Sew the 153 Siberian Parka in Waxed Cotton

By Cynthia Anderson

You do not have to be from frigid climes to appreciate this parka. You just need to adopt the old adage that “There is no such thing as foul weather… just improper clothing.” The Folkwear 153 Siberian Parka is for anyone who embraces the elements and believes that weather should never prevent any outdoor activity from being a adventure! Or for anyone that simply appreciates a comfy blanket they can wear anywhere.

This extra-roomy, easy-to-sew parka pulls on easily over the head, has a built-in hood, large pockets, and is the perfect length that allows for a full range of movement. Give this garment the consideration it deserves and it will become evident how this practical piece has been missing from your wardrobe. The roominess of this piece allows for easy and comfortable layering underneath to block the wind and cold. The simple structure and hood makes it a great alternative to a rain coat or poncho. Even if you are sitting on the side-lines at an early morning soccer practice or in the stands cheering your favorite team, the blanket-like coverage will encase you in comfort, while allowing for plenty of room for jumping to your feet when your team scores.

Front & Back Illuctration of Folkwear 153 Siberian Parka


Photo of Front of 153 Siberian Parka
Photo of back view of Folkwear 153 Siberian Parka
Any mid- to heavy-weight fabric like Polar-fleece, flannel, wool, linen, or cotton canvas is perfect for cooler weather, depending on the activity and temps.  But, you can make the parka from a light to mid-weight linen and enjoy sitting on the beach or by the pool while waiting in your swimsuit for the temperature to rise or use as an aprés swim cover up.  If you are an outdoor sports fan, make a cozy comfy parka out of Polar Fleece, wool, or flannel in your team colors and show your support. Oiled cotton canvas or waxed cotton are perfect fabrics for creating a protective layer against rain and wind. The fun of any hiking, camping, or fishing trip will surely continue if the elements are not allowed to become a deterrent. 
Photo of hands in pockets of Folkwear 153 Siberian Parka
Photo of hood Folkwear 153 Siberian Parka
Up close photo of pockets for Folkwear 153 Siberian Parka

Because this pattern is extremely easy to make and really does not need any further explanation beyond the pattern instructions, I decided to focus on sewing tips using the waxed cotton I used to make the 153 Siberian Parka.  I made this sample to show that, while this pattern makes a great winter cover, it also can make a fabulous spring parka - keeping off rain and adding that extra layer that is often needed.

    First off, let me reassure you that waxed cotton is not difficult to sew with, though it is a bit slower to sew.
    • Due to the nature of waxed cotton, you should consider how you want to receive your fabric upon purchasing it and how to store it. Since the fabric is covered in wax, any creases from folding may or may not be faintly permanent. The fabric I used in this blog came folded. Plus, the center front and center back pieces are cut on the fold, so a faint crease remains in the final project. I am okay with this. Rolling the fabric on a tube will help eliminate the creases.  But the beauty of waxed canvas is that it eventually has a patina from this cracking of the wax, and you don't need to be afraid to fold, move, or "live" in your waxed canvas.
    • Because of the waxed coating, the fabric should not be pre-washed or washed. If it becomes soiled, wipe clean with a damp sponge or soft cloth.
    • Do not use an iron to press the seams. Use your fingers or even a cold iron instead. Due to this technique, do not expect the seams to press as normal.
    • Manipulating the wax canvas will cause the fabric to “shatter” like a waxed batik. This results in the fabric taking on a white-ish crinkled effect, because the surface wax has been cracked.  As mentioned, this patina can add to the interest of your garment (or bag).  However, once your project is completed the crinkled effect can be lessened or eliminated by simply using a hot hairdryer to gently heat the waxed surface. The heat is just enough to melt the wax, smooth out the surface and even out the appearance of the fabric color. Just know that the crinkled effect will return when you wear the garment. This is the nature and aesthetic of wearing waxed cotton.
    • When cutting out your fabric using the pattern, use sharp sturdy scissors.
    • Either pin within the seam allowance to secure the pattern for cutting or weight the pattern to the fabric and draw an outline using a pencil. Just be sure to make a mark that will still be visible when you are ready to cut. Be sure to include all essential markings too. Use masking tape to indicate the right side of the fabric.
    • Any pin holes made to the fabric will be permanent, so avoid using heavy gauge pins. I used the finest gauge pin I had… the ones already “worn-out” and bent. It took some extra effort to penetrate the layers of fabric with fine pins, but this worked well. Since the fine gauge pins were already bent I did not hesitate to sew over them.
    • I also used metal binder clips when holding large expanses of fabric together when sewing. It was easy to use the clips, moving them along the seam allowance as I stitched. You can try Wonder clips or another plastic sewing clip.
    • Sew using regular polyester thread. Use a longer stitch.  Setting the stitch length between three and four works best.
    • A balanced tension should work fine. Once you start stitching it will be easy to determine if any adjustments are required.
    • Your feed dogs will likely get caked with wax when stitching. Accept the fact that your sewing will go slower, because you will need to stop and clean the feed-dogs and the presser foot periodically. I found the regular presser foot to work well, but you might try a walking foot or a Teflon foot.
    • You may want to remove the extension-platform-table attached to your sewing machine when you sew.  The wax will cause the fabric to drag on the table.
    • When beginning to stitch, It's ok if the feed-dogs need a bit of pulling assistance to get the fabric moving,. However, if the feed dogs will not continue moving the fabric as it should, it is time to stop and clean.
    • Finish the seams as you like.
    • Hem according to the instructions.
    • Be sure to clean your machine when your project is complete.

    I hope you find the tips for sewing waxed cotton helpful. I can hardly wait to make a bag out of waxed cotton!

    Once you adopt this garment into your wardrobe, you will easily appreciate what the cold-climate culture of Siberia has long understood… the wind, rain, or snow should never keep you indoors! The 153 Siberia Parka pattern comes in sizes S-XL (but there is a LOT of extra room in this pattern). A PDF version is available too. This parka also makes the perfect gift for anyone who enjoys the outdoors.

    As always, we are excited to see what you have been inspired to make!

    Photo os side view of Folkwear 153 Siberian Parka