So this is my first completed project at York College: a cycling jacket. I’m reasonably pleased with it. Are there things I would change? Of course! Am I going to? Not this month. Maybe if I make another one in my size (this is one or two sizes above me). But this one fits adequately. And it’s comfortable. And the fabric is getting cosier the more I handle it. Not to dilly-dally, here is what the jacket looks like:
As you may have noticed or suspected, there are more cycling-specific features to this jacket than just a high-low hem.
The most obvious element is the reflective tape on the pockets, back and sleeve. I wanted to have 3M stuff that doesn’t show in the day, but that is extremely expensive and hard to come by, except in the stick-on stuff that is therefore unsewable (new word) and unlaunderable (another one). So I found some silver sew-on stuff on eBay and used that.
Another thing is the back Louvre vent. This is a fairly simple thing to make. Originally I had it too high up the back and it looked wrong and would probably not have been as effective.
Next come the accordion gussets. These I noticed on a motorcycling jacket. One of the uncomfortable things with ordinary jackets on a bicycle is that when you lean forward the jacket rides up into the back of your head and gets tight across your back. The accordion gussets give you extra room for movement.
When I made up the toile I found that the accordion gussets worked to give me extra range of motion, but didn’t go back neatly into place. The solution was to use elastic to attach the inner part of the pleat to the jacket’s seam allowances. I found out afterwards that this was fairly standard practice. It did the trick.
I had thought to use a stretch stay like I saw on the Levi’s Commuter Jacket in the York store. When I was making up the jacket, I came to the part where I would sew one in (having already cut it) and decided that it wouldn’t have enough pull to do the job, so I used elastic. In retrospect it might have worked if I had drafted it with negative ease, but that’s something to think about next time.
Apparently women cyclists complain that their cycling jackets don’t have three pockets at the back, so I’ve put three pockets on here. There are two patch pockets with elasticated top edges (need better elastic than this rubber stuff) and a pleated centre pocket with a recessed zip.
Now I’ve made the jacket I can see that the side pockets need to be higher at the side seams. I think I might add poppers to keep them closed better. It will make them more functional as pockets.
The centre pocket is huge! It goes all the way down to the hem. I have never used one because I’ve never had a jacket with one, but I’m told they’re useful, so I will see.
I got this idea from on of the jackets in Timothy Everest’s collaboration with Rapha (possibly the most stylish existing cycle-wear brand!) I suppose the idea is to have somewhere to keep your lock key or a tissue. We all know the terror of a runny nose while cycling!
Now, as it turns out, you can’t blind-hem the jacket sleeve where the pocket is. Sounds obvious now, but I was doing that late at night. (When will I learn?) Fortunately I was too lazy to do it on both sleeves so the one with the key fob is perfectly good.
These are basically in-seam pockets with an invisible zip. It took me two samples get it right. You have to think about what you’re doing for the first few because it can get a little bit confusing.
(Proper word please. :))
I was going to add epaulettes, but there is already a lot of bulk here. The purpose is to help your bag stay on your shoulder. “In real life” I think I’d use a waterproofed suede because it would have good grip. Otherwise leather.
Apart from the practicality, I think these really finish the look of the jacket.
You know how I like a well-drafted collar. Contrary to habit I draped this. And then made a draft. I really like how it rolls when open. It’s also just right for a close fit over the chin when done up.
The pattern is quite a different shape to any you find in modern pattern books and the opposite to Fasanella’s collar draft. Nothing against hers. You can draft some very nice collars that way. It just wasn’t what I wanted this time. I think my neckline is lower than hers is at the back and that is why my way worked better this time.
Also, the top collar is ribbing so it is nice and soft. It would be lovely to have cashmere or merino, but I got what I could in London. I think it’s synthetic but I’d have to take a flame to it to find out. I may do that later. I expect if it’s synthetic it will melt, and if it’s cotton it will burn.
CF Separating Zip with shield and storm guard
To keep out the rain. The jackets on the market have little turn-over things at the top (name please). I should have allowed more for turn-of-cloth here. Otherwise I am quite pleased with it.
Not actually at the underarms, so they ought probably to have a different name. These are lapped zips interrupting a princess seam, Between them and the lining are pieces of mesh shaped roughly like surfboards to stop people mistaking the vents for pockets. The mesh is sewn to the zips.
If you don’t know because you’re not a cyclist, the idea behind pit-vents is that you can let cool air in without your having to open your jacket and expose your entire front to the wind and rain.
I think I’d like these to be a bit longer, but I’m pleased with their neatness.
Wrist-Gaiters with thumb holes
It’s horrid to have the wind rush up your sleeves so I’ve put some cosy wrist-gaiters in with thumb loops to keep them down. I made the sleeve linings extra long to accommodate this but the penny has just dropped that that makes no difference as I have stitched the gaiters to the sleeve facings which do not move. Not amused. Grumbles like Marge. The gaiters ought to have been stitched into an extra seam in the sleeve linings. It’s a good thing the sleeves are too long for me. Will make a note of it in my project…
So they are the cycling-specific features. Something else I did was to buy a practically new coat at a charity shop (for £8!) and reverse-engineer it, then use some of what I’d learned when bagging the lining on this jacket. Consequently, this is the best one I’ve done so far. I tacked the shell to the lining at neck and side seams, and, using cotton 6mm tape, at the shoulder points. I also used cotton tape on the collar’s outer edge and the hemline because I knew they would stretch and wave if I didn’t. Cotton tape is an invaluable notion!
I will spray the jacket with Jack Pyke to waterproof it. Of course, wool is naturally water-resistant, but that varies with quality and type. I got this anonymous melton from the cupboard at college (there’s one major benefit to attending York College, UK!) so I don’t know much about it.
The lining came from the same place, but it’s definitely synthetic, which will make the vents worth having. It was surprisingly easy to cut and sew. Even more surprising was when I found that my so-blunt-they-only-cut-paper scissors cut it better than my fabric scissors.
So am I done with this project now? Nope. I’ve got enough paperwork to do to redecorate the flat. You want to see my to-do list, just for this project?
I’ll show you some of my sketchbook and the results of the above to-do list later. I have done some of it (thank goodness!), but I still have a lot to do, including look for a job to last me at least until the summer, because the bike shop doesn’t need me in the slow season. At least I’ll have the weekends to do my college work. And I have my savings, loans and grant to live on so I’ll be alright.
Till next time,