I have spent a lot of time during this crazy locked down year sorting and pondering my sewing room 'stuff.' It is something that I have threatened to do for a long time, but always find something way more interesting to do. Not only have I had the time to devote to this project, it is also necessary as we work to consolidate and move into a new life phase. I never thought I would be in the 'snowbird' category, but here I am...and I think I will be quite content to go to snow when I want to rather than struggling through it on a daily basis. (Although I have realized that wool is still one of my favorite fabrics!)
As I have unloaded drawers and boxes I have come across things that I have moved 4 or 5 times (and I haven't moved in 24 years!!!!) I am awed by the 'value' that these things have taken on just by the sheer fact that I have paid to have them moved over and over again! I wonder..."if I haven't used it in 24 years, when?" I am uncovering long ago abandoned excursions into different 'crafts' that I can't even remember how to do or why. (e.g. wool rug hooking...?????) Some things I find easy to let go and others touch a memory or a wish that keeps them in the 'undecided' pile a little longer.
One of the ways that I have been 'processing' is to 'just do it!' Rather than put something away for later, I just make it. I have no idea if or when some of these projects will ever be worn or used, but the making seems important somehow. It is how I am able to let something go I guess. Sometimes I remember what I had in mind when I acquired the fabric or patten and sometimes I just go with whatever comes to mind right now.
I came across the oiled canvas that I had gotten for myself at Merchant and Mills a few years ago. I had gotten some for each of my 'boys' and made coats for them a few Christmases ago. By the time I finished making theirs I was ready for a break and never made the one for myself. I had planned to make the M&M Landgate parka. As I looked at the fabric my practical brain said, "this is not fabric that makes sense in your upcoming summer-all-the-time lifestyle," but my just do it brain kicked in and I ...well...just did it!
I had made a Landgate for my husband and after watching him getting in and out of it, I decided that I would like something that had and easier access point! I loved the hooded parka that I made during my workshop in Rye and thought that would be a better choice for me.
I made several changes to the pattern to get the raincoat that I had in my head. Having worked with the oiled canvas before I knew that 'layers' of fabric were not a good idea. I minimized as much as possible. I took out the facings and did simple folded edges for the center fronts. I narrowed the sleeves so I wouldn't have to ease anything into the armscyes. I made several changes to get the look that I was after. I lengthened the coat as much as I could with the amount of yardage I had. I added a pleat to the center back to give extra width at the hem. I added way cool pockets (IMHO!) and way, WAY cool closures!
As I worked my way through the project I completely lost track of time. I was totally absorbed in the process. The fabric is really heavy and takes a fair amount of arm strength to wrestle through the machine so I was physically tired at the end of the day, but my brain had had a kind of 'vacation' from 2020 that made me feel refreshed somehow. Whether or not I actually needed an oiled canvas raincoat was beside the point. I needed the 'get away.' I was almost sad to finish it, but am totally in love with it!!!! I may wear it someday, but that really isn't the goal. It's all in the making.
So here is my oiled canvas raincoat with marine supply hardware....
I made it as long as I could get it with the fabric that I had. The sleeves ended up just long enough with no hem allowance, so I used the flannel that I chose for the hood lining to face the cuffs. It was a happy accident, because I really like the softness of the flannel around my wrists.
I wanted to make sure that when I lengthened the coat that I still had walking room. I put a pleat in the center back that is sewn down at the top and opens up for hip and walking room. I also made side slits.
My original plan was to use snaps for the closures so I wouldn't need to put buttonholes in the canvas. But I remembered the cool clasps that I had found at a marine hardware supply store in London. I had no idea what I would do with them, but this was the perfect garment to showcase them. I am so pleased with how they look and they are easy to work as well. It took a bit of head scratching to figure out how to attach them. I ended up putting prairie points on the inside of the front bands so the clasps wouldn't be attached to a single layer of the canvas. I think they are soooo cool!
I had this idea for really huge pockets. With the amount of fabric that I had I was worried that I wouldn't be able to manage it. Don't tell anyone, but I ended up putting the center piece of the hood off grain to get the pockets to fit. It was totally worth it!!
So, this is what I have left of my piece of oiled canvas. Whew!
Making this coat reminded me of why I sew. It hasn't been about the clothing for a long time, it is all about the meditative, restorative feeling I get when I am consumed by a project. Some people paint, some hike in the woods, some float down a river in a kayak...I sew. Namaste!