Monday Outfit: Necessity Sewing

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Good morning! For over two years, I’ve been sewing K an outfit nearly every week. An important lesson from last year was that I failed to make her enough clothes that are appropriate for cooler weather. All my lovely linen creations and flimsy dresses sat unloved as temperatures dipped and poor K suffered through the rainy season (which, as you know in the Pacific Northwest, lasts forever) with nary a waterproof jacket.

I decided to rectify the situation this year and got some water-resistant nylon fabric for that specific purpose. Turning to my go-to book, I selected the “No Collar Coat” and added a hood from this coat’s pattern.
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It became clear why I’ve avoided making a raincoat: the fabric is a nightmare. You can’t really iron it all that well, you can’t pin it, and when you make a mistake, the stitches permanently puncture the material, as you can see in the hood here:

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Not only that, I slipped while cutting open a button hole, and momentarily thought I’d sliced through the whole coat — I nearly sobbed because this darn thing took so much work. Luckily, the damage was minimal and I was able to suture it decently enough and the button hides most of the ugliness.

I learned a few things from this coat:

– For nylon or nylon-esque material, use a microtex needle. Otherwise, the underside pokes through, which looks terrible when it’s white like mine. I switched needles after attaching the first pocket, and the difference was remarkable.
– Ironing is possible with a press cloth, but keep the iron at a pretty low setting if you don’t want the material to melt (I used my poly blend setting). Finger pressing is also helpful.
– For hand-sewn buttons, an extra sharp needle is highly recommended. It felt like I was trying to sew through cardboard with my less-than-sharp needle.

necessity-sewing2 necessity-sewing6This was a challenging project, but if you don’t look too closely, it’s quite professional-looking. In fact, M was so impressed, he asked me to make him a rain jacket too. He never asks me to make him anything and I so wanted to accommodate. I really did. However, I had to put my foot down and say no, because man, this was not a fun project.

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I love the way the hood looks with the coat, and I used a french seam to prevent unsightliness when the hood is down. The metal buttons look vintage, and are from my mom, and I can’t get enough of metal buttons. They work perfectly for the shoulder and sleeve tabs, I think, giving it a sort of militaristic feel.

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I’m happy to report that the long-sleeved tees and denim loose pants were a breeze. These are also from the same book, and the pants are actually supposed to have suspenders but K ixnayed them, saying they looked weird. Oh, and I added 8cm to the hem so she wouldn’t outgrow them too quickly.

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She’s besotted with both tees, though she complained that the pants are too baggy. I keep promising to make her skinny jeans, and am still looking for a good pattern. Not just for K, but for me as well…the search continues.

I’m a little fuzzy on where all the fabric came from. I’m pretty sure the nylon and floral knit are from here, and the denim is from here. The black-and-white stripes…probably from here.

Smooth sailing, it wasn’t, but I was able to mutter my motto frequently: it’s not a mistake; it’s a design element. At any rate, bring on the rain. We’re ready!

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43 thoughts on “Monday Outfit: Necessity Sewing

    1. I’ve made Peek-a-Boo swimsuits before and they are excellent! I’ll have to check that one out for sure – thanks Laura!

  1. This is so great–and really professional looking. Why do men always want the practical stuff–darn my socks, fix this hole in the knee? So not what I think.

    1. Men will continue to be a mystery to me, Greta! M is quite suspicious of all of my handmade clothes for some reason though on several occasions he’s remarked “You MADE that??”

    1. Thank you, Nicki! Nylon is definitely on my fabric blacklist now – maybe I can try waxed canvas? Maybe that’s even trickier, I’m not sure…

  2. The Japanase design is very convincing, better than all the girly ruffled stuff, you can allover buy.
    So this coat looks very pretty, with all its design elements, but maybe a cotton lining had been very useful and comfortable for K.?
    I like this outfit, even the baggy pants, but my girls donΒ΄t like them except one, who likes to play outside day and night. The other girls prefer skinny jeans like your daughter. Hope you’ll find a good pattern!

    1. Thank you, Sou Enim! The nylon/waterproof fabric actually comes lined with a cotton fabric, so I thought it would be perfect for a rain jacket. Unfortunately, the waterproof part turned out to be a lot harder for me to work with than I thought. I’m glad I powered through, though! πŸ™‚

  3. Totally awesome look! The jacket… I can see why M wants one! I made an ipad case out of similar waterproof material (fabric one side, waterproof plasticky stuff the other) but probably not as finicky as your material. Such a small project, such a big headache, so I can imagine what a labour of love such a large project must have been. The sleeves must have been a nightmare! You probably know this already but I found that pinning along the seam inside the seam allowance worked well. None of that perpendicular pinning. And grading the seam to 3/8 inch and using a serger with the blade down to stitch it together also worked pretty well. Thanks for sharing your tips πŸ™‚

    1. My fabric was the same! I think I’m just so used to sewing with cotton and linen that it threw me a bit. I ended up using wonder clips and held the pockets in place with double-sided tape (specifically made for sewing). That worked pretty well! The serger trick also sounds really good, though I have yet to have success with garments constructed solely with my serger. The stitches tend to unravel after a short while. Thanks, Grace!

  4. Ah, why can’t I be your daughter! You make such beautiful things for her. Congratulations on the raincoat!! I looks and sounds like hard work. And yay! It works out.

    1. Ha, K’s wardrobe is pretty spectacular. I find it so much easier to make stuff for her than for me, since I’m still a little shaky in the fit department. Today, K wore the raincoat and said, “Thank you for my beautiful coat, Mama!”…definitely worth the effort.

  5. What fun fall sewing! I always wondered what K wore for a raincoat! Have you looked at the Small Fry Skinny Jeans pattern? It’s on my eventually hope to sew list. Baggy pants don’t seem to work very well in wet weather for my gal.

    1. Oh my gosh, it was a disaster last year! We had one raincoat left over from before I started sewing, but it was so small on her! I bundled her up and we used an extra big umbrella a lot πŸ™‚ I agree that baggy pants aren’t ideal for PNW weather so I best get crackin’ on those skinny jeans!

    1. I didn’t know she had a pant pattern, thank you Isabelle! Will check it out, though I’m a little hesitant to go the elastic waist route. I think I’ve written this before, but it feels like once I allow myself to wear elastic waisted pants, I may never go back…

  6. I”m so impressed by your fortitude, Sanae! That is quite the project to soldier through, and you must feel a great sense of accomplishment in completing it. I have never sewn with such tricky fabric before, and frankly think I might not be brave to do so! This raincoat looks fabulous, as does the entire outfit. Love the floral and stripe tops – they will be a good wardrobe addition. As will the jeans – hopefully she will learn to enjoy the bagginess:) Good luck with your search for skinny jeans . . . I’m trusting that you will keep us posted!

    1. Thanks, Lucinda! It was sheer madness, is what it was! All those little details with that slippery, impossible to iron fabric! I was thinking I should make a combo t-shirt with the floral and stripe — that makes me think of you (and JCrew). πŸ™‚ And yes, skinny jeans should be showing up in the very near future!

    1. Yes! I’ve heard so many good things about that pattern! I think I was supposed to get that pattern for one of the tours I did, but I never received it. Oh well, I’m happy to fork over cash to support indie designers and I need to investigate that pattern again. Thanks, Zane!

  7. Thaese clothes are all great, but I hear you on the difficulty of sewing raincoat fabric, I have been making sequinned costumes all last month – also terrible terrible fabric to sew-I found sewing through tissue helped stop it catching in the feed dog.

    1. This is so cool, Greta! Thank you for the link! Such intricate embroidery – it’s phenomenal! That reminds me, I still haven’t watched season 3 and M has it downloaded so I better get on that.

    1. I’ve heard a lot of great things about the Jalie pattern. Did you actually have a skinny jeans pattern? Thanks for the suggestion, –anu!

  8. great little pacific northwest-y basics! i love making jackets/coats actually, but haven’t really tried to make anything waterproof – kinda sounds like a fun challenge though?? hmmm.

    i made the titchy threads small fry skinny jeans for O and thought they were pretty great and i saw lots of girl versions on the pattern tour; you could try those! i just made Em some Hosh pants in a stretch denim and added pockets in the back, but there aren’t side seams so the fronts don’t look very jeans-like; they’re more jeggings with topstitching. as for adult jeans, i’m so with ya! the named jamie jeans have too much detail – i just want basic jeans!

    1. Oh, I was just looking at the named jamie jeans and thinking the same! Lots of votes for small fry…maybe I’ll try both small fry and the Peek-A-Boo. And I bet you could whip the nylon into submission in no time with your skillz, girl. Thanks, Kristin!!

  9. Gorgeous clothes! I especially like the tees – pretty basics like that are the things that get the most wear in my (and my children’s) wardrobe. I was going to mention the Small Fry jeans too. I haven’t tried it yet but I was admiring Novita’s pair again recently and am trying to pluck up the courage to give it a try. All the versions I’ve seen have looked fabulous.
    (http://verypurpleperson.com/2014/09/small-fry-skinny-jeans-perfect-pattern-parcel-4/ )

    1. Yet another Small Fry recommendation – it sounds awesome! And it’s true about the basics – K wears all the knit basics I’ve made so much they’re all starting to fall apart! πŸ™‚

    1. Thanks Shelley! Three out of the four took so little time, but that coat…but it’s like giving birth and I’m already starting to forget the pain and am thinking about making a different version…

  10. I’m amazed with you rain coat! wow. would love to make one, but probably I’m not ready. The rest of the pieces are so lovely too, and i love how you can mix and match.

    1. With an extra sharp needle and a slow and steady pace, I have no doubt you can manage it, Maria! It’s finicky, but I think what made it hard for me was all the extra tabs and trying to figure out how to add the hood (I had to re-do that part several times). Thank you!

  11. Ahhhh, I have been thinking about making a raincoat for myself- doesn’t sound like a lot of fun though! I saw some water resistant canvas at a local store here, but it was so thick and heavy. I’ve sewn a couple bags with waxed canvas and it was pretty easy to work with. Way to power through with K’s coat though, it looks awesome! I have made the Named Jamie jeans, it’s a good pattern. The Style Arc Sandra jeans look promising too.

    1. Kelly, I am SURE that your skills can more than handle raincoat fabric. I’m sort of wimpy when it comes to new-to-me fabrics. Good to know the Named Jamie is a winner and I’d forgotten about Style Arc! Thanks for the reminder!! I love waxed canvas – did you get some of the thinner kind from Drygoods? You have to check it out!

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