A wide variety of fabrics suitable for rain gear is currently on the market. These materials include Gore-tex, PVC, coated cottons and polyester. Sewing with these types of fabrics can require special techniques and materials, so this type of project is not well-suited to the beginning sewer. Additionally, rain gear fabric shows all pin holes and needle marks and cannot be easily re-sewn if you make a mistake.
Find a pattern. Major pattern companies have a wide variety of raincoat patterns, as well as standard coat patterns that can be adapted to waterproof or resistant fabric. When adapting a pattern, ensure that waterproof fabrics can be used. Some coat patterns are too complicated and have too many seams to be functional as rain gear.
Choose fabrics. Specialty fabrics such as Gore-tex cannot usually be purchased at local fabric stores. These fabrics can be ordered from the Internet and mail order catalogs. Threads Magazine has a comprehensive online fabric retailer guide (see Resources).
Cut the pattern out. Using a fabric stabilizer, pattern weights or even double-sided tape, affix the pattern to the fabric and cut carefully. Use the sharpest scissors or rotary cutting blade available to prevent tears and ensure the most accurate cut.
Begin sewing. As with any other sewing project, the pieces of the pattern must be held together in order to sew the garment; however on this type of fabric, you cannot use pins, as not only will the holes show, but it will also compromise the water proofing or water resistance. Use the fabric stabilizer or paper clips to secure the garment pieces prior to sewing. Sew slowly, as going quickly can cause the fabric to bubble and pucker. Additionally, as you are using a small needle, quick sewing can cause the needles to break.
Check your needles. Waterproof fabrics can dull needles quickly; check your needle frequently and change as needed to avoid problems when stitching. According to the book “Sew Any Fabric” the waterproofing on many fabrics can build up on the needle. Wipe it down with a cotton ball dipped in alcohol occasionally to keep it moving smoothly through the fabric.
Install ventilation. Many rainproof fabrics do not breathe, and you will need to install vents in the garment to make it wearable. Vents can be small slits, zippers, grommets or mesh panels under the arm.
Do not pre-treat waterproof or water resistant fabric, as pre-treatment can destroy the waterproofing.
Do not iron this fabric or subject it to high heat sources. It can melt.