Thread Theory

Welcome to the new era of menswear sewing. Go ahead and create something exceptional!


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Waterproof Anorak Sewing Project

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I have a whopper of a sewing project to show you today!  I sewed Matt a waterproof, windproof and breathable anorak jacket and I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out!

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I used the Hot Patterns Hemmingway Windcheater pattern that we stock in our shop and modified it to be unlined as per Matt’s request.  He really wanted a light shell with lots of room for bulky sweaters underneath.  He chose the Pumpkin Dintex waterproof/windproof/breathable fabric from our shop because he wanted a jacket that would be very visible while hiking and hunting in the forest (safety first!).  Plus…he looks awesome in orange :D.  This fabric is comprised of three layers – a soft shell exterior, a waterproof film, and a mesh interior.

I was so thrilled with how easy the Dintex material was to work with.  I just used a regular old needle (probably quite dull) and I even did a bunch of stitch ripping with no bad results.  I just rubbed my finger over the needle holes and they disappeared completely.  The fabric is quite thin and very stable so it was basically like sewing quilting cotton…no stretching or slipping while I sewed.  It doesn’t fray at all so I could have left all of the seams unfinished if I had wanted to without the need for a serger or even pinking shears.

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Matt went out into a rainstorm last night for the sole purpose of testing out the waterproof nature of this fabric.  We haven’t sprayed it with any waterproofing spray and I didn’t wash it before I sewed the jacket.  He stood in torrential rain for several minutes and then shook vigorously before coming back inside.  The majority of the raindrops shook right off of him leaving him with a few drops on his shoulders and the rest of the coat completely dry.  We noticed that the drops left on his shoulders slowly started to sink into the outer layer of fabric but they did not penetrate the middle layer (which is supposed to be the main waterproof layer within this material anyways).  I think a quick spray with something like Kiwi Protect-All would fully waterproof the outer soft-shell layer of fabric.

Based on my experience with the fabric after this project (and how pro the results look…if I do say so myself!), I plan to stock a few more colors when we order our winter collection of fabrics.  There is a gorgeous teal color called Ocean and a great muted blue called Storm that are high on my list.  I’ve received a request for the color Plum.  Do you have any specific colors in mind?

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I have been steadily working on this jacket for a few weeks now with Matt eagerly awaiting it!  He has been drenched in several Fall rainstorms so far with no waterproof jacket in his closet.  He spends lots of time outdoors rain or shine while hiking with Luki, foraging for mushrooms or hunting so this garment is really an essential item for him.

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Apparently, I’m not the only one who things sewing an anorak is a great idea this Fall!  Heather Lou from Closet Case Files just launched her spectacular Kelly Anorak on October 5th.  She basically read my mind with this pattern – it is unlined with all sorts of beautiful seam finishes.  Like I said before, I didn’t use the lining pattern pieces for Matt’s anorak and instead drafted facings and improvised seam finishes.  Now that the Kelly pattern is available it would be easy to sew a menswear anorak using the Hot Pattern pieces/menswear sizes and the instructions from the Kelly!  Maybe I’ll sew a matching Kelly for myself using our Navy Dintex now that I have all the details worked out.

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Now, let’s talk a bit more about the Hemmingway Windcheater pattern.  I sewed the size Medium for Matt even though he usually wears a Small.  We chose to move up a size to ensure there was room for lots of layering.  I made a very quick and dirty mock up of the pattern to make sure that the shoulders were not too oversized (they weren’t) and, when I tried it on him, we decided to taper the side seams since Matt’s hips are very narrow and he is used to a slim fit.  I made no other fit adjustments.  Usually I would lengthen sleeves about 1-2″ when sewing for Matt but this was unnecessary because we went up a size.

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I had fun working out all the details for this jacket.  The instructions are quite brief and I didn’t follow them very often because I was not constructing the lining.  This left me with lots of creative room to add cozy jersey facings:

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…tonnes of flat felled seams and a facing on the hood:

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…as well as a waistband casing:

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I struggled finding hardware that I liked because Matt tends to like rustic or even old fashioned fastenings.  We also wanted everything to be heavy duty and hard wearing.  I bought brass snaps from Prym which I was very pleased with.  They come with a tool set that includes a plastic holder into which you place the hole punch and various applicators.

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This was very nice to work with because it kept my fingers away from the hammer and lined the top and bottom applicators up for me.  Usually I feel as though I am all thumbs when working with the tiny tools that come with snaps…but not this time!

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I like that these snaps are smaller in diameter than the ones that I usually see in fabric stores.  These little guys are 12mm in diameter.  I think this makes the jacket look more professional.

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I’m considering stocking these sets in the shop.  Would you be interested in using them for your outerwear projects?

I did not find toggles or draw string stops that I liked…but these will be easy to find when I make an anorak for myself!  Closet Case Files released a kit yesterday that includes all of the (high quality) hardware that you need to sew an anorak.  Everything would be suited to menswear except for the draw string stops (which are a beautiful scalloped design).

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For Matt’s drawstring toggles, I created circular leather disks from an old belt.  I traced a circle, cut it out, and then smoothed the edges with rough sand paper.  I used the punch from my snap kit to create two holes in the disk and then threaded the cord through them.  Hot Patterns suggested this as a solution for toggles and I love the vintage look!  They slide along the cord nicely too.  To finish the cord ends until I find a better solution, I just knotted the cord and melted the ends.

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One of the things I really like about the design of this garment is the internal drawstring along the waist.  I think this results in a more masculine and streamline look than the usual drawstring that exits near center front through an exterior grommet.

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I also find the pockets with box pleats to be very practical.  Matt can fit Luki’s leash in one of them no problem and they are more than large enough to keep his hands warm.  I lined Matt’s pockets with leftover ripstop fabric for a pop of hidden color.

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I also really love the cuff design!  It includes a tab that cinches over a sleeve gusset.  The pattern suggests to apply two snaps so that the cuff can be cinched tight against the wind.

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You can’t see the gusset well in these photos unfortunately but there is a handy close up illustration on the front of the pattern envelope.  The illustration really helped to make things clear while I sewed.  It’s basically a diamond shaped wedge of fabric that gets folded in half and sewn to the cuff and sleeve to create a flared sleeve.  The tab then cinches the cuff tight so that the sleeve, when done up, is no longer flared.  The flare will allow Matt to put on his jacket while wearing a sweater with bulky sleeves and even while he is wearing gloves.

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The hem length is perfect.  There is nice coverage over the bum!

 

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And the tall neckline is super cozy without being excessive.  Matt doesn’t have to push fabric away from his face but, if he wants to hide from the wind, he can sink behind the collar a bit like a turtle lol.

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The shape of the neckline where the hood meets the yoke is very unique:

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It provides an interesting seamline to decorate with all sorts of topstitching.  I fell a bit short here as, while I was constructing the jacket I thought this seam would usually be hidden by the hood and collar – it turns out Matt mostly wears the jacket zipped to the top leaving my one area of iffy topstitching fully exposed!  Woops!

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The last design element that really makes this anorak seem like a high end store bought coat from Patagonia or Arc’teryx is the flap that snaps over the zipper to protect the wearer fully from the wind.  This was an essential design feature for us because I couldn’t source any of those fancy waterproof and windproof zippers that I see on expensive waterproof activewear (such as this).

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Well, there you have it!  Matt’s Hemmingway Windcheater that will have him ready for anything this wet West Coast winter!


Before I sign off for today, I have a couple more things to add to this already super long post!

  • Have you seen the awesomely colorful Strath that Duncan Carter (a contestant on last season’s The Great British Sewing Bee) shared on the Minerva Crafts blog?
  • The tissue version of the Fairfield Button-up launches next Monday, Oct. 17th!  Make sure you are signed up for our newsletter because I will be sending out a special discount for newsletter recipients on Monday morning.

Have a lovely weekend!

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Nautical Breton Shirts

Breton Top Sewing Pattern

Here are the Breton tops that I promised to show you!  They were sewn using the Hot Patterns Weekender Breton T pattern that we added to our shop on Tuesday.

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The pattern includes two sets of pieces – one in women’s sizes and one in men’s sizes.  I sewed both of these in a size Medium from each size range.    The women’s version features shaping at the neckline and 3/4 sleeves (I lengthened the sleeves to be full length).  The men’s version is a straight, boxy fit.  Both of the patterns include the slightly scooped classic Breton neckline.

I sewed the men’s top using our Canadian made interlock fabric and the women’s top using a rayon knit with considerable drape that I found at my local fabric shop.  I am always on the look out for navy and white stripes but have yet to find a Breton Stripe (or any stripe) that is nice for menswear.  They all seem to include spandex or too much drape.  If I ever do, I will certainly add it to the fabrics that we carry in our shop!

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I really like how this neckline sews together on this pattern!  Self binding is sewn to the front neckline first.  Next, the front and back of the shirt, along with a long strip of self binding, are sandwiched together so that the shoulder seams and binding is attached in one go!  After the seam is sewn, the binding folds over the shoulder seam allowances and back neckline seam allowance to create a very tidy interior and clean exterior.  I haven’t tried this type of neckline finish before but am now a big fan!  I didn’t get any photos of the inside of the shirt because I gave them to my models (Matt’s brother and his wife).  Darn!

The instructions include an error in the order that you must sandwich the layers together but I have included a note within each pattern to explain how I think you should sew it!  Here is the note that I include:

Weekender Breton Tee - Revised instructions

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This was Mike and Sonia’s first foray into modelling (I didn’t really give them an option!).  They are avid sailors and just got home from sailing to Hawaii in the Vic-Maui race!  When I saw this very nautical pattern I thought of them.  I considered sewing these tops as a wedding gift for them (they got married just before they left on their sailing trip) but thought that a wedding gift that comes with strings attached (an unpaid modelling gig) isn’t much of a gift. 😛  They seemed to enjoy hamming it up for a few minutes though:

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These were an extremely quick sew.  The dropped shoulder and very gently curved sleeve cap make sewing the sleeves extremely simple and fast.  Each pattern includes only three pattern pieces plus binding.  They made for an excellent summer project (fast enough to sew up in an hour or two so you can wear them that day at the beach or on the boat!).

For more info on this pattern, check out the description on our website!