Everything but the Snow!

Here’s my finished cross-country ski anorak, based off Simplicity 8843 (a new pattern for early Spring 2019):

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Photobomb by my dog, Jake.

There’s not enough snow around to ski yet, but I hope we get some this winter.

I made the jacket out of PolarTec PowerShield – a material that’s a sandwich of textiles: the outside (right side) is a closely woven nylon shell that’s wind-blocking and treated with a water-resistant coating. The inside (wrong side) is an insulating later of polyester velour, similar to a low-pile fleece, very soft.

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The PowerShield I bought had a red nylon shell and black velour insulation. It comes in several colors of nylon shell, but I believe that the velour is always black. The material has four-way stretch, with more stretch on the crossgrain.

Because the fleecy side is black, every needle hole shows, as the needle pulls a few black fleecy fibers through the hole as it sews. I had to sew carefully to avoid mistakes. I also used big paper clips instead of pins.

Tips for working with this – from the manufacturer and from me:

  • Microtex 12/80 needle
  • Polyester thread
  • Long stitches
  • Mock flat-fell seams for extra durability and water resistance
  • Press with a dry iron and a press cloth, at a low temperature.

This material does not take a press at all. You can iron out wrinkles and help set stitches with a low-temp press. For press-under bits, such as the collar facing and pockets, I liberally used 1/4-inch Wonder Tape.

The pattern is pretty good, but there were two issues with it that keep me from loving it:

The front facing had a few problems:

  • The facing and the collar facing don’t line up well. It would be great if there was a notch to guide you. The illustration helps. On my first try, one came out fine but the other was a bit off-kilter. I tried again, basting it together then pressing the seam allowances up to see if the pieces flowed together well.
  • There’s an error in the instructions on Step 21. You need to sew the facing onto the jacket right sides together , not wrong sides together. This should be obvious when you’re sewing, but I think a beginner would be confused. The picture is correct but the instructions are wrong.

I’d add a couple of tips also for handing the facing: Sew the facing on starting from center back down one side, then another. It can be tricky to sew this on without puckering or drawing up, since it’s such a long piece. I used a walking foot – highly recommended if you have one. Stitch in the ditch to secure the collar facing to the neckline (unless you enjoy hand sewing this).

The placket is not great. I didn’t care for the design of the placket because of the way it looks and the way you install the snaps.

The placket is sewn to the right side of the front, covers the zipper and attaches with snaps on the left side. To my eye, the snaps look kind of goofy off center. Besides, for a home sewist who has access only to non-commercial snaps and pliers to install them, you’re asking a lot for snaps to go through two layers of fabric and a layer of interfacing. Also, the placket stops at the neckline and does not cover the collar or lower hood, which looks lazy to me.

I tried to re-engineer the placket to cover the collar and with the snaps on the inside of the placket. This way, the snaps would not be seen from the right side, which is how high-quality RTW sportswear such as Patagonia does it. And the plastic snaps would have to go through only one layer of fabric. When I mocked this up on my muslin, however, it was a no-go. Between the placket and its seam allowance, zipper tape, pockets, and drawstring casing, there’s very little margin for error. I was not confident that my scheme would work, or that I’d be able to snap the snaps if I did manage to fit them in. So, I left the placket off.

I think the black zipper look is fine, as it turns out, because other details were black, and I will wear this with a black and red ski union suit. The PolarTec PowerShield would not handle the slim drawstring casing, so instead I sewed lightweight 1″ nylon belting.

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Here are a few other changes I made. The jacket as drafted would be fine for a basic jacket, but for skiing it was a skosh skimpy in the length, sleeve length and hips for me (I am 5’6″). In general, this jacket has a lot of ease in the bodice but not that much at the hips:

  • 3/4 inch high round back adjustment and 1/2 inch forward shoulder adjustment. Because this jacket has a high zip-up neck or hood, if you have that problem of tops sliding back because of shoulder and back posture issues, you will really need these adjustments or the neckline will be uncomfortable.
  •  Lengthened 2 inches – 1 inch above the drawstring and 1 inch at the hem. I wanted the jacket to cover my butt. I always need to lengthen Simplicity bodices 1 inch – plus I wanted that drawstring to fall right at my waist.
  • Graded out the hips 1 inch (since I lengthened it, I needed a bit more ease when sitting in the jacket)
  •  Lengthened the sleeves 1 inch – probably fine as-is, but a cross-country skiing motion could use a bit more ease.

Action shot demonstrates how the sleeves work:

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And an obligatory shot of my butt:

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If only it would snow now!

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Author: shoes15

I live in Connecticut, USA with my husband and my dog, in an old house outfitted with a sewing room, a garden, an orchard, and a big liquor cabinet.

4 thoughts on “Everything but the Snow!”

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