For those who have expressed an interest in transforming surplus military blankets into a functional (and possibly stylish!!???) winter anorak, I've put together a materials list and pattern dimensions.
Trying to answer all of the questions beforehand is almost pointless. So, where possible, notations and comments will be added during the process. There are a few things we should realize first:
1. Do not rush! give yourself a reasonable goal time without the hassles of deadlines. As with the tortoise and the hare, a slow steady pace will always produce better results.
2. Create your pattern first and then do a 'mock-up' using a cheap thin material taped together (duct tape ). cheap materials can include plastic kitchen bags, burlap, old blankets. etc. WHY, because popping seams kills your time to completion and really isn't that fun
3. Measure twice cut once! As any carpenter will tell you, check your measurements as many times as you feel comfortable with.
4. All seam allowances are 5/8" - 16mm ... more on how to change sizes with seam allowances later.
Without further ado...
First, what the final product will look like (er, somewhat; depending on your choice of materials and stitching styles):
... What you are going to need (add, subtract, swap out materials as you see fit... this is your artistry and it wouldn't be prudent if a bunch of copies were circulating ):
- (1) Military surplus blanket
- (3) yds of waterproof breathable laminate (like goretex, entrant, schoeller)
- (80) yds. heavy duty polyester outdoor thread
- (40) yds "iron on" seam tape (makes stitching alot easier and keeps stretchable fabrics from bunching with non-stretchable fabrics)
- (3) sq. ft. 2-3oz. leather
- (1) spool 65 lb. braided fishing line (spectra.. firewire, power pro, spiderline)
- wooden beads, antler tips for button toggles
- leather lacing (latigo is best)
- jacquard ribbon trim (comes in thousands of styles, and can be used in conjunction with topstitching to create a very unique contrasting embroidered look)
Many of these products can be found online through ebay and other merchants. More info can be found at this post: Where to get the goods
....aaaaand for the thread that started it all (you maight get a better understanding of why i'm doing this): Water/wind proof wool anorak ... not to mention more detailed photos of exactly how things will look
Alrighty then.. here come the patterns with a few numbers:
these patterns need to be layed on in such a way that each produces a complete front and complete back (i.e.- the centerlines need to be placed on your materials fold.. more on this later)
If you're having trouble viewing the dimensions on the smaller pictures, please visit my flickr page at http://www.flickr.com/photos/cmi2004/ for larger images.
Okay. Now we've got these cool looking patterns without the one-size-fits-all moniker. So how do we resize based on each persons individual frame? These pattern dims are for a person 5'8" to 6' in height. With just a few crops, and adds here and there, we can create a fit that will work with ANY averaged sized person (little people and giants are the only exceptions).
The length of the yoke determines the length of the arms from cuff to cuff. From the bottom of the armpit to the hem determines the length. The width of the chest and back panels determines the upper body volume. For us, having a shoulder yoke offers a lot more versatility with regards to resizing our pattern. regardless of your shoulder width, the yoke takes up all the slack by only changing the angle of the upper sleeve! Try this with a typical sleeve!
So, the first thing we are going to find out is how to change the length of the sleeves.
Grab yourself a partner, and have them measure from your wrist on your right hand to your wrist on your left hand. Voila! This plus a couple inches will be the entire length of your yoke. Now, if you are subtracting from sample length shown here, Then you must also subtract from the front and back sleeve panels (#'s 4 and 5). If adding, the same applies.. add the same amount to both panels. To illustrate:
You'll want to only extend/shorten from the CUFF side of the pattern (Notation 'B'). If you attempt to change the radius on the armpit area, you are changing a lot of the variables when you actually get down to sewing the arms to the yoke and the main body panels. If you want to change the circumference of the sleeve, you MUST radius from the armpit area and slowly create an arc that increases or decreases the circumference (Note 'A', as you can hopefully see, starts out flush with the original and slowly changes the curve as we move towards the cuff).
As mentioned before, practice with a scrap piece of material or even a plastic bag (much faster).
Lengthening the main body panels is fairly self-explanatory as well. WORK TOWARDS THE HEM at the waist.
Note: Many people like to have the back longer than the front, this can be accomplished by adding more to the rear body panel... on the hem cut. This pattern is designed to sit a little further back on the shoulders which gives the feeling that the back is longer than the front. Try it first and then add or remove material to satisfaction.
... and now for a way to layout your patterns on your blanket so that we can get some contrast...:
The blanket above is a "standard" italian military issue blanket from who-knows-what-year (60's?). The dimensions range from 60"x78" to 64"x86". Given the stripes start at about 8" in from the whipstitched edge (and are equal on both sides of the blanket), we can lay out our patterns so that they will create a stripe which continues evenly from the sleeves to the front and back body panels.
there are numerous alternatives that can send the stripes vertical, angled, higher/lower etc... play around with your patterns for awhile (heck, sleep on it ).
Now, when it actually comes down to beginning the stitching, we are going to start with sewing on the front sleeves (4) to the Front body panel (2). With the outside of the panels facing away from you and start stitching the sleeves to the main body panel. Remember, we have a 5/8" seam to play with... try to keep this consistent throughout your project. I suggest stating the sewing from the top of the shoulders and working towards the armpit area.
As you progress, keep the materials lined up properly so that you don't get the wool bunching up against your liner material (if you are choosing to do a liner that is).
So, we will have something which looks something like this to begin with:
After you've completed your stitches, we're are going to turn our piece over and topstitch the seam to strengthen it and make it more flat against the body. This will increase the comfort and decrease the bulk of all our seams.. let's start topstitching...
we're going to fold the main body panel stitch allowance (5/8") over on top of the stitch allowance on the front sleeve. Just to make sure we're on the same page, the stitches will look like illustration 'B'
It's your option whether or not you choose to do a second topstitch on the other side of the seam. It's more of a skill and time choice and adds only looks, not function.
NEXT, The yoke and back sleeves