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Well, autumn didn’t last very long this year did it!? The weather up here in Dundee slid so quickly into the minuses that I’ve already been rifling through my winter coats to keep out the chill. That’s when I rediscovered this old wool camel coat that I love to pieces but doesn’t fit me any more: I hadn’t been able to button it up for god knows how long but I didn’t have the heart to get rid of it. And then the idea hit me… what if there was a simple way to salvage this beauty and get a bit more wear out of it?
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The photograph above on the left is from last year and shows how I’ve been wearing this coat for the last few years: just unfastened and casual. Even though it’s two sizes too small for me, the fact that it still fit across the shoulders and upper arms made this coat ideal for a bit of the DIY treatment. The adjustments needed to be made around the waist only, so first of all I considered moving the buttons to make the double breasted coat into a single breasted one. However, that looked like a complete nightmare to pull off, I needed tailoring skills way above and beyond those I actually possess! I’d all but given up on the project when I saw this picture as I was scrolling about on Pinterest one evening, and the idea was formed…
I thought that replacing the buttons with ribbons would not only look kinda cute, but it would also give me the extra room at the waist that I needed without ruining the overall shape and cut of the coat. I had a search around online for a tutorial to follow but sadly couldn’t find one. Luckily, it turned out that the method was simple enough, so here’s how I did it:
- Remove all buttons completely, ensure all loose threads are removed.
- Steam areas underneath the buttons to eliminate any marks in the fabric.
- Cut the ribbon into one / two / three identical lengths (depending on how many button holes you have and how large you want the bows to be).
- Fold the ribbon in half to find the centre point, place horizontally where the button used to be and sew securely with a number of cross stitches.
- Try the coat on and tie the ribbons into bows through the corresponding button holes.
And there you have it!
I love the flexibility that the ribbon fastening has given me with this coat, the waist fits me so well now regardless of how many layers I’m wearing and I can adjust the tightness of the bows depending on whether I’m sitting or standing. I was pleasantly surprised by how well the ribbons work when the coat is worn open too, they look like cute embellishments and I really enjoy that. If I were to do this again though, I would absolutely use a wider, stiffer ribbon; something along the lines of thick velvet or grosgrain as these satin ribbons droop a little too much for my liking!
There are lots of possibilities with this simple DIY trick which is really just a case of swapping out the buttons for ribbons. It would work for lots of other types of garment too; for example, replacing the button on the back of a skirt with a big, colourful ribbon. The are so many types of ribbon that you can pick up for an absolute steal on eBay which makes so many different looks possible.
I hope this has given you a bit of inspiration for something you might have lying around at the back of the wardrobe, it’s great to give these things another chance to shine and I always love rescuing an old fond favourite.