Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Burda "sporty" parka 01-2009-104

I totally love the expression "loving hands at home" and I'd call my blog it if I didn't think it would attract all sorts of creepy google searches looking for a very different kind of loving home front action. (For non-sewing friends who read my blog, it's an ironic way of saying, "it looks home-made." )

Of course, if you are a sewer, saying something looks home-made is a bad thing, a very bad thing. The goal is to make something look as professional as possible. Still, I wonder about this. We don't try to make home cooking look like restaurant food, we value the irregular stitches of a home knit garment, handcraft revels in the individuality of its creator and is valued for it, so why is the ultimate accolade of home made clothes the comment, "I would never have guessed you made it."

I've been thinking about this because it seems to me that home sewing needs to forge its own identity and be valued for what it is without unfavourable comparisons to high end designer wear. I say this to myself mostly, mistakes in sewing bug me greatly - some clothes I can't wear because the mistakes bug me so much.

There has not been a great deal of journeying here of late - not for want of wishing but a busy fortnight has put paid to usual recreational activities. We've had a lot of friends come back from northern hemisphere winters to catch up with, and we got a very nasty tummy bug that laid us all low for a couple of days and made us grateful that we had 2 bathrooms.

I also took on what in hindsight has proven to be a very challenging project, made more challenging by sewing it piecemeal and never getting a good couple of hours free to sit down and whack it out. Deeply, deeply mourning the loss of Benjy's afternoon sleep.

The back view:

I picked up some Gore-tex for $4 a metre from Nicks, who got all of the Line 7 liquidation stock. I decided to sew one of the Burda parkas from last autumn, but wanted to put a hood in it. There'a no doubt the original design was much chic-er, but Auckland has a seriously high winter rainfall and that nice ruffled collar, adorable as it is, will not keep head dry in sheet rain.

Sometimes it's worth looking a little dorky to stay dry:

I chose this parka from Burda 01-2009-104, but substituting the hood from #126 and adding in a thermal mesh lining. Despite careful measuring of the existing neckline and the hood, I still could not ease the fabric into the space without a great deal of puckering. Gore-tex is too stiff and the weave is of course very tight to ensure it stays waterproof so easing is not something it wants to do. After stay stitching and clipping hard I managed to get it in, but I strongly suspect that the neckline on #104 has been lowered by an inch or so, making a longer seam line on the front.

Then I had all sorts of issues inserting the 4 way stretch lining into a fabric with no give whatsoever. Lots of unpicking first of all, then a big sigh, and thereafter a lot of hand basting.

Also challenging was working out how to insert a lining into an unlined jacket pattern. The lining part was easy - just trace off the facings and add seam allowances - I didn't even have to draft an ease pleat in the back because of the stretch lining - but how was I going to get access to the draw strings? How was I going to line the hood and turn the whole thing out through the sleeves? What to do about the drawstring hem and the elasticated wrist bands?

Added to all of this, about half way through I lost the instruction section of the magazine - not that that was a huge loss - they were more basic than usual. The instructions for the poacher's pockets left out the vital piece of information that the flap had to be attached to the pocket WRONG sides together and so there was a lot of head scratching going on there until I figured it out.

In the end the solutions to the construction process were quite simple. I added eyelets to thread the drawstrings from the waist casing though. I added the hood to the top of the facings and sewed the whole lot together in one continuous seam from one end of the zipper to the other. The sleeves I decided to do by catching the lining inside the hem and simply sewing the casing over the top of all layers.

The bottom hem casing was the only really tricky part but I threaded the elastic by reaching the casing through the hole in the sleeve.

Getting a good fit was another challenge. I never know what to do about bust alterations on loose styles like these. The front was still about an inch too small - but - there's so much room in the back I could easy borrow fabric from there to reach the front. The side seams would be off though, which I decided would bug me. I could cut the front piece at the waist, do an FBA and pivot out the dart to the waist and then slash the lower part to fit the new piece. Then I'd just use the waistband casing to pull it back in again - but then I decided it was already quite gathered and the bulky fabric would just take the whole look too far. So in the end I settled on darts, but they never sit that well, because of the loose back and the bulky fabric.

I am curious to know how other people resolve this dart dilemna - ignore, eliminate, shift or sew? If you have an thoughts, please share.

For my next project I was going to sew a full muslin for a jacket that I was then going to make up in suede in April for the Pattern Review lined jacket competition. I am very good at sewing long projects bit by bit (think 2 years hand piecing a quilt if you want the evidence) but frankly I'm worried. Sewing a suede jacket is a huge challenge, and if I had some decent time to do it I'd be up for it, but an hour's sewing at the end of day when I'm exhausted is just asking for trouble. Suede cannot be unpicked. There can be no errors. There's no way I have the mental energy for this kind of project.


Burda parka: 01-2009-104, hood #126
Gore-tex, $14, thermal mesh lining $6, washers,$3, thread,$3, elastic $3, tracing paper,$2, zipper and buttons $7 = $38.

To sew Gore-tex:

- microtex needle 70/10
- stay stitch then clip into corners and bends, fabric has no ease.
- moderate iron, use a clapper to flatten seams
- top stitch down anything that will "poof" up. Raglan sleeve seams, hood central seam etc.
- the fabric is naturally stiff - no need for interfacing
- fabric does not fray
- lining is recommended for comfort and protection of the gore-tex layer - usual linings are microfleece or mesh - anything quick to dry and breathable. However, in NZ purchased gore-tex clothing is more often than not left unlined.
- to seal the seams, Pack'n'Pedal in Albany sells seam sealant and waterproofing spray.They will do a credit card phone order and courier service.


  1. Wow, that is an amazing project!! I don't know if I would have been brave enough to take on a challenging pattern, drafting a lining, and using GoreTex. I don't know what I would have done with the darts, but can I just say "Wow!" You did a FANTASTIC job on this parka!!

  2. I second Michelle's comment - amazing! It looks great. I also appreciated your reflection on hand-made garments. I have mixed feelings about it. One time my husband was particularly impressed with a pair of shorts I made. His compliment: "They look just like they were made in China!" It was said, of course, with a mix of humor and seriousness but I really didn't know how to respond - be pleased or irritated? I'm still not sure...

  3. Definitely doesn't look home sewn. Had to laugh about Auckland weather. Everytime I've been it has poured-not even your raincoat would save you!

  4. Ha! I love it! But I have no comments whatsoever about the what to do with darts bit, or whatever it was you were talking about. Wing it is my philosophy with sewing but that would never do for you BWOF sewing types so I will say no more about that.

    The best thing about this jacket is that people who wear Goretex are generally such label junkies- they'll be checking you out trying to figure out whether its a macpac or a one planet or whatever. You will have the last laugh knowing it was made with "loving hands at home"

  5. Well, I think your jacket looks great!! I hope it will keep you quite dry in the pouring rain!
    I have no words of wisdom regarding your issues - sorry! I do suggest you make the little one stay in his room and be quiet for an hour each afternoon - it works with my three!

  6. What a fantastic job! I have an Eddie Bauer goretex jacket that I paid $400 for in the USA about 12 years ago that is very similar. I've pondered the whole home made thing as well. I don't want my clothes to look RTW, that is the point of sewing for myself, but I want them to look 'professional'. I don't know commercial techniques, nor do I have the machines that commercial garment makers use. Did you know there is a machine that makes only collars? I saw one on a website somewhere. Your garments look great and they fit you and generally have cost you less. Some people pay good amounts of money to wear RTW that doesn't fit properly or flatter them in any way. I second Michelle's WOW on your jacket.

  7. I don't think this looks "home made" at all. Great job! You are so brave doing all these complicated projects. You should be patting yourself on the back, not tearing yourself down. :)

  8. Wow, looks super cute as well as functional. I love the pockets especially. I also never understood all the fuss about not having your home-made clothes look you made them. Perhaps it dates from an era when home made clothes meant you couldn't afford store-bought ones? In my work environment and group of friends I think wearing real high end things that cost a lot of money would be looked down on (too superficial) while wearing something you made yourself is seen as kind of cool. Not that anyone else I know makes their own clothes.

  9. That is such a big post...a small comment will not suffice. We need to sit down over a cup of coffee, shame that would require an airfare first. So what can I say? Fabulous jacket!!! I was going to sew my kids Gore-tex rain jackets, but after I priced Goretex fabric and postage from the US to here, I went out and bought them raincoats. The home-sewn look? I am letting go of looking RTW, because plainly, I am not RTW. (Sometimes I wish people wouldn't make such a fuss about sewing my own clothes though.) All the same, I love me a bit of technique. Now onto the fit. Obviously, I have the opposite problem from you. I have started cutting a larger size in the back than the front, which does require a bit of bodgy work at the shoulders. Perhaps you could do the opposite...continue with the FBA, but cut a narrower back to reduce some of the bulk...I think there is a bit of leeway where the side seams are positioned...not all patterns put them directly at the sides...some move them forward or back.

    Secretly, I'm a bit envious that you have made such a fabulous Goretex jacket from the Burda patterns and look so good in it, because that is what I wanted to do. Now tell me, does this mean you are going to take up hiking and kayaking and all manner of other extreme sports?

  10. As the veteran of 5 gortex jackets, I am extremely impressed with this one. That stuff is hard to sew. I am also wildly jealous that you purchased it for $4 per metre, my best so far is about $30 USA.
    May your hair stay dry and your hood stay up.

  11. That looks perfect for your weather! I spent a few weeks in NZ a couple of years back and it rained/snowed more than it was fine/sunny.

    You did a great job with such difficult fabrics!

    I am with the others on the darts thing - I can't give you any advice - sorry!

    I have been wanting a label to sew into my clothes and can't think what to put on it, how about 'Loving hands at home' ???

  12. Wow, great post and amazing jacket! I'm terrified of Gore-tex. You did a beautiful job. When I don't want to see a dart I usually end up rotating it somewhere (shoulder if possible, or splitting it between the shoulder and side seam) and easing it. It doesn't sound like that was an option with this!

    I have thought much about the Loving hands at home (I love this phrase, too!) mentality. I think spottedroo hit the nail on the head with her comment. When I was young, we really were poor and my mother sewed for us to save money. Sometimes it was cool, but you know how teens are... It was the 80s and I didn't have designer jeans like my friends. Now that I am more of a grown up and other things are more important, I wouldn't trade my homesewn jeans for anything!! They fit!

  13. I love your jacket! It looks wonderful. I have no experience with sewing a garment like this so can't offer any suggestions regarding the dart issue.

  14. What an excellent and beautifully practical project. Well done - and your detailed comments on how to sew Goretex very much appreciated.

    As far as widening the bust area - I'd simply widen the upper fronts along the side seam from waist to armscye. This would lengthen the front raglan seam, so you'd also need to lengthen the front sleeve's raglan seam the same amount to match. You might also need to add a smidge of length to the back side seam, since - as you so helpfully point out - Goretex doesn't ease.

  15. I think it looks great, though I know how it is when something doesn't feel quite right when you wear it. I have had SBA on the brain this past week and might have more to add with a photo of the pattern alteration you did and/ or an up-close shot of the jacket as altered. My sewing guru once told me, "There's a difference between handmade and homemade." Words to sew by. ;)

  16. You did a fantastic job on that parka. Nice sewing!

  17. Wow! That looks brilliant :-) My $4 Goretex is still languishing in a plastic box waiting to be sewn...as ever, I'm most impressed with the speed at which you get things done, even without B having an afternoon nap.
    Must catch up for coffee soon...we have been computerless, and thus internet-less, and stuck at home for much of the week (yep, the "first week of school week") due to a cold which appeared on Monday.

  18. I knew you must be sewing up a storm when the blog calendar jumped another week. We are all amazed and impressed. You must be feeling really pleased with such a success.

  19. I have to confess that I got as far as reading that you got gore tex (in that really great colour too) for $4 per metre and then had trouble reading the rest of your post through the green mist descending over my eyes....

    It's not dorky, and I want one just like it!

  20. Don't give in to your son's "tanty"!! I had days when I sat in front of the door and just told the twins they weren't leaving after they went into real beds. After they learned that they were going to nap or rest or else, they just got used to it and that is what happens every day we are home at 1:30! It may take work at first, but it is worth it in the long run!! My 8 year old still reads in his room for an hour or so every afternoon for quiet time! (More appropriately called "Kathi's Sanity Time"!!)

  21. that is one awesome parka, just perfect for all our rainy days!

  22. One use for lining in Goretex is to keep it away from body oils, which muck up the breatheability. For a mostly town parka, which isn't going to get dragged weeks on end in the mountains, or endanger your life when it fails to function 100%, lining wouldn't be absolutely necessary.
    Then again, the lining should be totally non-stretch. Either ripstop nylon or a nonstretch mesh, so it's light and glides easily but doesn't stretch, really no stretch!! Admirable that you managed to make a 4-way stretch work :-). Likewise, if your hood doesn't fit into the neck properly, just hack off the excess bits, don't even try to ease this.
    Very good-looking parka, even with the dorky hood, you're inspiring me..

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