“A Slippery Situation”

My sister-in-law bought a new down coat last week.  Yesterday I got a panicked call from her telling me her dog had jumped up on her and left two tears on the front and side of the coat:  could I fix it?  I’ve told you before that I get some tricky tasks since I’m the only one in the family who sews, but sewing on a goose down nylon coat is one I have never previously tackled.  My immediate answer:  bring it over so I can look at it.  With a day to consider different options I wanted to share with you my conclusions and solutions to this repair problem.  A few things came to mind as soon as I saw the coat.  1. The fabric is so slippery!!  2.  I won’t be able to pin or secure the fabric in any way before I sew it since holes will not heal on this fabric.  3.  Down feathers were coming out of each hole surprisingly fast!  4.  The nylon fabric was fraying just by looking at it!  Maybe some of my decisions may help you if you find yourself in my position one day….

This is the tear left in the side of the coat, at the waist under the sleeve area. This was the smaller of the two holes.
The tear in the front of the coat was much larger and not at all easy to hide when mending.
I decided I would use the mending stitch in my utility menu, #1.4.7. If you have never used this stitch and would like some help, please see my 4.26.20 blog “Mending Tears” for an explanation of its use.
I knew I would need to make some adjustments to the stitch so I went into Stitch Edit and…..
…changed the width of the finished mending area from the default setting of 8.5 to 8.0. I worked on the tear at the side of the coat first so I could practice before tackling the front tear.
I put on the recommended foot 2A and disengaged the IDT system (Dual feed) on my Pfaff.
I knew I would have to work with a fine needle so I chose a size 70/10. Remember, if you use a needle smaller than 75/11 the automatic needle threader will not work: the eye of the needle is too small.
Next I did some test stitches on some scrap stabilizer and decided 8.0 was the width mending stitch I wanted to use. The free motion options I was trying below were just not working. Better to let the machine do it’s thing!
I didn’t feel the jacket fabric would support a mending stitch without some help, so I planned to place some cotton bias tape inside each tear. I had to fold the tape to get it into the side tear but could put it in flat on the front tear. I used a blunt tip stiletto to help me.
I used a scrap piece of water soluble stabilizer on the back of the coat under each tear to give the area more support and stability.
I sprayed the stabilizer lightly with temporary adhesive….
…and laid it on the inside of the coat, under the tear, so it wouldn’t move while I was sewing. Remember, you can’t use any pins on nylon. The KK2000 is more expensive than other temporary adhesives, but I think it does the best job in this type of application. It will disappear in a few days, leaving no residue.
With the bias tape folded and inside the tear, I took my test stitch-out on stabilizer and laid it in front of the area to place my first stitch on the coat. I needed to gauge where to start sewing based on where the mending stitch would end and its overall width.
The side tear after the stitching was finished. You can see the outline of the folded bias tape on the inside of the jacket, which didn’t thrill me, but I now knew exactly how slippery this fabric was going to be under the presser foot. I was now ready to tackle the front tear.
The front tear was much larger and I was able to insert the bias tape to lie flat. Also, after I was finished stitching, I took a navy blue pen and just touched the areas where down feathers kept escaping while I was sewing. This turned out much better than the side tear which is why I practiced on the more hidden tear first!
Once you take a step back from the coat, the mend is a little less noticeable, though you will always notice something. It’s better than the large tear that was spilling down feathers!
When wearing the coat, I don’t think the repair will be overly obvious. My sister-in-law got the coat back tonight and she’s happy, so all is right with the world again!

So just to recap…measure the mending stitch you plan to use by actually stitching it out. Use a small needle to lessen the size of the holes you will be making as you mend. Use something to stabilize the fabric, inside and outside, so the mend does not pull the fabric apart at the edges (nylon, once torn, has little strength on its own. It needs help). I used cotton bias tape on the inside of the coat, in between the layers of coat and the down feathers. While stitching I used a stabilizer that will disappear either with water or with the air (it will dry up over time and flake off). Also, when I was putting the coat under the presser foot on my machine, I dropped the feed teeth so the nylon did not get snagged.

I hope you find some useful hints here if you ever find yourself in this type of situation. Have a great week and Happy Sewing!