Whatever possessed me to decide to make a coat during this hot, hot Summer?
Actually, I have a (somewhat logical) answer to that question! For starters, it’s a raincoat. And how I came to sew a raincoat is a good example of what keeps the wheels in my head turning!
While perusing the website for Britex Fabrics last Summer, I came across its offerings of rainwear fabrics. Just out of curiosity, I took a look at them, and I was immediately smitten with the “French Winter White Water-Resistant Rainwear Fabric”.
I sent off for a swatch, which confirmed for me the graceful woven design and lovely creamy color inherent in this fabric. A subsequent trip to California gave me the opportunity to see the fabric in person, and I decided it was time to “commit”! I had frequently felt the need for a “dressy” raincoat, so I thought, “Why not make one?” I also knew I had the perfect pattern – this “swing” coat design from 1957.
I figured the kimono sleeves and the loose fit would be great for wearing over dresses or suits, and the collar can be worn turned up or folded down, depending on the inclement conditions! Well, it only took a year to get to it, which I decided was long enough. Oh yes – I had one more incentive to “get to it”. When my friend, Nancy C. opened up her family’s button box for me to pick out some treasures, I spied this beautiful single glass button:
The design in it reminded me of raindrops – perfect for a dressy raincoat, and, I thought, a perfect complement to the fabric, already in my possession.
Of course, every pattern and project seems to demand certain changes or adaptations, and the count for this one stands at four:
1) I took a little fullness out of the front side panels. When I made a muslin mock-up of the pattern, it just seemed a little too full for my frame.
2) I added pockets to the side seams. I can’t imagine any coat without pockets, but a lot of the vintage styles (dresses and coats) did not have them.
3) Because I wanted to use the glass button, I decided to put in a bound buttonhole instead of using the buckle and band detail as shown on the pattern. (I did make and attach the back belt, however.)
4) With just a single closure at the top of the coat, I thought I needed something lower on the coat as well, to keep it closed in windy, rainy conditions. However, I didn’t want to interfere with the look of the coat when I might be wearing it open. Here’s what I came up with:
I made a “tab” with buttonholes on each end.
I placed the buttons for it on the inside facings on either side of the coat, about halfway between my waist and my hips. It can easily be buttoned to secure the coat, and when I unbutton the left side, the button on the right side allows it to fall down, hidden from view, but easily accessible.
A few more details about construction: The rainwear fabric is an acetate/rayon blend which I underlined with rayon voile.
I lined it with a pure silk lightweight twill in white. I would have loved to have lined it with a neat polka dot silk, but I didn’t want any “shadows” of a printed lining to show through. Guess I’ll just have to dress it up with polka dot scarves instead! The rainwear fabric was very easy to work with – surprisingly easy, actually. It drapes beautifully for a pattern like this. Speaking of patterns, this one was so precise and cleverly engineered (especially the collar), turning it into a really fun project!
Here are some finished views of my new dressy raincoat:
Making a garment like this during the Summer months means that I had to be prepared for “delayed gratification” as I probably won’t have a chance to wear my new raincoat for at least a couple of months. However, when a future Fall or Winter forecast is for “Chance of Sprinkles” – or even full-force rain – I’ll be ready!