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Outdoor Fabrics from an Outdated Stash

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It happened in a matter of a few years: my fabulous outdoor wear stash is hopelessly outdated.

As some of you have deduced I have an extensive stash of technical fabrics from PolarTec LLC, which was still called Malden Mills when I purchased them prior to the 2007 buyout and are now not the latest and greatest in outdoor fabrics technology.

In order to find out which fabrics would be most useful for early Spring gardening chores in keeping out wind/rain and for kneeling or sitting in soggy soil I have done some research on the newest PolarTec fabrics and would love to have the new NeoShell fabric in the stash.

Here’s a rundown on NeoShell used in the new stretch Neo jackets offered by retailer Rab. Terry Abraham, backpacker extraordinaire, has an extensive blog review of his NeoShell jacket performed. Sounds good, doesn’t it?

Apparently, the industry standard is “eVent”. A pair of eVent rain pants from REI sells for $189 But I understand that the eVent fabric makes crinkly-crumply sounds when it’s worn. So, being a loyal MM/PolarTec customer I lust after the stretchy and quiet NeoShell. Discovery Trekking Outfitters in Canada sells it and many other wonderful PolarTec fabrics.

Here in online US I found minimal sources for anything beyond fleeces: has PolarTec fabrics as does And of course you might try the PolarTec fabric outlet Mill Direct Textiles but I didn’t see anything remotely new and revolutionary in their online stock but they might know who is retailing their more technical fabrics. Maybe.

But here’s what I have, all are outdated prototypes of these fabrics: WindPro, Windbloc, PowerStretch, PowerDry and numerous fleece varieties. My fabrics are older versions and I could find no photos that reflected what I actually find in the stash. Nothing I have is truly water proof so I can count on soggy knees and derriere. I did find a length of an early GoreTex that can serve as a ground cover I move around with me as I work.


I also have another 1980’s type of workout suit fabric that was supposed to be “water resistant”. Hmmm, it not at all resistant, it started absorbing water immediately

Water Resistant?  No, not so much!

Glad I tested it before I used it on soggy ground 🙂 Out it goes! It’s so outdated I will feel no remorse in tossing it, rather than making a trip to the Good Will donation bin.

And, of course, there’s always the old plastic sheet or a garbage bag for a ground cloth. I’d prefer to use something that can be thrown into the washing machine with the rest of the muddy clothes like the GoreTex.

I haven’t decided which I’d like best: a bib and a number of polar fleece tops or a whole covering like a true overall.

Rosie’s Workwear has some cute ideas, including the use of velcro for quick shedding of muddy clothes. I love the facings on the cuffs and collar, don’t you? Rosie’s coveralls are not waterproof or even water resistant but they are designed to be worn over a whole set of clothes, hence they are “overalls”. For $80 I could buy a pair of water resistant, UV blocking pants from Patagonia But I’d be out an amount of money and still have these other fabrics in the stash. I think I’d better choose stash over the new stuff or my stash will soon rate with the dinosaurs in fabric development history.

I have 3 yards of an awesomely thick wool with poly/cotton as the weft yarn that is far more water resistant than Windbloc Power Dry described below. The tightly woven wool is super at resisting water!

cotton wool mix

but after an hour or more the droplets suddenly vanished and all that was left was a wet spot

Wet Spot

I hesitate to use it though, since once wool becomes too dirty is grows less water resistant. I may cut pair of bibs from it just the same and be careful with getting it too dirty. I did throw a 6″ x 6″ swatch of it into the washer with other fabrics and washed it in cold water: it shrank .5″ in length, none in width and came out so soft and yummy.

I tested the Windbloc PowerDry and it absorbed the water droplets within approximately 15 minutes but the moisture could barely be felt on the inner side of the fabric. It will absorb sweat away from the body and is super soft and stretchy and dries by hanging in 2 hours or so. It will be excellent at blocking the cold winds. Here it is. The lighter, fuzzy side is the side to be next to the skin so it will be super comfortable and might make up into a wonderful set of bibs.

Windblock PowerDry

Well, I’ve done my research and I have made no hard decisions yet since it seems I must make compromises when using any of the stash fabrics. So now I need to come up with the pattern and pick the first fabric to cut.

More soon!


About Mary Beth

I am fascinated by changing patterns and colored threads. I sew garments and am teaching myself to machine knit. Since selling the building that housed my workrooms, The Stitchery, I'm searching for a place to set up the knitting machines again. There must be room here somewhere!

12 responses »

  1. thanks for the Canadian link… I will check them out!

  2. MB – Do you think the WindBloc would be good as a coat lining for a cold windy climate? I have a gorgeous violet wool in my stash, a coat pattern I like, but using regular lining fabric would absolutely not work in the winters here.

    While the temps don’t drop to frigid (30/40 during the day) the wind makes it much colder.

    • Oh my goodness, Suz, yes! I made two bathrobes made from it and DH’s is too warm for him. I stole it. It’s warm and it absolutely stops wind. For a lining I’d get a thinner version.

  3. Thanks for the great research and links. I have quite a stash of PowerDry and PowerStretch. You have convinced me to stop being a hoarder just use it already! (so I can, er, enjoy newer fabrics!)

    • The PowerDry makes glorious tee shirts. I use a narrow zigzag stitch and press it. It holds the press in a neck band really nicely! The PowerStretch is great for leggings too, Leah

  4. You might want to try re-waterproofing the garments with a product called Nik-Wax. I have used to to make some Myrcra Pac jacket more water resistant . I was not wearing them anyplace with heavy snow or rain, but is seemed to help.

    • Waterproofing is a good idea, Rose. However with a technical fabric the insulating and wicking abilities would be damaged and the fabric would not be able to “breath”.

  5. That wool is rather nice if it keeps out water for an hour. Maybe you could try it as a fashion rain coat rather than overalls. And is that bottom fabric orange? That might make for some awkward moments if you make an orange overall. Just my thoughts. Maybe you could try a laminated cotton like Amy Butler advertises? Those prints are really fun and pretty.

    • Teresa, I think that if you could see these fabrics in person you might have a different read on them. The wool is almost as thick as melton and has a very “homespun” look to it. Washing it really makes it much more soft and pliable and I’m glad for that. The seller suggested that it should be used in a “Reenactment” situation e.g., Civil War trousers, etc. It’s a tough-as-nails type of fabrication. The second fabric is not orange but a light brown and creamy white. The interior lighting and my closeup setting on my point and shoot camera really change the colors. This second fabric is a poly knit, very soft, slightly stretchy and drape-y, but also thicker than even a double knit. Technical fabric technicalities 🙂


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