One of the first things people ask me when I tell them I make my own parkas is, "Where do you buy sewing supplies in Iqaluit?" The answer: Baffin Electronics. Now don't let the name fool you; Baffin Electronics has been catering to Iqaluit's seamstresses and tailors for over 15 years (and yes, they do also sell electronics). Read on to see photos of my fourth parka creation, and find out the who, what, where, and how much of parka sewing supplies.
Parka N°4: This one's for me!
All photos by Ornab Momin (my brother!).
Yes, after sewing a parka for everyone (read: my boyfriend) and their dogs (read: my dogs), I finally finished one for myself! A simple pullover like Justin's, but with a few twists. First, the jacket's exterior is made of Gore-Tex, a high-grade, waterproof, windproof fabric. Second, this parka features my very favourite hood design, called kukukpaa. It's a pointy, elven design that is both adorable and functional! From what I've been told, the kukukpaa hood and back must be made from one single piece of fabric. This minimizes waste and more importantly, because there is no seam between the hood piece and the back piece, makes the entire parka resistant to tearing. Just in case anyone wants to grab you by the kukukpaa if you fall through the ice.
The Who and the Where
If the words "hallofil" and "space tech" don't mean anything to you, then you should probably pay the folks at Baffin Electronics a visit. John and Sue, the store's owners, are all-round sewing stars, though they each have their areas of expertise (sewing machine repair for John, quilting for Sue).
The What: Glossary of Parka-Sewing Terminology
A Nunavut parka is generally made out of a few layers of different fabrics, namely:
Commander: A poly-cotton blend that is wind- and water-resistant. It's used on the exterior of a jacket.
Gore-Tex: Brand-name, high-tech fabric that is waterproof and windproof. It can be used as the exterior shell in lieu of Commander.
Thinsulate: Also called "space tech," it's silver on one side and white on the other. This thermal material is used as interlining, meaning it is sewn between the outer fabric and the lining.
Hollofil: A polyester fibre that provides the insulation and lining of the parka. It comes in varying weights and styles.
Winter parkas are usually made up of three layers: Commander (outer shell), Thinsulate (interlining), and hollofil (lining). In my experience, it is rare to find these items in Southern sewing stores. I do, however, regularly buy trim and other sewing accessories while travelling!
The How Much: Cost Breakdown of a DIY Parka
Spoiler alert: DIY parkas are cheap. Prices below are correct as of October 27, 2014, based on Baffin Electronics' quote:
Commander: $15.95/m Gore-Tex: $24.98/m Thinsulate: $12.98/m 6 oz. hollofil: $15.98/m 8 oz. hollofil: $17.98/m 8 oz. hollofil with built-in windproofing: $29.23/m
On average, you will need two to three metres of fabric for each layer (two is generally enough). That means that Justin's parka cost about $94 to make, not including the trim, cuffs, and thread (throw in a generous $20) and the fur (add in another $50-75 for half a coyote pelt). My red parka cost a bit more, because I used Gore-Tex, coming to a whopping total of $114 (plus another $70 for the fur and other details). Yes, that's right: a winter coat that will keep you warm at -40C but will put you out only $170-200*. Compare that to Canada Goose prices and you have another reason to do it yourself.
*Note that this is just the cost of materials and does not include payment for the pattern design, labour, and skills required to make a parka.
Baffin Electronics is open Monday to Friday from 08:30 to 18:00 and Saturdays from 08:30 to 17:00. And they're open through lunch!