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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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?
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.
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:
- 1 yard of 3mm elastic cord
- Two 4mm metal bell cord ends (170707)
- Two 4mm flat metal cord locks (170817)
- Six 4mm eyelet grommets
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.
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.
|3.3 oz Ventek 30 WPB||3 yards||$102|
|1.1 oz Ripstop Nylon||1 yard||$5.75|
|3 mm Elastic Cord||1 yard||$1.75|
|4mm Metal Bell Cord End||2||$3.00|
|4mm Flat Metal Cord Lock||2||$4.00|
|4mm Eyelet Grommet||1 set (includes 12)||$1.25|
|YKK #5 water-resistant zipper, separating||29.5 or 30 inches||$16.50|
|YKK #5 water-resistant zipper, non-separating2||2 x 6″||$25.90|
|YKK #5 water-resistant zipper, non-separating3||2 x 15″||$29.90|
|MELCO 3-layer seam sealing tape||15 meters||$37.35|
|Gutermann Mara 70 Poly Thread Tex 40||1||$4.19|
|Organ Microtex Size 14 needles||10 pack||$1.95|
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:
|HHH #3 Waterproof Coil Zipper||2 yards||$5.50|
|HHH #3 Coil Slider||4||$2.20|
|Mini Cord Lock||1 pack||$4.25 / dozen|
|3/32″ (~2.25mm) Shock Cord||1||$5 / 25′ piece|
|Cord End Clip||1 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Things I would change if I made this jacket again:
- YKK #3 zippers instead of #5 and buy most everything from RBTR.
- Use the clapper to ensure the seam sealing tape adheres since I only figured out this trick near the end.
- Use stiffer fabric for the pockets.
- Look for a pattern with less curvature around the sleeve and under the arm.
- 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.
This is fabulous! I have also been on an outdoor jacket sewing journey. I love your details. For the hood, where does the shock cord run? Along the edge of the hood, or where the seam is? I like the shock cord to not be on the edge of the hood because when you pull it tight, the peak is no longer useful to shade my glasses. Have you tried a two piece sleeve, or a sleeve with darts? If you have time, you can get waterproof zippers on aliaexpress, but they take about two months to arrive. I just found your website and love it! My kind of sewing!
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For the shock cord, I sewed a tack bar at the top, so it doesn’t shift around too much. Otherwise, the shock cord sits inside the hood facing. I don’t love the design, and I’m sure there are cleverer ways to do the shock cord. I wonder if there’s a way to have the shock cord scrunch the sides of the hood and leave the brim untouched? You could attach the shock cord to a non-stretch grosgrain ribbon and somehow tack down the non-stretch part at the brim inside the hood facing? I would definitely do a two-piece sleeve next time, so there’s a bend in the arm. I was trying to minimize seams, but the two-piece sleeve makes a lot of sense. When we bend our arms, the sleeve likes to move too much. Thanks for the waterproof zipper recommendation and the great ideas.