The raincoat which nearly killed me…

I’m a very selfish maker, I hardly ever sew or knit for other people. I’ll sew for my mum (because she’s awesome), and I’ll sew or knit for Hamish (because he’s super fussy about buying clothes, and I’m still trying to get him out of tee shirts that he’s been wearing since before we got together, 10 years ago), and I’ll make gifts for special people in my life, but that’s about it. I don’t usually feel guilty about this, but when my sister asked me to make her a raincoat I felt a bit bad that I had never sewn for her before! I was planning my own raincoat at the time, using the Papercut Waver Jacket pattern, and as Abby also liked the pattern I figured it would be easy enough to make two! Now, if you’ve just followed that link to see my version of the Waver, you’ll notice that I blogged it a while ago. In fact, the fabric for both of our raincoats was bought from Drapers Fabrics when we last visited Auckland…in September 2015. This raincoat was my longest ever work in progress! It was probably also one of my worst ever sewing experiences, and there is definitely a strong correlation between those facts…

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I made her the longer version of the Waver, with the hood and the drawstring waist. I wish I had made the longer version for me too, its a much more practical length for a rain coat! My sister is tiny, so I re-traced the pattern and cut her an XXS, then took an inch off the waist and the hem. She has a lot of hair though (I’m pretty sure she got her full allocation of hair and then half of what should have been mine), so I left the hood at its original size instead of shortening it like I did for mine. I also left the sleeves at full length. I made the same aesthetic modifications to both jackets, adding in-seam pockets behind the patch pockets and a self-fabric facing to the hood.

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So the pattern wasn’t the problem with this project at all. I cut Abby’s coat just after I finished mine, intending to have both done by winter 2016. it was as I was cutting up the waterproof nylon that we’d picked that I started to realise what I had done to myself. This fabric rolled along it’s cut edges worse than anything I have ever dealt with before, all of my newly cut pieces were rolling up into little skinny tubes before my eyes! It’s also completely rigid, there was no easing anything or using any of the tricks I’ve learned to sew nice curved seams over the years. I’m so glad that we picked a pattern with raglan sleeves instead of set in ones! It wouldn’t hold a crease at all once it cooled down (though at least it didn’t melt), and it slipped all over the place under my presser foot, making the stitches an uneven length and the tension a bit wonky. I wanted to cry after a few seams! It was worse than silk velvet, than tissue knit, worse than bag leather or the finest chiffon. The shifty, slippery silk satin lining Abby picked out was honestly a dream to sew by comparison.

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So I put it aside, meaning to come back to it once I had a better idea of how to deal with the fabric. And then it languished, for a whole year, until my sister started asking pointed questions about it’s whereabouts at the beginning of autumn this year. I really did feel guilty then, so I braced myself and pulled it out of the WIP bag of shame. It was still an absolute bastard to sew, but I used a super fine microtex needle which helped with my dodgy looking stitches, and I topstitched where I could to keep the seam allowances flat. I really wanted to seal the seams to make it as waterproof as possible, especially after topstitching them, but I couldn’t find seam sealing tape anywhere, even online sources wouldn’t ship to New Zealand for some reason. Eventually Hamish suggested I get some tent seam sealing glue from a camping store (I got this one), which was a brilliant idea. It comes as a sponge-topped glue stick like I remember from primary school, and I just painted it in an inch wide strip over each seam on the inside. I doubt it’ll be as effective as a sealing tape in the long run, but it seems to be working for now!

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The press studs are the same as the ones I used on my Waver, and I used the same round elastic for the drawstring as in mine. It’s much more comfortable than a rigid cord! Abby had to have two photoshoots for me to get pictures for this post, there’s something weird happening with my camera and pictures keep coming out unfocused. And it isn’t just my shaky hands, it happens when I use the self timer too! At least I know she’s wearing it though, I would’ve hated to go through all that and then have her not like it!

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Rainy Day Waver Jacket

It’s taken me over six months, but I’ve finally made myself a new raincoat!

  

This is the Waver Jacket from Papercut Patterns, made up in the shorter length with the hood (obviously). I have to admit to competely overlooking this pattern when it was released, because the samples just reminded me of the lab coat I wore for my undergrad studies! But there have been some very cute versions popping up on my blog reader since it was released, and when I decided that I wanted another raincoat this pattern fitted all of my requirements. And I’m really glad I tried it, because I love the end result!

  

I only made a few changes to the pattern, the major one being the addition of in seam pockets. I really don’t like patch pockets for putting my hands in (its the one thing I would change about my Cascade Duffle Coat), and when I saw that Lauren at Lladybird had added side seam pockets to her Waver, I shamelessly decided to copy her. I also took an inch off the length of the sleeves and off the bottom of the hood. The hood was so massive when I first basted it on! I think having no hair means that I’m very aware of hood size, I don’t need to worry about fitting a pony tail or anything into the back of my hood! It still feels pretty massive, but I’ll be able to fit a hat (with pompom) and a chunky scarf inside the hood with no problems, which will be excelent when it gets properly cold. I possibly over shortened the sleeves, 1/2″ might have been a better adjustment. Its not a major drama though!

  

I love the drawstring at the waist, I think it looks much nicer than if it fell straight from the bust. I used round elastic instead of rigid drawstring cord, which makes it more comfortable. Its also easier to get the tension right, as the drawstring comes out on the inside of the jacket and can’t be adjusted when I’m wearing it done up! I put a pair of silver eyelets in the lining for the cord to exit through, rather than using a button hole as instructed, as the lining just got chewed up by my machine, and because I thought they looked better.

 

I also used hammer on anorak snaps instead of buttons, again just because I thought they looked professional and fancy! I used six instead of the four marked on the pattern, as they are smaller than the recommended buttons, and I didn’t want rain blowing through the gaps! Rain comes in at all angles in Wellington, so it’s always a hazard…

 

I had planned on making pocket flaps to cover the openings of the patch pockets, but when I sewed them on and cinched in the drawstring around the waist, they caused the bottom half of the jacket to balloon out like there was a crinoline under there. They were just too bulky and too close to the waist, so I unpicked them. The patch pockets are now less waterproof, but the whole thing is more flattering!

  

The fabric is possibly my favourite part of this whole project. I found the shell fabric at Drapers Fabrics in Auckland when I was up there last year (Thanks to Bella for taking me there!), its a waterproof wool from Italy. I’ve never seen anything like it before, it feels like a crisp wool suiting but when I ran a scrap under the tap it was totally waterproof! It sewed and pressed beautifully, and thankfully the holes from my unpicking self healed like any normal wool. I couldn’t find seam sealing tape anywhere, so it’s not going to be completely waterproof, but it should be fine for getting around town in the rain!

The lining fabric is some mystery slippery stuff I got for $3p/m from the Fabric Warehouse pop up sale a few months ago. It was a bit of a nightmare to sew! Its super slippery, frays as soon as you look at it, and shreds at the slightest provocation. I underlined it with some cotton to give it a bit of strenght at the seams, but to be honest I don’t have high hopes of it lasting too long. But it’s so pretty and cheerful I thought I would give it a go, I can always replace it if it falls apart…

  

Big thanks to Marta and Kat for these photos, we had brunch on Saturday and then scouted out good photo locations. Its nice to have a change from my teal wall! I had unreasonable amounts of trouble getting my snaps done up in the right order, I must have had three goes at it. Always start at the top or the bottom, not at the waist!