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How to replace the lining of a leather jacket

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If you’ve just found a fabulous vintage jacket with a torn lining – or you simply have a favourite jacket in your wardrobe with a worn-out lining, here’s how to make a new one. What do you do if you have loved a particular jacket so well, and worn it so often, that the lining is in shreds? Or how about if you find a fabulous vintage buy, but there are rips and tears in the lining?  This is what to do:

1. Carefully unpick the old lining and save all the pieces. (Cutting it out will not do. You have to get your un-picker out, or a sharp pair of pointed embroidery scissors and patiently undo all the seams.) Divide the lining into all the separate parts. You should find you have a back, two fronts and two sleeves. Any of these parts may have more than one piece of fabric, for example each sleeve may have two fabric sections. Note how the old lining hangs (it might be worth taking a photograph). Often a little extra fabric is allowed, there may be a tuck or pleat, so you need to know where this comes so you can reproduce it. As you un-pick write a label on masking tape to identify it, e.g. ‘right sleeve’. Label as if you were wearing the jacket, so this would go on the lining that covered your right arm.

2. Choose a new lining material. For this chestnut-coloured suede bomber jacket, a fabulous paisley weave fabric in a chartreuse-green was chosen. The amount you will need depends on the width of the new fabric and the length of the original jacket. (If you are unsure, make a note of the width of the lining fabric you like, carry out step 3 on a table top and measure out with a tape measure how much you will need, then go back to the shop.)

3. Fold the lining fabric in half along the length and lay it out on a flat surface, like a table top. Fold the back lining piece from the original jacket in half and place this on the fold of the new lining fabric. Pin in place. Now place one old front on and pin onto the doubled length of fabric. Finally place one (or one set) of old sleeve lining pieces, again onto the doubled length. Look at the old lining for the threads in the weave that show you the straight grain of the fabric and place a pin to indicate the straight grain. Try to line up these pattern pieces with the straight grain of the new material. This will help your new lining to hang right, without twisting. If the right side and the wrong side (the back) of the new fabric look quite similar, use masking tape to mark the right side on each piece. This will help to make sure that you get two sleeves that are different to each other, which is what you want! You can write the name of the lining piece (e.g. right sleeve) on the same bit of tape.

using the old lining as a pattern to cut out the new one (step 3)

Using the old lining as a pattern to cut out the new one (step 3)

4. Carefully cut out the new lining. N.B. the standard seam allowance is ⅝” (16mm), but you may find that the old lining has been trimmed back after stitching. If you cut out using the standard seam allowance measured out from the stitching line on the old lining, all will be well.

5. Join the shoulder seams (the two fronts to the back) by placing right sides together and machine stitching with a ⅝” (16mm). Finish off the threads.

6. Stitch the side seams (front to back) as before.

7. Join any sleeve pieces if necessary and stitch the underarm seam as before.

8. Starting at the top of the sleeve, take the new right sleeve and pin it in to the armhole at the shoulder seam, with the right sides together. Then work down either side of the armhole easing the sleeve into the armhole. Remember that it needs to fit, not on the edge of the fabrics, but ⅝” (16mm) in from the edge. Stitch a second row of stitching ¼” (6mm) from the first row, but further towards the edge. This is to make the stitching more robust.

double row of stitching around the arm-hole (step )

Double row of stitching around the arm-hole (step 8)

9. Now repeat step 8 with the left sleeve. Check that the two sides match. Then take the time to tack in the seam before machine stitching.

10. Try the lining with the right side of the fabric facing inwards and put the jacket on top. Put a safety pin securely through the lining and the jacket sleeve. Take both off and carefully pull on the lining sleeve until the jacket sleeve appears. With right sides together, stitch the bottom of the lining sleeve to the bottom of the jacket sleeve. Do this for the second sleeve.

Pinning the lining and jacket sleeve ends together (step )

Pinning the lining and jacket sleeve ends together (step 10)

11. Now lay the jacket out on the table with the lining facing you. Cross over and fold the sleeves so they rest in the centre of the jacket back between the right side of the jacket and the right side of the lining. Pin the lining right sides together up one side round the neck, down the other side and most of the way along the bottom – just leaving a gap of about 6” (15cm) in the centre. Machine stitch all round, taking the pins out as you go.

Stitching around the outside of the jacket (step 11)

Stitching around the outside of the lining and jacket (step 11)

12. Gently draw the jacket out through the gap you left at the bottom. Then push the sleeves out to their correct position. Hand-stitch the gap closed.

For this jacket, we also re-lined the back of the collar. A lining piece was cut out. The two collar pieces were placed right sides together and machine stitched round the outside, leaving the neck edge open. The seams were trimmed and the collar turned to the right side. The collar was then inserted between the jacket and the lining, with all the raw edges aligned, just before completing step 11.

Laying the collar onto the lining material to cut out a collar lining

Laying the collar onto the lining material to cut out a new collar lining.

Pinning the neck area, with the new collar inserted between jacket and lining

Pinning the neck area, with the new collar inserted between jacket and lining

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