Wednesday 14 May 2008

Gortex jackets#3 - on waterproofing

  Janine has just asked me a question about the Oregon jacket I made last week. "What have you used on the jacket seams to seal them, and is it available in Aus?" This is a very timely question. I am currently procrastinating about sealing the seams, as it is a rather messy job. So to procrastinate a bit more, I am putting in a photo of an alternate front pocket, that I used on a previous jacket. This pocket is made longer than required, so that there is a double fold when the pocket is fastened. This keeps the rain out better than the pocket I used on the green jacket, but I had very little fabric, so could not use it this time.

Back to waterproofing. I use seam sealer, which appears to have no brand name, that I purchased from my local camping shop, in rural QLD. Any place that stocks tents (maybe not Big W or Target tents) generally carries this, as most tents are not presealed at the seams. The local shop carries 2 types of sealant, the other one is more expensive. I have been very pleased with the performance of this particular seam sealant, it is a bit like glue to apply, and does not keep well in the tube once opened. I originally applied it to the outside of the seams - bad mistake. I did this to the size 2 jacket, now intermittently on the body of my nephew, so cannot show you how like a snail trail it appears. There is a photo here where I applied it over the mesh lining at the hood on an earlier jacket, as this seam is sewn after attaching the lining, but I am not sure you can see how messy it appears. I recommend that you seam seal on the inside. I found that you cannot do the whole jacket at once, or the seams stick together where they intersect. I work on horizontal seams in the hood,allow to dry, vertical seams at the hood, allow to dry, raglan shoulder seams, dry, under sleeve and side seams, dry, then the front zip seams last. I spread the sealant with a disposable plastic knife. It is a slow job. This is why I have tried to avoid seam exposure as much as possible during the construction process. It is also why I am procrastinating about this next step. We are camping this weekend, and I am hoping it does not rain really hard.....
Seam sealing works well for extreme conditions. I made my husband a pair of Gortex overpants for a 10 day hiking/mountaineering trip in South West Tasmania. The other guys had purchased pants. It rained, sleeted and snowed, he walked through creeks and slid down mud, and he said he was the only one with a dry behind.
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Keely said...

Thanks for the tips about applying the seam sealant. The jacket looks wonderful.

Janine said...

Thanks, so much for answering my question so promptly. I have seen that product in the camping store and did wonder. Now I have no excuse for not getting on with the pants!

Natalia said...

I'm working on a developing a line of high-end cycling apparel that is pushing a more avant-garde design and technical approach. I have been sourcing technical fabrics and all the other trimmings. I've talked with several manufacturers in the Los Angeles area and I'm concerned that they are going to overlook a lot of the smaller details that I want to incorporate so I've decided to enlist the help of my talented roommate to do the sewing. I was really impressed with the level of quality that you guys have with the jackets I've seen on the posts. Any guidance you can give regarding machine set up, fabrics, threads, needles, etc. would be greatly appreciated!!

kbenco said...

Thanks for the compliment Natalia. I have made only 5 Gortex jackets, for myself and family members and each one was a major project - mostly because of the details I wanted to add. Each jacket took between 15 and 20 hours of work including seam sealing, which also required setting time.
I used regular domestic machines, with a straight stitch, set at around 3mm stitch length. I cut out using a rotary cutter and a mat, I used microtex needles and regular sewing thread poly gutermann. I used bulldog clips instead of pinning.

Non waterproof technical cycling gear such as jerseys using wicking polyester knit are much, much faster and easier to sew, I can make a jersey in about an hour now, if I want to do production style sewing. This includes cutting out. My main problem is sourcing the latest fabric,and the preference of my cyclist for lots of colours and printing on his jerseys :). For these garments I again use a rotary cutter and mat, I use microtex needles, a regular machine with 3 step narrow zipzag, an overlocker and a coverstitch machine.
Good luck with your project.