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Nov 11, 2015

Neoprene Updates!

Now that my silver jeans are done, I'm thinking about my neoprene project again.

I've been making a lot of stitching samples, with both my serger, which handles the thick neoprene with ease, and my Bernina 930.  Today, I discovered that with a size 18 needle, I can even embroider on my neoprene, which is a nice option:

Yesterday I visited my favorite store, Dover Street Market, for some inspiration.

I saw some beautiful boiled wool coats made by Harris Wharf London.  These were for women but they make similar styles for men. What I noticed was that nearly all the seams were lapped, the raw edges left unfinished, and even the front facings were simply two layers of fabric sewn together: no turning.  I think this technique would work extremely well with my neoprene and leave me the option of using more complicated patterns, which initially I had ruled out (i.e., anything with a facing or a notched collar).

Not a great photo of this cuff, but the edges are raw, the sleeve unlined, and the seams simply sewn and trimmed.  The sleeve tab is simply two layers of wool sewn together, no turning inside out and topstitching.

More seam detail shots:

The shoulder seam is also lapped all the way around.

This morning I tried a similar lapped seam with my neoprene.  The black foam layer that peeks out (my neoprene is double-faced with purple nylon on one side and blue on the other) would simply be a design element.  Naturally, I would need to cut my edges with great precision.

I've ruled out making any coat that's too androgynous or avant-garde in shape; I want to wear this garment on a regular basis.  Right now I'm leaning toward two possibilities: either a men's overcoat (like the one immediately below by Harris Wharf) or a parka (like the second shot, by Neil Barrett).

At Dover Street Market I saw quite a few neoprene coats, hoodies, and sweatshirts.  The blue Prada women's coat (below) is more of a mid-weight scuba knit than a true neoprene.  The photo shows wide topstitching on a patch pocket (and a perfectly matched button).

I was also interested in how other designers handled heavy neoprene.  On some garments, a sleeve or hem was handled with a facing, which was then turned under and blind-hemmed.  Sometimes zippers were sewn directly onto the top of a pocket.  Or raw edges were serged and left exposed.

Inside cuff shows facing which is then blind-hemmed.

Exposed pocket zipper.

I'm glad I have enough neoprene to experiment with different seams and seam finishes.  Since my garment won't be interfaced or lined, my hunch is I'm going to spend more time making samples than working on the garment itself.  But who knows?

Regardless, it's fun to experiment with something new to me.

Have a great day, everybody!


  1. I just made a skirt out of neoprene from Mood, but it was a dark floral and thin. Yours looks much thicker than mine. I LOVED your jeans and I think this is going to be a fabulous piece. I can't wait!

  2. Didn't know you were a fan of Dover Street Market! I always stop by (just to gawk) every time I'm in NY.

  3. With your snoop shopping and making samples, this coat is sure to be wonderful!

  4. Since you first posted about the neoprene, I too have been trying to think of what would work well when made from it. Just now, something about your last photograph gave me a vision of a blazer, in the style of a classic navy blazer. Still with all the edge treatments you're describing. Thoughts?

  5. I think you're on track with simple, creative, clean finishes. Would be great to have it be reversible as well.

  6. "Other designers" ha-ha. I made some Hudson pants with a thin printed neoprene. I think the exposed zipper pocket is the coolest thing you have showed us today. I walked through Zara the other day to look at their coats, and they had several that had the outlayer and facing fused together after sewing. Seems tricky to do.

  7. I recognize the technique on those boiled wool coats. I did something similar when I made my boiled wool cape ( ) two years ago. It works well for bulky materials which can't really be ironed into submission. Of course, as you mentioned, it would expose the inside foam of the neoprene so in this case, it requires careful planning and cutting.

  8. I love the wool coat and parka examples. The neoprene reminds me of a heavy felt. I've seen where the seams and edges of garments are bound with either a matching binding or a contrasting one on heavy fabrics. I've seen edges covered with a stretchy fabric which hugs the edges better. It's a lot more work but may be an idea. I like the stitches your machine can do on the fabric it looks like they can handle the thickness.

  9. I am trying to remember which japanese designer did those enormous shaped neoprene coats a few years back.
    Be careful. It has Absolutely No Drape At All. My only experience with clothing with it is with wetsuits (and gluing works).
    Like sewing a sweat lodge.

  10. I'm curious to see what fabric you would use for the muslin........obviously it would have to be something thicker or with a lot of body to get an accurate feel for what you have in mind. The waiting is killing us but take your time!! p.s Test......I'm still on it! Lol!

  11. I am intrigued to see how your jacket will turn out. I think that neoprene woulld be too hard (for me) to sew. I love your samples. I like both of your possible jackets very much, especially No.2. Xx

  12. Looks really fantastic! Do you sell your work anywhere?

    1. As of right now I only do custom work as opposed to making them first and selling them.

  13. I am completely obsessed with neoprene right now. Have some great cropped smart trousers and a sweatshirt both in black. Both have a great line to them and are quite sculptural. Plus with the bit of stretch that they have they are crazy comfortable too. I feel like a Jetson when I wear them which is an added bonus. Looking forward to seeing how this turns out for you. Inspirational as ever ������


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