The Waxed Cotton Jacket of My Dreams

by Jacey on November 20, 2017

oil skin jacket-5When we were in Ireland this summer, my sister bought a beautiful green Barbour jacket. I tried it on and schlepped around the store for a while with her, dreaming about all the ways this jacket would change my life. It felt like luxury wearing it. And because green is obviously the new neutral, I wanted it in a bad way. I have zero qualms about owning the same clothing as my sister. We already own not one, but two matching leather jackets. (Yes, I have a jacket problem.) So what was stopping me from bringing this mother home with me?

oil skin jacket-2I was worried that the sleeves were a bit too short on me. Already owning a fall jacket with sleeves just a hint too short, I knew how much this would drive me crazy if I bought the jacket. So I left the matching jacket in Ireland and let it haunt my dreams for about a month and a half. Around the beginning of October, I finally got the balls to order the khaki green oil skin fabric I had been lusting after from Merchant and Mills. I got swatches of a few of the Oilskin fabrics and they were all pretty drool worthy.

I opted to try the Tosti Utility Jacket from Waffle Patterns. (Spoiler alert – it’s well drafted, has lots of options, and the instructions are very thorough!) I liked the shape of the jacket, the fact that it had a lining, and the big gusseted pockets on the front. I also liked that I had seen several people use it for making winter-y type jackets so I knew I could use it for future makes as well. But ultimately I choose this pattern because it looked the most like the jacket I was trying to emulate.

I was EXTREMELY nervous going into this project for a couple of reasons. For starters, the oilskin fabric scared the shit out of me. After doing some light googling, here are the worries that kept me up at night.

1. How was the fabric going to react to sliding through my machine?
2. What if I had to unpick some stitches and it left noticeable holes in the fabric?
3. How was I going to ease in the sleeves of this thick, tricky fabric?
4. What if I ruined $100 worth of fabric?

oil skin jacket-3

In the end I think most of the worrying was unnecessary. The fabric was an absolute dream to sew with. So smooth. It didn’t have any issues sliding through my machine and a denim needle worked beautifully. Because I was so worried about unpicking stitches, and about how inserting the sleeves was going to go, I went slowly. Like, really effing slowly. My sewing machine was crawling when I inserted the sleeves and when I did any top stitching. But going slow meant that I put the sleeves in on the first try with no puckers. And it meant the few stitches I did have to unpick were not a big deal. These felt like huge wins to me.

The lining was actually more trouble for me than the body of the jacket. I’ll be honest, Rayon Bemberg is a real bitch. It’s all slippery and if you even look at it it starts to fray. I followed all the advice (proper needle, starching, single layer cutting) but in the end I was just pretty happy to be done working with it.

oil skin jacket-4

The snaps went in fairly easily and mostly uneventfully until I got to about the third last snap. And this is a lesson in why you never get too comfortable, and you never take your eyes off the prize. I wasn’t paying enough attention and tried to press two of the same pieces together. What. A. Fool. After opening the press to find a crumpled snap, I was in near tears googling how to remove a snap. I even tried to repeat my mistake on a scrap piece of oilskin so that I could practice removing it. In the end Gavin and a pair of pliers were my savior. I have never been more relieved in my life then when I was able to insert a new snap in the same damn hole.

I made a few changes to the pattern. I lengthened the sleeves, I added grommets and a drawstring to the hood, I added snaps to the pockets, and I adjusted the gusseted pocket to be all one piece instead of three separate pieces. Again, the drawstring and the snaps on the pocket were to mimic the dream coat. If I were to make the jacket again, I think I would try experimenting with some of the really cool pockets that are included in the pattern. I did not want to overwhelm myself when sewing this so I stuck to just the main patch pockets on this and left off the others. In future I may add another couple of inches to the length of the jacket as well.

oil skin jacket

The ultimate take away for me is that I am pretty proud of the skills that I have built so far, and I am more capable than I give myself credit for. Going slowly really can be the difference between something you love and something that ends up in the scrap pile. I find I have to kind of jump in to a project (especially big ones), buy the fabric and just see how it goes. I may never have felt “ready” to sew a waxed cotton jacket, but I bought the fabric anyways and made myself try. I ended up with something I really love, and the confidence to stretch my skills a little bit more for my next project.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

yuki@WafflePatterns November 22, 2017 at 7:28 am

Thank you for sharing! love the idea making with oilskin and I want to try that, too!


Irene November 22, 2017 at 8:49 am

Your Tosti is gorgeous! How would you compare it with the Kelly anorak (they look very similar)?


Jacey November 22, 2017 at 11:44 am

Both good patterns! There are a couple things that I prefer on the Tosti. It provides a lot of pocket options so you can add welt or zips pockets to the chest and arm, and the hood is attached with snaps so I can wear the jacket with just the collar or the hood as well. I also really like how professional the finish on the Tosti is, though the Kelly has a lining expansion now!


Barb November 22, 2017 at 4:53 pm

Love the jacket…you did a fantastic job. This may be a silly question, but how waterproof is it? Is there anything special you need to do to the seams to keep the water out?


Jacey November 23, 2017 at 7:12 am

I haven’t had much opportunity to wear it in the rain yet (seems we have headed straight into snow here!). In the light rain I have worn it, the water beads up on the jacket and has kept me dry. I didn’t do anything special to the seams. I know you can apply a seam sealing tape but I didn’t because the ones I have seen are iron on, and when I tried pressing the oil skin it changed the sheen of the fabric.


PsychicSewerKathleen November 23, 2017 at 10:55 am

I’ve been pondering making myself a jacket like this for a couple of years now. I love yours and I think I should get this pattern 🙂 I love the styling on this coat, the options. To make myself one of these that will fit (YES!) is beyond temptation. I bought a few yards of gortex this fall and I considered at the Kelly but reading a few posts stopped me in my tracks. Reading what you have to say about Tosti AND the fact she’s offering a print service right now I think I should just finally take the plunge 🙂


Jacey November 23, 2017 at 11:29 am

Wow a Goretex Tosti would be really nice!


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