But frankly, as soon as the statement was out of my mouth, my inner voice piped up and said..."Are you nuts? That sewing project is so far beyond your sewing capabilities! There is no way you can pull that off." But with loads of encouragement from my online pals who convinced me to ignore that negative inner voice, I bit the bullet, ordered a copy of a super cute raincoat pattern from Amy Butler and started gathering up my supplies. And I'm so glad I did it.
This post is a quick recap of the things I learned along the way:
I absolutely loved Amy's pattern. I generally have a hard time following patterns and usually find them somewhat confusing, but this is written in really clear language and has great diagrams to accompany the verbiage. Since I didn't have much extra fabric to work with and really, really didn't want to muck it up, I actually read the steps aloud to myself. And followed my oft-heard mother's advice... measure twice and cut once :)
Amy also has a link to a page with some tips for sewing with laminated fabrics and it was a great help in getting everything prepared for my project. The biggest thing I learned was that sewing with the fabric is really much, much easier if you have the right tools. The slicker fabric is a little fiddly to sew, you really can't pin it without leaving holes and it can be a bit difficult to mark. But with the right tools, all of those things are easily solved. Here's all the goodies I used and each one was really important. Most are listing in Amy's PDF, but a few are my own additions.
Covered buttons kit by Dritz - Who knew that making covered buttons was the world's easiest thing? With the little tool and template, I made all the buttons I needed in minutes. And I love the way that my buttons match the inside lining of my coat (also from the Roughing It collection!)
Teflon foot - It cost me $12 from my local sewing store and am beyond thrilled with the expenditure. I'd heard that you can cover your sewing plate and regular foot with painter's tape and have the same effect, but this just seemed easier. And then when you're sewing the lining (which is from regular quilting cotton), you don't have to keep pulling tape off of your machine. The foot just makes the fabric glide along. And with such long seams and such big pieces of fabric, I felt like the foot really made my machine work well with the fabric.
Wonder tape - Critical for keeping my pockets in place and in the same spot on both sides since it was a step that can't be pinned or clipped into place.
Fabric weights - After cutting the fabric, there were lots of times I needed to go back and re-check something on the pattern (where to start and end a dart etc...) and laying the pattern pieces on top of my cut pieces was made much easier since I had these little weights around. My ceiling fan kept blowing the pattern pieces all over the place and it was making me bonkers so I located the weights in the bottom of my sewing tools box and I was so glad to see them.
Washi tape and Chalk Cartridge - I used the Washi tape on this project over and over. Marking on the slicker fabric is sort of hard to do. I have a little Dritz chalk marker cartridge (the red thing with the box of chalk sticks) that worked really well though. I initially tried a few different chalk and fabric pencils and nothing really stayed visible for more than a few minutes except the marks from this little tool. But even with those marks, there were tiny and hard to find, so on some steps I used washi tape sort of like you would use post it flags on a document. You know the ones that say "sign here" or whatever? And when I came time to hem my sleeves and the length, I used washi tape along with my seam measurer to guide my cutting. Being 5'2, I had about a 5" hem that I ended up needing to take up at the bottom and the washi tape was a great marking tool.
The Clover clips. I bought a box of 50 of them through Amazon and they were FABULOUS. Since you can't pin the slicker fabric without putting holes in it, these clips are just perfect. I think they are sold in smaller quantities, but it was $16 really well spent. At one point I think I had all 50 attached to the coat and was so happy to have so many to work with. I can also see using them over and over again for quilt binding. They might just be my new favorite tool!
I broke up the actual sewing of the coat over the course of a week or two so that I wasn't trying to sew when I was exhausted at the end of the day. I really just didn't want to mess it up!
And at the end of it all, I ended up with a coat that I just love. The fabric is the perfect weight and it just feels great. The cut of the coat is modern and really cute. I love the way the hood drapes and its just fitted enough to be stylish, but its not constricting.
I was lucky enough to get a tip from someone to make the arms bigger so they wouldn't be tight and I'm soooo glad I did that. Had I not, I don't think I would have been happy with the fit. When I got the tip to make the arms bigger, I really wasn't sure how exactly to do that (remember I'm terrible with patterns), but finally figured it out. I cut all of my pattern pieces as size = L except for the sleeve pieces which I cut as size = XXL. And then in the arm hole part of the coat pattern, I cut that at XXL as well so it would match up with the sleeve. And that was perfect for me. Just 'try on' the sleeves to figure out what size you need and then cut your fabric and mark your pieces accordingly from the beginning.
The only part of the whole pattern I couldn't figure out was the final optional step of making the thread loops to hold the belt in place when its not tied. For the life of me I couldn't (and still can't) figure out all of that looping. So if anyone figures that out, let me know. I think I just need a you tube video so I can actually see it being done. Or if you happen to be planning to go to Quilt Market and want to give me a quick lesson, even better! :)
So...I hope that helps. Even for a relative sewing neophyte like me, the coat came together fairly easily and I am just tickled with the outcome. And we even had rain here in Austin yesterday so I could test it out. (Thanks to my friend Kevin for being my photographer! xo) If you want to make your own raincoat, I say GO FOR IT! And if you'd like to make one like mine, Roughing It will start shipping this December. Thanks to my online cheering section for the gentle shove :)
I even threw on my most favorite plaid wellies for my front yard photo session :)
It has a matching belt (which I'm sure I will lose if I don't figure out that whole optional step!)
And the hood actually covers my big old mop of curls without mashing them.