Sunday, November 24

Waxed Canvas Closet Case Patterns Kelly Anorak

I jumped into making outerwear a few years ago and have now made lots, but somehow I've ended up with very light weight Spring jackets and very heavy wool coats and not a really functional, mid weight, all weather type jacket which is what I actually need most of the time. So this Fall, I decided to finally get to it!

I decided on on the Kelly Anorak because its been made a thousand times, has great reviews, a lot of resources, and it seems like the right silhouette for this all purpose coat. When thinking about fabric I decided to go with a waxed canvas because that would be able to withstand some rain and protect more against wind. But most waxed canvas I found was quite heavy, stiff, and very waxed. Meaning you could see every line and crease and the fabric appeared and felt kind of wet or oily. I think these fabrics are awesome in bag making, but I didn't want it for my coat.

Then I came across this fabric from Blackbird Fabrics. Its 7 oz, so not too light, not too heavy, and its a dry waxed canvas. So you can't feel or see it in the fabric at all but when you splash water on it the water still rolls right off. And I love it! I wasn't completely sold on the color, but it does match everything so it will be really functional.

I decided to buy the lining expansion for this pattern for a little more warmth and a more complete, finished look to the garment. For lining fabric I went with this flannel I used on my cascade duffel coat because I had a yard left and a flannel would be cozy inside. I barely, and I do mean barely, had enough to line the body of this with my left over fabric. I used a slippery lining left over from two other coat projects for the sleeves and hood.

The Struggles 

Guys, I will admit, while happy with my fabric choices, this waxed canvas was a pain to sew with. It's not supposed to be pressed because it affects the wax in the fabric, but a finger press really isn't enough to hold the seams or to look good. So I still used heat and steam, but used a press cloth. I tested by pressing a scrap of fabric and then splashing it with water to see if it was still water resistant and all was well.

But that wasn't the only issue. Next was that fusible interfacing really doesn't adhere well at all. I read this blog post on a waxed canvas Kelly and she used fusible so I attempted it because I really didn't want to use sew in because...#lazy. None of the three I tried were that great. But I went with one anyway. I decided if it came off, it was practically like sew in interfacing anyway because everywhere there was interfacing, it would be sewn into a seam. And because of this fabric, the jacket can't be washed whether in a machine or dry cleaned, so I figured the washing process couldn't really mess up the interfacing so...I went with it. Only time will tell if I made an enormous mistake!
But problems still don't end there! You really shouldn't unpick on this fabric because all holes pierced in it stay, even if you try to iron them out. For example, I tried on my jacket and held the drawstring casing at my natural waist, pinned a few places (again - holes stay so use pins sparingly, too) then basted the drawstring on. It was great in the front but too high in the back. Like way too high, so I had to unpick it, and re-sew it in the correct place. That whole line of stitching in the back is still visible. I don't mind so much because I can't see it when I'm wearing it and because I don't think others will be looking so they won't notice either. But it's there. Also it effects the water resistance of this jacket but since I don't mean for it to be a full on rain coat, I am ok with that.


Other than issues caused by fabric choice, I found construction to go ok. There were 2 parts that were frustrating. First was attaching the hood lining to the jacket. That was really confusing so I looked up the sew-a-long and that sort of helped and eventually I figured it out and got it in. The second thing was the worst. The instructions have you baste the drawstring casing on to the outside. Then once the lining is in, to topstitch in into place, which means sewing over the lining. I did not enjoy that! It was super hard to not get any tucks or puckers in the lining fabric. I unpicked a few times, and eventually left well enough alone, though its definitely still not perfect. I would have preferred just sewing it on all the way at first, and not sewn it to the lining.  (Also in the photo below, that first line of stitching on the zipper facing shouldn't be there. Its from top-stitching the outer band and I should have done it an earlier step but didn't I guess...)

There is a third thing that I found that difficult, but it wasn't the pattern's fault. The sleeves were super duper hard to set in because of this fabric. It's a very dense weave, and while not heavy, it is very structured and has no give at all. So after doing the basting stitches to slightly gather and ease the sleeve in, they were super puckery. I fixed them mostly, and what's left I should have been able to fix with a good steam and press on any other fabric. But not on this, because like I said earlier, it doesn't press well and you shouldn't use much heat.

The rest of the instructions were clear and easy to follow. Even the gusseted pockets were a breeze and I expected those to be harder. I did have a lot of issues inserting my snaps, though, which I did not expect because I've done snaps a lot before. I used heavy duty snaps instead of the spring snaps the pattern calls for, simply because I've used them before and I have the pliers for them so I wouldn't have to do a bunch of hammering. Despite my pliers and previous experience with snaps - they were a nightmare! But my husband and I realized what happened - this time I ordered these snaps from Wawak to get the antique bronze color, instead of buying them from JoAnn like I usually do. Turns out the length of the shank of the snaps from wawak is longer than the Dritz ones from JoAnn, and in most places, the fabric it had to go through wasn't that thick, so the snaps couldn't get pressed down enough by the pliers for the two sides of snaps to click together. We worked it out though, or at least my husband did! He ground down the extra length on the snaps so they went together correctly. They gave us quite a bit of grief but at least they all work now!


In terms of the jacket fit and style: I sized up a size, everywhere, almost two sizes in the bust because I was in-between a 12 and 14 and was going to go with a 14 when I decided to size up to a 16 to have room for warm layers underneath.  The Kelly Anorak is meant to be an unlined jacket, for barely cool weather, without layers worn underneath. So I wanted to make sure I'd have room. That said, I have plenty of room. I'm not sure I needed to size up. Also, I was told by several that the sleeves are quite slim, but by sizing up I made my sleeves really big. I think I maybe could have been fine without sizing up, but with that said, I can wear big hoodies and sweaters under this and it is nice. When worn without layers underneath it is a bit big, but I guess that's fine. Also, probably because I sized up, the hood is huge. Like laughably enormous. When I put it up it falls completely in my face unless I style it in the right spot, like for these photos:)

Up Next 

Overall I am really pleased with it. The temperatures have just recently dropped a lot here over the last week and I've enjoyed wearing it. And now I've got another version in the works. It's a Gortex, seam taped, fully waterproof ski coat version. I am leaving off the drawstring and gusseted pockets for a cleaner silhouette and doing zippered welt pockets with a flap over them so I don't lose anything while going down a mountain. I'm also adding zippered welt breast pockets in the lining and a small flat pocket to the outer forearm for my ski pass. For sizing of this one I'm doing the same size mostly but going down one a half sizes at the waist for some shaping since I left off the drawstring. Also, although the hood is huge on my waxed canvas one, its perfect on this because it fits over my helmet when skiing!  With so many mods, I'll definitely blog it, too, as soon as its done which should be in less than a week hopefully!


  1. Thanks for this detailed information. I'm collecting as much advice as I can before starting my own Kelly.

  2. amazing result - you look great


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