DIY, Outfits and Style

DIY: Refashion a Trench Coat to Trench Dress or Vest

One of the things I love to do in my (limited) spare time is to take an old or thrifted item and transform it into something new.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m no seamstress, but I like to see if I can give old clothes a new life with a little refashioning. (See here and here for examples.) Some of my favourite blogs are Refashionista, New Dress a Day, and A Pair and A Spare, because of their clever ways of refashioning something old and tired into something stylish.

No particular inspiration for this refashion – I’d been thinking about this project for quite some time now, it was just a matter of finding the right material to work with. With my trusty babysitter looking after the kiddos (thanks Dad!), I was able to hit the thrift stores and find a trench coat.

Here’s the winning candidate.

DSC_0799$20 Forever New trench coat from Vinnies Crows Nest

This is a pretty simple project, which wouldn’t take up too much time at all. However, I was trying to do this when I had two little ones running circles around me so I completed it over two days.

You’ll need:

  • An old or thrifted trench coat
  • Measuring tape (or ruler)
  • Tailor’s chalk or air erasable pen (available from haberdashery stores)
  • Fabric scissors
  • Pins
  • Thread (same colour as trench if possible)
  • Sewing needle

Step One:

Using your tailor’s chalk or air erasable pen, mark 1 inch around the shoulder seam, straight onto the sleeve. You could even use a regular ballpoint pen if you don’t have either – the marks will be hidden later.


Step 2.

Repeat for the other shoulder and sleeve.

(Apologies in advance, I forgot to take pics of the next couple of steps!)

Step 3.

Carefully cut the sleeves off the trench coat, using the 1 inch marks as your guide.

Note: my trench coat wasn’t lined so it was a simple chop, but if your trench coat does have lining I suggest chopping as per this step, then unpicking or snipping the lining from the sleeve remnant up to the shoulder seam so that you have only the fabric of the sleeve remnant remaining. This will make it easier to do the folding and sewing in steps 4-6.

Step 4.

Fold the leftover fabric on the sleeve 1/2 inch, then fold it again another 1/2 inch. Pin folded edge to the inside of the jacket.

Sleeves are tricky little things so you may find there is some puckering or excess fabric when you’re folding the fabric in – if this does happen, try to tuck the excess fabric in the underarm part as it won’t be too obvious there.

Step 5.

This step will depend on how your coat is constructed. If the coat is lined, you could sew the folded edge onto the lining without the stitches being visible. If your coat is unlined like mine, you could still sew the edge onto the inside of the trench coat, but use invisible stitching (or you could even use that magic hemming tape or liquid stitch). I was lucky enough that the seams of the trench coat had bias binding, so I was able to sew my folded edge onto that without my stitches being seen (I used a blanket stitch).


Step 6. 

Repeat Step 5 for the other sleeve remnant.

Give the coat a good iron, especially the part the you just sewed…


And you’re done!

DSC_0839Still trying to figure out this new camera – apologies for the bad photography!

This refashioned trench is great as a dress with a blouse underneath, but I decided to take advantage of the mild Sydney temperature by wearing the transformed trench dress sans shirt.



20160419_163239-01Coat: DIY refashion | Shoes: Sportsgirl (similar | similar)

I’m also planning on wearing it with a long sleeved blouse and jeans so it becomes a trench vest for winter! The buttons could probably be replaced but buying new buttons to change all of the old ones would actually cost more than the thrifted coat itself! :-/

Of course, if refashioning or DIY isn’t your thing, I’ve put some shoppable options below.

Let me know if you decide to try this project out for yourself! Comment below with a link to your blog post, or tag me on Instagram ( with your refashion – I’d love to see it!

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