Alter a coat that’s too big. Trench coat alteration.

alter a coat thats too big

Coat alteration. Resize a coat that’s too big.

In this beginner-friendly clothes upcycling and sewing tutorial, I’ll explain the steps I often take to alter a coat that’s too big.

I picked up this animal print trench coat for $5.00. It was brand new and still had the tag attached. Because I have basic sewing and upcycling skills, I am not restricted by what I buy based on size – I thrift based on fabric and style, knowing I can alter it to fit and that’s what I did with this jacket. It was a bit big for my frame and, because trench coats have a lot of fabric and this one being a busy animal print, I like them to fit properly so it doesn’t look like the coat is wearing me.

Alter a coat that’s too big video tutorial

Step 1 – Remove the belt loops.

The first step was to remove the belt loops, saving these for later.

Step 2 – Cut off the bottom hem.

This coat wasn’t lined so it was an easy alteration. I decided to simply take in the side seams from under the sleeve, down to the bottom hem.

First, I cut off the bottom hem so I could sew a straight seam. This would reduce the bulkiness at the bottom when taking in the side seams. It would also create a neater bottom hem after taking in the side seams.

Step 3 – Take in the side seams.

Next, I pinned the side seams, trying it on and adjusting accordingly before sewing the new seams on the sewing machine.

Step 4 – Resew the bottom hem.

Then I resewed the bottom hem. Had I wanted to reduce the length down to a blazer, I could have taken the hem up at this stage. I decided to keep it as a long trench coat.

Step 5 – Take up the sleeves (if needed)

Next, I took up the sleeves because they were too long. Luckily, there was a current sleeve hem in place that I could use as a guide and simply turn it over to shorten the sleeves.

When upcycling and altering clothes, I always look for shortcuts.

Step 6 – Reduce the lapel

Then, I had to alter the front lapel.

Because the original sizing was larger, after I made the coat width small, the lapels were oversized and overwhelmed the front of the coat. The reduce them down I simply reduced and re-hemmed the lapels. This was easy and made a lot of difference.

And finally, to keep the lapels down as they had a tendency to lift up, I found some matching buttons in my button stash and sewed them at the corner of the lapel.

Again, this was a small change but made a big difference.

While the before and after photos don’t look drastically different, the difference when wearing the trench is dramatic. With a few sewing skills, I can easily alter any garment so it fits me well and I feel confident wearing it. Best of all, it doesn’t languish at the back of my wardrobe because, every time I put it on, it doesn’t feel right.


benefits of learning to sew

The benefits of altering, mending and sewing your own clothes.

In an era of environmental consciousness, learning to sew and make your own clothes is more relevant and beneficial than ever.

Sewing skills not only mean saving money (more important in times of high cost of living) but play a significant role in reducing your environmental footprint.

Below are how learning to sew and utilising your existing sewing skills can make a positive impact on your life and the planet.

Learning to sew can be cost effective

Learning to sew and mend your clothes can lead to substantial savings now and in the long term.

Instead of discarding garments due to minor damages you can easily repair them yourself. Upcycling clothes gives them a new life, keeping then in the circular economy rather than going to landfill.

Making your own clothes means you can create custom pieces tailored to your style and fit.  Best of all, you’ll have the satisfaction of wearing something unique, knowing you made it yourself.

Sewing reduces your environmental impact

The fashion industry is one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse emissions and environmental polluters. By learning to sew, mend, and upcycle, you actively participate in reducing this impact through waste reduction, resource conservation, and by reducing your carbon footprint.

Evolve your personal style and expression

Homemade and upcycled clothes offer a unique opportunity for personal expression where you can tailor clothes to your preference, size and design.

Sewing means you can enjoy a more meaningful wardrobe that’s filled with items that you love and cherish.

Sewing enhances creativity

Sewing fosters creativity and skill development.

Upcycling encouraging you to think creatively about how to repurpose and rejuvenate old items. Sewing your own clothes allows you to experiment with different fabrics, patterns, and designs. There are no rules!

Making something with your own hands or bringing a beloved items back to life cultivates a sense resourcefulness.

Making ethical fashion choices

By making and mending your own clothes, you align with ethical fashion principles.

Fast fashion often involves exploitative labour practices and poor working conditions. By creating your own garments or repurposing second hand clothing, you know exactly where and how they were made, promoting fair labour practices and ethical production.

Sewing is less wasteful

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, millions of tons of textile waste are generated each year.

Repairing and upcycling clothes keeps them out of landfills and often being shipped overseas and burned.

By extending the life of your garments, you contribute to lowering the environmental impact of clothing waste across the world.