MYOG: Waterproof Breathable Jacket

Making waterproof jackets has been a 2+ year project, and I’m so happy to have it done. I learned a lot and am excited to tackle more outdoor gear.

Download Pattern

I’ve made our patterns available for download.


Click the colorful button above, and a new tab should open with the Gumroad link. I haven’t included any instructions on construction, and I was lazy and only generated the pattern on 36″ x 48″ paper. I didn’t feel like putting the time and effort into generating a US Letter size version.

Features and Style

This project took time because I was particular about the features I wanted my jacket to have. First, I wanted the shoulder to have a yoke so the seam was not along the top. When wearing a backpack, this area gets a lot of wear and tear, and if a backpack is sitting on top of the seam, it can rub and cause water to leak inside. This is a feature on most RTW rain jackets.

Covered zippered hand pockets

The next feature I wanted was hand warmer pockets along a seam line so I could cover the zippered pocket with a flap. I wanted the same flap over pit zips as well.

Zippered Side Vents

Finally, I wanted the jacket to fall below the hips and a hood that extended far enough to cover the brim of a hat. I spent a lot of time deciding if I wanted a collar plus a hood or just a hood. In the end, I just went with a hood.

Pattern

There are a lot of jacket patterns out there, and no pattern had everything I wanted. Finding a pattern that would work for both Ryan and me was particularly difficult. Here are some pattern suggestions, and this list is by no means exhaustive:

Grasser 823

As a men’s rain jacket with no lining, I had high hopes for this pattern, but the hood didn’t fit well, and I didn’t want exposed zippers. This was the pattern that really started this whole project.

Kwik Sew 4032

This was the pattern I ended up using because I had already made fleece jackets years ago that fit well. I made a size L for Ryan and myself (42-44 chest, 36-38 waist, 43-45 hip). I used the hood from the Closet Core Anorak as a general template to draft our own hoods. I lengthened the brim, shaped the center panel a little to fit around our hats, and adjusted the center front to include a zipper instead of snaps. I’ll point out other changes below under the alterations section.

Jalie 2679

I didn’t find this pattern until after I finished our jackets, but there are features I like. The one complaint about our jacket is that the curve near the armpit is tight, and impossible to apply seam sealing tape. I wonder if this pattern would be easier to apply seam sealing tape?

Honorable Mentions

Supplies

Waterproof Breathable Fabric

Our jackets used Ripstop By the Roll (RBTR) 3.3 oz Ventek 30 WPB using their Omnicolor Solids print-on-demand feature. For more information about the fabric and why I went with this fabric over other options, check out my previous post.

Notions

Finding zippers was a pain! I used YKK #5 zippers from ZipperSource.com, but honestly, the #5 zippers are too bulky for the pocket and side vent. Zipper Source doesn’t sell #3 water-resistant zippers. I also didn’t order long enough zippers for the hand warmer pocket. Here’s what I would order if I could do it over again:

  • Two non-separating 15-inch water-resistant matte black #3 zippers for the arm vents
  • Two non-separating,7-inch water-resistant matte black #3 zippers for the hand pockets
  • One separating 29.5-inch (30-inch for Ryan) water-resistant matte black #3 or #5 zipper for the front

For the hood, I would try and find plastic instead of metal notions next time. Here’s what I used for each jacket and got everything from Pacific Trimming:

I installed the eyelet grommet using Pacific Trimmings 4mm installation tool kit.

I used approximately 15 – 20 meters of MELCO seam sealing tape for 3-layer waterproof, breathable fabrics.

Miscellaneous

The best tool was purchasing a Clover mini iron for the seam sealing tape. Set the iron to medium; the tape adheres easily after 10-15 seconds of heat. The other tip is to get yourself a small block of hardwood. I used a 2x4x4 piece of untreated maple. Use this small wood block as a clapper and press the seam sealing tape after heating. This quickly dispels the heat and ensures that as the tape cools, the adhesive and fabric bind together tightly.

Cost Breakdown

ItemAmountCost1
3.3 oz Ventek 30 WPB3 yards$102
1.1 oz Ripstop Nylon1 yard$5.75
3 mm Elastic Cord1 yard$1.75
4mm Metal Bell Cord End2$3.00
4mm Flat Metal Cord Lock2$4.00
4mm Eyelet Grommet1 set (includes 12)$1.25
YKK #5 water-resistant zipper, separating29.5 or 30 inches$16.50
YKK #5 water-resistant zipper, non-separating22 x 6″$25.90
YKK #5 water-resistant zipper, non-separating32 x 15″$29.90
MELCO 3-layer seam sealing tape15 meters$37.35
Gutermann Mara 70 Poly Thread Tex 401$4.19
Organ Microtex Size 14 needles10 pack$1.95
Total$232.64

1 Excluding shipping and taxes
2,3 I should have used YKK #3 instead, as YKK #5 zippers are too bulky and heavy.

I could have saved A LOT, A LOT of money if I had done more research on zippers. Here’s the price list for items I wish I had purchased instead:

ItemAmountCost
HHH #3 Waterproof Coil Zipper2 yards$5.50
HHH #3 Coil Slider4$2.20
Mini Cord Lock1 pack $4.25 / dozen
3/32″ (~2.25mm) Shock Cord1$5 / 25′ piece
Cord End Clip1 pack$2.75 / dozen

Instead of spending $55.80 on non-separating zippers, I could have spent $7.70 if I had bought zipper coils from Ripstop by the Roll (RBTR). That would have saved me $48.10. The switch to plastic notions for the hood instead of metal wouldn’t have changed much in the final cost. I would have also saved on shipping by buying most everything from RBTR.

Alterations

In the following figures, my pattern piece is orange to match my jacket. Ryan’s pattern pieces are in blue. The original pattern is in light gray.

Front

The alterations I made to the pattern were actually minimal. I needed a 0.5-inch forward shoulder alteration for Ryan and a 0.75-inch for me. I lengthened the center front by 3 inches and the side seam by 2.5 inches.

Side

The pattern includes a side panel for the front and back. I combined the panel in the back, so there was a single back piece. I wanted to minimize seams as much as possible. I only have a front-side panel piece. I lengthened the side panel by 2.5 inches. I widened my piece at the hem by 0.625 inches to make more room for my hips.

I obviously added the hand pockets and side vents as a feature. I used the same method for both and have already posted about the method here.

Back

I combined the back and back side panel on the original pattern so you could see how it compares to our pattern pieces. I lengthened the center back by 3 inches and the side seam by 2.5 inches. I also widened my side seam at the hem by 0.625 inches to make room for my hips.

Sleeve

The original pattern calls for a single-fold hem. I added 0.5 inches to create a double-folded hem. I narrowed the cuff on my sleeve by 0.625 inches on each side, 1.25 inches total. I lengthened Ryan’s sleeve by 1 inch. I also added a tab at the sleeve cuff and snaps. Not sure if I’ll prefer snaps over velcro. I might have liked a wider tab with two or three snaps so it was extra secure.

Hood

Side Hood Panels

Again, the original hood pattern comes from Closet Core Kelly Anorak. I used size 20 as my template. I extended the top by 2.25 inches to fit over a ball cap. I removed the overlap button band on the center front. I also lowered the center front by 1 inch because I did not like it rubbing on my chin.

Center Hood Panel

I lengthened the center hood panel by 2.25 inches. I also brought in the front sides by 0.875 inches and did some subtle shaping.

The only nagging issue about the jackets is the neck finish. I wasn’t sure if I should attach the hood using a french seam instead of seam sealing tape or bias tape? What’s the best method to get a water-tight seam at the neck? It’s a curvy seam and very difficult to seam seal. I attached the hood and used seam sealing tape to finish the inside. It isn’t pretty, but hopefully, it works.

Conclusions

Things I would change if I made this jacket again:

  1. YKK #3 zippers instead of #5 and buy most everything from RBTR.
  2. Use the clapper to ensure the seam sealing tape adheres since I only figured out this trick near the end.
  3. Use stiffer fabric for the pockets.
  4. Look for a pattern with less curvature around the sleeve and under the arm.
  5. Explore alternatives for finishing the neck seam.

After accomplishing this big project, I am definitely less intimidated by sewing outdoor gear. We’ll fully test these jackets in June when we vacation in Oregon! I’m sure they’ll be fantastic.

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