Friday, March 18, 2016

Wool Blanket Tripping Sweater

One of the winter projects on the list this year was an attempt to make my own tripping clothing. I've got no experience with this kind of stuff and no sewing machine, but a found a few folks on bushcraft forums who made sweaters and anoraks from wool blankets.

Empire Wool and Canvas used to make something the Wool Blanket Shirt which looked perfect for shoulder season tripping in cooler weather. Unfortunately, they've discontinued making them and moved on to more complicated garments.

Discontinued Wool Blanket Shirt from Empire Wool & Canvas

Duluth Pack makes a wool blanket shirt too but their high prices and cost of shipping (especially with the Canadian Dollar exchange) made it unappealing.

Duluth Pack Wool Blanket Shirt

After finding some basic plans and watching videos (searchwords: "wool blanket anorak" or  "wool blanket shirt" or "boreal shirt"), I set about making a custom sweater with a $50 clean wool blanket from a military surplus store. This one was very clean and had none of that chemical moth-boll smell from other imported blankets I came across. The added bonus was that the 62" width was perfect for my arm span.

First, the blanket was folded (unevenly) with a bulky fleece sweater laid down as a pattern. The blanket was positioned so that the stitched bottom hem would be the front of the overall seater and the decorative stripe would be across the belly.

Using some blackboard chalk, I traced around the sweater with about a 1/2" extra seem allowance.

It was simple enough to cut out, but the blanket shifted a bit and the back side was a tad lower than the from. I also cut out a circular neck pattern at the centre point.

The many descriptions of handstitching mentioned the blanket stitch as the most practical. I used some excess waxed braided cord from the leather making toolkit to stitch up the sides.

Blanket stitching

For the collar, I took some extra material from the striped section of the blanket and folded in half stitching up the sides and then inverting.

Collar ready to stitch

At this point the sleeves ends, front  slit opening and the rear bottom were all raw cut edged. I could have left it as such but worried about fraying. Instead of using the blanket stitch again on these parts, I went crazy and decided to use a double loop lacing method with a 3/32" roll of flat leather lace. It has been sitting unused since using it to make braided awl sheath back 2010. Here is a shot of it around one sleeve end...

Lacing the arm cuff

At this point, I debated making some wood toggles for the neck closure, but decided against it when I saw some left over brown paracord sort of matched the leather lacing. Six small loops of scrap blanket material were stitched on the inside of the neck opening with their stitches hidden by the lacing material. The paracord was woven through and finished with a decorative knot.

Here's the final sweater. It is very warm and has some decent wind resistance. At least being wool, it'll be spark resistant so I can get close up to a warming fire with worry of burning spark holes. 

I guess the true measure of success was the fact my 7 year old son liked it and asked it I could make him one. There was enough material for me to make him a similar sweater without the leather laced cuffs. Hoping to get use out of these during a shoulder season trip with the little man.


Jonas Sjöblom said...

Great job Murat! It turned out amazing. Do you plan to use it as outer layer or still have something over it in cold weather?
I sewed an anorak a few years ago (on machine though, so not as hardcore) of something we here call vadmal. I cant find a good translation for it. It's a wool fabric which gets felted really hard. It's very strong and like 90% wind resistant. So it keeps the heat inside while still breathing well. Perfect for winter trips.

Murat said...

Thanks Jonas! I think it'll be an outer layer for those chilly spring / fall evenings around camp. I have some left over canvas from the tarp project and might try and make an anorak outer layer next year.

Rob Stevens said...

Nicely done. More polished than a capote. I have a Swedish army anorak if you're looking for a pattern.

Joanna said...

I would like to try to do one for my dad

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