Does this mean I am a sewist?

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Submitted by damien on

For the last few weeks I have been in sewing mode and loving every minute of it. According to Renee, she wouldn't have thought I liked it so much based on all the mutterings she hears emanating from the sewing room. I guess I am rather vocal when I hit a little snag. Despite the small frustrations that happen along the way (an integral part to the learning process), I find sewing to be incredibly satisfying. It is the combination of art/creativity, engineering, math, and precision that I like so much, not to mention the fact that the end result is something that is necessary and useful.

Being a computer programmer by trade, much of what I do on a daily basis is both foreign and unseen by most people. I like to think of software engineering as poetry - it is a very creative process for me. The problem is that the art of software engineering is often unseen and not understood by the majority of people. My family largely has no idea what exactly it is I do to pay the bills. I am finding that sewing is a way for me to express myself in a way that is visible, appreciated, and understood by my family and others around me. Not to mention the fact that there are many practical reasons for learning to sew as well.

My three most recent projects are:

A Winter Coat for Celine: A few months ago Celine saw a pattern for a coat that she really liked. The pattern was relatively simple and could be made out of fleece so she decided that she wanted to try to make it (with my help). We ordered the pattern and the fabric and soon discovered that it was too much for her to handle so I offered to finish it for her (much to her relief). I learned a lot through the process and I am very happy with how it turned out. Celine loves it, it is now her favorite coat.

Pattern: Jalie Stretch City Coat
Fabric: Polartec 300 Fleece

A Pair of Yoga Pants for Renee: We like to keep the heat turned down during the winter months to conserve energy and minimize the bills. We compensate by putting on a few extra layers of clothing. Renee's biggest beef with this is that wearing extra layers usually means her having to wear clothes that are less figure-flattering. One solution I decided to try was to make her a pair of slim-fitting pants out of a thermal fabric. I found a pattern for some yoga pants and decided to try making them out of Polartec Wind Pro, a very warm, stretchy, and wind-resistant fabric. The end result was again very good.

Pattern: Jalie Yoga Pants
Fabric: Polartec Wind Pro

A Soft-Shell Jacket for Laurent: The boy is growing-up. A few weeks ago he put on his fleece jacket and what was once big and baggy on him (wasn't that just yesterday?) is now too small. A staple for our fall/winter hiking is a soft-shell jacket. It is difficult to find anything like this for kids, so I decided to try my hand at making one for him. I found a pattern for a hooded fleece jacket, ordered some Polartec Power Shield fabric and gave it a shot. Again, the result was very successful (this is getting addicting!).

Pattern: The Green Pepper Polar Jacket
Fabric: Polartec Power Shield

Are you getting inspired yet? Looking for a new project?

Time for a Giveaway!

It so happens that in my frenzy of online ordering, I accidentally purchased a pattern twice. Rather than send it back, I have decided to give away the extra pattern to one of you. The pattern is for The Green Pepper Sandpiper Wind & Rain Suit for kids (the same pattern I used for Brienne's windbreaker). All you have to do is leave a comment and you will automatically be entered in the draw. The draw will be made in one week, on Sunday December 13th, and the winner's name announced at the end of this post. Good luck!

Update (12/14/2009): I just wanted to post a note of congratulations to Jim White, the winner of the pattern giveaway! Good luck with your sewing adventures, and I hope you will share the results of your projects with us one day! Thanks to all the rest of you who participated. Please continue to check back with the blog, we have more great post ideas as well as some additional giveaways planned for the new year.




I don't always work from patterns but I certainly sew for similar reasons. One of my most successful projects was a windstopper fleece suit for infants with feet and extra long arms. Nice work on the yoga pants. I am not sure I have the confidence in myself to make something flattering for my wife.


[...] Because since that time, in the amount of time it would of taken me to half complete his pants, Damien has sewed up three clothing items for our family. My fleece yoga pants, a fleece jacket for Celine and a soft shell jacket for Laurent. Those last 2 projects are featured here. [...]

Wow! I'm impressed with your

Wow! I'm impressed with your sewing! I sew clothes for my daughter but haven't ventured into the world of sewing outerwear yet.

P.S. I'd love to see a post on dressing for winter hiking on a budget. We'd love to more outdoors in the winter, but we're unsure about how to dress for long periods outdoors in the cold and snow.


You are a true inspiration! I think you may have just given me the shove I needed to venture from 'person who sits once a year at a sewing machine' to ' sewing machine adventurer' which, is a much better title. I hope to attempt some more serious gear for my outdoor minded kids to brave the Montana ( used to be Maine! ) kids. Thanks for the inspiration!

oops. . .

Brave the Montana weather- not the kids- lol guess I can't help kids get dressed to go snowshoeing while typing- apparently I am just. not. that. good. darn-

don't be too jealous. . I

don't be too jealous. . I think we had snow every month but July- and keeping kids warm and motivated in the negative numbers is a challenge. (for four days last week the high (!) was -14) Things are warming up a bit though. . . thinking some winter camping in Yellowstone may be in order soon! Love the tip with hats, balaclavas, and mittens. . . I am thinking about some hats this week. . .how difficult are fleece pants?

Your work looks great!

Damien, I say this as a form costumer for theatre, your work looks great! And I love that you view the process as creative and mathematical. Because it certainly is both! And I was going to say all this without an incentive. ;)



Great work!

I have a 6 year old son and 9 year old daughter. Unfortunately it seems that performance outdoor wear for kids is either not available or amazingly expensive. I just decided to sew my own- first will be base layers with several yards of Polartec Power Dry just ordered Friday. My next project will be winter shell or lightly insulated pants- possibly Polartec Wind-Pro, Durastretch, or Schoeller fabric.

After that will be wind shells- right now they have some overly heavy, ill fitting outfits. If you don't have a more worthy recipient, I'd love your spare pattern.

Jim White

Question on Wind Pro vs. Power Shield for Pants

Great looking pants.

I have two kids- 6 and 9. I find that outdoor gear for kids is either hard to find or very expensive. I'm planning on making pants for winter hiking, snowshoeing, and snow play.

Polartec Wind Pro and Powershield are intriguing. Since your spouse has the Wind Pro pants and your son has a Powershield jacket, what do you think of each fabric? What would you use for kids' pants to be used in temperatures from 20 to 45F? (One big point is that Wind Pro is $15/ yard vs. $30 for Powershield)

Also do you think the Yoga Pant pattern would be good for simple kid's outdoor pants? I figured I could add cargo pockets to the simple design.


Thanks for the fabric ideas. Question on Mountain Jacket.


Thanks for the fabric ideas. I hadn't seen Power Shield at The Rain Shed. Those prices are the best I've seen (other than for 15 yard bolts of 2nds).

I ordered my Power Dry for the base layers from Mill Direct Textiles- they sell only Polartec items with lots of discounts. I just received a swatch pack with over 100 different items from their "specials" list.

This will be my first project sewing garments from scratch. I've done a tent as a teenager and hemmed a bunch of pants last week.

Polar Pants- Powershield?

Thanks for all the tips. I spoke to a nice lady at The Green Pepper today and she suggested I use Power Shield with the Polar Pant pattern for kids' snow pants. They have dark gray Power Shield on sale for $16.98/yd!

I'm thinking I will make a midlayer pant with the polar pattern first before I use the expensive fabric on the outer pants. What fabric did you use for the pants? I was thinking Powerstretch or plain Polartec 200.

I'll follow your lead and leave off the pockets, or maybe add cargo pockets after the fact.



I am super impressed and super jealous!! I have wanted to sew my own clothes for awhile now, but it certainly is a process. Thrift stores have kept me warm thus far, but I would love to give a pattern like this a shot!


You have done an incredible job of sewing for your family! I'm still learning the ins and outs of garment sewing, but I thrive on making anything useful. I tried my hand at school backpacks for my girls this year. What a learning experience!

By the way, the pics of your kids walking in the blizzard inspired my trek this morning. Normally, I ride my bike to catch the bus to work. Unfortunately I can't ride my bike through three inches of snow. Instead of having my husband pile the kids in the car to drive the measly mile to the bus stop, I threw on my boots and scarf and walked it. I thoroughly enjoyed it. The snow was gorgeous. Thank you for the inspiration!

The Blizzard Walk Photo

I think it was from a post in March??? I'm new to both of your blogs and have been perusing old posts. :-)

P.S. I started a bit of whining this morning that it seemed windier and maybe my hubby should drive me to the bus stop. He handed me a pair of ski goggles and sent me on my way. I survived. :-)

I'm impressed!

I'm very new to sewing but I'm mightily impressed. We're very outdoor-oriented people as well. I don't think it ever occurred to me to sew our outdoor gear. I'm feeling inspired now! I'm glad I found your blog!

Hello, I just found this blog

I just found this blog through FIMBY. I'm really enjoying it. My husband is also a computer programmer and loves sewing. Must be something in the line of work? Anyway...great projects. Love Celine's coat. -Debbie

Okay, is family not able to

Okay, is family not able to get in on this!! I HAVE BEEN LOOKING FOR A RAIN SUIT FOR MY KIDS FOR-EVER!!!!
I'm too cheap to buy. I have brought my sewing machine up from the basement recently (trick to actually get my butt sewing).

You're projects are AWESOME!! COMPLETELY inspiring. I suppose I could just borrow the one you have. *wink*

Great job Damien! Maybe now, if you could inspire my husband. ;)


Thanks for the Pattern!

Thanks a bunch for the pattern. It will definitely come in handy.

My order of Polartec Powerdry and Powerstretch just arrived today from Mill Direct Textiles, so I guess I had better stop talking and start sewing!

I'm going to start with base layers out of Powerdry, then do midlayer pants from the Powerstretch using the Green Pepper Polar Pant pattern, then Powershield Polar Pants.

Next will be wind shirts and luckily I'll have your pattern to do those.

By that time I'll either be a decent beginning sew-ist or ready to hang it up and go back to RTW. (I just learned that's what sew-ists call store bought or "Ready To Wear" clothes).


My first two garments!

Managed to do a pretty good job on long johns for my 6 year old son. Made a "practice" pair with one leg wrong side out first. Then went on to make a good pair from Powerdry and another from Powerstretch! They look almost good enough to be called "seconds"!

The two Powerdry johns took less than a running yard of fabric, so my production models cost well under $5 each in materials.

I used some pajama pants for the pattern. Pretty simple. The pattern and practice pants took about 2 hours, the production models took under an hour each. Of course a production sewist would probably crank out one in about 5 minutes!


Baselayer waistband

I used 3/4" waistband elastic from JoAnns. I folded the fabric in over the waistband so it wrapped around the elastic. Then I sewed along the bottom edge of the elastic, holding it in place and keeping it covered with fabric.

For cuffs I made strips of the fabric about 20% shorter than the hem length, doubled them over and stretched them while sewing. I did this before sewing up the leg seams so I could do it out flat.

After playing with different stitches, the one that worked best was an "overedge stitch" where it does a forward, backward, forward lock stitch then one zigzag and repeats. It is very strong and very stretchy.

Working on baselayers for my daughter now. I made Powerstretch yesterday and doing Powerdry this morning.

sewing machine recommendation?

Hi Damien,

I've been thinking of trying my hand at making some power shield clothing myself - such a soft durable material. I love the clothes in this old blog post of yours, too.

What kind of sewing machine do you use? If you were buying a new machine today, would you buy a different one?

All the best.