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Upcycled Jacket




Thrifting is always a fun way to find new things, even if those things aren’t always quite perfect. After becoming enamored with the trend of blazers and boots, I ran off to the thrift store to find me a steal. Unfortunately, the thing about thrifting is you have to work with what you find. I found a blazer in a color I loved, but it was way too big for me and didn’t really give me that flattering look I was going for. Plus it was kinda... I dunno. Blazery. In an uninspiring way.


Do you have a jacket in need of a quick update and a new fit? Well, I’m no tailor, so truly altering this wasn’t really in the cards. However, there are some quick and easy tricks you can use on a blazer that will give it a new look and fit without a lot of hassle. All you need is:

  • Your jacket
  • Light-stitching embroidery designs -- I used a couple from the Mendhika collection
  • Safety pin and straight pins
  • Scissors
  • Matching thread
  • Sheer material like organza
  • Water-soluble stabilizer
  • Ribbon (optional)




OK, let's start with the fit. Here’s my blazer unaltered. It’s kind of a little big all around. It doesn’t have a very flattering fit, and the sleeves are too long. There’s also kind of a shoulder pad thing going on but what can you do, it was probably made in the '90s. And it was $5. Also, it is terribly ... ordinary. Let’s fix that.


Luckily for us, there is a very very easy way to instantly give an oversized jacket a more fitted look. Start by taking your jacket and turning it inside out.


Though you see me on my own, this part is actually much easier with the assistance of a friend. Go grab someone who hates ill-fitting jackets are much as you do.

Grab the back seam of the jacket (it helps if you have it buttoned for a better fit) and pinch it in about 2-3 inches or until it’s more snug. You’ll want to pinch it just about an inch above your waist. When you have that spot marked, take a safety pin, and weave it in and out right at that spot, pinning the two pinched sides together.


Take your jacket off, and turn it right side out. You should now have a nice pinched pleat in the back. If you like the placement, turn it inside out again, and use your sewing machine to stitch those two pieces together right where the pin was.


You can now keep it as a plain pleat, or if you’re feeling fancy, add a bow of ribbon to accentuate the new shaped back. Piece of cake! With one tiny seam, your too-large jacket is now custom shaped to fit you.


Now let’s deal with the whole boring brown jacket thing. Stitching on a pre-made item can be a little scary sometimes, and it can also be difficult to add embroidery everywhere you want because it would be impossible to hoop. Well, we’re going to get around that by floating our embroidery on the jacket. It’s easy!


What do I mean by that? Well, just hoop up your organza with some water-soluble stabilizer, and embroider your favorite light-stitching designs. (I used a couple from the Mendhika collection.) I would pick an organza that’s similar in color or tone to your jacket, so the embroidery really gets to pop.


Once it’s stitched, carefully snip away as much of the excess stabilizer as possible, and then soak it according to package directions.


Once all the stabilizer has been removed and your embroidery is dry, cut the pieces out from the organza. Leave yourself a generous amount of organza around each piece.


Try out your embroidery pieces on lots of areas on your jacket. Sleeves and lapels are excellent places to add “floating” embroidery because they are notoriously difficult to embroider on their own. Floating the embroidery gives you a chance to add stitches to places you ordinarily would avoid.


I picked this piece to use on one of the lapels. Pin everything carefully in place before you start stitching.


Using a matching thread with your jacket, carefully stitch around your embroidery piece following the shape of the design. We’re basically appliquéing the organza on.


When you’re done, make sure all areas are secured down, and snip away as much excess organza as you can. As this is going for a raw edge look, feel free to rough up your fabric edges a bit. When doing the raw look, it helps to make it look intentional.


Continue stitching on your other pieces of embroidery. Add as much or as little as you like! It’s easy to do when you’re just floating pieces.


Finally, other simple alterations can be done to improve the fit of your jacket. For example, my jacket was a little too big all over, but a quick fold-over of the sleeves and a couple of stitches inside fixed that in a jiffy.


And you’re done! A quick $5 thrift store '90s blazer gets fitted and fixed up with just a few easy steps.


The front gets a bold pop of embroidery in places it’s usually very hard to hoop, thanks to the magic of floating designs.


Plus the jacket overall has a much sleeker, fitted appearance with very little effort. Just a few quick stitches and it’s like it was made for you.



So quit worrying about how you’re going to afford all the latest trends. Run off to the thrift store and dig up a few diamonds in the rough. It only takes an afternoon and some basic sewing skills to turn it into a real gem.



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