Style Arc Romy Anorak

This is the follow-up to my Romy preview post.

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The Style Arc Romy is an unlined anorak style coat that hits at the thigh. It has a front zip with inside and outside zipper guards, button closures at the pockets and collar, and tucks and a drawstring at the hem. The belt loops and belt are optional.

I made this as a replacement for my Safari Jane jacket. During actual wear I ran into a few problems with that particular project:

  • The upper back was very narrow, and I really noticed it when driving or wearing anything heavier than a tshirt under it. It was just uncomfortable to wear.
  • The water repellent coating completely disappeared during a wash, and I couldn’t seem to restore it. Anything heavier than a slight drizzle and I was getting wet.
  • The fabric was very light and didn’t press well, so the lining didn’t stay in place very well at the cuffs and hem.
  • The metal eyelets weren’t supported enough and started to rip through the lining.
  • The inside zipper pockets were a good idea in theory, but in practice I found them awkward. It required two hands to quickly stash something.
  • The hood felt like it didn’t project far enough in front and the front flaps were annoying. I never used them.

So for this project I decided to go with something that had a waterproof backing rather than depending on just the water repellent coating.

Recommended fabrics for the Romy are “soft” fabrics – silk, lighter weight wools, etc. I went with something that wasn’t soft at all: Ultrex. Ultrex is a nylon water resistant fabric with a waterproof and windproof polyurethane backing. I got my Ultrex from The Green Pepper. They strongly recommended lining it to protect the backing, so for that I used a lightweight nylon shirting I found in my stash. You do not want to go without a lining just because the backing feels nasty against the skin. It has a very rubbery feel. It was torture turning out the belt…

I got the best results with Ultrex when I used a medium low setting for pressing and light steam when absolutely necessary. For sewing it I used regular Gutermann Mara 100 thread, a Microtex needle, and a 3mm stitch for regular seams and 4mm stitch for topstitching.  I tried both a Teflon and walking foot and had better results with the walking foot. I treated it like leather and avoided ripping and resewing unless absolutely necessary because I wanted to avoid having pinholes in the backing. The only interfacing I used was when I made the reinforcement for the metal grommets – and in that case it was needlepunch, which is almost like a lightweight fleece.

I used quite a bit of hardware for this coat. My zipper was a #5 antique brass zipper. Instead of buttons I used size 20 snaps from Snap Source. The shock cord, hem toggles, and cord closures at the hem were from The Green Pepper. The “bean” style toggles I used for the hood were from a Thai ebay seller. Instead of buttonholes I used metal 00 grommets. To better support the grommets and prevent them from pulling through I made a “washer” for the grommets out of two layers of the needlepunch interfacing from The Green Pepper.

I wanted a secure way to hold my keys in place so I inserted a piece of 1″ nylon webbing into the inside of the pocket box pleat at the top, then sewed the other end to a black snap from The Green Pepper.

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My fitting adjustments were:

  •  Lengthened 1.25″ between bust and waist
  • 3/4″ broad back adjustment, including 3/8″ length
  • Lengthened the sleeves 1.25″
  • Added a total of 5″ to the lower hip
  • Added 3/4″ width to the sleeve at the upper arm/elbow

I should have rotated the shoulder dart as a forward shoulder adjustment as well, but I didn’t notice until it was too late.

I really wanted a hood to go with this. I have a larger than average size head (too many brains??) and most womens “one size fits all” hats and hoods are too small for me. I hate how most hoods don’t offer good coverage, especially when I have my hair up in a ponytail. I compared several hood patterns and decided that due to the wide collar the the best starting point was the Sewaholic Minoru. Instead of sewing the hood pieces together at the center back I made it shape my head a little bit better by adding a 4″ wide rectangular piece to the center back. I then topstitched the seams in place, then after I sewed in the lining I folded back the brim edge about 1″ and sewed in a casing for the shock cord because I wanted to be able to tighten it on windy days. I discovered from wearing my Safari Jane that I HATE having loose ends of shock cord around my face, so I used the bean style toggles that have two holes in them, threading the end of the shock cord so that it was caught at the bottom of the hood rather than sticking out through the grommet. Once again I used a metal eyelet instead of a buttonhole for the shockcord opening. It is a little tight with two pieces of cord going through it but I can still adjust it with some effort. To finish the hood I drafted a bottom facing out of Ultrex, sewing it to the bottom edge. I then folded back the seam allowance of the facing’s upper edge and edgestitched in place.

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Outside of hood
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Inside of hood

After I finished the hood I added the collar and hood snaps. Note: the collar buttonhole placement on the pattern is correct but the button placement is not. The front fly guard is buttonholed but the buttons (or in my case, the bottom snaps) are actually placed on the collar and NOT on the bottom fly guard. (I confirmed this by looking at a RTW Land’s End down coat.)

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When trimming threads I accidentally nicked the lining by the center back collar. To fix it I dabbed on some Fray-Check and then sewed a Style Arc label over it. Doubles as a hanging loop!

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One thing I was really annoyed about was when I was snapping the hood to the anorak I noticed that the hood was a different color than the Romy! I had ordered the Ultrex for a coat last year and then a few months later ordered the Ultrex for the hood. The coat is a dark navy and the hood is a lighter navy. I’m not sure if it was a different dye job or if Ultrex comes in different shades of navy. I learned my lesson: when buying yardage for a coat/jacket + hood project make sure to buy it as one whole piece rather than going back and buying more later on!

Despite the navy mismatch I am very pleased with my Romy. It has a durable, high quality feel to it and all the design elements I wanted. It is a great replacement for my Safari Jane coat.

Style Arc Romy preview

This is a UFO that dates back to May. I cut out the fashion fabric (a windproof/waterproof fabric called Ultrex) then proceeded to let it sit there for the next 3.5 months.

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Ugh, yes, the hood is a different shade of navy! More on that later on…

I rediscovered it on Friday when I started putting stuff away in my sewing area. The pieces were buried under some patterns. For some reason I decided it was a good idea to stop what I was doing and finish it. It ended up being quite the sewing marathon: yesterday mid-afternoon/evening and most of today. I added a full lining, detachable hood with a shockcord drawstring, and a clip on the inside of the pocket to hold my keys.

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Full writeup on Monday when I have modeled photos!

Stretch bengaline pants in cold climates

I’ve gotten several emails during the past month about wearing stretch bengaline pants in the winter, so I thought I would address it in this post.

First of all, yes, it is true – stretch bengaline is a terrible winter fabric. Like cotton it offers little in the way of insulation and you’re going to be even colder if it gets wet. (The saving grace is that it dries much quicker  than cotton does.) It is also very thin so you’re even more exposed to the cold than you would if you wore jeans.

Last winter was bitterly cold yet I was able to wear my stretch bengaline pants on a regular basis because I layered long silk underwear under them. (I do this with wool pants a lot too.) I recommend silk over merino wool because the slippery texture makes them glide easier under the stretch bengaline, and the fabric is so thin that it is virtually undetectable you are wearing them – even under something slim like the Elles. They also have the added bonus of smoothing out VPL! The stretch bengaline has enough give to it that there was hardly any difference in fit.

That being said, on days when it struggles to get above the teens (Fahrenheit) I feel that wearing the silk under the stretch bengaline works best when your time outside consists of a 15 minute walk to the coffee shop rather than sitting at a hockey game all afternoon.