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Finding the right fabric
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Shaun Thivierge
(bobgengeskahn) - F

Locale: SF Bay Area
Finding the right fabric on 01/12/2012 12:54:14 MST Print View

Hello all,

Years ago I dabbled in the area of MYOG and UL backpacking and actually made a few things and was an active member over at; however my most recent project has me stumped sourcing fabric. So rather than subscribe at a sewing forum that I’d use and abandon, I figured I should make an account here since it has proven very useful in my research thus far and seems like a place I’d remain active beyond this project 

This project started as a search for a soft shell jacket with a removable snows skirt that is mid weight, easy to layer under and versatile enough to use essentially year round for backpacking, XC, down hill and AT skiing. After finding nothing that fit what I wanted (that also wasn’t $300+) I have decided to make my own exactly the way I want.

Purpose: year round pull over for wind, rain and snow. That is light, packable and easy to layer under.

Features to include;
- Wrist gators
- Removable snow skirt
- Sidewinder half zip
- draw string bottom
- Gusseted/alpine cut sleeves to prevent lifting
- Zipper garages
- Hood
- pocket arrangements?
- Back map pocket?
- Napoleon pocket?
- 2 fabric construction top/bottom, front/back

I am thinking of something similar to the Patagonia knife blade ( although I am also planning to copy patterns from the other jackets I have.

Also drawing from the other jackets I own, the fabrics I am leaning toward are Schoeller dryskin and another non insulated 4 way stretch, ideally with nanosphere characteristics. The down side I have had with dryskin before has been that it pills really badly (i.e. Velcro wrist straps) and in one jacket I have (c. 2004) threads actually broke in the fabric creating runs.

I have tons of other notes on this project, but like I said the road block I am running into is fabric selection. Ideally I’d use the Dryskin-ish material for the front and sleeves, and run a segment of the thinner, non lined, more breathable material up the center of the back and in the armpit gussets. However between finding dryskin and finding somewhere local to actually look at the fabric it is very difficult to know what I am looking at online lol. Would like to consider Polartec fabrics since there seems to be more supply online, but I have no idea what I’d be looking at.

There is one technical fabric store close to me (Narains in Berkeley CA) but they have really weird store hours so I haven’t been able to make it out there yet. So any opinions anyone has on soft shell material for MYOG would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

EDIT: I'm also trying to learn more about seam taping (internal and external like the MH Synchro jacket) and sealing techniques, so help there would be greatly appreciated as well!

Edited by bobgengeskahn on 01/12/2012 13:23:14 MST.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Finding the right fabric on 01/12/2012 13:00:09 MST Print View

You said pullover jacket. Are the zippers only for removing the snow skirt?


Shaun Thivierge
(bobgengeskahn) - F

Locale: SF Bay Area
RE: Zippers on 01/12/2012 13:16:18 MST Print View

Sorry, I should have been clearer. The snow skirt will be removable by a zipper on the inside, attached to a seam running around the mid section. The main zipper will be 1/2-2/3 length running from that seam up and to the wearers right cheek... like this:

EDIT: The possibility just came to me to use Velcro for that main zipper since there will be quite a few zippers anyway, I'll have to ponder this, what are the typical weight savings (if any)?

Edited by bobgengeskahn on 01/12/2012 13:20:54 MST.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: RE: Zippers on 01/12/2012 13:29:40 MST Print View

Zippers can get heavy.

If you use a big all-weather zipper, they get bulky and heavy. If you try to use a skimpy zipper, you will cut some weight out, but they don't necessarily work that good in bad weather such as ice and snow. If the zipper is purely on the inside, then I guess the weather is not that extreme. Zippers seem to have the most problems when the design forces them into tight bends.

I understand snow skirts, and they can be very useful in snowy or cold situations. I guess you would plan on zipping out the snow skirt for summer use. If you make the snow skirt lightweight enough, you can just leave it in permanently and skip the zipper.


Garrett Soper
(sope0021) - F

Locale: Northwoods
Knifeblade fabric on 01/12/2012 14:21:28 MST Print View

I know that the Patagonia knifeblade is made of Polartec powershield pro. There's a pretty cool video about it here if you're interested:

I wonder if anyone can find a source for this? Also, anyone know what the differences between regular powershield and powershield pro are?

Owfinc has different varieties of powershield, so maybe call them and ask to see if any would work for what you want.

Also, I have no experience with polartec neo-shell except for looking at it on commercial jackets in stores, but it might be similar to what you're looking for:

The only place I've found that sells neo-shell fabric is here, but it's $40/yard:

Good luck and let us know how it goes.

Walter Carrington
(Snowleopard) - M

Locale: Mass.
THE source for polartec products on 01/12/2012 14:28:44 MST Print View

THE source for polartec products:
This is run by former employees of the old factory outlet store at Mallden Mills. They can probably tell you whatever you need to know. If they don't have something on their website, call and ask if they can get it for you in less than full rolls.

Shaun Thivierge
(bobgengeskahn) - F

Locale: SF Bay Area
RE: Fabric on 01/15/2012 11:13:21 MST Print View

Wow! You guys are fast! Thanks for the extra replies. I'll have to stop a local store and check out the weights of the Polartec stuff. I really like Dryskin, but am hessitant, mainly because of the pilling issue that I've had on my Arcteryx Javelin.

What are your general thoughts on internal v. external taping i.e. on the mountain hardwear Synchro? Or does seam sealing work just as well on a soft shell?