Friday, 17 January 2014

The scary sewing skill swap

Try saying that after a drink or two...

This frankly scary looking collection is for a long - promised jacket for the husband.

Earlier in the year he did a beautiful renovation on a vintage Elswick bike for me and in a fit of gratitude I promised to make him a jacket.

It has to be mentioned that hubby is a fussy bugger when it comes to clothes. Everything has to be perfect or he won't wear it so I'm under pressure on this one! Here's my brief:

The pattern we agreed on is the Fairbanks pullover anorak from Green Pepper (bought from Rocky Woods - a treasure trove for this sort of pattern, which is not easy to find elsewhere).  The jury is still out on the inclusion of extra pockets - he likes pockets.  I am making a few amends to the pattern. In addition to a possible sleeve pocket and maybe 2 lower pockets for hands, the main pocket will be a patch pocket on the outside and the flap will be squared off.

The fabric hubby chose is a navy Goretex (the real thing and if you have ever tried to buy this fabric you'll know what a great ebay find this was!). We also got swatches from Pennine Outdoor who are so helpful on understanding this type of waterproof performance fabric. You have to line Goretex as the inside is coated with waterproofing which will eventually rub off as it is worn if left unlined.  He wanted a breathable lining of course so he chose a navy cotton. He doesn't want padding or insulation as he prefers to layer underneath with a base layer rather than wear a bulky jacket.

Fairbanks is a very clear pattern with good instructions on how best to sew the seams (with straight stitch first then zigzag inside the seam allowance and trim) but not so much on sealing the seams other than you have to do it! If you don't, water will drip through the needle holes rendering your precious waterproof fabric next to useless.

I've gathered a few resources on this as they were pretty few and far between - maybe this might help someone else! The choice is pretty much between a liquid sealant or taping the seams.

A post on the Sewaholic blog about making a waterproof Minoru was very useful
This helpful lady tested various seam sealing options
KBenco has sewn with Goretex and various other outdoor fabrics and posted about how to work with it here
This Ebay guide is goodl for understanding the difference between fabrics and has some good tips

 Based on the above, I decided to go for seam tape purchased from Pennine Outdoor which states that it works well for Goretex type fabrics. It irons on fairly easily at a temperature that doesn't damage the fabric (from the test swatches I have done so far) but once it's on, it's not coming off so I'm going to have to be careful! Ripping back seams isn't going to be an option as it will leave obvious holes in the fabric. 

I'm using microtex needles (to make the smallest possible holes when sewing) and standard polyester thread. I also have a waterproof zip.

Wish me luck!

Have you ever done a skill swap where you swapped your sewing skills for something you couldn't do? Any tips for sewing with waterproof fabric?


  1. Stumbled upon your blog when i was searching for men's parka pattern. do review the pattern esp for fit. i am thinking of making this for my husband and also my brothers, so its several sizes, i am not sure about how it fits. i sew my own kids winter coats and have been for several years. your tips sounds right on, some will say you need teflon foot but i find my regular sewing machine foot works as well except for coated nylon since it grabs a bit to the foot so a teflon foot helps.

    1. i will do! I have made a muslin and went by actual garment measurement rather than the sizes on the pattern. based on pattern size, i think his chest measurement would have been about a size 42. he wants a slimmer fit (this isn't a hiking garment so he wants a fashion fit rather than one he can wear bulky jumpers under - he tends to wear thin base layers which don't add bulk). i muslined a 36 and added 1" to the centre front to get the fit he wanted. i also slimmed down the sleeves. I'll do a proper post on this soon. i'll also report back on the teflon foot. the fabric isn't sticky or shiny tho - the goretex side is sort of brushed and the coated side is fairly smooth.

  2. As a recent beginner sewist, I just found your blog via Minerva Blogger Network. Gosh! I am in awe at this project! Really looking forward to following your progress:)

    1. thanks linda - i really hope it comes out OK as he has been telling all his friends! good luck with your own sewing. i think it helps to dive in and just got for it with some cheap fabric - i'm not that far from a beginner myself!

  3. I actually made some rain gear for hiking one time, with mixed success, and I made a raincoat a few years ago that turned out better. The holes are definitely something you want to watch out for-- I actually ended up "pinning" my seams with paper clips when I was sewing, to make as few as possible! I also did the waterproofing in stages, because some seams are harder to get to than others once it's all sewn up. The waterproofing stuff worked really well, but it smells terrible, so make sure you only do it in a well-ventilated area!

    1. thanks becky - great reminder to snaffle some paperclips from the stationary cupboard! the waterproofing i have is the green tape you can see in the top pic. it doesn't smell at all and i am planning to do each seam once it is sewn. hopefully this will be less fiddly to get to!

  4. You are a very good wife! Thanks for all the links and best of luck with that make.

    1. thanks andrea! he is being very appreciative!

  5. Hi Joanne,
    I have the Fairbanks Women's Pullover in front of me and am looking around for tips on sewing. May I ask how the Men's Fairbanks Pullover for your husband worked out?


Thanks for your comment - it's great to hear from you!