Fix this: mitten contest pt 5

Here are the last two entries of the mitten contest (review entries one, two, three and four). As luck (or cold weather) would have it, both of these are from our friends in Canada. First up is Michele Reid followed by Patricia Jones.

My name is Michele Reid, I live in Cremona, Alberta (near Calgary), and I am a total newbie to professional patternmaking, production, etc. I am a long-time home sewer who has felt since Grade 9 that I was being lied to, or that things were hidden from me – I ordered your book in December, and of course it clarified so much and opened a whole new world for me! I only started reading your blog after reading the entire book (and yes, if anyone wants dinner they have to listen to me going on and on about it …:), so I didn’t see the mitten contest until the last posting about it.

I was interested in the idea of mittens because about 5 years ago I saw a picture of some heavily embroidered velvet and satin mittens which were given by Queen Elizabeth 1 to one of her ladies-in-waiting, and they stayed in my mind because it seemed bizarre to make mittens from such odd fabrics (mittens seeming somehow casual). I also wanted to try out the unusual thumb, because I have never had a pair of mittens that had a thumb that fit.

Anyway – here is my entry. I first made it up in polar fleece, to see if it worked (and include a photo because it shows the thumb better), and then used cotton velveteen and glove leather for the final pair. I used designs from my Brother home embroidery machine for the embroidery. The hardest part about the sewing was getting over my home-sewer desire to hand-sew when things get difficult – I did manage it, however, and only hand-sewed the beads on the front wrist. It was a great exercise!

Here is Patricia’s entry:

I just read about your mitten project and wished I had seen it earlier. I have been sick for some months now and when I read your mitten post, I quickly remembered my anguish over finding a mitten pattern that did not make my hands feel prisoned, kept me warm in this Canadian prairie cold weather, and look pretty enough to go with my Lundstrom-like parka (I wanted a different appearance but used the same materials for the outer shell and up-graded the inner parker with better tailored features such as lining and insulation). Working with altered patters from several retail pattern companies, I merged them into one to make my parka.

I did the same with the mittens, but found that the pattern at this site (pdf) worked the best for me in terms of comfort and fit. I also reviewed two other patterns. After trying the traditional American Native Indian type mittens, I opted to work with the first pattern.

What I did with the first pattern to change it to make it more suited to my needs was:

  • Made the outside part one separate pattern piece to match the inside piece and included a seam allowance. The outer mit was made of Loden wool
  • I also trimmed the original measurements to match my hand size and thumb location
  • I added an elastic casing to the wrist and added more length to the overall finish
  • The thumb seam on the inside was flat locked
  • For the lining, I made of similar colour polar fleece as the Loden wool and assembled as the outer mitten only I added an extra 2 inch cuff of contrasting colour and no elastic casing was needed.

I want to make several of these until I get it perfect. Materials I want to try later: wind-block fleece; leather (I love leather but I am saving my piece for moccasins); loden wool combined with a knitted insert; nylon wind-proof outer shell and heavier polar fleece and 3M insulation.

Thanks to everyone who participated. I’ll be announcing the winner soon. The prize is a copy of The Entrepreneur’s Guide. Also, be thinking of an appropriate project for our next contest.

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  1. Big Irv says:

    I can almost guarantee that the pair of black embroidered “mittens” shown by Michele will somehow find their way into someone’s line debuting at SIA OR NSIA (Snow Industry Associations). And they will be accompanied with a style # with a descriptive referring to Queen Elizabeth gifting them to her lady in waiting.

    Those are one awesome pair of mittens.They would go with any nice outfit in Gstaad or Chamonix. Very royal. And very saleable too.

  2. Noel Alvarez says:

    I Agree!
    The first thing I thought of was the Hollywood type ski areas out west (U.S.) where beautiful people like Jennifer Lopez and the Trumps vacation and attend those film festivals. I say get started on your ski area boutique list and warm up that Brother sewing machine.

    Beautiful work Michele!

  3. Sue W. says:

    Both pairs of mittens look warm and comfortable. If I were caught in a snowstorm, Patricia, I’d want to have yours to see me through.
    Michele, your mitts look like they should have belonged to Queen Elizabeth I! I’m thrilled to hear you are from the prairies:-) So were my parents and about fifty cousins. You reinforce my theory that prairie life develops ingenuity and creativity. Kudos on your beautiful, practical mitts. I, too, think you should consider producing them in tiny quantities, at an appropriate breath-taking price point. I’d love to see a pic with your Lundstrom-style coat. Thank you for the wonderful inspiration.
    Sue W.

  4. J C Sprowls says:

    Wow! Michele’s mittens are gorgeous!

    The pattern is complex; but, proven & optimized. The embellishment is in harmony with the silhouette, design, pattern, and fabric selections.

    An excellent job, indeed. And, I agree with Big Irv, they are saleable and producible. Get thee to a boutique and a contractor, lady!

  5. Alyssa says:

    Oh Noo! The pattern link you provided can not be found- do you have a pdf on file that you could send me?
    I have been trying for three winters now and have yet to find a comfortable mitten pattern. Getting desperate now

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