Sew for Snow


If wintery weather means slaloms or snowmen to you, it can also mean cold hands and red noses if you’re not ready for knee-deep drifts or even an occasional light storm. This time of year can also bring headaches and empty pockets as you try to adapt made-in-California outfits to Wisconsin-proof sportswear. It can be more practical, economical, and creative to sew your own ski and snow clothes according to your individual tastes and winter needs. Whether its parkas, jumpsuits, jackets, or warm-ups, you can make them yourself. Hats, vests, and mittens can complete your wardrobe.

Quilted cotton, denim, and tapestry are among the many fabrics that may be insulated for cold-weather wear. A second layer of nylon or tightly woven dacron is recommended as an inner fabric to act as a windbreaker. And an in-between layer of polyester batting or goose down can be used according to the conditions in your area.

Patterns specifically designed for ski and snow wear are recommended in that they accommodate for insulated fabrics, long underwear, bulky ski sweaters, and physical activity. They also provide complete construction outlines. The clothing should be treated with a water repellent, which allows perspiration to evaporate (water proofing does not) and prevents moisture build-up and chills.

Recommended Fabrics for Insulation

Outer layer. Any combination of a single fabric or a quilted or insulated fabric may be used. Corduroy, sailcloth, canvas, kettle cloth, denim, poplin, quilted cotton, seersucker, and sturdy cotton are easily adapted. This layer of fabric should be treated with water repellent either before you begin sewing or when your garment is completed.

Inner layer. Depending on weather conditions, use a nylon windbreaker fabric or closely woven dacron. A layer of polyester batting may be staystitched to this inner fabric for colder climates. Two layers of batting are recommended for jackets except for the sleeves where only one layer is needed. For maximum warmth two layers of nylon quilted with 5-inch wide horizontal panels can be filled with goose down. Down can be purchased from sporting goods stores, through catalogs, and in many hobby stores. (If you wish to buy pre-insulated fabrics, they may be purchased at most yard-goods stores and are usually two layers of quilted nylon separated by varying thicknesses of polyester batting.)

Some Tips for Sewing

1. Use large florist or hobby-type pins so that pins are not lost in batting.

2. Cotton is warmer than nylon.

3. Nylon unravels—be careful.

4. Polyester flannel is good for pockets.

5. Use large, plastic zippers with ring pulls—you can cut them after sewing across the end.

6. Make the outer unit, then the inner unit, and then put them together. Your seams will all be on the inside facing each other.

7. Use any needle but make big stitches and lighten the pressure or pressure foot.

8. Sew with the batting side up when attaching it to nylon or dacron.

9. Don’t try on your garment without the batting or you’ll be tempted to take it in.

10. Be sure and use polyester batting and not cotton.

11. After washing garment be sure to respray with water repellent.

12. Nylon used as an outer fabric for pants, jumpsuit or warmups may be dangerous for skiers when racing. (Also consider the angle of the slopes. Nylon allows little friction after a fall.)

For Hats

1. They can be made from leftover scraps.

2. Use extra layer (circle) of batting on area of ears.

3. Use pelon for extra body.

4. Use velcro to fasten.

Skiing Stretch Fabrics

1. Use for pants and jumpsuits, not for parkas, warmups, or vests.

2. Do not use batting, down, or nylon.

3. Observe rules for stretch sewing—use a bigger ball needle, Metrosene or polyester thread, metal zippers, and large metal hooks and eyes.

[photos] Photos by Brett Reynolds

[photo] Dress-weight dacron is used for this ski suit. The battle jacket has double dacron-batting inner lining for extra warmth

[photo] A striped dacron jump suit with a jockey hat is made from nylon scraps lightly padded with dacron batting. The brim is stiffened with buckram. Superimposed on the first photo is a fitted, quilted-nylon parka and wool and nylon, over-the-boot stretch pants

[photo] Kettle cloth sprayed with fabric protector and inner lined with dacron for warmth makes a great jump suit

[photo] On a sunny day you can set your arms free and still be toasty in a padded jump suit and turtle neck

[photo] A railroad engineer’s cap lightly padded is great for covering a curly hair style. It is worn with a down-filled nylon parka, made from a kit, for maximum warmth

[photo] Be almost as warm as St. Bernard “Frodo” in a hand-knit, Mexican-inspired poncho

[photo] Hand-knit wool vest and long mittens in a bright Peruvian pattern put extra warmth in the right places