Friday, December 19, 2014

Boot Binder Sleepsack Part I - Patterns and Prototypes

The Plan: to integrate the boot binder foot pocket into a complete-enclosure sleepsack.
The first boot binder prototype.
I've been working many hours lately on a sleepsack with an integrated boot-binder foot pocket - one of my "10 projects." The idea is to have sleeves that position the arms behind the back (as opposed to along the sides of the body, as with most of the sleepsacks I've completed so far) because I really wanted to emphasize the smallness of the model's waist, and create a really elongated look. Plus, how sexy is it going to be that she's in the sack with her boots on? Very sexy! To me, at least...

The foot pocket creates a pretty complex shape. It holds the legs together tightly and creates a small pocket for the heels. 

I begin with the pattern for an existing sleepsack. I have to integrate the pattern for the boot binder pocket into the sack, at just the right position. 

I found that with the model's arms in an armbinder, the waist could actually be made a bit tighter. They take up less room within the sack when they're behind her back than they would at her sides. Of course, my model thinks I'll take any excuse to make something tighter. I can't really argue with her on that one...
The image below shows the 4 foot-pocket shapes pretty clearly. The extended straight toe of the front panel, the heel extended on the rear panel, the toe piece which also creates the side of the foot pocket, and the bottom piece which forms part of the heel pocket as well. 
Once I got the pattern to where I was happy with it, I start sewing the pieces to create the prototype out of red vinyl. (Side note: She liked the red so much I decided to make the final in red for her as well!)
Even though I don't worry about gluing down the seam allowance, I still topstitch the seams to make them lay flat. I don't want to torture my model too much... Otherwise she may stop playing with me altogether. 
All the darts and other design elements get stitched. 
One tricky part is getting the piece near the foot pocket to align. You can get into trouble with precision alignment along long seams with leather, as it stretches and moves as you sew it. It's always best to design with this idea in mind, as it can create asymmetry in you final piece if you're not careful. 
I'm trying to make sure all 3 pieces come together on this one before I start sewing. 
But it's a tricky connection: Go to far, and you have a pucker. Don't go far enough, and you can end up with a gap. You definitely don't want either. 
Spoiler alert: I found a better way to do this. But I'll save that story for later. 
At this point, you can see the seams aligned pretty well. The heel pocket and side panel look just about right. See the lines lining up? 
One of the hardest things I do is sewing 2 differently shaped curved pieces to each other. The toe-pocket in particular had some tight curves that proved to be challenging. The best strategy is to keep the seam allowance on both pieces as consistent as possible. That way you can tell if they're lining up or not as you are going along. 
Coming along...
I found at this point some areas where the pattern needed adjusting. This is exactly why you test things out, and proof the pattern before making it in leather. Edits get made directly to the paper pattern. Immediately (before I forget). 
Lots of clips are employed to hold the bottom of the foot pocket in place. 
And after sewing...
This is looking pretty good. 
Starting to come together...
Now for the rear closure. 
Just need to clip and sew a couple of inches at the bottom. 
Then set in the zipper, and topstitch in place. 
...and yes. Looks pretty cool!
Cut to a few days later, and we've had a time to try it on. So, how did it go? Let's just say it was super-tight. I actually got it zipped up, but not without a struggle, and promise of a future shopping excursion. 
Even with a vinyl that could stretch, there was some seams that needed adjusting. The bonus of using red: it made it easy to mark notes on the actual prototype. 
Of course, this prompted a bout of itching on behalf of our long-suffering model, which meant I had to work quickly in order to not incur her wrath. It's bad enough that the vinyl is smelly, and doesn't breathe... That's why: no pictures. I had to get done and get her out. 
The good news is: prototype #1 gave lots of great feedback. 
I had a set of precise instructions for edits to the pattern. 
And best of all: the foot pocket fit perfectly. Or at least as close to perfect as I can make it. 
More to come...


  1. What a nice surprise to be part way through reading and suddenly to realise it's red. Dont know why but quite a shock.

    1. This vinyl actually is a really nice deep red. Unfortunately, it's hard to find it in genuine leather, but I managed to find something pretty good.