double collar rain jacket

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

double collar rain jacket

Double Collar Rain Jacket

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.

double collar rain jacket

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.

After cutting 2 pieces, this is pretty close to #nowaste sewing. #sewcialists #patternreview #refashion #sewingcontest

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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.

double collar rain jacket

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

double collar rain jacket

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.

double collar rain jacket

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.

double collar rain jacket

I used 2 aqua abstract dot linen napkins as the lining for the hat.  Speaking of which:

Bucket hat

double collar rain jacket

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).

double collar rain jacket

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:

I will safely call this water resistant after the wax treatment. #success #diy #imakemyownclothes #upcycledclothing

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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!

  double collar rain jacket double collar rain jacket    double collar rain jacket

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


  1. 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.
  2. 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).
  3. Using a foam brush, brush a thin layer of the hot wax over the entire surface of the outside of your garment.
  4. 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.
  5. 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!
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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. 🙂



sea glass denim jacket

I’m pretty sure this Sea Glass Denim jacket was the whole reason I decided to attempt Wardrobe Sudoku at all this year.  This is a project I’ve wanted to make for 3 years now.  I could blame my procrastination on pregnancy or the time it took to find the right fabric, but anyhow, the time for this project was now.

Sea Glass Denim Jacket

Burda 7018

Almost exactly 3 years ago, I bought Janet Pray’s Sew Better Sew Faster class on Craftsy.  The pattern that comes with the class is a denim style jacket, but I knew it was not going to work for me.  The finished bust even on the XXS is 39 1/8″ and the finished sleeve 30 7/8″.  I don’t know precisely what my inseam is, but it’s not that far off from that sleeve measurement!  While I could have gone through multiple rounds of fitting and pattern alteration, there’s comes a time when it’s just more efficient to start with a pattern that’s graded closer to your measurements.

Burda 7018 is a good match.  It has all of the detailing of a classic denim jacket, and it is sized 32-44.  I typically always down grade to a 32 in my shoulders and neck, so the fact that the 32 was printed on the tissue was a huge draw for me.  Grading is something that I’ve gotten more efficient at over time, but being able to save that step was so nice.


Burda’s sizing is really consistent, so I knew there wouldn’t be much for me to do in the way of fitting.  The jacket on the model is very slightly cropped, so on me, it’s just right!  Sleeves were the only thing I really needed to change.

I also shortened the sleeves by 2″.  It should be noted that what looks like sleeve cuffs are actually sleeve bands–that is sleeve facings that you turn to the right side and topstitch down.  I didn’t understand this when I make my initial muslin, so my 2″ off the sleeve was just a little too much shortening.  I borrowed from the seam allowance of the sleeve hem bands, reducing it to 1/4″ vs. the 5/8″ allowed in the pattern.  To keep the sleeve band the same width, I had to press under the edge that would be topstitched down by 3/8″ extra.  This new length is perfect for me.

The pocket that wasn’t.

sea glass denim jacket

I thought briefly about adding a faux pocket under the flaps.    I saw both faux and real pockets on several RTW jackets and thought it would be a nice touch.  Here’s a template I drafted and chalked around.  In the end, the topstitching just didn’t look right.  On this pattern, I would have loved to have added functional pockets, but there’s just not a lot of space to do so.  A longer jacket would’ve opened up more pocket possibilities.

Mockup of a faux pocket for topstitching. #denimjacket #isew #sewcialists #handmadewardrobe #imakemyownclothes

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sea glass denim jacket

If you’ve made jeans, you know that topstitching is a both a big feature and a big time suck.  I actually don’t mind the time suck factor of topstitching.  By far, it’s my favorite sewing task.

foot tray

I’ve written before a few tips for using a tray to organize all your feet and also topstitching with non-topstitching thread.  For this project, I used a #16 denim needle for construction and a #16 single topstitching needle for all of the topstitching. The topstitching thread is ivory Coats and Clark heavy thread.  It very well may be that you could do all of your topstitching with a denim needle, but I’ve found that my machine makes nicer topstitching with a dedicated topstitching needle.  That’s one of those things that’s good to test out on scraps.

Construction helps

Finishing seam allowances first

The instructions would have you sew each seam then finish the seam allowances together. With my heavy denim, this would have been too bulky. I had better success serging around the edge of each pattern piece (except the edges that would be enclosed like the collar and flap pieces) before sewing things together. My serger just had a better time with the one layer of denim vs. two.

Tie interfacing vs. “easing” sleeve caps

I also differed from the instructions in the sleeve. Instead of using rows of basting to “ease” the sleeve (not an option in my heavy denim), I used bias strips of tie interfacing. I learned this from Peggy Sagers and it really does make the prettiest sleeve cap that goes in perfectly the first time really without using any pins.  Make better jackets!

sea glass denim jacket

Nice stitches with heavy fabric

I did this for my Shelby Nallo jacket, but it’s quickly becoming my favorite technique for heavy fabrics:  Start every seam by sewing on a folded scrap of the fabric.  You’ll have to vary the thickness of your scrap based on which area you’re working on.  A doubled layer will be the most common choice, but on thicker areas, and buttoned areas, fold the scrap more to avoid the thread being pulled down into the machine.  Basically, you want the back of the presser foot at the same thickness as the seam that you’re about to sew.

A “hump jumper” or “jean-a-ma-jig” will do the same job, but I’ve found sewing on the scrap is more reliable.  Keep sewing onto the seam once you’ve sewn a few stitches on the scrap.  This is especially useful for topstitching to keep those first few stitches even and the correct length.

Tack buttons!!!

sea glass denim jacket

Tack buttons are by far the most difficult thing to contend with when making jeans.  On a denim jacket, your problems are multiplied exponentially because of all of the buttons.  The shanks can break off, set in crooked, and twist around because they’re not set right.  I have so many tack buttons that have no shanks because of all of the buttons I’ve set improperly.  A few pairs of jeans ago, I found Dime Buttons.  They’ve got a great selection of different buttons, and all of them have the screw type backs.  Once in a while you’ll find a back for a tack button that has smooth sides.  These are no good.  The screw types grip the inside of the tack button much better.

The other thing that Dime Buttons has is this little plastic setter.  You can buy it separately, or it comes included in the 50 tack button assortment.  When I first popped it out of the package, I thought, “We’ll see if that works.”  Well, work it does.  The back and the buttons snap into place while you hammer, and in just a few hammer taps, you get a straight, secure button.  I was so excited about this little $4 tool, I filmed it in real time.

Overall, I love this jacket.  The fit is just what I was hoping for, and the color goes with nearly everything in my wardrobe.  This will be an absolute staple piece!

sea glass denim jacket

Tomorrow we get to see how everything fits together in the Wardrobe Sudoku grid!

sweater knit

I’ve really been enjoying the sweater knits I’ve added to my stash this past year.  Quality sweater knits are truly a joy to sew with.  Besides being warm, it’s just so gratifying to be able to make a sweater in a couple of hours.  You can’t knit that quickly, and largely because of projects like this, I have zero interest in picking up a couple of needles and yarn.

sweater dress

I’ve been wanting to make a sweater dress since forever.  I bought a black RTW one when I was still teaching for my choir concerts, and as comfortable and delightfully warm as it is, black makes me look like I’m dead…not in the affectionately zombie sort of way either.

When I saw Kyle’s version of Burda 7287 I knew it would be perfect as a sweater dress, though I originally bought the pattern for the fingerless gloves.  I like the shaping they have, and I knew it’d be easy to tack the glove onto the bottom of any sleeve for added warmth this season.

sweatshirt fleece
diagonal fold here is not a fit problem, it’s how I’m standing.

For the last couple of years, I’ve been on a mad hunt for warm winter knits.  It gets cold in our house and having sweaters for layering is always a good idea in CO.  After my last couple of shopping ventures, I finally have a good stash of 5 different sweater and sweatshirt knits that should fill some serious gaps in my cold weather wardrobe.

First up is this sweatshirt from sweatshirt fleece I picked up at Vogue Fabrics (Evanston store).  I’d bought Burda 7434 a couple of years ago but never really came across the right fabric.  I like the sporty ribbon casing.  The pattern has all of these pleats–2 in the front armscye, 2 in each sleeve, and 2 on the front and back that chevron at the side seams (they also chevron on the sleeve, though it’s less obvious).  There’s also a sleeve pleat + topstitching detail.

Yes it’s a week late, but It’s always helpful for me to take a look back on my goals and see how much I accomplished before I dive into a new year.  This was a big growth year for me in my sewing.  I think every other year has also been a big growth year, but I think this is the first year where it’s really started to show that this is not my first rodeo.

Best Makes of 2011

  • I made a coat!

    I felt completely ready to take on this task that daunted me last year and the year before.  I took my time, and gradually it all came together in something I love love love love love to wear.  Actually, outerwear is coming to be a part of my sewing, which is great because Colorado is a place you have to layer clothes.

best makes of 2011

I must have been taken by the print of this fabric because it literally has the same feel as the gym shorts from my 6th grade P.E. class.  Thankfully, this top does not come with the nasty athletic girls, the teasing, and the coach with the Rod Stewart spiky mullet (no lie–Rod Stewart was her hero) that those hideous blue shorts did.  Over a tissue weight t-shirt and jeans, that nastiness can’t be felt anyhow.

Aside from that, this was an easy tunic (if you can call something that hits you at mid-thigh a tunic), and I’m so glad to have something in my preggy wardrobe that’s not colored maternity dark and bland (don’t get me started on RTW maternity lameness).