Vintage Sheepskin Coat Repair

The final effect - the coat is as good as new again!
The leather had perished along the shoulder seam, leaving an inconvenient gap.

The leather had perished along the shoulder seam, leaving an inconvenient gap.

The lining had ripped along seams and other areas from the stress of the broken seam, and general wear and tear.

The lining had ripped along seams and other areas from the stress of the broken seam, and general wear and tear.

This beautiful vintage sheepskin coat came to me a little worse for wear. The leather is absolutely beautiful, but unfortunately the wool-on skin itself had started to become fragile with age. This is something we’ve seen before – it happens as the hide becomes acidic over time, and is more common in chrome-tanned leathers than in veg-tanned hides. The lining had also become ripped in some places, which needed attention.

The white strips are the iron-on fabric to reinforce the fragile skin, to allow it to hold the stitching.

The white strips are the iron-on fabric to reinforce the fragile skin, to allow it to hold the stitching.

I couldn’t simply sew the skin back together, as the tension on the seams would simply rip it again. It was clear that someone had tried this already and it hadn’t held. So it was time to innovate! My leather tanning consultant and I worked together to come up with a plan to rescue this beautiful coat.

Hand-sewing the taping from the other hide across to close the seam.

Hand-sewing the taping from the other hide across to close the seam.

I took some robust iron-on fabric patches, cut them into strips, and then ironed the strips onto the edge of the failing leather. This gave me something to sew onto, while distributing the tension of the stiches across the whole width of the patch.   I removed the old-repair  stitching out of the tape on the other skin, and hand-sewed the tape to the new patches. This would have held the coat together on it’s own, but we decided that it was best to reinforce the repair further, so we then ironed further reinforcing strips across the seam.

The cross-wise strips of iron-on fabric reinforce this seam nicely.

The cross-wise strips of iron-on fabric reinforce this seam nicely.

Not a single stitch was done by machine - hand sewing is the gentler way to repair fragile items.

Not a single stitch was done by machine – hand sewing is the gentler way to repair fragile items.

Finally, it was time to sew the lining back together again. With careful stitching I was able to repair the time-related damage to the lining at the same time.

All of the repairs on this coat were done by hand, to make sure that the fragile fabrics weren’t subjected to unnecessary stress from machine sewing.

The lining looks much better!

The lining is functional and neat again, as it should be.

If you have a precious garment you’d like to breathe some life back into again, please get in touch. I’ll happily take a look at what it’ll take to reinvigorate it, and either talk you through the steps, or do it for you myself if you’d prefer.

The final effect - the coat is as good as new again!

The final effect – the coat is as good as new again!

Have an awesome weekend!