Oct 12, 2013

How to: No-Sew Wet Weather Gear in 10 Steps

Want to get out in the wet weather but haven't a coat or boots for your Little One? Do you have a few meters of waterproof fabric, or even a big garbage bag? DON'T WE ALL??! Well, guess what? Freed from the house you shall be!

This project makes a poncho, a rain bonnet and 'shoe cover' booties that give good* cover in rainy weather.
(The photos are of the prototype, before trimming.  The final product was a lot less of a trip hazard.)

You will need

  • A child, wearing their outdoor clothes and shoes 
  • About 1.5m of a waterproof fabric.  A cut open garbage bag may work, but I haven't tried it (yet).
  • Elastic - about 40cm
  • Sticky Velcro dots - 4 pairs
  • Scissors
  • Wide sticky tape of gaffer tape, or a sewing machine if you're able
  • Measuring tape, or string to collect lengths

Priorities for this project, from highest to lowest: safety, speed, accuracy, looks.


1. Get two measurements.
A = child's shoulder to knee x2
B = child's wrist to wrist, +10cm (4")
Cut out a rectangle that is A x B for your baby's poncho.  If A or B is close to the width of your fabric, use that width.  

2. Fold the poncho in half twice, with the back of the fabric showing (so half one way, right sides facing, then half the other way).  You should have a corner that's all fold, and no edge.

3. Measure across the top of your child's head.
If you can find something round that's as big as your child's head, use that to trace a quarter circle on the fold-corner.

Otherwise: Halve that amount.  Measure that amount down the edges from the corner and mark.  (So, if it's about 16cm across the child's head, measure 8cm down each side.) 
Cut straight across from one mark to the other, or if you like it fancy, draw in a bit of a curve to cut along.

3. Open poncho.  
Decide which straight edge is the front.  
Make a 5cm-ish snip from the neck hole pointing straight down the front.

Neck cinching dots.

4. Put poncho on child.
Take a pair of Velcro dots and join them together (i.e. 'Do them up') so you have them connected and with their stickiness exposed. 

At the neck opening, next to the top of the snip, stick your Velco to the inside of a corner.  Then take that corner towards the child's opposite shoulder to close the neck opening and make it fit better.  
Attach the Velcro dot wherever it fits best.

Wrist cinching spots.


5. Take one side edge of the poncho.
Find the middle point and hang it over the child's wrist.
Like before, connect two Velcro dots with their stickiness exposed and attached them to the poncho under your child's wrist.
Do the same for the other side edge.

Optional step: trim the corners off your poncho, however you like.

BOOTIES (shoe covers)

6. Get two bootie measurements with shoes on.
A = ankle to ankle, going under the foot + 10cm
B = front of ankle to top of heel, going under the foot + 10cm
Cut two rectangles that are about A x B.

7. Tie some elastic around the child's ankle so that it's snug, but not tight.  
Check you can take the elastic off before you tighten the knot or trim the elastic.  
Make two loops this size.

To put on booties, take the short edge of the rectangle and hold it under the ankle.  Wrap the length of the plastic under the shoe and over the foot and hold in place.  Hook the elastic over the toe and drag it up the back of the heel, collecting the sides of the plastic.  Vwa la!


8. Get two bonnet measurements 
A = shoulder to shoulder (bottom of the neck), over the head
B = from eyebrow to back of head (the crown)
Cut one rectangle that's about A x B. 

9. To construct bonnet
With tape: Fold in half, wrong sides facing, so that you have two A edges folded in half.  Hold one edge closed and open the other so you can see the inside of the closed edges. Overlap the closed edges and tape them down.
With sewing machine: Fold in half, right sides facing, so that you have two A edges folded in half. Sew down one folded A. Turn out.

Poncho too big, bonnet too small. Perfect prototype.

10. Put the bonnet on your child with the seam going down the back of their head.  Bring corners under their chin and attach some Velcro spots to hold in place.

Dress your poor child in their travesty of an outfit and admire your work.  Takes a few pics before you head out or Child rips it off.

Go and enjoy your day of floating paper boats down the gutters, searching for pearly spiderwebs, or poking earwigs under bark.

Some children don't like wearing rain bonnets.

*Better than good: good enough.

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