Sewing (or Camping) Best Waterproof Fabric for Making Raincoats, Sleeping Bags, and Keeping Warm in Winter.
Waterproof, windproof fabric
Soft, silk drape
Available variety of colors
Easy to sew
Waterproof and windproof fabric which is excellent value for money
Nylon Taslan is inexpensive folds up very small, is waterproof, silky, dries quickly, and is wind resistant. It is an easily sewn fabric for raincoats, rain hats, sleeping bags and other outdoor uses. Usually a fabric with this many attributes wouldn't be cheap, but at about $7 or $8 a yard, it is outstanding value for money. Indeed, if you search for items made of this fabric, you will find that they are very pricey and that they have quality guarantees.
I spent some eighteen months looking for a lightweight waterproof fabric with which to make certain items which would be easy and light for travel purposes. I think Nylon Taslan is the best kept secret on the Internet. I discovered that no polyester fabric is ever completely waterproof, and that nylon, when treated, is. I also discovered that Americans don't use nylon or don't like nylon because it supposedly 'rustles' when it moves. If it does, I certainly didn't notice. Initially when I started researching water and windproof fabrics, I found it virtually impossible. It took quite a while to isolate which fabric fitted the parameters which I was looking for. To date, I have only found Nylon Taslan to fit all my parameters - lightweight, inexpensive, attractive, waterproof, and windproof.
Ironically while the fabric is available in the States in several colours, it appears that only camo colouring is available in the UK. By the same token, many rainwear items are made of this fabric in the UK, but not so in the USA.
Feel and appearance of material
The feel of the fabric is very much the same as any cotton treated product. It's impossible to tell that it is it in any way treated. It has a soft drape and feels and it looks like an ordinary (and quite expensive) raincoat. Many people who are unaware of just how inexpensive this fabric can be purchased for, paid a fair sum of of money for items of clothing made with the fabric. The material also breathes.
Making a Sleepingbag from Taslan
The design behind all sleeping bag is that the outer covering is wind proof so as not to let any drafts in and to prevent the warmth from escaping while the inner covering provides the warmth. So it could be fleece, duck down, or imitation down on the inside - depending on how warm the sleeping bag needs to be and a lightweight wind and/or water proof fabric on the outside. Technically, it's also a savvy move in colder climates to insulate a blanket from a draft in the room by taking a few yards/meters of this fabric and sewing it on the outside. It immediately adds an extra layer of insulation.
Always be careful to use the thinnest sewing needle available This is because if you puncture large holes in the fabric, the rain can get through. The manufacturer advises the use of a super thin sewing needle.
On a personal basis, I have never taken to duvets. I find the duvet always floats around inside the duvet cover, and while they are warm, I also think they look ugly on any bed. I much prefer the old fashioned look of a bed - sheet, blankets, and bedspread!
These days, I have my own style. I have a polar fleece blanket combined with a taslan sheet that I made. I ordered taslan fabric (it's wide enough for sheeting), hemmed it around the edges, and use it as a sheet. Best sheet ever. I then shopped for a polar fleece blanket and sleep under these. The combination is very warm and very light. Talk about comfort!
Be aware that not all fleece is polar fleece. It does have to say polar fleece. Also, this combination makes incredibly warm jackets. Line a taslan raincoat with fleece on the inside.
Best raincoat fabric
Rainwear - use a very thin sewing needle
If you pour water over Nylon Taslan fabric, the water just slides off. It doesn't penetrate. I have walked in the rain for a few hours with a coat made of this fabric, and no water penetrated. It also dries very quickly..
The fabric is therefore useful for rainproof handbags, rucksacks, backbacks, rain hats, and anything else that needs to be strongly waterproof.
As with all items mentioned here, because the fabric is extremely light and thin, it can be folded up very small. It might seem, therefore, that a backpack might not be strong enough to carry various items. Not true. The fabric is very strong. If one gets taslan nylon that has a ripstop weave, it is doubly reinforced.
Ripstop weave means that there is a stronger thread which runs in a square pattern so that if a whole develops in one area, the rest of the fabric won't rip. Not all ripstop weaves are made of nylon taslan and not all nylon taslan fabrics have a ripstock weave. I did not use the ripstock weave as I preferred my items to look as much like ordinary fabric as possible.
Taslan fabric is highly thought of in industry
Under $8 per yard
I personally tested this fabric in the cold, wet, and windy climate of Scotland during the height of winter. Despite the wind nearly blowing me off my feet and the rain pouring down, the fabric did not allow wind through or for me to get wet. The fabric comes in several colour palettes in the States - black, white, red, blue, etc. In the United Kingdom, it only comes in a military camoflage print.
Sewing a Windbreaker
Certain climates have a lot of wind. That includes Cape Town and Port Elizabeth in South Africa, and it definitely includes Campbeltown in Scotland where I am currently staying. This fabric cuts wind chill to a high degree. In fact, I personally kept noting that where my coat covered my body, I couldn't feel the chill at all, but exposed parts like my hands (despite wearing gloves), the chill penetrated.
This textile is fabulous because it not only keeps one dry, but keeps a cold wind from blowing through to one's skin.
In areas where the wind is very strong, it's best to make either a buttoned coat or a poncho because otherwise the wind will blow open the coat. Clips and velcro do not work well as they do not hold the coat closed as well as buttons do.
Watch what happens with this taslan jacket
Best winter sheet to keep out the cold!
Why I personally recommend this fabric.
I have had a love affair with fabrics throughout my life as I love beautiful, high quality clothing and textiles. In the days that I used to design and sew fashionable items, my favourite material was viscose (rayon). Viscose is made of wood, so it's not 100% manmade, and I do feel a bit guilty about it because the process for making it is toxic. Generally, when out there buying, I check to see that all items I buy are made of silk, wool, and cotton. They are natural fabrics. I avoid linen because it wrinkles easily, although it is cool in summer. There are only two manmade fabrics I use. They are polar fleece (must be polar) and taslan. I do not touch polyester or acrylic as they pill easily and they do not look very nice shortly after purchase. Nylon is the longest lasting and strongest manmade fabric. Polar fleece is the only fabric we have that is as warm as wool. Nothing else is. So there you have it!
© 2015 Tessa Schlesinger