Kinsman Project: Done!
Posted: 08 June 2013 06:59 PM   [ Ignore ]  
Sr. Member
Total Posts:  70
Joined  2011-03-05

After nearly two years, I finally have a finished, final version of the Kinsman. I made four prototypes along the way. Projects were broken up with a multitude of hikes, climbs, camps, lengthy National Park road trips, and a broken foot, all of which, of course, necessitated re-learning how to thread the sewing machine each time.

I expected it to be challenging and was not disappointed. But each time I learned a little more and a lot of the puzzles became easier to figure out. But I still have not figured out why my obsessively measured, cut, and sewn panels end up different lengths. And I only barely know what to do with the extra fabric, though my serger growls with pleasure at the thought of it. But in the end, most mistakes can be ripped out, re-done, or just explained by saying it’s supposed to look like that.

The first version was “stock” (also very first sewing project…):

After this one, I made a few modifications on each version to see what would happen.

The second version I shortened the zipper to 13” long, shortened the seam around the shoulder, and made the bottom panel curved. I thought it would look interesting but instead, it makes me look pregnant. Being the wrong gender for that condition, I decided to forego the “Maternity Panel” on future versions. Other than that, it came out pretty good for a second attempt, and I actually got a compliment the first time I wore it outside. I never wore it again so I could say that I get compliments every time I wear it.

For v3, and thinking this one could be my final version, I decided to use the good stuff: Momentum. Alas, it was not. But it turned out OK, as long as you didn’t look too closely. I spent a lot more time messing around with the pattern. The chief thing I learned is that altering patterns is very, very hard. On this jacket, I lengthened the zipper to 14”. I also went back to the straight bottom panel. I straightened the side seams, so instead of that slight curve, it tapers in a straight line, very slightly outward towards the waist. I also started messing around with the sleeve cap and made it more of a bell shape. I shortened the collar in length and height, and changed the seam above the collar line, so the collar protrudes outwards a bit, to avoid being poked in the chin. I like thick collars so I went with a double layer of 5 oz Primaloft (insulation on both liner and shell panels). And I added a windflap / draft tube.

At this point, since I could see no end in sight for prototypes, I decided to just use some cheap fabric I bought at Seattle Fabrics, with no concern for matching colors, etc. The main change with this version was to move the final seam to the bottom. I was OK with the French seams but they always ended up too bulky. I sewed the side seams from cuff to waist (shell RS together) and then finished the seams with a strip of liner fabric. Since I was doing it this way, I also decided to use a sewn-in shockcord channel with grommets.

I never had great success using an alcohol lamp to singe the edges; my panels always ended up with uneven edges. So I bought the serger so I could use it to finish the seams. Learning to use it added a lot of time but was worth the learning curve: it does a great job of finishing the edges, and at remarkable speeds. I did not use it for the main stitches, however… just for finishing edges. And for removing that mysterious extra fabric…

I kept the zipper at 14”, made the sleeve cap a little flatter than v3 for better articulation, altered the shoulder seams on the front and back panels, and tweaked the sleeve diameters a bit. I (tried to) refine the draft tube. Failed.

After this jacket, I was finally ready to start the Kinsman kit I’d bought nearly two years earlier. I decided I didn’t really like the short zipper so I lengthened it to 15.5”. Much better. I also finally realized the shoulder yoke was a little too long for me so I shortened that by an inch, which resulted in a much-improved fit for me. I also thinned out the collar insulation. I added an anchorable cord lock for the waist shockcord.

Mostly on this one, I indulged my inner perfectionist and took my time making it - 75.5 hours. I took the time to fix mistakes, including a grevious one: one collar seam was 1/2” higher than the other side. Hard to be convincing saying that was your stylish intention… I had to seam rip the entire zipper out. Ditto for one of the completed cuffs and a couple of other areas. And a good chunk of the construction time was spent trying to figure out how to make a draft tube, once and for all. (details to follow in another posting).

Overall, I was pretty happy with this final version. It’s hard to tell in the pictures but the fit and finish on this one is really much better than all other versions, especially v2 and v3. We won’t discuss v1, which I named Frankenjacket for a reason (see photo). Having said that, even this final version has a couple mistakes that I consider significant but overall, not bad.

I will add a few things learned in another post.

It was a lot of fun learning how to sew the Kinsman, and now I am moving on to Liberty Ridge. No Primaloft - woo-hoo!!  ;)