Before we get into how to sew with these fabrics, let’s answer the question: What’s the difference between water resistant and water proof?
Water resistant fabrics are either tightly woven and naturally resist water, or are coated with a finish that causes water to bead on the fabric surface rather than soaking into it. Water resistant fabrics are good for a light rain, but could become soaked in a downpour.
Water proof fabrics cannot be penetrated by water and should keep you dry even in heavy downpours. Water proof fabrics tend to have a rubbery feel and are less breathable than water resistant fabrics.
How a fabric is made water resistant:
To make a fabric water resistant, it is sprayed or immersed in a synthetic resin, oil or wax. This technique allows the fabric to keep some of its natural characteristics. However, water repellent coatings are not permanent and can start to wear off after time. Multiple washings can also make the coating come off quicker.
How a fabric is made water proof:
To water proof a fabric, it is coated with a plastic or synthetic resin and then vulcanized, or essentially baked. This causes the fabric to loose its porosity and lightness and the fabric can be susceptible to cracking. Water proofing a fabric is permanent.
Downsides to both fabrics:
Coated fabrics tend to stick to the bottom of presser feet
Prone to puckered seams
Can be easily damaged by pins, machine needles and hot irons
Benefits to both fabrics:
Resist tearing and snagging
Don’t need to be pre-shrunk
Interfacing is rarely needed
Tips for sewing with both fabrics:
Use weights or clips to hold the material while cutting and sewing. Pins will leave holes in your project that could allow for the fabric to leak.
Use a sharp needle in the smallest size possible that is able to stitch the fabric without skipping. The bigger the needle, the bigger the hole, which could again make your fabric leak.
Use a polyester thread; it will be as mildew resistant as the project you are sewing.
Finish seams with seam sealant. This well help make sure the fabric doesn’t leak.
If you’re extra spill prone when working in the kitchen, make an apron from water resistant fabric. Basic apron pattern.
Have you ever sewn with these fabrics? What did you make? Did it stay water proof or water resistant?