I have a habit of undertaking certain odd projects just to see if they can be done.
Over the years I have owned several waxed cotton/oilskin jackets. They eventually get a patina like old leather from the waxes and oils and dirt. I have thought of making my own waxed cotton jacket by taking an existing cotton jacket and covering it with whatever it is that is used to make it traditionally.
Lately I have also been wanting a dark denim/jean jacket. I have also had a few of them over the years, and wanted a dark indigo one just to wear on whatever odd occasion I may have a chance to wear one. I had been looking at the Levi's ones lately, and honestly, for $90, they are crap. They are made from lighter denim than I recall from my youth, and all I keep finding are stonewashed and pre-worn (I can wear out my clothes myself, thank you).
I happened to stop into the Gap yesterday, and what do I spy, but a dark denim jacket, in my size, for $20 on the clearance rack. Of course, how can I pass this up. It wasn't real heavy (maybe 12 oz or 13 oz denim), but it seemed a little heavier than the Levi's ones I was finding.
My son had a basketball game this morning, but it is getting cold again, and snowing again, so everything else we had planned for the day was cancelled. This left me with a lot of free time. And well, idle hands do the devil's work, so you can see where this is heading.
We stopped for brunch at Perkins after the game (which has nothing to do with my story, but my kids love breakfast at Perkins), and then headed home for me to undertake "the project".
I had been doing some searching, and beeswax, paraffin, linseed oil, and a few other ingredients were the traditional materials used to make waxed cloth. It also happens that a mixture of beeswax and paraffin is used to lube black powder bullets, so I have everything required to melt and mix the waxes. I also had a small can of the mixture used to treat oilskin, which is basically a wax with some extra oils in it. I put the beeswax, paraffin, and oilskin wax into a small stainless pot and put it inside of a larger pot partially filled with water to melt the waxes.
Once melted I used a disposable chip brush to brush on the wax while my daughter used a hair dryer to heat the areas I applied the wax to (especially the seams) to help it melt in.
Here is the untreated jacket.
Here it is with the wax on it. You can really see the wax, and I was worried I may have put it on too thick, but it was just a single coat.
I wasn't about to sit there for ten hours trying to melt all the wax into the fabric with a hair dryer, so one tip I read was to put the jacket into a dryer on high heat. The warning was that it would leave a slight coating of wax inside the dryer. What I did was button the jacket and turn it inside out, then stuff it inside of a pillow case and tie the pillow case shut with just enough room for the jacket to move slightly. Then I tossed it in the dryer.
This seemed to work out great. It helped melt the wax into the fabric, and didn't leave any waxy residue in the dryer. I didn't post any photos of the back because you really can't see much difference in the three stages.
I ran some water over the sleeves, and it runs right off! It stiffened the jacket a little, but after wearing it I'm sure it will break-in and soften somewhat. It also made the jacket a little heavier, which is what I was also looking to do.
So now I am the owner of what is probably a fairly unique denim jacket. I don't believe I have ever seen an indigo waxed cotton version of one.
And yes, I did all of this while my wife is at work. No need to get yelled at for conducting waxing experiments in the kitchen.