve to the coat body. Unless the sleeves are too big, you will not need to rip the sleeves apart. You will need to cut down the sleeve at the lower part of the armscye to fit into the coat. This is assuming, of course, that you have enough sleeve hem to let down. Hope this helps! ~Janet

          2. WandaJ | | #11

            Janet, Thank you for writing in response to my question; however, I am not sure what it is that you are talking about with regard to the sleeve hem. Are you saying that once I take it up/in/reduce to fit the armscye that it will shorten the sleeve?

          3. sewpro | | #12

            Yes!If you move the sleeve up an inch at the shoulder, it has to come up at the underarm as well (for it to hang correctly). This will result in the sleeve being 1" shorter.

          4. Ralphetta | | #13

            That was why I asked if necessary could you get fabric from the hem for a cuff.(In case you couldn't let them down enough.

          5. user-51823 | | #14

            a new coat will be okay to let down hem cuff. if the coat has been worn much, there will be a dirty and "worn" line at the old fold. either way, you should use steam, mist, a pressing cloth. a hot iron and a wood block to try to make the fold line disappear after you let out the sleeve hem.

          6. Ralphetta | | #15

            The problem is that sometimes even a new coat can have a faded line, etc. exposed when the sleeve is let down, that was why I was mentioning the option of cuffs to camouflage.

          7. WandaJ | | #16

            It's all making more sense now. Thank you for your input, and especially for reminding me about the fade lines, and the possibility for cuffs.

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