Saturday, August 25, 2012

Mountain jumper

I have an ageing North Face fleece that I always take with me to the mountains, and often on other trips too. It is also a favourite for weekends in winter. It is over a decade old and so thin that it isn't very warm any more! It was time for a replacement. 

The short story: Starting from a Wookie... guesstimate a new pattern, make a few nips and tucks and, voila! - a technical mountain fleece!! 

The long story: My version has the same basic design features of the original, but is improved with shaped side seams and bust shaping. The fabric is Polartec 200 with Powerstretch inserts in the side and arms, all from Malden Mills online store. I started with my hoody pattern - the woolly hoody pattern was the base - but Polartec 200 is quite thick, so I took account of the differences between that and the Wookie pattern, and more or less guessed the rest. I measured the old top and drafted a revised neckline, collar, zipper and pocket.  As well as the neckline, I altered the side seam shape and moved the underarm in a bit (and adjusted the sleeve cap) to make the armhole more vertical, and adjusted the length. I had enough fleece to make the jumper twice so I just cut out back, front and one arm with a view to making pattern changes. It seemed surprisingly good, so I cut out all the pieces and fit the garment as I went along. The back neckline seemed slightly too wide so I curved the shoulder seams, to shift the shoulder line towards the back a little. The neckline was probably a bit wide all round, or maybe the collar was just too long. I tapered the collar to make it fit a little more snugly. I had drafted 1.5cm seam allowances, but sewed 1cm for the shoulders and side seams. This left the sides and armhole OK, but the arms themselves a little baggy, so I took them in. I think I effectively sewed 2cm seam allowances from a couple of inches below the armhole. The body length was just about OK (could have been a little longer for peace of mind during this fit-as-you-sew project), but the arms were too long by an inch or more. 

It wasn't until I was about to attach the collar that I noticed the flat seams on my North Face sweater. It was too late to apply this to the shoulder seams but it seemed worth copying for the sake of reducing bulk in the seams. I took a deep breath, trimmed the seam allowances to about 3mm, overlapped the pieces, tacked along the stitching line, and then sewed with one of the fancy wide stitches on my machine. I used this method for the collar and to attach the arms, and I really like how it looks. 

I am happy with how well it seems to have turned out, but with temperatures here above 30C, I've not worn it for many minutes! Perhaps I will be able to test it out at some sunrise photo excursions during our upcoming trip to the USA.

Note to self: Only the shoulder seam alteration has been added to the pattern.