Looking forward to rain… Amy Butler Rainy Days Raincoat

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.

The arms are a tiny bit on the tight side, so I decided mid-construction to cut the lining sleeves from something slippery. We happened to have some satin at the shop that matched well enough!

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!

One more picture for the road! A side view… I look exceptionally proud in this photo, don’t you think? Raincoat pride.

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20 Comments
  • Candice
    March 5, 2011

    Such a snazzy raincoat! I love this

  • lsaspacey
    March 4, 2011

    That coat is SO cool, inside and out! Great job!

  • Rebecca
    March 4, 2011

    Such a cute raincoat! I had never really thought of making a raincoat from laminated fabric before. ;]

  • Audrey
    March 4, 2011

    Fantastic raincoat! I almost bought the pattern and some laminated fabric at a quilt show last spring but chickened out for fear of sewing an unfamiliar fabric and concern that it would be hot to wear in my warm climate. Your lovely coat makes me regret my decision.

  • Jenna
    March 4, 2011

    I was just thinking about Spring jackets. Your coat looks fabulous!! I would have thought that working with laminate would have been tricky. Glad to see it's do-able! :)

  • Sigrid
    March 4, 2011

    COAT ENVY !

  • elise
    March 4, 2011

    OMG, you look so freakin' cute and I Love the combo of fabrics, I've wanted to do this badly…I'm not ready for sewing this …yet. But I love living vicariously. So, thanks !

  • Binkydoll
    March 4, 2011

    love the raincoat!

    On a side note, as the owner of 17" diameter calves (and that's a bare skin measurement) I offer my condolences on your rainboot search….

    The only ones that I've seen that *might* work for me are the Hunters with the adjustable calf, but, yikes, so pricy!

    Finding rainboots has become an obsession of mine…

  • Heather
    March 4, 2011

    LOVELY! Your pattern matching skills were the first thing I noticed. The back is amazing! I would have never guessed it has a seam! Glad to know the laminate isn't so hard to work with too.

  • Laurwyn
    March 4, 2011

    That is such a pretty raincoat! AND it looks like it actually will stop the rain, not like half of what you get in shops…

    I was wondering, what fabrics would you recommend for a rain-proof trench coat? When I try to ask in shops, people do not really get what I mean, and I get fed up with it (might be my shabby Dutch)

  • Lindsay
    March 4, 2011

    What a great recap! I'm actually in the beginning stages of the Rainy Days coat (or I guess mine will be called the Runabout Jacket since I'm not using laminated cotton). Thanks for the tips! I'll be sure to check back when I'm further along in the process.

  • Farah
    March 4, 2011

    That is a gorgeous coat. I can't imagine sewing with that stuff, but you did a great job. Now I am thinking that i want one…

  • lizajane
    March 4, 2011

    That is really cool. I love your perfectly centered flowers on your pocket flaps, too!

  • Karen in VA
    March 4, 2011

    Very cute raincoat – just the thing to brighten up your day when it's dreary outside…You're sewing skills are increasing by leaps and bounds!!!!

  • Stevie
    March 4, 2011

    Cute raincoat. I would love to have the confidence to undertake that! I'd be too nervous of the holes id make! Well done! x

  • Debi
    March 4, 2011

    fabulous raincoat–what a great idea! I love the fabric and it looks fantastic on you!

  • Nicola1968
    March 4, 2011

    I love it, I want one for Spring and another with a nice warm interlining for colder days!

  • Tanit-Isis
    March 4, 2011

    Wow, that is possibly the most gorgeous raincoat I've ever seen. Which are words I'm pretty sure I thought I would never utter. Type. Whatever.

    Excellent fabric, layout, pattern-matching, etc.! (And Tyo says she likes it too!)

  • Tasia
    March 4, 2011

    Awesome job! What a cute raincoat. You totally need a new pair of chocolate-brown rainboots to go with it now :)

  • neighbourhood.gal
    March 4, 2011

    Did you seal the seams with anything to make them waterproof? I'm thinking particularly about the shoulder seams.

    It's a sweet jacket. One day I will make my own rain jacket, then the rest of Vancouver will seethe with jealousy. LOL.

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