Friday, March 26, 2010

Rain on My Parade

I recently remarked to my parents how rarely do fashion stores seem to stock waterproof jackets/coats. Our local Warehouse certainly isn't chuffing down the rain track. Rural supplies stores such as Farmlands and RD1 have gear for seriously wet conditions, priced from NZ$180 to $370, but I hoped for a better price and something less workman-like.

I wanted a smart jacket of in-between warmth (not summer-light but not winter wool) that's primarly designed to keep its wearer dry in the rain. Would I have to wait for a trip to the city...and then where would I look for such a garment?

One of the companies who have added their personalised label to the hem of the KiwiStuff jacket.

Dad suggested, "Maybe you need something like what we found in Christchurch last year."

Mum said, "Try on my jacket."

It was too big for me, but I was stunned by the ample supply of pockets (2 inside, 4 outside) and delighted by its light but keep-me-dry feel. Mum bought hers at Christchurch Airport while waiting for a delayed flight. Dad bought his a month or so later at Christchurch's Antarctic Centre. I googled the name on the tag and found KiwiStuff.co.nz. Clicking KiwiStuff's purchase button takes you to NZShopOnline.com, a webshop that offers 5 currencies and a pile of other brand products which I haven't yet explored.

Email communication with the designer and online retailer produced a specific size measurement, enabling me to confidently purchase the garment without trying it on (if you want a try-on option, email KiwiStuff for a list of retail stores). I've recommended that they add sizing details to their websites, along with image enlargement options (note: click on any BN post illustration to view close-up details). These two websites aren't yet geared for complete shopping ease, but their service is excellent and I have no hesitation in recommending them.

One of the Kiwistuff labels

Kiwis, don't be put off by pricing differentiation between the designer and online retailer. KiwiStuff said that retailers place their own price on garments. NZShopOnline's lower NZ prices are because they don't include GST. Nevertheless, by the time GST and postage (NZ$7) were added, at NZ$91.90 my jacket was still $19.60 cheaper than KiwiStuff's advertised price.

The Astra Tex fabric is 3000mm waterproof, 3000 breathable, fully seam-sealed. A microporous polyurtethane coating prevents the smallest raindrops from penetrating, yet allows perspiration vapor to escape.

Reflective strip on breast pocket. Designer zipper pull tab.

The ladies rain jacket style 191 is available in 5 colours. I chose moss green. When the package arrived (with incredible promptness), my parents hovered near as I opened it.

Dad saw the contents and looked disappointed. "It's not blue like ours," he said with a twinkle.

I grinned. "I didn't want to look like Baby Bear."

Features:
  • Removable sleeves and hood. Just unzip.
  • Velcro-tab cuffs. Drawcord at hem.
  • Enough pockets to satisfy this journalist -- space for camera, cellphone, notebook and pencil, a light scarf, and still room to spare.
  • Left-handers, expect a righthand workout, as 5 of the 6 pockets are set on the left side.
Two years ago I sampled Ezibuy's Isobar outdoor/active wear and found the fit wide and short (in short, bad fit) and the quality overpriced. My featured rain jacket is only one of the styles available from Kiwistuff. If their options aren't quite what you're looking for, I suggest you browse the wide range at www.OutbackTrading.com.

I anticipate liking my KiwiStuff rain jacket very much for its adaptability. In New Zealand the wind chill factor is potentially dangerous, so having a windbreaker handy can be vital for one's safety.

On an outing to a nearby town, I dressed for the temperature fluctuations that I've come to expect as normal, with a double-layer t-shirt and delicate scarf topped by my KiwiStuff jacket. When I left home, the outside temperature had dropped to 10 degrees Celcius (50F). When I came home, the warmth of the sun was sufficient to want short sleeves (provided one was out of the wind). To my delight, that jacket was all I needed to keep me comfortable as I was blown about the chilly streets of Woodville.

I can't report on the jacket's water-shedding qualities yet, but I can tell you it has the best hood I've ever worn, shaped to protect without obscuring your view, particularly important if you wear spectacles, and with easy-to-use drawcords -- no more ties getting tangled in cold/wet hands. I find myself eager to be out in the next downpour!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Closet Innovations

Is your storage situation bugging you? Innovations suggests some solutions.

FOLDING LAUNDRY RACK

SEASONAL STORAGE SET

SHOE STORAGE BENCH

EXTENDING SHOE RACK

9 CUBE ORGANISER

STORAGE CABINET

ROLLING PANTRY

SLIMLINE CHEST

Click on the above images to read the details. To order or view online, visit www.innovations.co.nz or www.innovations.com.au.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Clean and Green on St. Patrick's Team

Oh, to be a clean, green colleen on St. Paddy's Day.

Struggling to find something sufficiently green to wear on St. Patrick's Day? How about this spiffy feet treat I found in an old MagnaMail catalogue. ; )

Friday, March 12, 2010

Wearing Wool

Along with a featured garment or two, newCreation Apparel offers "news you can use" in their email updates. As the northern hemisphere edged toward winter chills in 2009, they provided some useful tips on wearing and washing wool fabric.


Now that New Zealand is feeling the first hint of those chills, our minds are turning toward the content of our winter wardrobes. It could be another long, cold winter -- perish the thought! but it's best to be prepared. The fabrics and layers you use could be the key to your comfort.


WOOL GARMENT TIPS
(courtesy of newCreationApparel.com)
  • Invest in a good wool garment. It will serve you for years.
  • Fine wool is naturally insulating, supporting, and resilient, offering great wearability.
  • Wool is comfortable and wrinkle-resistant; it breathes and wicks away moisture from the body.
  • Never bleach wool. Never put wool clothing in a dryer. Never use strong detergent or direct heat when pressing.
  • Best hang in a steamy shower or washroom to refresh a wool garment.


You will find the featured wool garments here, currently discounted between 20% to 40%.

newCreation Apparel is excellent at providing detailed information about the style and fabric content of their garments and how to select the appropriate size, plus an image enlargement option. But if you're not planning on trans-oceanic shopping, take a tip: keep an eye out for wool garments or fabric in stores near you!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Liners

You may be excused for supposing we're still on the travel track. Whether on an ocean-going vessel or a home-town meander, this week's topic should see you comfy for any journey you undertake.

The point is are your jackets or vests warm enough? Are you worried that if you use a warmer fabric, it will prickle you into a rash of discomfort?

Solution: LINE IT!

I LOVE lined jackets, especially those lined with taffeta. It looks and feels luxurious. In winter I love the dichotomy of cool and smooth inside something that's warm and chunky.


Annie Lantz lined this wool mix vest with polar fleece.

Annie Lantz:
Australian Freecall 1800 817 402 / NZ Freecall 0800 722 203

I've lined this corduroy jacket with brushed cotton, the fabric commonly used for winter-weight pyjamas.

I'm going to try buffering a heavy-wale corduroy with polarfleece this winter.

Put some forethought in before you use polarfleece as a lining. Is your outer fabric likely to need pressing after laundering? Cottons usually do. Then polarfleece may not be an ideal inner, the reason being if the outer fabric has a pile (textured, raised surface), such as suede, velvet, and corduroy, it should be pressed on the reverse side.

I'm hoping that the type of corduroy I use will get by with a gentle wash cycle, and perhaps a swipe or two with a steam cleaner. If you're using suede or velvet and really want the polarfleece with it, consider drycleaning rather than a washing machine.

Taffeta Lining

Be aware that close fitting garments may be tricky to get in and out of if the lining doesn't slide over the surface of other garment layers. You're likely to end up with a bunched up sleeve or an additional shoulder blade during application, and a sleeve turned inside out during shedding.

One benefit of taffeta lining is that the taffeta slides easily over everything else.

Want extra warmth and easy application? Use taffeta lining with a good quality, cold-stopping wool or quilted fabric.

Another benefit to lining your garment is that a lining helps keep the shape of the garment. A lined skirt is less likely to 'seat' -- that is, to develop a sag where the wearer sits on it. A lined jacket will help the outer fabric sit smartly and not droop.


This multi-stripe jacket (below) is a stretchy blend of an absolute fistful of textiles, a bulky fabric that ripples and kinks with complete disregard for tailoring. The matching skirt, which I love for its comfort and looks, is lined with taffeta. I wondered, when I brought them home from the shop, why the jacket didn't offer the same courtesy as the skirt, while I tried to make the not-quite-center-rigged, two-button arrangement sit squarely on my chest. I blamed the nylon/spandex and prepared to apply a lining.

Yes, if you're beady eyed, you will have noticed that the jacket has three buttons. I said two-button on purpose. It's a Ballentynes jacket, and Ballentynes garments generally come supplied with an extra button in case you lose one.

I decided to try adding the extra button below the other two, which gave the garment more support, and when I discovered a small inside button on the lapel, everything was much more ship-shape, and definitely a simpler solution to lining it.

With a little wearing, I realized that the stretchy fabric would have needed a lot of pleating in the lining in order to achieve a similar amount of give (ease of movement). The moral of this tale is that while lining is admirable, it's better to check that this is the best solution for the garment in question.

Centre back pleat at jacket yoke. Taffeta lining, faux suede outer.

If you're thinking of applying a lining to an existing garment, here's a tip:

Give your lining a pleat at each shoulder or at centre back, running down the entire length of the garment. Press the pleat, then stitch it at the top and the bottom but leave it open in between. A similar fold is often allowed in the lower sleeve hem and cuff hem.

Centre back pleat at jacket hem.

Above: Showing a lining about to be applied to an existing garment that has a significant stretch factor. The taffeta lining has a pleat (fold of extra fabric) applied at shoulder front and back.

Below: The taffeta lining hem is folded back under itself to meet the suede hem, creating give. The long sleeve seam can also have a pleat applied at the cuff -- a useful trick when you find the inner sleeve is wider than the outer sleeve.


May your wearables line up
in comfort and durability!


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