My next project – the Barbour jacket

So I got this classic Barbour Border jacket from Freecycle and instead of paying £70 or more for repairs to a few tears on the sleeves and other fixes, I want to see about doing the repairs on my own and saving a bundle.

The style of the jacket is ‘vintage English country gentleman’ and comes from the Barbour ‘shooting’ range of clothing – it’s meant to be something you go out walking the countryside with, a shotgun under one arm and your sheepdog (or a selection of your well-heeled aristocratic mates) at your side.

This is an example of a waxed cotton jacket (just happens to be the same one I got), you can see it’s a fairly expensive jacket, they run from £160 to £200 new! Waxed cotton jackets have been popular since at least WW2, many retro motorcyclists use them for riding.

This is the official price list for patches, repairs and reproofing from the original company…£10 for a patch, damn

So there are two stages of things to deal with…

The first thing to deal with is a bunch of tears, this jacket has been well-used inside and out:

  • multiple tears on the lower sleeves (there is a full-length sleeve patch where it’s been repaired before, it must have been sent in at some point)
  • the lining has big tears in a few places
  • one of the handwarmer pocket flaps is starting to come off (there is another patch on the other handwarmer pocket)
  • the hang tab is torn
  • a few small holes elsewhere on the outer fabric
  • fraying around the sleeve cuffs

A few evenings of hand-sewing will take care of these I think, except for the cuffs, I’m not sure how to deal with those. If you send the jacket to the company they give you the option of adding cotton cuffs to cover up the fraying/holes, I don’t know how to add these at this point. The first step here is to get some matching fabric (tight-knit dark green cotton) and thread.

The other issue I have is reproofing the cotton with wax. As I understand it, each company that offers waxed cotton clothing uses their own blend of wax, so you’re meant to use their own. (If you’re just waxing a bag or pair of jeans, I understand beeswax works pretty well, although it might not be as long-wearing.) I’ve got my eye on an eBay auction of some Barbour ‘Thornproof Dressing’ so I hope I get them, then I can try reproofing the jacket after I’m done patching it up. Apparently reproofing involves warming up the jacket, heating up the tin of wax and using tightly rolled-up rags to apply the wax, then using a hair dryer to melt the wax in and let the cotton absorb it. With daily use you’re meant to reproof approximately once a year.

So, I’m not sure how long this project will take, but it’s something that can be done while watching TV or listening to music, which is pretty cool.