I'm not sure where it started, but I've gotten it in my head that January is the time for more complex sewing projects. November and December always seem to fly by with everything happening at once, and then I get to January, with all the productive energy leftover from the previous months and nowhere to direct it. And honestly, what better place to put it than in to sewing?!
This year will definitely be different, as the holiday season will inevitably be like one we've never experienced, but that seems like all the more reason to tackle a project on which we can slow down, focus, and dig in to the process. We've done jeans and trench coats the last two years, respectively, and this year, we're tackling the utilitarian but oft forgotten raincoat.
You may be thinking, but January is the middle of winter, why do I need a raincoat? Good question! For one, while I'm very northeast minded, I know that lots of you out there don't get the cold and snow that I do, so a lighter jacket is absolutely useful this time of year. Also, without an immediate need for the jacket, it really lets you take your time with the construction and make the most of the sewing process. These seemingly complex projects are easily broken down into smaller parts where you can focus on the details and embrace the meditative element of sewing.
As I was looking for patterns for this theme, I really wanted a jacket that wasn't a glorified winter coat, but that fell more into the parka/macintosh range of outerwear, sort of that light layer that you throw on not for warmth but protection from the elements. These patterns also allowed me to play with fabrics that we don't normally use in our everyday sewing, like oilskin, waterproof nylon, and waxed fabrics. It's been a fun learning curve to source these fabrics, but I couldn't be happier with what I found.
So without further ado, let's dig in to this month's options!
Sew Fearless Box: Minoru Jacket from Sewaholic Patterns
It has been a whole year since we've used a Sewaholic pattern. That's not for lack of love for the pattern company and more a testament to how vast and exciting the sewing pattern world has become. But sometimes it's nice to come home to one of the pattern companies that was there when I first started sewing.
The Minoru Jacket stands out this month because of its simplicity. Our Sew Fearless Box is designed with newer sewists in mind, and I spent a long time searching for the right pattern - the one that is a challenge but not overly complicated, the one that will work with friendly fabrics and not drive you crazy trying to sew it. The Minoru Jacket fit the bill perfectly. While it has a zipper and a hood, it's construction is pretty straight forward and easy to fit due to the elastic at the waist. And in the end you get a gorgeous jacket that will impress all your friends and family!
For fabrics, I wanted to offer a range depending on what you want to use the raincoat for, whether you want a truly water resistant jacket to brave the elements or a light jacket to throw on under an umbrella. Either way, we've got you covered!
Let's take a look!
- Olive Green Waxed Poplin - This Japanese poplin has a very thin coating of wax on the right side making it water resistant for most rainy weather. A combination of cotton and nylon gives it great durability and being a poplin, it's very thin, meaning it will handle the gathers of the jacket at the waist really well without creating bulk. The dark olive green color (slightly lighter than it appears in the swatch) is neutral and versatile. With the styling of the jacket, it will look utilitarian without veering too militaristic. An amazing fabric option!
- Creamy Latte Waxed Twill - At first glance, this fabric looks like your typical light sand khaki twill, but look closer and you can see that the right side has a slight sheen, almost like leather. That's due to the waxy coating that transforms an ordinary fabric into a faux leather luxury dream. The fabric itself is the heaviest of the three options, at 8oz, but it is supple and soft and will become a lovely three-season jacket with the added benefit of being water resistant. In the "light and sweet" latte color, it's neutral and serene, something we could all use on rainy days.
- Lake Blue Kobe Twill - If you're the type who wants a bright color in your outerwear, we've got the fabric for you! Sometimes, on rainy or cloudy days, you just want a pop of color to make everything seem brighter, and this lake blue twill will do just that. At 6 oz, it's the perfect weight for a midseason jacket and the cotton twill is light and breathable. Though not waterproof, it can be treated with spray if you want to turn it into a true raincoat, but it can also just be a wonderful spring jacket for when the weather can change on the drop of a dime. A bright and cheery option!
Sew Confident Box: Kelly Anorak from Closet Core Patterns
I don't know about you, but when I think of the most ubiquitous indie raincoat pattern out there, I immediately think of the Kelly Anorak from Closet Core Patterns. Living up to their newly minted name, Closet Core's collection of patterns really create a complete wardrobe, from their simple dresses to their jeans to their jackets. And each one features excellent detailing, easy to follow instructions, and beautiful drafting.
The Kelly Anorak is no exception. A classic shape with a modern cut, the simple coat is lightweight and unlined and features a two piece cuffed sleeve, optional drawstring waist, gusseted flap pocket and a zipper placket with snap buttons. It also has an option for either a stand collar or a three piece hood making it the perfect choice for transitional weather.
Being unlined and light, I wanted to use fabrics that would protect you from the elements but still feel good against your skin. And like with the Minoru Jacket, I've chosen both coated and untreated fabrics depending on how water resistant you want your jacket ultimately to be.
So let's dive in to the fabrics!
- Wine Ventana Twill - Before choosing any other fabric for any of these boxes, I knew I wanted to use Ventana Twill. Though not water-resistant, it has a supple hand, a slight sheen, and a beautiful twill weave. And it's just the right weight for a simple jacket. It comes in a ton of colors too, but this ruby red was calling to me. It's rich and deeply saturated, and it will become an absolutely stunning jacket. The fabric can also be treated to become water resistant, if you so choose.
- Curry Waxed Oxford - In my search for water resistant fabrics, I found that there are a lot that are very light and almost see-through and a lot that are very heavy and really meant for bags and awnings. This oxford, however, is just right. Medium weight, it's coated in wax to repel water, but it feels dry to the touch and has just the right amount of body for this jacket. In a deep yellow curry color, somewhere between brown and mustard, the fabric will become a truly unique anorak that will protect you through the years!
- Charcoal Mix Waterproof Taffeta - If you want to make a light jacket that you can throw into a bag just in case, this is the fabric for you. The taffeta, coated with a waterproof layer, is light and thin, similar to what umbrellas are made of, so it will become a windbreaker type jacket that you want to throw on when you need protection from the weather but don't want to add too much warmth. The charcoal mix fabric is printed to look almost like a sweater knit, mottled with spots of gray and white. A perfect jacket for anyone on the go!
Sew Curvy Box: Hoodie Parka from The Assembly Line
Say hello to The Assembly Line! They've been around for a while, but, amazingly, this is the first time we're using the patterns in our boxes. With a Scandinavian aesthetic, the company's patterns are simplicity itself, with distinct style-lines, architectural influences, and unique construction.
I'm absolutely enamored with the Hoodie Parka. The simple pattern evokes the classic Barbour jackets worn by the British royal family, and it has a simple elegance to the design. The A-line shape and loose fit make it flattering and comfortable and the high front of the hood, almost like a mock turtleneck, gives good protection for cold or windy days.
This pattern calls for heavier fabric than the other patterns this month, as the coat has a little more structure to its shape. That allowed me to choose some higher end fabrics that are not only water resistant, but have a luxury feel.
So let's take a look!
- Copenhagen Blue Dintex Softshell Woven - Similar to the famous Gore-tex fabric, this is a true raincoat fabric. Comprised of three layers, an outer polyester taffeta, a thin waterproof dintex layer, and an inner black mesh layer, this fabric will be thin yet incredibly protective from the elements. The copenhagen blue, slightly grayer than it appears in the swatch above, is a pop of color for those gray, rainy days. If you're looking to make an activewear coat for any adventure you want to go on, this is the fabric for you!
- Dark Brown and Red Coated Cotton Twill - I can't tell you how excited I was when I found this fabric! It's just so unique and wonderful. Made in Spain, the base of the fabric is a deep red cotton twill that has been coated with a layer of black wax that appears as dark brown with the red behind it. The effect is a two sided fabric that is soft and bright on one side, water repellent and classic on the outside. The effect will especially be shown off when the inside of the hood and pocket flaps have a pop of red in a seemingly neutral black coat. An amazing option!
- Chestnut Coated Linen - Linen is a wonder fabric if you ask me, but it's also kind of seasonal - perfect for summertime, not ideal for cold winter months. Or so you thought! This linen, a lovely chestnut colored fabric, has been coated in wax to transform it into a lovely raincoat fabric! The fabric still has the slubs from the linen weave, adding texture and visual interest to the fabric. Plus, it soft and will age wonderfully with wear.
Sew Indulgent Box: Landgate Parka from Merchant & Mills
Mixing it up in the raincoat game, the Landgate Parka is the only pattern I chose that pulls on over the head instead of zipping up from the hem. It's much more like a poncho in that aspect of the design, but when on, it looks very much like a waterproof hoodie - comfy, loose, and relaxed.
Merchant & Mills has very classic designs in their pattern library, and they are one of the few out there that designs for both men and women. And this is our very first unisex pattern! So, you can absolutely make this for yourself or you could do some selfless sewing for a male in your life.
With the unisex element in mind, I chose some fabrics that are non-gender specific, though I also chose a bright pink because it was just so pretty. With all the fabrics, they are water repellent and perfect for this pattern.
On to the fabrics!
- Hawthorne Tartan Waxed Poplin - A few years ago, I spent a week in Scotland and it's definitely one of those places where a raincoat is a must. So it only seemed appropriate to use a little bit of tartan as one of our fabrics. When I found this waxed tartan poplin I knew it was a match meant to be! The tartan consists of brown, purple and yellow lines, though they are very faint under the layer of wax. A very subtle pattern that will turn your parka into a wonderfully unique raincoat!
- Magenta Cotton Oilskin - Sometimes you don't want to be subtle and you want to make a bright, bold statement. You can do just that with this magenta cotton oilskin. The oilskin has a dry finish created when the fabric is treated with an emulsified wax that is heat-processed into the cloth for a longer lasting finish and higher performance. And the color! Together, you have the perfect fabric for a cheery raincoat to brighten up your closet.
- Majolica Blue Organic Dry Oilskin - Similar to the magenta oilskin, this fabric as a subtler look in a muted blue-green, the color of bluestone. Underneath the water resistant coating, the fabric itself has a ripstop look, with tenth of an inch squares, giving it a slightly industrial feel. Paired with the classic shape of the parka, it will look modern and chic, all while keeping you dry and protected!
I hope you are as excited about raincoats as I am! It may seem daunting now, but just like with our jeans boxes and our trench coat boxes, I believe that the rewards far outweigh any trepidation you may have going in to the project. And at the end, you get an amazing raincoat, so what can be wrong with that?!
That being said, if outerwear isn't on your sewing list, we've got our Classic Boxes to keep you going. This month, I'm reviving the Button Up Shirt Boxes. These boxes were first released before our Sew Curvy Boxes existed, so I've added a Curvy option featuring the Harrison Shirt from Cashmerette. Button Up Shirts are nicely technical to keep with our vision of January sewing, and they have so many skills you can hone for all your future sewing. So check them out!
Lastly, Thanksgiving is less than two weeks away which means Black Friday is right around the corner. Naturally, it will be a little different this year, but I'm planning some exciting things for the holiday season, so if you subscribe to the newsletter, watch your inbox next week to learn all about the big plans!
Until then, happy sewing!