Sunday, 22 January 2017

Surf to Summit: Men's Edition - A Birthday Gift for my Dad


Here's the evidence of some unselfish sewing I was working away on over the festive period. I actually made two of these Men's Surf to Summit Tops in quick succession as I made a sample one to check the fit on Angus as he and my dad are a similar height and build (tall and skinny) and I wanted my dad's one to be a surprise. Unfortunately for Angus this means that his one is a little less well-executed and is about 2 inches short in the body (although he is 6 foot 2 so don't let this worry you if you're making one up for a man of more average height). Here's my Pa in his one! I'm not actually sure if he's worn it out to cycle in yet, as the temperatures have been steadily dropping below zero since I gave it him at the start of the year.

As it's winter I chose to make this up in microfleece for a bit of extra warmth. I've never worked with it before but other than the fact that it left a lot of fluff on everything it was quite nice and stable to sew with. It definitely has less stretch than the spandex I was also using so I thought assigning it to the main body pieces would be best, as the arms really need extra mobility. I made it up so the fleecy side is outside, I don't know if this is right! I couldn't find too many tips online about this so if anyone knows better please leave a comment. I chose silver spandex for the arms as although it isn't super-reflective, I think it adds a bit of extra visibility for road safety. 

In making my first Surf to Summit for myself I found making the half-zip a bit of a faff so wasn't looking forward to doing it again twice in a row! Practice makes perfect however, and there's nothing better than learning to conquer your fears. A few things that may make it easier for others (it's really not as hard as I'm making it sound) are:
  • Don't worry about marking the stitching and cutting lines for the half-zip placket during the cutting stage. The pattern piece is cut on the fold and you remove the section for the placket in the first step of the instructions, but until you get to that stage you're unlikely to know which bit is going to be the placket so it's a waste of time making markings through both sides when it's only necessary for one piece, which you would only go and cover up with interfacing anyway! Cut, make sure you mark the notches, but only mark the cutting and stitching lines on the placket after you interface it.

  • I also strongly recommend checking your placket placement with a set square before stitching in your zip opening as it's easy to veer off slightly to one side or another and end up with a wonky zip!

I decided to change the steps in attaching the neck facing slightly so that I could overlock around the neck facing and zip placket neatly on the inside. Next time I would go further and reduce the amount of interfacing I use so that it doesn't show after I've trimmed off the excess around the placket.

What I did for the neck facing was:
  • After completing step 13 as instructed, I pinned the neck facing in place in line with the seams but didn't stitch in the ditch there yet. Instead I formed the zip underlap, and then very carefully overlocked from the top of the placket (concealed under the neck facing) around the zip and the underlap, trimming off any excess along the way and securing the underlap in place. When I got to the start of the neck facing on the other side I disengaged my blade and kept going continously around the bottom of the neck facing til I reached the side where I began.

  • My first go at this (on Angus's sample jersey) I didn't manage to catch the edges of the zip tape on either side of the placket so I had to stitch in the ditch along the sides of the zip from the outside as instructed, but on my second go on Dad's jersey I dared to go closer which meant I could forego stitching in the ditch by the zip, so a neater finish outside and in! I then stitched in the ditch as instructed on step 14 to secure the facing along the shoulder seams and a short way down one side of the zip that didn't have the underlap.

I hope that makes sense! I didn't get construction pictures as I went as I was sewing fiercely to a deadline, but I'm much happier with the finish of this than I was with the one I made for myself. Doing two cycle jerseys in quick succession I definitely saw my skills and execution improve rapidly, next time I make myself some activewear and I'm confident with the fit I think I might make two things side-by-side as it is way more efficient.

Other tips:
  • Don't cut your notches too deep! I stupidly cut mine as though I were making a garment with a woven 5/8” seam allowance instead of the 3/8” and did have to end up reinforcing a few places with handstitching where the nick ended up too close to the seam.

  • I ended up using a sewing machine for FOE elastic attaching, zip insertion and attaching the neck facing and hemming the sleeves, and I needed to use 3 feet; my regular foot (for the FOE stages), my zip foot for zip and placket sewing accuracy, and my walking foot for everything else that needed a sewing machine. Straightforward seams were done on the overlocker.
  • One thing fitwise to watch out for is the armsyce. One both my own jersey and Angus's one we found this to be too close to the armpit. My dad's one seemed to be fine so it's obviously a personal fit thing and can be tweaked easily even after the garment is finished using the overlocker.  

This seems to fit Dad pretty well at the chest and shoulders, although perhaps I could have taken it in a size for the waist and hips, and maybe made the sleeves a tiny bit longer. Overall though I'm quite pleased with this and hope it gets lots of use on his daily urban hill rides. Now to make a more polished version for myself - hopefully there's enough of that silver left!

NorseOtter xx


  1. Nice - very useful as I am about to make this top again but with the zip.
    I think the fleecy side goes inside (for warmth) and the non-fleecy side is outward facing. That is how all my RTW examples are made.

    1. Hi Rena!
      Thanks, I hope you find my experiences useful and yours goes really well!
      I was worried that might be the case with the microfleece,oh well! It'll still be snug and I can improve on the next go!