Little Red Rain Poncho
Over the last year of biking in the pacific northwest, I have been hunting for the perfect biking rain coat, and have tried many different options, including rain pants, rain ponchos, waxing my clothes. None of these worked well for all my needs: rain pants are technically functional but an unfashionable hastle; rain ponchos work great unless there is any wind whatsoever, and are also an unfashionable hastle; and waxing my pants has been only somewhat effective -- so I decided to make my own rain coat that covers my legs while biking but also looks good while not biking.
I started with the North Face Ancha Parka as my base coat. This waterproof rain jacket was about the right size with really lovely waterproof material, but had a poor quality zipper and unflatteringly boxy fit. The first adjustment I made was to update the zipper with a heavy-duty two-way brass zipper. While making this change, I also re-ordered the fabric layer so that the flat that was laying under the zipper was now laying on top of it. This allowed me to add brass snaps to the top flap to create a more vintage looking rain coat.
Next I moved to the back of the jacket, and split the jacket down the middle. My goal here was to add a bit of fabric so that when I'm on a bike, the jacket would create a poncho-like effect and cover the tops of my legs while I ride. Since this is primarily a biking jacket, I decided to use a really lovely reflective fabric from Mood Fabrics.
Not being sure how this reflective fabric would look outside the context of biking, I decided to hedge my bets and add a zipper on the back so that I could zip up and hide the reflective fabric when I am just walking around. This zipper is actually installed upside-down, zipping from the bottom. This allows me to upzip a few inches from the bottom, opening little space for my hips, without unzipping the whole back.