Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Honeycomb Merino Stoff & Stil Sports Jacket

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Honeycomb Merino Stoff & Stil Sports Jacket

This is a project that has been incredibly useful since I finished it a couple of weeks ago. Its been very chilly for morning runs in London! I've actually sewn a fair amount of my own activewear now but only blogged one Dunbar Top and Pacific Leggings combo as they work so well for me that basically everything has been a repeat of that.. The leggings in these pictures are my favourite pair of Sewaholic Pacific Leggings. They're sewn up in some amazing wicking fabric I got at Stonemountain & Daughter when I was in San Francisco a couple of years ago. Its nicely thick and stable and has an amazing matte, soft finish which is lovely to wear. It has fantastic recovery and these are still going strong after a couple of years of washing and wearing. In the longer length these are perfect for winter running. I've been wishing I'd bought more of the fabric at the time but I've actually just had a quick browse of their website and I can't be sure without seeing it in person but there's a chance it might be this Yoga Cloth which comes in grey, black, white and navy. It might actually be worth the international shipping to get my paws on more of it. How exciting!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Honeycomb Merino Stoff & Stil Sports Jacket

Anyway, I digress from the garment this post is actually about! But actually talking about finding great activewear fabrics is very relevant to this project as the fabric is the reason this came about. Most of the sportswear appropriate fabrics I come across are shiny spandex type knits which aren't really what I like to run in and this has certainly held me back from sewing more sports clothing. Then I came across a couple of listings in the merino section of The Fabric Store website which made my eyes nearly pop out of my head; Merino activewear fabrics! I ordered this way back in the spring so unfortunately they aren't available anymore but I'm keeping my fingers crossed that they'll get some more back in, at which point I'll be ordering a generous length of everything! This one in particular was listed as merino/polypropylene honeycomb jacquard. I'm assuming the blend of merino with a synthetic fibre is what makes it suitable for sportswear. It has a beautiful honeycomb design in the weave on the right side and the reverse has a slightly fluffy, fleece-like texture. Its so great to find an activewear fabric with a bit of interest to it rather than a plain solid.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Honeycomb Merino Stoff & Stil Sports Jacket

Of course when it arrived I was so delighted to come across a fabric so unusual I didn't dare cut into it for about five months as I didn't want to waste it on the wrong project! I was originally thinking of making myself another pair of Pacific Leggings as I know they work and would get a lot of wear. But for some reason the fluffy back was reminding me of a running jacket I had and then I remembered I had a pattern for just that lurking in my stash which I picked up on my trip to Stoff & Stil in Denmark in January. Its pattern 25015 for a sports jacket and tights. The sample I saw was made up in more of a lightweight waterproof fabric with a crisp hand (and amazing reflective flecks in the design for night running!) but I had a feeling the design would work well in a softer fabric and luckily I was right.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Honeycomb Merino Stoff & Stil Sports Jacket

The Stoff & Stil patterns are available in individual sizes and I had the small which has turned out a little roomier than I expected but I quite like it. I think the pattern is probably true to size, its just that the running jackets I already own have a closer fit to the body. I wouldn't have chosen a jacket with this relaxed fit in the shops but its actually proving great to run in and my favourite thing to wear running in the summer is a big baggy t-shirt so it shouldn't be a surprise to me! The only change I made was to cut smaller lengths of elastic for the cuffs than recommended as I have very slim wrists and hands and wanted a tight fit. I was apprehensive about the elasticated hem line as I had visions of it riding up and becoming very irritating while I ran. But the recommended length of elastic turns out to be spot on and it sits very comfortably around the hips.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Honeycomb Merino Stoff & Stil Sports Jacket

I'm not going to lie, at points this was a very frustrating project due to the limited and somewhat confusing instructions. The steps are listed as brief bullet points and there are only two diagrams to go with them. To make matters even more confusing the pattern pieces have no markings apart from sparse notches like an old vintage one and the instructions are originally written in Danish and at some points I think much is lost in translation! I didn't have a problem with them when I made my Breton sweater as that was a much more straightforward garment to construct. I think I might have to stick with simpler Stoff & Stil designs from now on but I will give another pattern a go as the design and drafting is great and I'm really impressed with the RTW feel of the finished garment. Plus the fabric pattern pieces are lovely to work with!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Honeycomb Merino Stoff & Stil Sports Jacket

I did have to work on this in stages and put it aside for a while when I got to a particularly frustrating point. The fact that this was my first garment of this type made me even more apprehensive as I couldn't just fall back on my tried and tested construction methods. But the lovely fabric helped me to persist! Despite the problematic instructions I did really enjoy the project in a weird way because it was a challenge and put my sewing skills and knowledge to the test. My favourite part of the design and the part I'm most proud of figuring out and getting such a clean finish on are the angled zip pockets. These are so useful and the perfect size for phone & keys. I love that you see more of the fabric inside the pocket and I can't quite believe how neat I managed to get the ends! Luckily this knit is quite stable so putting in all of the zips was pretty straightforward.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Honeycomb Merino Stoff & Stil Sports Jacket

I sewed it up as I do with pretty much all knit fabrics, using a narrow zig zag on my regular machine for accuracy and finishing everything on the overlocker. The instructions just tell you as the first step to 'overlock all parts as sewing is progressing' so I thought through quite carefully when to finish my seams and did some before construction as they were quite hard to get at when assembled. I'm very pleased with the professional looking finish of the insides. I'd usually wash my merino on a delicate 30 degree cycle in the machine but this has been going in on a regular 40 degree wash as I feel like sportswear should have a good wash and its coming out fine. When constructing I'd usually use a medium heat on the iron to give merino a good press but I quickly realised the poly content of this meant I had to make do with cool.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Honeycomb Merino Stoff & Stil Sports Jacket

The instructions do include instructions to add reflective piping to some of the key seams which I think is an amazing idea but I skipped that for this garment along with some of the topstitching as that seemed slightly unnecessary in a knit. Talking about extra supplies you might need the list on the back of the envelope isn't hugely helpful. It doesn't tell you how much elastic you'll need (just the width) and although the invisible zips for the pockets are included it doesn't say that you'll need a separating zip for the centre front! I waited until I got to that point in the instructions before buying mine so I could measure exactly how long it needed to be. Of course it came up at an awkward, impossible to get hold of odd number but I went with slightly shorter (24") and set it slightly higher than the hem and slightly lower than the top of the neck. I decided this was better than a stretched out centre front with a longer zip.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Honeycomb Merino Stoff & Stil Sports Jacket

I've run in it a handful of times already and I forget that I've even got it on and get lost in the run so I'm counting that as a big success! The fabric in particular makes this very comfortable as it keeps me cosy at the start but regulates temperature well throughout as the wool makes it breathable. I get very warm and sticky when I run so I don't want anything that makes me feel extra sweaty! The collar does collapse a little in this knit so perhaps I should have used a slightly sturdy interfacing in this area but its fine for my purposes and its a good height and width as the zip doesn't irritate my neck. The only thing I do miss that my other running jackets have and I didn't think about beforehand are thumbholes. The jacket sits comfortably around the wrists thanks to the elasticated cuffs but I actually really like a bit of hand coverage so have been running with my hands tucked right inside! Lucky those sleeves are nice and roomy.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Honeycomb Merino Stoff & Stil Sports Jacket

Making this has really fired me up to try some more challenging sportswear designs. Can't wait to see Melissa from Fehr Trade's book released early next year and I think her Surf to Summit Top or Tessellate Tee would be good patterns for me to try next. Those sleeve mitts on the Surf to Summit I've only just spotted and are particularly appealing to me as my hands get incredibly cold and sore on a long winter run! Genius.

2 comments:

  1. This looks really nice, it was the perfect use for the fabric.

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    Replies
    1. Thank! I'm really pleased with how it turned out in the end, and am glad I didn't waste the lovely merino!

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