I finally got some pictures of my parka! Please enjoy Doc’s photography skills in a fresh mountain snow and then buckle up for an essay about making it:

This was a project that would have been simple but was really complicated by my fabric choice. I wanted an insulated jacket that was breathable but also warm and water repellent; this Polartec Stretch Wind Pro Hardface seemed ideal….but I somehow ignored the “stretch” part of the name. Which means I had a thick, spongy outer layer with maybe 40-50% stretch getting layered over non-stretch Thinsulate and nylon taffeta. Thick wool coating layers were nothing compared with trying to get that combo under my machine, but she did it. I used the cover stitch machine to topsticth all the outer shell seams and she also did great.


I had originally picked a vintage pattern for this and ordered fancy brass zippers for it from Zipper and Thread. Then I realized I didn’t want a metal zipper right up against my chin in the cold. I went looking for a pattern with a zipper guard and found the Jalie “Maxime Three-Season Jacket.” I had to lengthen it about 4 inches to accommodate the length of zipper I ordered for the other pattern (I wasn’t up to trying to shorten a metal zipper). I also left out the elastic at the bottom hem and didn’t even attempt the patch pockets in a stretch fabric; I did inset zipper pockets instead.

The pattern was drafted with a lining but no insulation, so I just basted the Thinsulate to my taffeta layer and treated it like an underlining:

Despite the challenges, this turned out looking pretty fancy–more fashion than technical. I love the color and the high collar and the pattern itself had some really professional construction techniques (bagging the lining through the sleeve, basting the collar seam allowances together before you turn the lining [genius], using the elastic casing of the sleeve as a facing).

The zipper guard is a really nice detail, even if my collar topstitching isn’t all that precise (I was really ready to be done by that step, if you couldn’t tell).


Is it my absolute best work? No. Is it fancy and orange yet also functional? Yes! Is it warm and does it seem breathable? I think so! (I forgot our traction chains and pack so I still haven’t actually hiked in it but the temp control from car to outside seemed really good?) And I was able to get all the materials with a gift card to The Rain Shed from my brother and sister-in-law.