Thursday, January 2, 2014

Plastic Bag Coat

This is my official request for some rain in Northern California.  We desperately need some.  With the thoughts of a drought on the horizon and no clouds in sight (and me on my own well), I thought I would make a public appeal by posting my upcycled raincoat made from plastic bags.  Maybe this will make Mother Nature change her mind and send us some rain.

Another day of sunshine and no rain in the forecast for the next 7 days!
This is a Linda MacPhee pattern #465 - Bag Lady Jacket.  It's made from plastic bags sewn to a fabric base.  I've been collecting plastic bags from various vacations over the last 10+ years and decided I finally had enough to make the jacket. 

On the right front and sleeve I have:

- Powell's books (Portland, Oregon)
- Buckingham Palace (London, UK)
- Die Welt (German Newspaper)
- Empire State Building (NY, NY)
- Button & Needlework Boutique (Victoria, B.C.)
- Wenger (Interlaken, Switzerland)
- Apple (Cupertino, CA)
- Ace Cafe (London, UK)
- Vogue Fabrics (Sewing Expo, Puyallup, Washington)
- Biodome (Montreal, Canada)
- Gift shop bag (Sylt, Germany)

On the left front and sleeve I have:
- Creative Memories (scrapbooking supplies)
- Satin Moon Quilt Shop (Victoria, B.C.)
- English Heritage (gift shop in the UK - various locations)
- KaDeWe (Department store in Berlin, Germany)
- Peek & Cloppenburg (Department store in Germany)
- H & M (London, UK - before they opened stores in the US)
- Marrimekko (Seattle, WA)
- MASH (England - can't remember the village)
- Koln Cathedral (Cologne, Germany)
- Jelly Belly (Vacaville, CA)
- Next (London, UK)

Back and Hood:

- Orvis (Roseville, CA)
- Pendleton (Seattle, WA)
- Tillamook Cheese (Tillamook Factory, Oregon)
- idee (Wonderful fabric store in Berlin, Germany - associated with the KaDeWe department store)
- KaDeWe (Berlin, Germany)
- IKEA (Berkeley, CA)
- 4711 (Cologne, Germany)
- Porthcurno Telegraph Museum (Porthcurno, Cornwall, England)

The inside is a cotton print I found on e-bay with Umbrellas printed on it.  Black and white collar and trim next to the zipper and on hood is a cotton from my stash.  

To construct the jacket - cut each bag into single layer pieces.  These pieces are then sewn onto backing fabric to give them some weight and stability - I used scraps of cotton or muslin from my stash.  If you are using a print for the backing fabric, be sure that the backing fabric doesn't show thru the plastic to the front, unless that is the look you are trying to achieve.

Once all of the bag pieces are finished, start arranging your bags according to where you would like them placed on the jacket.  Next, sew the bags to each other.  I opted to topstitch each bag as well.

Next, using the pattern pieces, cut out your jacket from the bag fabric and construct as you would a normal jacket.   Instead of doing a traditional lining with no selvedge edges showing on the inside, I just opted to back my finished pieces with the lining fabric and sew all at one time.   Make the collar and hood, add the zipper and ta da!  You are done!

Of course the pattern itself will give you more detailed instructions than I have here.  This is just meant as a  quick overview.  The jacket did take awhile to construct, and it is fairly heavy with all of those layers.

There has got to be some rain out there somewhere!

A few things to keep in mind when making your own jacket.  If you have a very flimsy plastic bag - do not put it on an area that will get alot of wear and tear - such as the shoulder area.  My Powell's bag is on the shoulder and I'm afraid my purse strap might cause it to rip.  Of course if that does happen, you can just get out some clear packing tape and tape it back together!

Another consideration - my Buckingham Palace bag said it is biodegradable.  So one day, I might try to wear my jacket and that bag will have disappeared!  Let's hope that takes awhile though - for my jacket's sake!

Last appeal!  Please send us some rain!

Happy Sewing!


  1. I absolutely love this. You have done such a great job collecting all those interesting bags and making such a unique jacket that also looks fantastic in its own right. Fab!

  2. WOW!! I love it. How creative.........

  3. Um, how long have you had the biodegradeable bag? They really can be very much so, but if you've had it stashed for a year or two already without damage then it's probably a longer-life one! Great work with the coat and it's nice that you've built the holiday memories into it.

  4. Really one of the most creative and wearable artworks I've seen in along time. So fun and great job!