Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Play clothes

My name is Mary Nanna and I am a sewaholic.

I have to have a fix everyday. I read BWOF in bed. I think about my next project in the middle of the current one. I wake up in the morning and think about what to sew next. Even between projects my time is not idle. I'm collecting ideas, doing research, thinking up themes. I really enjoyed sewing on a theme last month. Our Playcentre is closed for the next month for renovations so I thought my theme for the next month would be play clothes.

For those of you who don't know what Playcentre is, it's a parent co-operative early childhood education centre. You take your child there and play with them. Basically its daycare without the break, which many will claim completely defeats the purpose, and there will be times when I totally agree.

Anyway, it's very important to wear easy care fabrics. Things you don't mind getting paint or play dough or clay or sand on. Most people wear their oldest most hated clothes, things they don't mind getting trashed. Now there are many days when I look in the mirror and am less than inspired by what I see but I never set out purposefully to look terrible. Some mothers combat the "I know I look awful in this," by wearing a full set of make-up but I've been thinking I'd like to make a few nice things that can just be chucked straight in the washing machine.

Top of the list of things to sew are waterproof coats for me and Benjy. If there's a puddle he'll find it. If there's sand he'll want to be out in the pouring rain to throw it. I've tried to distract him with indoor activities but he won't be fooled. He knows the best fun is to be had outside where he can thoroughly soaked and then get sick and make us all sick for weeks afterwards.

I had a hard time sourcing waterproof fabric. I couldn't find a single retailer in Auckland who would sell it. I found shower proof parka nylon at Smart Fabrics in MT Albert but I couldn't find any completely waterproof fabric. Finally a friend put me on to Chris Barlow fabrics (shop 9, 101 Diana Drive, Glenfield) which sells outdoor and sportswear fabric to trade.

They very kindly agreed to sell me a one off small quantity of 3 and a half metres. They will sell small one offs to others, but only if they're not busy and it's cash or cheque only. It's a huge wharehouse, you can't wander looking at the fabrics, you can just look at small swatches in the reception area. Anyway, it's very reasonable at $8 (US, $5) a metre, so for others in the Auckland area wanting to make their own parkas, it's the place to go.

The fabric is light and has great drape, as well as being wind and waterproof.

I chose "Marine" and I think I'll probably make this BWOF trench 03-2009-115. It's only got 2 and a half stars but that's Burda just lulling you into a false sense of security because it's got no lining. Fortunately, I'll just use my instructions (with pictures!!) from my last trench pattern. The thing I like is the flaps on the pockets to keep rain out, and I'll make a detachable hood. I may add a strap to the lapel, and the whole thing should fasten up to the neck in heavy rain, but be worn open most of them time. Anyway, a few design issues for me to resolve there, but the overall shape should work well for a rain coat.

So that'll keep me out of trouble for a while.


  1. You live in NZ. Of course you need a waterproof coat. I absolutely love the blue. If it is as good as your trench coat it will be fantastic.

  2. If I were around when you shot these photos, I would have pulled out my own camera and played with the water on the fabric *forever*. That photo of the water drops is fantastic. Next time The Sartorialist is in your neck of the woods, he'll be stalking you for the fashionable raincoat and the arty raindrops falling effortlessly off it.

  3. Hi, Mary Nanna.

    You describe me to a T. So glad we're friends!

  4. You're going to be one stylish Playcentre mum! :) Thanks for the info about the fabric supplier. I've been thinking about making a coat for DS so I might give them a call.

  5. I love that blue colour and I love that you are making a water proof jacket. Have you seen Dawn's post on waterproofing the seams?
    http://twoontwooff.blogspot.com/2009/06/researching-waterproofing-options.html It seems water-proofing is in the air.
    Play clothes are so important to get right. My kids are a bit older now, but I used to have to be especially thoughtful before going to their music classes...hard work to find clothes in the cupboad to cope with the maternity bulge, not be too revealing when sitting on the floor and not slide down my backside when squatting down and not fall down when dancing. But you know what is worse? Swimming lessons. It is hot here, so everybody takes their child swimming and everybody gets in the water with them...I truly feel sorry for all the mums that have to brave the public in ill-fitting swimwear. Last summer it made me want to start a swimwear line just for mums of small children. You go girl, be the best dressed practical mum around.

  6. What a lovely happy colour for a raincoat! I'm a firm believer in cheerful winter clothes - gotta get some colour and cheer from somewhere!

    I also really like your idea of decent play clothes. I have clothes tidy enough to wear to town, and (95% of what I currently fit into) very frumpy stuff. Time for some improvements. (Or a diet. But sewing's quicker). Good of you to start an inspiring theme :-)

  7. Good find with that fabric shop! Maybe I should visit....I need more fabric, don't I? *insert slightly manic laugh*

    ...and, as one of the mothers who attends PC in her skankiest clothes (and no makeup to compensate) I am most impressed that you are making clothes especially. I think that's going to be one seriously stylish blue raincoat :-)

    Looking forward to seeing how it turns out!


  8. That fabric looks like it has the same composition as the one I used for the rain coat. Very soft and drapey, not stiff like old school waterproofs. I used tape and it was very hard to apply in curved corners, some kind of glue solution would probably be a better options there. Dawn's post looks very helpful, wish she had posted it before I did my project!

  9. that's a great idea for playcentre play wear. Great stuff!

  10. Hi again! Yes this fabric is hard to sew, and you have to throw all notions of "sharp corners" and "perfect topstiching" out the window when sewing this material.

    Regarding the presser foot getting stuck in the fabric, a teflon foot or walking foot is recommended. But I didn't use one (too much $$)and it worked okay anyway, but a tip a saw was to tape duct tape or freezer tape under the presser foot to make it go smother.

    I also used freezer tape instead of pins in some instances, like when I did the welt pockets. A wax kid crayon was great for markings BTW. Good luck with your project!

  11. Enjoying your blog.

    If you would like to pay me a visit, you can find me at:


    I just posted some sweet little quick and easy little sundresses I made for my 8 year old daughter with instructions on how to do it yourself, and I recently made a maxi dress for myself from a 1974 pattern I found in an antique store.



    (My 8 year old also has her own blog where she shares her sewing adventures. www.sewingsister.blogspot.com

  12. Stylish wet-weathers, now you're talking. I can't wait to see this all sewn up.

  13. Hey awesome! I never thought about making a raincoat before, I'll be watching your progress very closely!
    I think the colour is fab. I'd love to have really cute wet-weather gear... If its a difficult kind of fabric to sew though I think I may have had my quota of those for now, as you know ;o)

  14. Excellent color choice! And that photo of the water beads is great. I am yet again, so very impressed with your sewing aplomb! You are talented and fearless and I am in awe.

    Perhaps I shouldn't be encouraging your habit?