I’ve been waiting for Patternreview’s Upcycle Contest. It’s no secret that I love to work with upcycled materials, so I jumped on the idea of this challenge post haste. My original idea was a bomber jacket with hood for my oldest son, but it seems like a better project for fall. I went to the thrift store with the plan to go ahead with that jacket unless something cool caught my eye. What presented itself for my consideration? This shell print caftan which I turned into a double collar rain jacket. Here’s the before:
Double Collar Rain Jacket
Burda World of Fashion 02-2008-120
BWOF 2-2008 is the first Burda issue I ever bought, and it’s easily my favorite. The details in this issue are superb, and it’s been my personal goal to sew every one of the jackets in this issue. To that end, #120 is my 5th jacket I believe. Before this, there’s the smocked trench, striped seersucker jacket, and two versions of a classic trench: first as this refashioned pastel denim jacket, and also as a floral applique linen jacket.
Feature-wise, #120 is a parka with a zip front, large patch pockets, and a very unique double collar. Someday, I’d love to sew it in the organza used in the magazine. Although, as airy as it is, where does one wear an organza parka? Anorak snaps finish off the sleeve bands and the corners of the front patch pockets.
Caftans have a LOT of fabric
I had decided that whatever project I was making for this contest, I was GOING to make a jacket. The caftan was a perfect choice for this use. Jackets take up a lot of yardage and boy howdy did I use all of it. After making the hat and the jacket, this was all I was left with.
Although I needed just about every square inch of the caftan, I was able to cut every piece without piecing. That is except for the bottom collar and the waist casing. The bottom collar (labeled “undercollar” on the pattern which it isn’t) is super wide with quite the arc, so I had to piece it. It didn’t feel like much of a concession since the top collar covers up the piecing completely. The waist casing is also not obviously pieced due to the gathering with the waistband and the business of the print.
The sleeves had to be cut on the cross grain, but even then I was surprised that I could even get sleeves out of my yardage, especially with the center front slit taking up so much useable space on the original garment.
I was also glad I could cut the fronts so as to avoid shell boobs. I am no mermaid!
Pockets and snaps and bias tape oh my
Zippered welts are my favorite pockets, and these ones went it without a hitch. I really could not be more pleased with them.
The snaps on the sleeve bands and front pockets are spring snaps from Gold Star Tool. I saw that Heather from Closet Case Files recommended them, so I gave them a try. They’re nice snaps and their setter works well, plus they have 99 cent shipping. Needless to say, I will not hesitate to order from them again.
All of the seams plus the jacket hem are finished with a Hong Kong finish with some bias made from white/yellow striped shirting that I used for one of my sons’ shirts.
Napkins for contrast
I do have a lot of napkins. We have people over frequently, and I really like using proper cloth napkins, so when I see nice ones, I buy them. I had a couple sage green linen look napkins that I used for the undercollar of both the top collar and bottom collar as well as the drawstring.
I used 2 aqua abstract dot linen napkins as the lining for the hat. Speaking of which:
It was my hope that I could’ve added a hood to my jacket, but it just wasn’t possible with the available yardage. I settled for adding a bucket hat as an accessory. The hat pattern is the Raindrop Hat from SEWN Hats by Carla Crim. It’s a good basic bucket hat. I sewed a medium which is a pretty good fit for me. There’s topstitching along all the seams and the brim (though I added 8 more rows of topstitching than the pattern called for as I am wont to do).
Shells in the rain
It might seem strange that a very beachy shell printed poly/cotton caftan would inspire a waterproof rain jacket, but that’s where my mind immediately went. The surface of the fabric has a little bit of texture that immediately reminded me of batik. I had the idea to make up the jacket and hat and then try my hand at some DIY waterproofing. I wrote a little tutorial below that I’ll put in a separate post someday when I get pictures, but for now, it’s here! All I can say is it worked like a charm. The day I took the pictures, we had heavy rain on and off and I stayed totally dry.
I can’t say that the jacket is waterproof. I didn’t use any waterproof sealants or seam tapes, but I will confidently say that it’s water resistant. Here’s a video of me dumping water on my hat. The water beads up on the hat well:
Not only did the wax make the jacket water resistant, but it added an incredible amount of structure to the collar and body to the jacket. It makes the fabric crinkly and soft and a little warmer. I love how the collar stands up on its own accord when the jacket is inside out!
Overall, this is one of my favorite refashions to date. I hope you’ll consider this jacket in your voting for the upcycle contest! Thanks for reading and have a great Memorial Day!
DIY Water resistant treatment tutorial
Once upon a time I did a lot of batik. I made some pretty elaborate wall hangings from junior high through college. I’d love to explore it again when I don’t have to worry about my kids getting into my dyes. At any rate, I have lots of wax on hand. The wax I like is a 50/50 mix of parrafin and beeswax.
For batik, parrafin is a great wax. It’s pure white, so it won’t leave any colored tinge to your fabric, and it cracks when it’s dry, giving batik its characteristic crackle effect to the dye. Beeswax is quite yellow, so it could theoretically give a candlelight glow to pure white fabric, but it is incredibly flexible. The flexibility of the beeswax gives the resulting fabric a really nice hand. Both of these waxes together also do a great job of making a water resistant treatment for your fabric. So here’s how you get the wax into the fabric:
- Electric griddle with a heating element
- Wax: paraffin or beeswax or a combination are good choices
- Garment to waterproof
- Old iron that you use for nefarious crafting purposes (i.e. not the one you use for sewing)
- Paper towels
- brown craft paper and/or paper grocery bags
- Freezer paper
- masking tape
- Melt your wax in the electric griddle. Ideally, the wax should be about 200 degrees. A crock pot, rice cooker, or candle warmer will do the trick. You won’t want to use this for food afterwards, so an old device is ideal.
- Cover a workspace with freezer paper, shiny side. Tape it down with masking tape. Lay your garment on top of it. Stuff areas of your garment where multiple layers sit on top of each other with craft paper or pieces of paper grocery bags (like pockets and sleeves).
- Using a foam brush, brush a thin layer of the hot wax over the entire surface of the outside of your garment.
- Don’t freak out. It’s going to look like you wrecked it. Your garment will stand up entirely on its own and will be as stiff as a board. You will fix this in the next step. Take out the paper stuffing from the sleeves and pockets and replace it with a thick layer of paper towels.
- Cover your ironing board with 2 layers of brown craft paper. You’re going to iron out most of the wax and you do not want wax on your ironing board!
- Put a thick pad of paper towels on top of the craft paper. Place the waxed garment on top of the paper towels. Cover an area of your garment with one paper towel. Using the iron on its hottest setting, iron over the paper towel, moving the iron continuously.
- When the paper towel is transparent, it has been saturated completely with wax. Get another paper towel* and continue the process of ironing over different areas of the garment. You’ll probably need to make 2 full passes over the garment with the towels. The fabric should not have wax that you can see on the surface, but you don’t want to iron out all of the wax either. When the hand of the fabric becomes more flexible and is no longer stiff with wax, you’re good to go.
- Go find some big puddles and enjoy your newly waterproofed project!
*You’ll be amazed at how many paper towels you’ll need for this. It’ll seem wasteful to keep using a fresh paper towel when the wax has totally saturated the paper, but you really need to do so. If you keep using the same old waxy towel three things will happen: 1)the paper will stop absorbing wax, 2)the wax will start smoking which can be rather noxious, and 3)the wax can scorch leaving permanent scorch marks on your project. Save yourself the pain and get a new paper towel. Ask me how I know. 🙂
Elizabeth Farr is the writer behind the Elizabeth Made This blog where she shares helpful sewing tips, step by step sewing tutorials and videos to help you explore your creativity through sewing. She has written sewing Eguides and patterns, been a featured teacher at Rebecca Page’s Sewing Summit and Jennifer Maker’s Holiday Maker Fest and her work has appeared in Seamwork and Altered Couture magazines. She also created a line of refashioned garments for SEWN Denver. When her sewing machine isn’t humming, she’s playing and teaching violin, and hanging around a good strategic board game with her husband and 4 kids.