Project Rebirth: Altering the Ike

Photo by Try'n'Fly Photography
Most of this outfit was scrounged and things that already existed in someone's closet. The skirt was a Land's End wool skirt I found on eBay that actually didn't need any alterations at all.

Photo by Try'n'Fly Photography
I already owned pretty perfect shoes and the shirt was straight out of my husband's closet. The tie, which I've already replaced with a better version, came off Amazon for nothing.

While that was easy, it was all scrounged after an almost perfect jacket fell into my lap (thanks, Karen!). This post is about how I altered the jacket.

One of the most necessary pieces of costume for the Project Rebirth outfit is definitely the jacket. There's no way of getting around that. However, altering the closest option out there (the "Ike" jacket) is not as straightforward as it might sound.

Sadly, I had pneumonia while I was doing this, so I don't have as many photos as I'd like, but hopefully this will make some sense.

When I got the jacket, it was definitely too big for me by some margin, but it was a solid base. This is what I felt needed changing:

Make it fit
Remove the pockets (leave the pocket flaps in place)
Tighten the sleeve cuffs (hers sleeves are actually quite puffy)
Change all the hardware to SA gold buttons
Change direction of waistband and change tab shape
Make it close right over left (the opposite direction)
Add waistline darts on front
Ideally change collar shape (hardest and what I ran out of time on so still not done)

With that all in mind, I ripped the waistband, the pockets, and the upper collar off completely.

To deal with the size issues, I split it at the back midline seam. I then pulled it in on that back seamline by about 4 inches there, which helped significantly with the size issues.

After that, I put in the waistline darts on the front of the jacket to finish resizing it.

I freehanded these which means I ended up with them sort of fanning out.

Technically the screen accurate versions are straight up and down all along and they're slits not darts, but c'est la vie.

After pressing them I still didn't feel they were sitting down like I wanted, so I did topstitch the darts down.

With that done, I had to reshape the collar opening to take in some of the width on the shoulders and ensure that my neck could still go through the opening. This required actually cutting a new neckline.

Because I brought the width in on the shoulders, I then had to rip open the top of the shoulders so that I could adjust the lapels to the appropriate place. I basically ripped it open, shoved the lapel in to where I wanted it to be, then stitched the sleeves back on.

The sleeves were very easy. I ripped off the cuffs, put two folds in each sleeve to bring it to my wrist size, then sewed one side of cuffs on. I cut off the excess, then folded the cuffs back and top stitched them down to enclose the edges. If you're pushed for time, you could simply move the button over and it would get a similar look.

The waistband I ended up opening out completely so that I could make the changes to it. I measured the new width of the waist, and figured out how I wanted this to work. Because I was changing directions on the waistband, I ended up having to cut the fabric and piece together the waist in the back to avoid having a seam on the front.

FYI, those pockets you cut off actually have quite a bit of fabric in them. I cut these up and pressed them for the new pieces of the waistband. It worked in the end. I also changed the tab to not taper but have the angular ends that they have in the original.

At this point I still needed to change the buttons. The original Ike I got has a placket on the back and the buttons go through that, not to the front. I cut out the placket, then put in new button holes.

Then I swapped all the buttons on the front, lapels, and cuffs with the screen accurate ones.

At this point I was running out of time. I wanted to try to reshape the collar to closer to Peggy's but I just didn't have time. I ended up just putting the collar back on, but I do hope to go back and reshape it with the leftover fabric from the other pocket.

Considering I did all of this with full on pneumonia, I'm still pretty happy with this. I think if I had time I'd put in a lining as its a bit scratchy, but seeing as I wear a full shirt anyway, its not really an issue.

Photo by Try'n'Fly Photography


  1. Nicely done! Even better that it was a good bargain.

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