I'm on a roll here with sewing outwear. My last two finished projects were a wool coat and a fur coat, now this fantastic lightweight raincoat I made for running! Some folks may know I'm training for my first half-marathon this Spring. I wanted a raincoat to help prevent any excuses on rainy/snowy/windy days. Plus PatternReview.com is running an Activewear Contest, this was further motivating me to get this jacket done ASAP! I chose the Women's Rainier Raincoat from Green Pepper, it's pattern #133. It's a pullover with princess side seams on front, drawstring hood and raglan sleeves. The sizing on this jacket runs a little smaller then RTW but is comparable to the Big Four pattern companies. I cut a 16 and graded to about a 20 hip-- their sizes only go up to 18 (I sized down after my muslin, I explain further down). I normally cut a 16 bodice & 20 hip with Vogues generally, too. Tracing out the pattern is really easy, it's not a maze of lines like magazine patterns. There's multiple heavy newsprint pages with the patterns pieces. You can see in the picture right above on the left. I've sewn one other Green Pepper pattern but it was for a pair of men's cargo shorts last year. I had great success with that pattern, too.
I made a muslin to check the fit. I realized after cutting the muslin fabric that it was some fancy silk taffeta (the beige stuff... the blue polka dots is some cotton blend.) But let me say, that silk was the ugliest shade of beige with really weird and ugly pinstripes and beading that I did not get. It was perfect for a muslin. The bodice from the waist up was very large plus the sleeves were quite oversized. I removed a total of 2.5" (6.35 cm) from the upper bodice and 1.25" (3.2 cm) from the circumference of the sleeves. It's down to maybe their size 12. I simply went back in after the original stitching and went up along the sleeve and bodice seam to remove this extra width-- I marked in red above demonstrating how I did that. I also drafted a rain flap thingy on back which I explain more about further down.
Now let's talk about my fabrics! I got some juicy stuff here. The black is a Clima-Fit polyester ripstop. The website where I bought it from says it "Features special construction and finishes that keep wind and rain out, yet offer excellent breathability. Tight weaves paired with a durable water repellent (DWR) finish helps keep water out, yet allow heat generated moisture vapor to breathe out through the fabric." I am pretty sure this is a material produced for Nike. It is a pain in the butt to photograph black ripstop fabric, oh my gosh!! Wrinkles magically appear with every small twist and turn you make! A busy printed fabric would hide that but I wanted a neutral color to go better go with my super loud and colorful running clothes.
The houdstooth is sooo cool looking! It's a DWR reflective 100% nylon material. I fell in love with it the second I saw it online and the swatch I got confirmed my love. I will be highly visible with this stuff. I did pour water over it to check just how water repellent it is... it really is water repellent, but I still lined the hood and rain flap in back with the Clima-fit ripstop just in case.
I wanted a storm/rain flap on back to allow for optimal comfort and breathability. I used the back pattern piece, cut it in half at the armpit line then added seam allowances-- the lower part is ripstop, the upper is a red nylon mesh. I also used that upper piece to create the houndstooth flap-- but for this I added an extra 1.5" (4 cm) to overlap that mesh preventing rain from getting in. I was originally unsure of the velcro neckline but I ended up appreciating it. It's lighter weight then a zipper.
I took some pics in the dark with my camera flash on, the ones right above here. The reflective fabric turns into a really bright white and grey pattern that glows beautifully in the dark.
There is a drawstring around the lower hem. That middle pic right above is the the eyelet and cord toggle that helps keep it the cord in there nicely. I am not sure if I will ever tighten that, but I kept that feature in case I did need it. There is a drawstring in the hood with a couple more metal eyelets. You can see the channel it runs through around the hood. That will be useful on windier days.
I was wearing a heavyweight, thick Polartec fleece under the jacket when I was taking these pictures... it was freezing outside. It's roomy even after my downsizing this jacket. I am surprised I didn't need to add any length on the bodice or sleeves as I normally do with (almost) every commercial pattern since I'm a little taller then average at 5'8" (1.73 m). If you're wondering, I made those crazy red tights last year.
UPDATE, Feb 16, 2015: I wore the jacket today as an extra layer and windbreaker in subzero wind chills. It was dirty, nasty cold. Overall, the jacket was awesome. I loved the fabric, there is minimal "swooshing" noise as I move and I felt like I could move very freely... even with three layers underneath it along with an extra wide Polartec headband I had to make especially for today for warmth. It helped prevent that nasty cold from blowing through my layers of clothes.
However, there is one issue I had. This will not be a problem in less severely cold temps. There are little metal eyelets on the inside of the front that hold the drawstring around the hood. These little eyelets kept bumping against my skin as I ran... those actually tapping occasionally my face was a bit of a shock each time. The severe cold winds made those metal bits ICE cold. Each tap on my face was not my favorite feeling. I'd have never noticed them on a warmer day. I will likely take a small square of fabric and hand sew it over the eyelet to protect it from touching my skin. If I were wearing this ONLY for weather that wasn't so cruelly cold, this would have not been a problem. If I were to make this jacket again, I would seriously consider making machine-sewn button holes for the drawstring to come through. Or perhaps a welted opening for them.