Silk, Baffled, Hooded Down Vest
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Brad Groves
(4quietwoods) - MLife

Locale: Michigan
Silk, Baffled, Hooded Down Vest on 08/19/2008 10:33:05 MDT Print View

Hi, all-

It's been a busy week or two with the sewing machine. This was my first sewing project, not up to production standards yet... :( However, it is pretty cool-er, I mean warm.

I made this vest from scratch--design concept, pattern-making, the works. The things I wanted:

100% natural fiber downproof shell
Baffled
Hood
Huge sweatshirt hoody pocket
Big drop-tail
1.5-2.0 inches of loft

It's basically an expedition parka minus the arms, I guess, which works pretty well for my metabolism, intended use, and needs.

I shot tons of photos throughout the process, and could easily write a MYOG article on this, let me know if any interest. For now, I'll just say that this was a colossal PITA, in places I hadn't considered. Baffling it was easy. Filling it was easy. Patterning was easy (though time consuming). The absolute bear of it was getting all the pieces sewed together--and then having to bias tape all the exposed-edge seams on the vest. These seams add up to a lot more than you might think. And I had to cut, fold and iron the raw fabric into tape, trying to keep even edges, length, etc. Areas like the zipper are also no fun, trying to get the trim, the zipper, and the draft tube all in place, with two inches of down in the adjacent baffle...

One potential improvement to make is adding elastic around the armholes. Frankly, I haven't been able to wrap my head around that, and excellent range of motion is important to me.

Oh. Yeah. Vital stats, heavy by many standards, but remember "expedition" warmth: 12 ounces of down and total weight of just under 23 ounces. Yes, lots of down. If I removed any down, though, I lost loft--used the least down I could to get consistent 1.75 inch-ish loft.

Baffled Hood Art

Brad Groves
(4quietwoods) - MLife

Locale: Michigan
Photos on 08/19/2008 10:40:09 MDT Print View

Ok, weird. I did a pic test on test forum before posting, worked great, did exact same here, but 7 photos didn't go up. Trying again. If it doesn't work this time, I'll have to get some help.

Back panel

Joined at top/bottom, hood on

Working on finish trim

Drop tail

Worn--No self timer!? Sorry for the stalker-ish quality

Inside vest detail

Inside detail, zipper and draft tube

Edited by 4quietwoods on 08/19/2008 10:45:27 MDT.

Michael Davis
(mad777) - F

Locale: South Florida
Re: Silk, Baffled, Hooded Down Vest on 08/19/2008 10:54:49 MDT Print View

Brad,

Good job! You should go professional! All my MYOG projects while functional, well ... look like MYOG :-)

I have been considering a down vest for my next project and would love an instructional post, even better with pictures taken while assembling if available.

Keep this up and Patagucci will be in trouble!

Colleen Clemens
(tarbubble) - F

Locale: dirtville, CA
oooh baby on 08/19/2008 16:39:16 MDT Print View

you have my empathy and my respect - i have dabbled in hooded prototypes and when you say PITA, i know what you mean. but it is really, really beautiful. congratulations on an extremely impressive project.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Silk, Baffled, Hooded Down Vest on 08/19/2008 17:16:00 MDT Print View

Not bad at all.
If you want to sketch out an article (rough outline first), please do so and send to me: roger@backpackinglight.com/

> The absolute bear of it was getting all the pieces sewed together--and then having to bias tape all the exposed-edge seams on the vest.
Yeah, I know, and sympathise.
Have a look at commercial units for more ideas about how to make these things with less hassle over the details. It can be done, but takes a bit of planning. One thing to consider is overlocking the edges and concealing them. Can be done with an ordinary sewing machine as well as with an overlocker, but takes a lot of planning.

Cheers

Brad Groves
(4quietwoods) - MLife

Locale: Michigan
Thanks! on 08/20/2008 08:56:35 MDT Print View

Thanks for your comments, Michael and Colleen. When you've got the piece in your hands and you're noticing mostly errors, it's great to have the positive reinforcement--and empathies. I love the thought of competing in the market, but it'll take some more sewing time (or hiring practicing professionals) and a whole bunch of capital and a compelling line...

Roger, thanks for the ideas. I tried to mentally dissect the things I have (didn't have the heart to cut 'em up), and tried to sorta do the same. There's one stitch I've seen that I think is a French seam that I probably could've used. Overlocking edges and CONCEALING sounds good :). I'll take you up on the article sketch-up--thanks!

Edited by 4quietwoods on 08/21/2008 09:42:27 MDT.

Colleen Clemens
(tarbubble) - F

Locale: dirtville, CA
hidden errors on 08/20/2008 15:13:19 MDT Print View

there isn't a single garment or piece of gear i've sewn whose imperfections and "oopses" i don't recall. if you're like me, you'll never be 100% happy with anything you make. But 99% satisfied is still great.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: hidden errors on 08/20/2008 15:37:10 MDT Print View

> there isn't a single garment or piece of gear i've sewn whose imperfections and "oopses" i don't recall. if you're like me, you'll never be 100% happy with anything you make. But 99% satisfied is still great.

Amen!

Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: Re: hidden errors on 08/20/2008 17:58:54 MDT Print View

I think the effort (and results) are absolutely awesome. I a bit 'baffled' about the amount of fill you've used though. At 2 inch baffles, 12 ounces of good quality down would be enough to fill a sleeping bag. Overfilling the baffles doesn't necessarily make the vest warmer, just heavier. Or were you using lower fill power down? Either way I'm sure you will be toasty in it.

Brad Groves
(4quietwoods) - MLife

Locale: Michigan
Re: Re: Re: hidden errors on 08/21/2008 09:41:15 MDT Print View

My SummerLite, with 2 ounces of overfill for a total of 11 ounces of fill, should theoretically (per statistics) have the same 4" of total loft as my vest. The pocket area of my vest has 6" total loft. The hood probably has 6-8" total loft, haven't checked. (I made this thing thinking about sitting in a tree stand, unmoving, for 6 hours in the middle of winter.) I expected the project to take about 7, maybe 8 ounces of down using the 800+ Thru-Hiker down I got. I'm confused about how much down I used, too. But like I said, every time I pulled down out of the vest, I lost loft, no matter how I fluffed and distributed the remaining stuff.

I'm better at conceptual thought than straight mathematics; one thought I had was that if I cut the vest in half and put the pieces end to end (collar to tail) the overall length would be about as long as my Summerlite, especially if considering the hood. Theoretically the SummerLite should have 2-2.5 inches of down on one side, which would be about what my vest has. In practice, I've found that I need to put most of the down on the top layer of the SummerLite to totally eliminate cold spots. So I think the fill is actually pretty close to realistic-ish.

There's been talk before about how fill power affects loft with different weight fabrics. Given that I used 3-3.5 yards of fabric and fabric weight was 11 ounces, that calculate to 3.1-3.6 ounces per yard for the fabric (ouch!!!). I'm wondering, given that fill power is calculated with a set amount of weight, if the overall weight of the fabric somewhat reduced my loft, requiring more down to compensate.

Thoughts?
Brad

Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: Re: Re: Re: hidden errors on 08/21/2008 12:48:31 MDT Print View

Yes, a heavier fabric will restrict loft more than a light one. Even so, it seems a lot of down. Oh well, still a nice vest.

Brad Groves
(4quietwoods) - MLife

Locale: Michigan
Re: hidden errors on 08/23/2008 10:52:02 MDT Print View

Yeah, it sure does seem like a lot of down, eh? Ah well. Thanks Allison, I appreciate your comments!

I'm doing some research on lighter shell alternatives in this vein, have one possible choice right now.