Project Waterproof Skirt

I live in a city which is quite wet and windy on a regular basis, so waterproofs are a must. I have waterproof trousers, but it’s always bugged me that I’m restricted to wearing trousers on a rainy day. And so, Project Waterproof Skirt was born. I bought some ripstop nylon and a few other bits and pieces, and set to work. (I recommend this post from Sewaholic for some good tips for sewing with waterproof fabric).

This will be a simple, elasticated waist skirt. It needs to be big enough to fit over my hips (so there’s my waist size for the skirt) and long enough to cover my longest skirt (so there’s my skirt length). I used a silver pen to draw a pattern on the back of the waterproof fabric (a silver gel pen or one of those chalkboard pens would probably work well, too), and then I cut it out, using this as a template to draw around for the second skirt piece. If you wanted to do this, pick your favourite simple A-line skirt pattern, or just draw a rectangle the half width of your skirt waist and the length of your skirt length, then make it a few inches wider at the bottom. Leave enough extra length to turn under a waistband, and to turn up a small hem.

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I decided I wanted reflective piping in the side seams, so the next step was to make some. I got some 1″ reflective tape and some nylon piping cord (must be nylon, cotton might rot). I wrapped the tape around the cord and secured with Clover Wonder Clips, then sewed. I used my zipper foot, polyester thread and a microtex needle. I gently pushed the cord towards the needle as I went, to keep the stitching as close to the cord as possible. It was surprisingly easy!

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(Shockingly awful night-time photo, sorry!)

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At this point, I realised I didn’t know how to attach my piping to my seams. Google to the rescue! This tutorial from the Coletterie was very useful. I basted my piping to my side seams, about 1/8″ from the edge, then sewed my side seams, gently pushing my piping towards the foot as I went. Up until this point, I’d been able to get away with my normal machine zipper foot with no problems, but when I first tried to sew the seams, it didn’t work so well. The back of the ripstop is a little bit stickier than the front and stuck to the bottom of the foot, bunching up and making my seam wonky. I was lucky enough to be able to rip it and re-sew, because the errant stitches were within the seam allowance. I ended up having to put tissue paper along the seam, which slid under the foot nicely. Then I top-stitched the seams about 1/8″ from the piping.

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For the skirt to be waterproof, I needed to seal the seams somehow (all that sewing makes holes in the fabric, which let the water through). I opted for an iron-on tape. I ended up having to trim my seam allowances quite close to the top-stitching so they’d fit under the tape, and then I ironed it on. I’d recommend using a pressing cloth for this; mine is Teflon and I can see through it, which helped a lot. First, I laid the tape down in place. Then I sort of tacked it to the seam allowance with the nose of the iron (no pressing cloth) every few inches. Then I put the pressing cloth over the seam and pressed according to the seam tape instructions. It was time consuming but reasonably straightforward and there were no horrible chemical smells.

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All that’s left are the elastic waistband and the hem. Almost there!

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