How can I freshen up a tired winter coat?

A couple of weeks ago, I spotted an article someone was promoting on Twitter about “sprucing up your tired winter coat“. Ooh! I thought, I like sprucing! It’s a great way to upcycle & reduce after all — but when I clicked over to the article, I found the sprucing involved the addition of various belts, brooches and doohickeys, which is fine but not very me.

For me, it’s both a “repair this” and “reduce this” type question – how can I refresh that tired winter coat so I don’t need to buy a new one? I think it’s important that it not just so that it looks better but that I feel better about it too.

I basically have three coats for throughout the year – a light cotton hoodie (which I wear most of the year), an expensive-for-me big super-warm cotton parka type coat for freezing days, and a cheaper, shorter “wool” one which I wear when it’s not quite so cold and I need to look a bit neater than in the parka.

So how can I freshen those up?

For me, there are two main areas that get tired dirty – my cuffs and my pockets. The hoodie gets thrown into the wash regularly, hurrah for cotton. The parka & wool one aren’t as easily washable, especially mid-winter but spot-washing on the cuffs improves things a lot. As for the pockets, I treat my pockets like some women treat their handbags – a site for the accumulation of detritus. This is sometimes good (I found a fiver in my parka coat when I put it on the first time this year!) but mostly bad (crumbs of dog biscuts, bits of paper, sticky sweets). Emptying out the junk & cleaning out the crumbs and dirt from the pockets won’t make it look any better (although a lot of junk does ruin the line of the coat), but it’ll make it feel better for me and enjoy using it more.

Another thing: my wool one – it’s not 100% wool but wool-heavy and it’s that heavy woollen style – is bobbly. A bit of combing with a debobbler would make it look a lot tidier. I suspect there will also be some snags too which could be tidied up. I’m also going to debobble/de-snag my scarves, gloves & mittens for good measure.

Yet another thing: the zips on my hoodie and parka coat have been playing up recently – I could secure the bottom zip section in place with a couple of stitches and rub a little soap on the teeth to stop them snagging, and it would make zipping up a less frustrating experience.

Another, more involved thing: the lining on the wool-ish one has always bugged me – it’s icky polyester and now it’s torn a little too. I could use an old fun-patterned shirt to replace it – using the original lining as a pattern – an upcycling idea and revamp in one.

So that’s what I do/will be doing. Have you got any ideas for ways to freshen up an old coat?

(Photo by sh0dan)

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10 Responses to “How can I freshen up a tired winter coat?”


  1. Jayne says:

    I’m in the same position with my ‘smart’ wool coat. I plan to change the buttons for a new look, and give the hem a little TLC as it has dropped. Of course what is easy to say at this stage (but less easy to do) is always buy the best you can afford and don’t get a ‘fashion’ style as this will date and make you feel like you ‘need’ a new coat when you don’t!
    If you can, keep tailored coats on a hanger rather than using the hanging loop. Then it’ll keep it’s shape. Must confess though…. I don’t do this :)
    Anyone got any tips on alternatives to dry cleaning?

  2. Linda says:

    You could make removable washable collar and cuffs like men’s coats used to have in 1930′s. My coat has a removable faux-fur collar that changes it from ‘everyday’ to ‘evening/special occasion’. You could have different colours or patterns too.

    If you’re re-doing lining, I would consider making the jacket reversible for more utility.

    Some coloured pocket protectors could make the whole ‘pocket=handbag’ thing more fun and less wearing on the coat.

  3. bookstorebabe says:

    Well, you can use a disposable razor to defuzz, if you don’t have a defuzzing thingy. And zipping things up before lobbing them into the wash is supposed to make it easier on the zippers. You can also rub a bit of chalk on the zipper to help it glide better.
    I like the idea of changing out the buttons for a new look.

  4. wendopolis says:

    I, too, could use a pattern or idea for a new lining for my wool coat. The coat is a 100% heavy wool peacoat that belonged to my grandfather. It needs a bit of repair–the slit in back needs stitched and the lining is shredding. I don’t want to get rid of it or turn it into a craft (which would be hard, it’s so thick) not only because of the sentiment, but it’s so darn warm! Any ideas/advice?

  5. Su says:

    I was going to make the same suggestions as Linda, so instead this is something of a confessional! I have known for a while that I have a ‘few’ coats, I had no idea until this post how many, I actually have 10(hangs head in shame)! I have already earmarked 2 for the charity shop, but wish me luck.

    • louisa says:

      A few years ago, I counted up how many tops (vest tops, tshirts, blouses, jumpers) I had and it was well into three digits. My head was very much hung in shame after that! Our charity shops received bin bags full of stuff after that.

  6. Alice says:

    Here are instructions for replacing the lining of a coat http://www.craftstylish.com/item/57102/how-to-replace-a-coat-lining

    When I hoover I often vaccum the sofa, and when I remember I do the pockets of my coats as well. Amazing how much soil/fluff/sand/hair/crumb ends up in there, yuck.

    My favourite jacket has a big fluffy trim around the edges including the collar and around the cuffs. That’d be easy enough to add to an existing coat, and it looks a bit glam and a bit cute – I love it. It fastens with hooks and eyes buried in the trim, which sounds like it’d be a hassle to do up but isn’t.

    I’m not telling how many coats and jackets I have *BLUSH*!

  7. I agree with bookstorebabe on the old razor for defuzzing and you can get a great little gadget for poking snags through to the reverse of a garment so they don’t show any more. I have a really lovely old wool type coat which I sort out in this way at the end of each winter!I also quite often change buttons on my coats to make them look more fashionable.

  8. Medeea says:

    I used to wash my coat in the washing machine…was not very thick though.
    After that, I would place it on a hanger to keep its shape while drying. The only thing that need ironing were the pocket flaps.
    I also washed a tailored coat, in the bathtub, with warm water, detergent and a sponge. Dry cleaning ruined one coat for me, so I avoid it at all costs.

    To revamp a coat: change buttons. Pair it with nice big accessories: scarf, bag. They will attract attention, not the “not so new” coat.

  9. catherine says:

    i have an old wool dressing gown that is 100% wool. i love it, its a real Arthur Dent, brown checky, old man dressing gown. i also have my old black wool coat that i have worn every winter for the past 15 years. as you can imagine its quite tatty by now.
    though i love the dressing gown i dont really wear it because its itchy, so i have decided to remake the dressing gown as my new winter coat. so far i have disassembled it and re cut the panels to make it a better, more fitted shape, taken off the trim and pockets and changed the lapels. i am using the wool coat (which is quite thin now) to make a lining, so it will be double wool warm. im really excited that this winter i will get a great new coat that has cost nothing, is super warm and stylish and hasn’t even taken that long to knock up. roll on winter!!



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