You may remember my banner raincoat project fail in last week’s post? This time I chose to do this project with a more malleable textile called oilcloth. I can be ambitious and brave sometimes, or perhaps I just love to test my own patience, and I thought I knew more about how to work with the fabric this go round. And so, I decided to work from only the photos in a German Indie pattern that I can’t read the written directions to. I made the jacket as simple as possible by leaving out the lining and pockets. I am once again humbled by learning new skills and am willing to share my do’s and don’ts.

I started by learning the difference between oilcloth and laminated fabric. Oilcloth is thicker than laminated cotton, has little drape and is made from PVC. Oilcloth is not as suitable for clothing as laminated cotton. Did you know there is even BPA free laminated cotton? I should have researched this before starting my project.

My next mistake was thinking I could use a German pattern not knowing any German language. I managed to get all the pieces together although I am still not sure it is right. I wasn’t sure if the sizing included seam allowance or not so I just traced the pieces out instead of cutting the original pattern. I nailed the sizing. My next attempt with a German pattern will include a translator.

I know from the photos shown in the pattern that my oilcloth fabric was thicker. After piecing my raincoat together the hood stood straight up above my head. At that point I realized it was supposed to have a draw string to pull it in close to my face. My oilcloth wouldn’t work for a draw string so I improvised and made the hood shorter and added a bill.

Since this was a practice project I thought I could just serge most of the larger piecing. Serging the oilcloth left ladder lines in my seams and I soon realized I needed to not cut corners. I decided to go back and do all the things that worked on the original raincoat. I used my walking foot and a denim needle set to a 3.5 stitch length with my tension turned up and clips to hold the layers together evenly. 

I already knew that heat makes these materials more malleable and that a blow dryer will help you flip all of those pieces with ease. This time I learned that the oilcloth coat gets really stiff in freezing temperatures to the point where it will almost stand up on its own, lol. This makes getting in the car and putting on your seat belt an interesting sight to see.

To finish I needed to add a way to close and fasten the raincoat. I have 10 or more snap tools but none are for the heavy large snaps I wanted to use. I tried to improvise and hammer them on with a different tool but now they are very hard to snap. I ordered the right tool for next time.

In the end the jacket looks beautiful. People keep asking me if I made this coat and they have that little special look in their eyes of amazement. It’s not everyday someone has a one of a kind raincoat.

I will continue pursuing my experiments of sewing vinyl, plastic, laminated cotton and leather because I enjoy the process of learning.

I bought the beautiful cloth from Sew To Speak in Columbus, Ohio and my pattern was ordered from Leni Pepunkt on Etsy.

Behind the scenes~

Already and exciting year, my basics class sold out and I have already made 9 garments. I have other classes coming up at Rosewood Art Centre.

This Friday is our Dayton Garment Designer Meet Up open to the public for anyone that sews.

Thank you for reading,

Tracy McElfresh

Dream it! Sew it!


Tracy McElfresh
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