How I Reburbished an Old Shearling Coat + Made it Reversible

Although initially pricey, shearling coats are a great clothing investment: they are incredibly warm and last years. But like anything, they begin to show wear. There IS a simple solution that will keep them going for years that I learned from Suzanne Shaker: turn your shearling inside out and have new zipper put in by your tailor. When the zipper broke on my 10+year old shearling, I discovered there are even more possibilities, and a world of zippers.

My shearling is meant to be worn with the suede side out. Somehow, it was beginning to look a bit lumpy, or maybe I was just tired of it after so many years…

Sally Schneider

Sally Schneider

My assistant Mira Keras and I are experimenting wearing each others clothes because we’re SO tired of age-determined clothing…

Sally Schneider

Sally Schneider

When the zipper started to get dicey, it forced me to research a replacement. First I went to a famed, expensive leather repair store that wanted $300 to replace the zipper. When I asked what they would replace it with they let slip that it was a Lampo zipper that was VERY hard to find.

Oh yeah?

Sally Schneider

Sally Schneider

I went online to find that Lampo zippers are considered the best, and can be ordered at Botoni Trimmings. And that there is a Botoni store in New York City where I discover a world of zipper possibilities, not only for shearlings but for just about any zipper project. They have zippers in many colors and sizes and will customize them to the size you want.

Sally Schneider

Sally Schneider

But the biggest discovery was two-way zippers that allow your garment to be reversible. Botoni sized a REVERSIBLE zipper for my shearling and I had a tailor put in for $80. Voila…

Sally Schneider

Sally Schneider

…The coat can be worn BOTH ways.

Sally Schneider

Sally Schneider

…fur-side-out chics it up and makes it curiously cozier…

Sally fur side out

I’m realizing that it would be possible to turn certain cloth coats and jackets inside out, so the seams are showing: a detail a lot of designers are doing these days. I’d have to remove tags and see what else might need deleting…

But next I’m gonna work on an ancient shearling jacket I haven’t worn in years. Stay tuned!

7 Responses to How I Reburbished an Old Shearling Coat + Made it Reversible

  1. kimithy 02.04.2016 at 5:38pm #

    Love this. I’m a big proponent of trying to find a fix for an item of clothing before getting rid of it.

    I actually have a little bin in my closet where “problematic” clothing goes. Every now and then I grab the pile and go through each item, deciding what the offending issue is – too short, too long, tight sleeves, holes, missing button(s), pit stains, too many pockets, no pockets, etc. I’ll whip out the sewing machine or scissors or lemon juice or whatever the corresponding fix requires and see if I can address the issue. About half the time it still doesn’t work well for me after my “fix” and I either donate the item (if it’s still usable) or turn it into cleaning rags – but the other half I end up with something I’ll wear in it’s updated form for a long time!

  2. Karina 02.05.2016 at 11:08am #

    This is so awesome….that word is overused for sure. In this world of it’s broke, let’s just go get another one, I love your blog that encourages and inspires me/us to forego the retail addiction and enjoy our stuff and lives by looking at them in a new way. Utility and creativity combined. Thank you.
    On a similar note, indigo dye…the answer to all of you old clothing (if any light to medium)wanting to be made new again.

  3. Sally 02.05.2016 at 12:05pm #

    I love your indigo dye strategy. Gonna look into that!

  4. Suzanne Shaker 02.06.2016 at 3:48pm #

    Thank you for the mention! You coat looks great,

    On another subject, I have a question for the lab.Do you recommend using zinc as a surround for the sink? Does it stain or corrode? I always loved your zinc island top.


  5. Sally 02.08.2016 at 12:20pm #

    Hey Suzanne. In my experience zinc is complicated material, with many variables. When I made the zinc top to cover the old island top, I just called a fabricator in Brooklyn (out of business now) without knowing what I was doing, and had him wrap some around a plywood form I made specs for. It is highly reactive, but is fine for an island. The weathering creates quite a beautiful patina and, as you know, it worked beautifully for photography. Once in a while, I polish it using a combination of salt and vinegar. So in my experience, YES, it will blotch with water stains. You also cannot handle food directly on it as zinc will leach in. That’s why I have corian on the counter that has the zinc and where I do my main prep. When I want to work on the zinc top, I use a big wood board.

    I suspect the beautiful zinc bars your see have some sort of protective coating on them. UNLESS there is some formulation of zinc that won’t react but I haven’t heard of any. If you google “reactivity of zinc countertops” you’ll find lots of info about AND ways to care for it. If your client wants pristine, forget about it.

  6. Lina 07.19.2018 at 11:32am #

    I have a shearling coat with a hole that is about 8 inches in diameter. Do you think this is worth repairing?? It has some sentimental value too. Do you know if it would be $300+ to repair at leather shop? Thanks for your thoughts!

  7. Sally Schneider 07.20.2018 at 12:53pm #

    Depends where the hole is. You could also cut and refashion the shearling. I’ve turned many dresses into tunics and blouses by carefully cutting off the bottom and hemming, or not, as needed…

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