As winter draws to a close, we are nearing the quandary of what to do with our old coats and jackets for another year. Have they fulfilled their destinies with us, wowed our friends and coworkers with pizzazz or utility? Is this simply a look we’ve moved on from? Sure, we could hang them in the closet until autumn, deal with the issue then, or we could be forward thinking.

Now, if it’s time to do away with a quality coat in good condition, the right course of action would certainly be to donate it to a worthy cause. There are plenty of thrift stores that are happy to take old jackets, hang onto them and sell them for peanuts next season to someone who might need one. There are also lots of charities looking to ensure everyone has a good coat for the wintertime.

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But, if a jacket is just beyond that, too old and tired and tattered, there might be some other fun options for the crafty amongst us.

Coat with patches

Source: PunkJr/Creative Commons

1. Add Flare

It’s amazing what adding a few details can do to an old coat. For tailors, contrasting panels might be the perfect addition to get another year out of a comfy coat. Or, maybe just sewing on a little trim or changing out the lining could perk up those tattered edges. It could be adding a faux fur collar and slipping a belt around it. If perhaps the frock has gotten too large, then it might be appropriate to add a corset feature at the back to pull it to form-fitting. Sometimes, a piece of flare can be as simple as adding brooches, buttons or badges.

It’s worth asking yourself: Would flare really fire this up again, at least for one more year?

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2. Animal Beds from Fur

A popular thing to do with both bed clothes and human clothes is to repurpose them into animals’ beds, particularly for loving pets who appreciate the scent of their human companions. This is a really good idea for old fur coats, say inherited or from a former life and time. Many people have moved past the idea of wearing animal pelts for warmth (and thank goodness for it), but it would only further the tragedy to send these items to a landfill. What a waste! Pets don’t understand capitalistic cruelty or frivolous fashion, so they’d appreciate a nice, soft bed made out of once premium-priced fur coat.

3. Upholstery Material from Suits

For old suit jackets, especially the old-school corduroy, tweed and tartan variety, the material can be cut out and used to make some pretty snazzy upholstery. That could equate to a nice throw pillow. If there is a collection of lost jackets still hanging in the closet, it might work to make an ottoman, chair cushions or other little stylish embellishments around the house. Old suit jackets could become sophisticated teddy bears, letter pillows for the baby’s room or a funky shoulder bag for work.

4. Accessories from Leather

For many of us, in particular plant-based people, leather jackets just ain’t so cool anymore. Maybe that means leather anything is hard to stomach now, but the fact of the matter is that sometimes the damage has been done. We have a leather coat, so we need to do something with it. Well, the material from old leather coats can be sourced to make leather bags and soft briefcases. The material can be fashioned into wallet or bracelets or necklaces or any other number of accessories to make the material get its full use.

textile fibers

Source: Tony Webster/Creative Commons

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5. Recycling Old Coats

Ultimately, if there is no great course of action for repurposing your old coat, no call for quirky pillow cases or no skill for sewing shoulder bags, there is always the recycling bin as a last option. Most municipalities offer some sort of clothes recycling bins, and there are retail outlets (Patagonia) and thrift stores (Goodwill) that do it as well. It’s a better fate for old clothing, including shoes and jackets and so on, than being sent off to landfills.

More important than any single craft constructed from crusty coats or any collection of flare foisted upon a frazzled fleece, what we need to learn is to not just toss things away. They don’t disappear. The planet has to process them one way or another. We can lighten the load by making the best of the materials and resources we use.

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