Let me start out by saying that I'm no great seamstress.I never whip up a ballgown in an afternoon to wear that evening. I have made a few dresses, most of them under supervision in one sewing class or another, but three out of four didn't fit.
However, I bravely made a ski parks this week, and found it more fun than I thought.
It was a classified ad in one of the ski magazines that started me: "Make your own parka. Save money." I dutifully sent away for the literature - saving money has always been an avocation.
The first catalog came from Frostline Kits. They had a limited line of down jackets and vests with costing, as promised, less than half of store prices (down vests are $14.50). While I admired them, I knew that the Allergy Als in my family would never live through the construction of a down-filled garment, despite the pre-packing for "easy filling." Down is just not that easy to work with.
A few catalogs later I found Daisy Kingdom, whose patterns were fashion-right, whose colors were varied and modern, and whose linings were high loft dacron fiberfill, rather than that allergy-provoking downs.
Although I was tempted by the neoprene jump-suits with two-way stretch anf d guaranteed weatherproofing, I decided to start with a simple parka. To keep it even more simple, I decided to make the parka for my daughter, who is smaller and required less fabric, therefore less sewing. She is also less critical and would be more likely to wear something that looks home sewn than I would.
he order went out, and the kit was returned in about a week: a length of coated nylon in french blue for the outside of the parka, a length of coated nylon in raspberry pink for the piping, a length of quited dacron fiberfill covered on one side in raspberry pink for the lining, plus other things like a zipper, a pattern, snowcuffs and lining and interlining materials.
I let it lie for two weeks. The project seemed enormous. There were all sorts of warnings about using sharp needles and scissors, and ironing properly, and not cutting out the pattern but tracing it first. But finally, I quit procrastinating.
Tracing the pattern was a chore. Four children's sizes are marked on the same patterns, and following the right lines can be hard. However, it leaves the master pattern inviolate so that you can order more fabric to make the same garment in a larger size next year.
Cutting is also a chore, especially if you don't particularly like fluffs of fiberfill all over your room. Also, the cutiing layout forgot to mention that you need TWO linings . . .
From there on, however, if you follwo the intructions carefully, the sewing can be fun.
I would not say that parka could be made by someone entirely unfamiliar with sewing; you have to know how to use a sewing machine, and do such sophisticated things as put in a zipper or make even seams.
On the other hand, a novice could handle the project with a little guidance.
As for saving money, well, it depends on what you make. The down kits are definitely a savings if your don't count the time it takes (it took me about 12 hours to finish the parka.)
A check with a local ski shop showed that my $23,95 kit did not save much: children's parkas by Hot Gear, which has high styling, range from $30-$35 for fiberfill, $37-$44 for down. However $20.50, I could have saved a lot, because Gerry down shirts are $42.
In all, it depends on your sewing ability and on what you choose to make. If sewing is a dun hobby, by all means tackle your own ski clothes.You might as well be outfitting yourself for the slopes as making another endless series of patch work aprons for neighbors and friends. If your are looking to save money, however, shop carefully. You might just find that end-of-season and pre-season sales can net you a total savings in both time and money for ski clothing.
For more information, write to the make-your-own ski clothing manufacturers:
Daisy Kingdom, 217 N.W. Davis, Portland, Ore., 97209.
Frostline Kits, Dept. 00106, 452 Burbank St., Broomfield, Colo.,80020.
Holubar Mountaineering Ltd., P.O. Box 7, Boulder, Colo., 80306.
AltraInc., 5441 Western Ave., Boulder, Colo., 80306.