There’s nothing easy or convenient about stitching clothing from scratch. Here’s a few traits I’ve bred into my stuff so it works hard, wears consistently, and lives long enough to earn repairs.
The Gory Little Details
Round and round.
Did you know that $100 in quarters weighs more than 5 pounds! That’s an average afternoon of work for me. I pre-wash all the canvas and wool textiles, the nylon webbing and tape, and even zipper chain. No kidding. That’s several thousands of dollars in quarters every year. Why? Because it’s harder to shrink something in the wash when someone already shrunk it in the wash. If I could figure out how to get our thread back on the spool, I would wash that too.
Once is OK. Twice is better. Turn any Emprie products inside out, and you’ll find two, and possibly three complete lines of stitching on each seam. I’ll lock down serged edges, top stitch bulky sides, and even roll elbows out flat to keep them from wearing off as they brush your sides. Tougher seams last longer. Period.
Ruff and tumble.
20 degrees below zero in the wind is no joke. Each winter shells garment is built to accept a removable ruff. Zip it on any of them (one size fits all), and snap the ends down. Roll it back for regular cold, 1/2 way out for brisk days, or fully forward with the wire rim curved over into a tunnel for serious weather.
Cold? Drafty? Hardly a time to be delicate when cinching wintry air out of a shell garment. Go ahead and yard on the free end of any cord. Inside or out, it’s anchored through all the layers to a reinforced nylon tab, or tucked into a seam and captured by multiple passes of stitching.
Why the effort? Why indeed.
800 pounds of clothing. That’s this years’ haul to the re-use store from our community garage sale. These were clothes that people bought, used, and passed on. I build stuff. This cycle of use and disposal just rubs me the wrong way.
Rubbed the wrong way.
Shock cord. It’s great for tinkering with fit, but it will wear through canvas and wool. For high contact areas like waist lines and hems, I err on the side of caution and route this magical cordage through tunnels of tough, yet soft Supplex Nylon. Problem solved.
Snaps are serious business for us. Zippers fail. Velcro wears out. Buttons get lost. When I set a snap into webbing anchors, it’s there for good. In 15 years not a single one has failed from normal use. The webbing keeps the halves oriented, firm in the fabric, and makes them easier to open and close with numb fingers.
Stainless steel. Tough. No muss. No fuss. All my snaps and grommets are stainless. It just makes sense to use something that won’t change, rust, warp, or bend.
Through and through.
Hook and Loop is a great way to adjust your cuff. Sadly, it wears out. That’s why I stitch these components through all the adjacent layers of fabric so they are easier to remove and replace.
Snap to it.
Cold fingers need a big target. Empire liners and shells join at the cuffs with stainless snaps to offer quick access for frosty digits.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.
I’m pretty much Paperless, except for cardboard Priority Mail Boxes. I don’t print a catalog, or send promo materials. Heck, I’m usually out of business cards. Welcome to the digital age. Use caution if opening your purchase with a blade. There are no fillers, plastic bags, or wrapping tissue coming from me.
It’s a cinch.
Empire mittens are pretty burly. That means the wrist straps must be tough too. Over time, the plastic hardware may wear out. You can pull it off and replace it in the field without breaking a stitch!
Zippers. The best and worst thing to happen to clothing. I tend to avoid the vulnerable separating type if Ican. All my closed-ended pocket and neck zippers have an access port so you (or I) can replace the pull when it wears out.