Reimagine & Refashion-Altering a Thrifted St. John Wool Knit Jacket

A couple of years ago, while rummaging around in a Salvation Army, I came across a St. John wool knit suit. I thought the basic style was fabulous but it  was obviously from a by-gone era; having shoulder pads to make for those “football” shoulders we use to wear. It was also one size to large. But for $9.99,  I couldn’t turn  down a  St. John.  It sat around for those two years, until finally, this Spring I pulled it out and decided to make it a wearable piece. That included altering it and repairing  one very tinny tiny hole.

I’m dividing today into two parts: the fixing and the wearing. Fixing it had to come first…

So, What Did Change?

The shoulder line had to be shorten by at least an inch which meant I had to remove the sleeves and just shorten the shoulder. I kept my fingers crossed that the sleeves would fit back in. Technically, if you take something away, you need to add it somewhere else (this case the sleeve caps). But this was knit fabric and knit is a little more accommodating than wovens and it worked out just fine.

Bye-Bye Shoulder Pads!

Since I had to cut off the beautiful seam finishes from redoing the shoulder seams, I made my own bias tape and bound them.

This is a size 14, and sort of hung like a sack around my hips and needed to be taken in on the sides and I took in the sides to fit. I didn’t trim the seams off so now they are just a bit wider. I was not going to mess with that edging if I didn’t have to.

It’s 80% wool and I love that!

Some Special Details

Wearing My Jacket Out and About

My jacket has been busy since I altered it. We have had some very cool Spring weather and it, with it’s wool and rayon blend has been the perfect answer.

I wore this about a couple of weeks ago. It is funny how the stripes are completely lost in the photo.

I am wearing jeans. They are black jegging- jeans by American Eagle. They do give it a more dressed appearance but they are still jeans. But it is the accessories that really give this look it’s more than casual look.

My shoes and bag are both by Francis Valentine. It’s funny, I never bought anything from Kate Spade (except once I found a thrifted KS bag). But when she started her new company Francis Valentine (named after her daughter) in 2016, I was smitten. As many, I was sadden by this Kansas City native’s untimely death but am happy that her spirit lives on with the unique quirky but classic designs. I pretty much only shop twice a year during the clearance and sample sales. Because of them I have some beautiful pieces that I will be wearing for a long while.

These striking flats (Francis2HC) were the first thing I ever bought. I’m very careful with what I pair them with because they really fight for attention. For this style above, they go perfectly. If you wear a 7.5 you can get a pair from eBay for $48. There are other pairs also but they are well over $100.

My black Avril black lizard barrel bag , which also included a shoulder strap, was bought in early March, during the big Winter clearance sale. Unfortunately, it is sold out. I had been looking for a smaller classic black bag to take the pressure off my older twelve year old tote and found this one to be perfect.

The golden beige silk knit top (also has beading) was thrifted years ago at Goodwill.

Looking Two-On a Very Rainy and Cold Shopping Day

I went for a down-style look. It was a yucky day and I wanted to be comfortable. We were taking my Babylock sewing machine in for it’s bi-annual checkup (it has been acting funny lately) and were stopping off at a nursery to get a Magnolia tree. During a lunch break, I had Michael snap this photo.

I’m wearing my American Eagle blue denim jeggings. My top is the dolman sleeve top I made this Summer. I wanted to test it under a jacket and it worked just great. I really think that a modified dolman is both flattering and accommodating to jackets.

I chose not to wear any jewelry because of two reasons. I wanted to wear my my vegan crossbody bag Zola by Jules Kae. I’m having a moment with this bag because it is so lightweight and easy to wear. I’m getting to like having both my hand freely available for shopping. I think I’ve mentioned this before but I usually get leather handbags because they just last longer but they can be heavy. It will be interesting how long the Zola will continue to look good. But for a while, she and I are going to have a beautiful relationship. After looking at the above photo again, I think not wearing a necklace was a mistake and will add my vintage looking pendant next time. You live and learn.

As mentioned in last weeks post, this bag was part of my subscription box. I thought that a lot of ladies would use the box items to make money on and I was right. There are any number of black Zola bags on Poshmark, currently. If you want one in a different color(they make it in five), you have to go to the Jules Kae website.

Another reason I didn’t wear jewelry is because I thought my belt buckle on my JM Davidson belt was enough. When I ordered it from The RealReal, I just didn’t realize how big the belt and buckle was. It was non-returnable so I’m working it in my wardrobe in various ways.

You would think that by just looking at the photo, I would have realized how big this thing was. I was swept away with the double prong buckle and general coolness of the belt in general.

My Polka Dot Vans

These were the first Van I ever bought and they are polka dot! I bought these quite a few years ago and it seems that Van has made quite a few polka dot version over the years. Their latest is HERE.

I think that’s about it. Alternating something is not as exciting as making something from scratch. But, to be able to make something work again and have a second life, especially if its a piece with good bones, is a great feeling. I have no idea how much this would have cost if I had to take it to a tailor but I probably would had left it on the rack if I couldn’t have fixed it myself. For $9.99, if was a very excellent deal. I have no idea what I am going to do with the skirt. I look at that as free fabric….we’ll see if I come up with something.

Take Care,

13 thoughts on “Reimagine & Refashion-Altering a Thrifted St. John Wool Knit Jacket

    1. Thank you, It was one of those incredible finds but I just had to let it hang until I really felt like tackling it, which finally came this Spring. It meshed with so much that was in my closet, it was a no brainer to get, no matter what the size.


    1. Heello Gail! I am so happy you came for a visit and thank you for the kind comment. Sewing has two sides, I think-a creative one and a very practical one, which I used in altering my jacket. This jacket was a very rare find in a thrit shop and was worth the time it took to fix it. I do like the results.


  1. It’s good to hear that you also like alternating pieces you don’t want to quit. And yes, it’s such a good feeling when it’s finished and back in the game.
    I love both your looks. The jacket is awesome and it’s price too.
    Have a lovely weekend!
    XOXO Reni

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you-That price was just crazy fir the quality of the suit-oh, but I have it now. As far as older pieces, they have saved me with some of the SIA challenges. Have a wonderful weekend yourself! XOXO Terri

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Terri, what a fabulous thrift shop find! And it looks perfect on you after the alterations. I really love the tiny stripes and the all the gold hardware. Pairing jeans with blazers is one of my favorite ways to wear blazers! And your polka dot Vans are so cute! I just scored 3 pairs of Vans on clearance at Kohl’s and I cannot wait to get styling them! Thanks for linking with me. This post will be featured at tomorrow’s link party!


    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is a great outfit and you did a great job giving it a more modern shape. I love the styling ideas, in particular the striped shoes.

    I only recently found your blog through PR and love the mix of art and sewing. My favourite subjects. Thanks for sharing your ideas and makes.


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello, Abbey I am so happy you found me through Pattern Review. It is my happy place lately.

      I always style my seeing pieces. If I’m going to make something, I like to experiment with a few ways of wearing it.

      Take Care, Terri


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