Maxima Jacket Instructions
© 2005 Paul AYCE Nanian
All Rights Reserved
Cut Out the Paper Pattern Pieces

Cut out your pattern pieces.

Heads Up! There is only one front piece pattern; when the printing is UP it cuts the right front piece, and when the printing is DOWN it cuts the left front piece.

Heads Up! Take a close look at the front pattern piece. There's a horizontal line on it marked "liner cutting line". When the time comes to cut the front liner this line will be important. The liner is made from two pieces; the upper front which is formed by removing the fabric below the "liner cutting line", and the lower front which is the pocket liner without the hand scoop removed as explained next.

Heads Up! Take a close look at the pocket pattern piece. You'll end up cutting three pieces from the pocket pattern: the left and right outer pockets which will have the hand scoop removed, the inner pocket liner, and then the lower front.

Heads Up! Left and right refer to the left and right of the wearer of the Minima Vest, not the person looking at the wearer.

Stack Cut the Sleeves and Back Shell/Liner/Insulation

Heads Up! A cutting marker is printed on the back side of your kit's inventory page. The quantity of material supplied with your kit depends on your use of an efficient cutting marker.

You can save some time by stack cutting the pieces. If you don't have a cutting mat and rotary blade, you can pin shell, liner, insulation, and pattern layers together and stack cut with regular fabric shears.

Stack Order: Liner and shell right-sides together, then insulation on top.

Heads Up! Left and right refer to the left and right of the wearer of the Minima Vest, not the person looking at the wearer.

Lightly sear the edges of the liner and shell to prevent fraying.

Mark the wrong-side of each piece with a removable mark such as a soap chip or chalk. The 'wrong-side' is the shiny, or calendared, side that ends on the inside of the finished item. For example, you'd write 'Left Front WS' on the left front's shiny side. Finally, mark the sides of the sleeves "Front" and "Back" as indicated on the pattern.

Cut the Shell Front

Stack Order: Shell right-sides together. Place the pattern on the stack printing UP.

After you cut the stack, open it up like a book and place the two halves right-side up with their zipper edges together.

Place the pattern on the right front printing DOWN with the pattern folded along the 'fold pattern along this line to form the right front' line as shown in the picture to the right. Note that the right front is on the left side if you're looking at it as shown in the picture.

Trim off the excess strip of fabric (the draft tube) from the right front.

Heads Up! You're only cutting the front shell in this step. You'll cut the front liner and insulation pieces at a later step.

Cut Collar Shell Fabric x2 and Collar Insulation

The both the liner and the shell are cut from the shell fabric. This is done so that when the collar is down the liner fabric will match the shell fabric.

Stack cut the liner and shell fabric x 2 with the two pieces of shell fabric right side together.

Cut Upper Front Liner/Insulation

Prepare the paper pattern by folding the front pattern at the "fold pattern at this line to form the upper front" line.

Stack cut two layers of insulation and two layers of liner fabric with the liner aligned right-sides together.

Trim the excess draft tube off the right upper front by folding the upper front pattern at the draft tube cutting line on your pattern the same way you did with the right front shell. The pattern printing will be down when you trim off the fabric.

Heads Up! Remember that the Left and Right sides of the project refer to the left and right of the person wearing the Maxima, not the person looking at the wearer.

Heads Up! Note that in this picture the insulation has already been attached to the upper fronts. You'll actually be doing this at a later step. The stack in the picture is as follows: left upper front insulation, left upper front liner, right upper front liner, right upper front insulation.

Stack Cut Lower Liner/Pocket Inserts/Insulation

Make a stack as follows: liner right-side down, shell right-side up, liner right-side down, insulation. In other words, the right- and wrong-sides of the liner/shell/liner layers are together.

Place the Lower Front pattern on the stack printing UP and stack cut to produce the left lower front.

Make a 2nd stack exactly as above.
Fold the pattern at the 'draft tube cutting line' as before and place on your stack printing down. Stack cut to produce the right lower front.

Remove the insulation from each stack. Carefully peel apart the insulation into two layers of about half the original thickness.

Heads Up! Note that the insulation has already been attached to the liners in the picture which shows the left lower front pieces. Also, the hand scoop has already been removed even though you'll do that in the next step.

Heads Up! The picture to the left shows the left lower front. The pieces are stacked as follows: left lower liner right-side down, 1/2 thickness left lower inner insulation, left inner pocket insert right-side up, left outer pocket insert right-side down, 1/2 thickness left lower outer insulation.

Cut Hand Scoop

Remove the hand scoop from the left and right shell, left and right outer pocket liner, and left and right 1/2 thickness outer insulation. The hand scoop cutting line is located on the lower front pattern.

Heads Up! Check the Maxima Front Pieces picture two steps below to help you keep track of all the front pieces.

Sew Insulation to Liner Edges

Run a line of straight stitching at 3/8".

Heads Up! You need to use plenty of pins before running the liner/insulation through your machine for that first line of straight stitching. Synthetic battings will stretch unless you take steps, such as pinning, to keep it feeding correctly.

Heads Up! The liner/insulation panels will be easier to work with if you add a 1/4" overcast stitching to the panels as shown in the picture.
If your machine doesn't have an overcast stitch, a wide zigzag stitch will help.

Taking Stock of the Front Pieces

There's an awful lot of front pieces. Here's a picture to help you keep track of them all.

Left and Right Shell: have the hand scoop cut out
Left and Right Outer Pocket Liner/Insulation: have the hand scoop cut
Left and Right Outer Pocket Shell: no hand scoop.
Left Upper and Lower Liner/Insulation: together they form the left front liner/insulation
Right Upper and Lower Liner/Insulation: together they form the right front liner/insulation

Left shell/liner/insulation/pocket pieces have the draft tube.

Sew Interior Quilting

Synthetic insulations should be stabilized so that unquilted sections are two square feet or less. You can get away with less quilting, but this decreases the durability of the item, particularly if you wash it in an upright washer.

It is recommended that you quilt your Maxima at a minimum on the sleeves and back as shown in the picture to the right. Ensure that you have liner colored thread in your machine so that the stitching is visually unobtrusive.

Heads Up! Be careful feeding the liner/insulation pieces through your machine. As before, it is easy for the insulation to stretch or for the liner to be folded and caught in your line of stitching. Work slowly and carefully to avoid having to rip out an errant seam.

Assemble Pockets

Alignment: right-side together. Seam allowance=3/8"

Sew the left outer pocket liner/insulation to the left inner pocket
shell along the top edge with a 3/8" seam allowance as shown in the picture. Repeat for the right outer pocket liner/insulation and right inner pocket shell.

Attach Pockets to Shell at Hand Scoop

Alignment: right-sides together. Seam allowance=1/4".

Fold the inner pocket shell up and out of the way along the line of stitching you sewed in the last step.
Lay the outer pocket liner/insulation onto the shell, right-sides together and pin along the hand cut out.

Sew the pocket to the shell at the hand scoop with a 1/4" seam allowance.

Repeat the process to attach the remaining pocket to the other side of the front.

Flip the Pocket and Edge Stitch the Hand Scoop

Set up your machine with shell colored thread up top and liner colored thread in the bobbin.

Press the very edge of the hand scoop lightly with an iron on low heat to smooth any wrinkles.

Heads Up! Use a very low heat on the iron. Temperatures above 120 will damage insulation, so keep the iron right on the edge of the hand scoop.

Edge stitch the hand scoop.

Sew Wrist Elastic to Sleeve Cuff

Measure the distance around your wrist and cut a piece of the 1/2" flat no-roll elastic that length. Bar tack the elastic to the wrong side of sleeve the liner/insulation at the cuff in two places as indicated on the sleeve pattern.

Alignment: the elastic should be within the sleeve seam allowance line and parallel to and within the the cuff hem line.

Heads Up! Don't let the elastic extend into the side seam allowance becaue you'll be finishing the main side seam that runs from the cuff, up the sleeves, and down the body with a French seam. Elastic in that seam will cause unwanted bulk and be an irritant on your wrist.

Sew Bottoms to Tops of of Front Liner

Alignment: right-side together. Seam allowance=1/2".

Heads Up! Be careful with the attaching the right lower front liner to the right upper front liner. The right lower front is squarish in shape, and it is easy to attach the zipper edge instead of the upper edge of the piece. Take a look your paper pattern to ensure that you've got it oriented correctly before sewing it in place.

Heads Up! When you're done with both the left and right sides of the front, compare the straight zipper edge of the two to see if they're the same length. Also compare them to the length of the zipper edge of the shell. If these are not all the same, you can make small adjustments by ripping the seam you just made and resewing.
Sew Hang Loop to Neckline

Tack the 1/4" soft tubular flat draw cord in place symmetrically around the collar placement notch on the back. Note that in the picture the collar alignment notch was marked white with chalk rather than actually cut.

Cut off the excess hang loop flush with the edge of the neckline seam.

Sew Fronts to Back at Shoulder Tops

Alignment: right-side together. Seam allowance=1/2".

Heads Up! It's very important that you use a 1/2 inch seam allowance at the shoulder tops so that the collar fits the neckline properly. This is because a smaller than 1/2" seam allowance increases the neckline by a factor of 4 times the divergence from 1/2 inch. For example, if you end up with a 3/8" seam allowance, the neckline increases by 1/8" on each side of the seam: 1/8" + 1/8" + 1/8" + 1/8" = 1/2". It'd be a problem to have the collar too short by 1/2 inch.

Heads Up! If you took the time to stabilize the liner with overcasting it's much easier to work with the pieces.

Heads Up! Take care not to snag the liner in your stitching.

Sew Collar to Neckline

Alignment: right-side together. Seam allowance=1/2". Start by pinning the collar and the back together at the notches. Pin the rest of collar in place along the necklne.

Feed your machine with the collar down so that you can keep closer tabs on the curve of the neckline.

Heads Up! It's very important to stick to the 1/2" seam allowance for this seam. Divergence from 1/2" causes the length of the liner's zipper to change. This throws you off when the time comes to mate the shell with the liner.

Heads Up! If your collar is too long or too short, the shoulder seams you sewed in the last step are to blame. If it's too short, you used less than a 1/2" seam allowance. If it's too long, you used more than a 1/2" seam allowance.

Heads Up! Don't be one of those people that refuses to use pins. Pinning an item in place lets you see potential problems *before* you commit to a seam with a line of stitching. A few pins can save you time with a seam ripper.

Sew Sleeves to Body Armholes

Alignment: right-side together. Seam allowance=1/2".

Align the notch in the sleeve with the shoulder seam of the body. Take care that the back of the sleeve attaches to the back, and the front of the sleeve attaches to the front. The Sleeve fronts and back are indicated on the paper sleeve pattern. Note that the sleeve back seam is longer than the sleeve front seam.

Heads Up! One of the most common sources of puzzlement among kit makers is when the curves of pieces that are to be seamed are not mirror images of each other. For example, in the picture the sleeve top is not an exact mirror image of the body where the seam is sewn. You can see this very clearly in the picture. This is not an error in the pattern. The seam length along the top of the sleeve and the opening in the body are the same, and the curve helps to add articulation and freedom of movement to the shoulders and sleeves.

Sew the Shell

Sew the shell using the same basic procedure as that used to sew the liner and insulation.

1) Sew the fronts to the back at the tops of the shoulders to form the body. Make sure to use a 1/2" seam allowance so that the collar fits the neckline properly. Alignment: Right-sides together.

2) Sew the collar to the neckline with a 1/2" seam allowance. Alignment: Right-sides together.

3) Sew the arms to the body. Align the notch in the sleeve with the body shoulder seam. Alignment: Right-sides together. 1/2" seam allowance.

Prepare Zipper

The zipper runs between the hem and collar seam allowance.

In preparation to install the zipper, the first thing to do is to confirm that the zipper edges of the shell and the liner/insulation are the same lengths. Line them up to make sure they are; if not, make adjustments.

Measure the zipper on the shell. It runs from 3/4" from the top raw edge of the collar to 1/2" from the bottom raw edge of the hem.

Cut the top of the zipper to length. Sear the top of the zipper tape.

Install the top zipper stops by pushing the side of the stop with two prongs into the tape. Use pliers to bend the three prongs of the zipper stop flat.

Install Left Zipper Coils Down on Zipper Alignment Mark

Pin the left zipper half coils down along the 'zipper coil alignment mark. Pin the zipper in place, paying careful attention to the pocket area. Install a zipper foot on your machine, and sew in place with shell colored thread in the bobbin and up top.

Heads Up! The outer pocket liner and inner pocket shell are loose since they're only attached to the shell at the hand scoop. Make sure when you pin and sew the left half of the zipper that those two layers are properly aligned with the shell.

Heads Up! Keep an even distance from the zipper coils. An unevel line of stitching here can cause the zipper to look uncentered on the completed jacket.

Heads Up! The top and bottom edge of the zipper ends 1/4" from the collar seam allowance for two reasons: 1) it will make it easier to sew the shell and liner/insulation collar and hem seams without catching the zipper in the seam 2) the top edge of the zipper can be an skin annoyance when the sewed to the top. Ending 1/4" from the top gives a soft fabric buffer which is less abrasive on the skin.

Install Dacron No-Snag Strip

Lay out the wrong side up.

Position the dacron strip 1/16" from of the tape edge of the zipper (ie: opposite the coils edge).

Sew the edges in place with two lines of stitching with shell colored thread.

Flip Zipper Tape so Coils Are Up and Top Stitch

Alignment: Shell right-side up.

Flip the zipper 180° so that the coils point to the raw fabric edge.

Topstitch the zipper in place using a zipper foot and two lines of stitching with shell colored thread.

Heads Up! Keep the fabric taught while sewing by maintaining tension on the shell against the line of stitching
that was used to initially attach the zipper to the shell.
Line Up Zipper and Mark Neckline Position

Zip up the right side of the zipper to the left side which is already installed in the shell.

Mark the position of the neckline on the right side of the zipper tape.

Heads Up! The neckline mark on the uninstalled right side zipper tape will keep the neckline seam of the left and right sides of the front lined up. It is all too easy to have that seam off a little bit which is highly noticable in the finished vest.

  Trim Zipper Edge of Left Liner

Line up the left front liner/insulation with the left front shell. Notice that the shell is shorter than the liner/insulation by about 5/8". When you installed the left zipper into the draft tube, the fabric that wraps around the zipper tape during the 'flip' step causes this reduction in width of the left front shell. Trim the excess material off the zipper edge of the liner/insulation.

Heads Up! Pay careful attention around the top and bottom of the left zipper. There's the z-fold of fabric from when you flipped the zipper that can cause trouble if you don't pin it to be sewn into the seam.

Heads Up! Make sure you pin the zipper/draft tube edges of the pocket liners along with the shell & liner/insulation.
  Pin Shell to Liner/Insulation along Right Front Hem, Right Zipper, Collar, Draft Tube, and Left Front Hem

Line up the shell and liner/insulation right-sides together. Pin together along the hems, zipper/draft tube, and collar.

The Right zipper is pinned to the right front zipper edge with the coils down against the shell. Start pinning it in place at the neckline mark you made earlier, making sure that the shell and liner/insulation necklines are lined up.

  Sew Shell to Liner/Insulation at Front Hems, Collar, and Zipper/Draft Tube

Alignment: Right-sides together. Neckline mark on zippers at neckline. Zipper coils are against the shell, and the raw zipper edges of the shell and liner line up with the tape edge of the zipper.
Load your machine with shell colored thread in the bobbin and up top.
Using a zipper foot, sew the front bottom hem, up the zipper, around the collar, back down the draft tube, and then finish on the bottom hem. Leave a 3/8" gap between the draft tube edge and the bottom edge on the left front.

Heads Up! Be careful to maintain an even distance from the raw edge of the fabric on the right zipper edges of the front. Uneven distance will mean the the zipper tape will appear uncentered.

Heads Up! The 3/8" gap is left because you're going to thread some 1/4" cord into the opening in the next step.

  Thread 1/4" Tubular Cord into 3/8" Gap at Bottom of Draft Tube

Cut two inches from the length of tubular cord and set aside for later use.

Push an inch or two of the remaining 1/4" tubular cord into the 3/8" gap you left at the bottom of the draft tube.

Heads Up! Make sure you're between the liner/insulation and the shell. You don't want the cord between the layers of the pocket. Check by reaching between the shell and liner/insulation and pulling the end a little.

Heads Up! This cord will come into play later when you install the elastic shock-cord into the bottom hem.

  Topstitch Collar

Ensure that you have shell colored thread loaded into your machine. Turn the jacket right-side out.

Tops titch the right zipper edge of the collar, then edge stitch collar top draft tube.

Heads Up! Only do the collar right now. You'll change the bobbin thread color to that of the liner in the next step.

Topstitch Right Zipper and Edge Stitch Draft Tube

Load your machine with liner colored thread in the bobbin and shell colored thread up top.

Alignment: Shell up

Take a second to run some practice stitching on scrap to ensure that you have your machine's stitch is balanced.

Topstitch the right zipper from the neckline down to the hem. Again, keep an even distance and keep the fabric/zipper taut while you're feeding the fabric through the machine. Edge-stitch the draft tube.

Heads Up! Note that you loaded the bobbin with liner colored thread so that the stitching through the shell and liner matches their respective colors. If you've got your machine's tension set up right, you won't be able to see the contrasting color of the shell or liner. If your machine's stitch is unbalanced, you'll see the loops of constrasting color on either the shell or liner stitching.

Check the Hem Height of the Front and Mark That Height on the Back.

Starting at the armpit, line up the front and back side seams until you reach the hem of the front. Mark the height of the front's hem on the back. Repeat for the other side seam.

Heads Up! You're marking this height so that when the final seam is sewn, the hems of the front and back line up perfectly. If you've done everything right, the mark should be at 1/2". If it's a little off, this mark will keep your final seam from being uneven.

Sew Back Hem

Fold the Back Liner and Shell over the body and pin together along the bottom hem. Alignment: Right-sides together.

Sew with a 1/2" seam allowance, but be sure to start and and the line of stitching at the two marks you made during the last step.

Sew Cuff Hem

Fold the Sleeve Liner/Insulation and Sleeve Shell over the body and pin together along the cuff. Alignment: Right-sides together.

Sew with a 1/2" seam allowance. Don't catch the wrist elastic in the line of stitching.

Finish Cuff Hems

Turn the sleeve right side out.

Stretch the elastic while running the cuff through your machine. Sew in a line of stitching to form a channel in which the elastic runs. Don't catch the elastic in your line of stitching, but do get the stitching right up next to the elastic.

Sew Draw Cord Exit Points

Fold the bottom hemline of the Back and Fronts in on itself and tack in place with a few lines of stitching. This stitching should be right on top of the hemline stitching (see red arrow in picture) and should extend 1/2.

Add a 1/4" of stitching at the top so that this new stitching and that along the hemline forms a "T" as shown in red in the picture. The top of this "T" will make it easier to feed the waist draw cord through the draw cord channel.

Anchor Draw Cord in Tubular Cord

Insert one inch of the shock cord into the two inches of tubular draw cord you put aside earlier. Carefully anchor it in place with some stitching.

When you've got it anchored, test it very carefully to make sure the stitching is solid.

Heads Up! This step is done so that it is easier to sew the fixed ends of the elastic shock cord into the jacket. It's much easier to sew something flat into your project than something round and unwieldy.

Tack Shock Cord into Right Front at Bottom of Zipper

Tack the flat tail you sewed to the shock cord to the bottom of the right front at the zipper.

When you're satisfied, pull test your stitching agressively.

Sew 1st Stitching Line of Main French Seam

Pin the main side seam.

Heads Up! Take care not to catch the liner in the seam when you're pinning.

Sew with a 1/4" seam allowance.

Heads Up! Don't sew the waist draw cord exit points shut.

Trim Raw Edges to 1/8", Turn Inside Out, then Finish French Seam with 2nd Stitching Line

Heads Up! This step is the hardest of the project. Take your time, double check everything, and make sure you're 100% alert.

Trim back the working (seam) allowance to 1/8".

Heads Up! Do this carefully and evenly. It's easy to snip part of the shell when you're trimming the working allowance.

Heads Up! I'm often asked why the initial French seam line wasn't sewn at 1/8" to begin with rather than sewing it at 1/4" only to trim it back to 1/8". The working allowance is trimmed to 1/8" because it leaves the raw edges of fabric very clean. Any fraying or loose bits would otherwise poke their way out of the final french seam.

Turn the jacket inside out and carefully pin the side seams.

Heads Up! Watch that you don't accidentally pin part of the shell in your seam. It's especially easy to catch the shell on the sleeves, so be careful.

Set your machine up with liner colored thread in the bobbin and up top. Finish the French seam with line of stitching at 1/4".

Sew Right Front Waist Shock Cord Channel

Set your machine up with shell colored thread up top and liner colored thread in the bobbin.

Push the shock cord all the way to the bottom of the hem. Pin the shell and liner just inside the shock cord so that it's safe from being caught in your stitching.

Using a zipper foot, sew the waist shock cord channel. Get your stitching as close as you can to the shock cord and bottom hem without catching the shock cord.

Sew Back Waist Shock Cord Channel

Feed the shock cord across the back.

Pin it into position at the bottom of the back's hem and sew a channel like you did in the last step.

Tack Shock Cord 1" into End of 1/4" Tubular Draw Cord

With the elastic untensioned, arrange the loop at the right shock cord exit points so that it is just the way you want it.

Measure out a similar loop at the left exit point, then measure the remaining shock cord from the left front exit point to 1" from the zipper. Trim the shock cord to that length.

Tack the end of the shock cord into the tubular webbing as before.

Pull Tubular Cord Until Shock Cord is 1" from Zipper, Tack It in Place, then Sew Shockcord Channel

Pull the tubular draw cord to advance the shock cord until the shock cord is 1" from the zipper.

Tack it in two places as shown in the picture. Make sure you've got the tubular cord well fixed in your stitching by pulling on the shock cord after each tack.

Pull the draw cord while scruntching the draft tube and cut off the excess draw cord.

Sew the waist shock cord channel as above.

Install Cord Locks onto the waist draw cord loops.

Finishing Touches

Take a few minutes to go over the Maxima Jacket, trim all loose ends, and inspect the main side seam.

Add a grosgrain zipper pull extender if desired.

Color your waist shock cord black or any other color you want with a permanent marker.


Have a great time with your Maxima Jacket on the trail!