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Sew and Paint Neoprene

The neoprene coat I made last summer has been a fun addition to my Tabula Rasa Jacket outerwear collection. It is made with a heavy black knit fabric in the scuba family. To give it some attitude, I got out the fluid textile paints and added some dots and dashes.

I was anxious to test out some scuba knit, or fashion neoprene, in advance of teaching a contemporary knit sewing class. I ordered two pieces of scuba knit—a solid black and a black and white print. The solid piece was surprisingly heavy weight and thick, so it became a Tabula Rasa Jacket with the Rain or Shine Variation zip front, swing shape and hood.

Painted Neoprene Coat

My pattern was shortened gradually on the sides and fronts to create a high/low hem. Early in the process, I ordered a pewter separating zipper the correct length. I wanted the coat to be very casual, like a heavy sweatshirt.

Pattern pieces adapted for the high low hem.

Cut and Paint Each Garment Section

While waiting for the zipper to arrive, I cut out the coat and Anna and I got out the metallic fluid textile paints.

Anna in her painted dress, a Tabula Rasa Knit tee extended.

Anna, my daughter and La Cascade tour guide, was home from France and is an excellent artist with fabric paint. I decided to take advantage of her visit and put her to work.

Instead of using stencils, she made silver and gold dots and dashes using several sizes and shapes of foam brushes. She made a test sample first, of course.

Test Seam Stitches and Finishes

I got busy stitching samples of seams and seam finishes on the neoprene fabric scraps. It was so buoyant and spongy, resisting any efforts to be pressed. I also observed there was no fraying or running along the raw edges. It did not need seam finishes

Adapt Construction to the Neoprene Fabric

Based on the samples, I decided to fold the seams open or to one side and topstitch each seam allowance in place for a controlled construction that minimized bulk. The edge finishes were managed the same way, simply folded up 1/2” and topstitched in place. Since the fabric had no drape, I also added some 3/8” elastic around the hood to shape it softly.

The final construction adaptation I made was to use a topstitched single layer pocket for the inseam pockets.  Usually I cut two pocket pieces for each pocket. One is attached to the front and one to the side panel so they can be sewn together as part of the side seam.

In this case, to form the single layer topstitched pocket:

  • I attached a pocket to the side panel and topstitched the seam allowance toward the pocket.
Pocket attached to side.
  • Then I marked the pocket opening on the front.
Marking the front for the pocket opening.
  • Next I fused a strip of interfacing on the wrong side to support the pocket opening.
Can you see the fusible interfacing?
  • I clipped in 1/2″ at the top and bottom of the pocket opening.
  • I folded the seam allowance toward the underside and pinned it in place.
Folded and pinned pocket opening.
  • I topstitched the seam allowance to the front to form the pocket opening.
Anchoring the pocket opening with topstitch.
  • Then I stitched the seam joining the side to the front above and below the pocket opening.
Side seam at the top of the pocket.
  • I pinned and then stitched the pocket to the front, encasing the pocket opening.
Pinned pocket underneath.
  • Finally I topstitched the side seam above and below the pocket opening, connecting the top stitching to the pocket opening topstitching.
Continuous topstitching complete.

Wear the Coat with Confidence

I wore this coat all week when I was in Myrtle Beach for Stitchin’ at the Beach. It was cozy in the cool morning and evening beach air. It proved to be water resistant too when the hood was up and there was a little rain shower. The painting gives the coat just enough pop and the zipper makes it easy to take on and off. 

Have you tried the fun styles included in the Rain or Shine VariationsCarrie’s post last week was a completely different look from the same TRJ Variation Pattern. The possibilities are endless. Visit the Photo Gallery to see even more!

Happy Sewing, RAE

3 thoughts on “Sew and Paint Neoprene

  1. Great jacket!! Did you use a special presser foot to sew the neoprene fabric?

  2. The scuba jacket is great—the hem variation with the cool zipper and perfect placement of paint is delightful. By design, neoprene is not “breathable” and I’m curious about comfort. Great work—as always.

    1. Because I was wearing it in cool weather I found it very comfortable and lightweight. I did just wear it for a drive and walk to and from my teaching venue. Would not want to wear it on a hot day! A very non-technical but honest answer. RAE

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