I didn’t know till five minutes ago that I knew any words from Greenlandic Eskimo: anorak. All I know is I really could use a new jacket of the outerwear variety for running errands, traipsing around the local lakes on walks, and taking on trips. It must be durable, washable, and have a little style. And it must fit.
The green windbreaker I’m modeling here has served me well for more than a decade. It’s been my companion on a few London trips.
But it bears some permanent greasy stains from the New York subway. The drawstring cord has lost its elasticity and dangles dangerously, threatening to get caught in my bicycle spokes. And I’ve always been bugged by the slightly too long sleeves and the boxy shape.
So I’m going to retire this jacket and sew my first anorak.
“Windbreaker” is what I’d call it, but either Vogue Patterns or Calvin Klein chose to call it an anorak, so I’ll go with that. (And I learned from the American Heritage Dictionary that “Windbreaker” is a trade name, which I never knew before.) I’m restraining the reference librarian in me for now from researching that fact further.)
Twenty-two years ago I knew I’d want to sew myself an anorak, so I bought this pattern at Minnesota Fabrics for 75% off on April 1, 1991. I recorded this vital information on the envelope so I could congratulate myself on my foresightedness today.
I was apparently taken by this jacket’s appearance in Vogue Patterns magazine because I saved the page. That drawstring waist! Yes! Thank you! A little shaping!
But those dropped shoulders look more like drooped shoulders on me. And that sleeve fullness is way more design ease than I want.
It was time to check the fit. So I made a muslin–a test garment–from the fronts, back and sleeves.
And I brought it to Treadle Yard Goods‘ sewing salon this morning, where trusty Michele looked it over. We measured the dropped shoulders and the sleeve circumference on my old green jacket to guide the alterations of the muslin. Michele showed me where to draw in new lines to take up the dropped shoulder 1 1/2 inches and to take 9 inches of excessive fullness out of the sleeve.
Home again, I recut the muslin and stitched it up.
Now the dropped shoulder is reasonable on me, as is the sleeve.
What else shall I do before I cut into my good fabric for this project?
I’ve begun looking carefully at my old jacket, for the first time ever, to consider details to carry over into my new anorak.
- I may reuse the toggles.
- I could easily add a loop for hanging.
- What size cord is best?
- Do I have any grommets or snaps that would work for this project?
- Do I like the anorak pockets? Should I modify them?
- This anorak isn’t lined. Should I line it?
- How does the anorak hood size compare to the old green jacket’s?
- The anorak uses flat fell seams. Should I use my 4mm flat fell foot? Should I buy a bigger flat fell foot?
In the past, I would have been too impatient to inquire into all these details. But now I want to see how much I can harvest–both in ideas and in reusable materials–from my good old green jacket to make this new anorak as good as it can be.