Good evening saber tooth tigresses! I have a real, live finished project to show off today! This is a double-duty project; not only does it fit in with my Spring Palette Challenge, it’s also a sample for the shop and a future class project! While I don’t condone killing, I may as well kill two birds, right? Here it is – the Amy Butler Rainy Days Raincoat (and Runabout Jacket)…
I will let you in on a little secret… I wasn’t in love with this project when I started out. We wanted to offer a raincoat class this spring and the Amy Butler pattern seemed the obvious choice. Luckily, we had a laminated cotton in stock (Amy Butler’s Bluestone English Garden), that I really liked a lot! I ended up liking the pattern a lot too. It has really simple lines, but with the subtle shaping (horizontal darts in the front and double ended darts on the back) it’s more flattering than I anticipated. I even considered making another version out of wool. It even looks pretty good without the belt, if belts aren’t your thing.
This was my first time working with a laminate. It was pretty easy, for the most part. It was sort of fun cutting out the pattern pieces – I just taped them to the fabric! For anyone not familiar with laminated cotton it’s a very flexible fabric and is an actual cotton fabric (quilt weight) that is laminated on the printed side. You can press it with a low iron on the wrong side (the side that’s fabric.) The three main differences between working with a regular cotton and a quilt weight cotton were that I covered my presser feet with masking tape to make them slide over the fabric a bit easier, I used mini binder clips instead of pins to secure the pieces before sewing and most seams were edgestitched to give them a more finished/flat look. The worst part of working with the laminate is that once sewn, it’s really best to leave well enough alone as the holes left by the needle don’t really go away. That, plus my shaky topstitching skills made for some slightly wonky pockets, what with the necessary symmetry and all (check out those perfectly centered flap flowers, ya’ll!)…
There are two pocket options – the one I chose is the pleated pocket. The other option is a rounded, gathered pocket that seems that it would be much easier.
One of the reasons I really liked the pattern was that it included a hood – a necessity (at least in my opinion) for a raincoat! Here I’m modeling my hood and preparing to kick some bad-guy ass, a’la Trinity. But with brocade. And lacking knowledge of computer programming and giant computer socket in the back of my head. On second thought, I might be a tad bit more Emma Peel than Trinity
You may notice the excellent pattern matching on the front of the coat. I cut the front and back pieces on a single layer (arms too) in order to match the patterns. The pattern includes an illustrated alternate pattern layout for Amy Butler’s Sandalwood fabric, a print similar to the one that I used. It was helpful! I even made the hood pieces match and coordinate with the center back pieces – not an actual match, just a layout that ‘works’…
Here’s a back view of me wearing the coat – there’s a CENTER BACK seam on this coat! It’s pretty easy to do the layout to ensure that the pattern matches well across seamlines – because of the laminate, the fabric doesn’t shift much which makes it easier to keep things lined up. I’m not sure that the center back seam is really needed. It provides a tiny bit of shaping, but not much. I’d probably skip it if I were to do this coat again.
The jacket is fully lined, although there’s not a lot (ok, any) of special instructions for the lining. You just make one coat from the laminate and one from the lining fabric. I sewed the sleeves and the sides with a 3/8 seam instead of the suggested 1/2 inch seam, just to give the lining a bit of breathing room. The pattern suggests a home dec weight fabric, but I went with a quilt-weight cotton.
There was minimal finishing included in the pattern – other than the edgestitching of all the seamlines that I mentioned, everything else was pretty much left as is. There’s some extra topstitching an inch and a half from the edge of the center front and hood edges. I had a hard time getting the hood topstitching to look nice on the hood – the fabric wrinkled and rippled horribly. The hems at the sleeves and bottom edge are a simple fold up and fold up a again and top stitch. The pattern suggests self-fabric buttons and stitched buttonholes. Of course, I ran out of bobbin thread in the middle of one buttonhole and there was just some crazy mis-stitching in the middle of another buttonhole, so I had to figure out how to manually match the zigzag length and width to the buttonhole stitch on my machine, as I have a one step buttonhole function and didn’t want to rip out of the laminate to start over. It worked well enough. I really love the look of a self-fabric button!
Now that I have a new raincoat, I’m clearly going to have to go shopping for a new pair of rainboots! The ones I have are hot pink with white polka dots and they have sprung a leak. I was longingly looking at Hunter boots today – I’d so love to have some super-tall rainboots and the mens sizes have a 16 inch calf which is an inch wider than the boots I have so they might work! I’m going to be lurking in the men’s section of Nordstrom Rack quite a bit for the next few weeks… I won’t pay full retail, but maybe a pair will show up half off!