Vulpine Mitt [lobsterclaw]

Vulpine Adaptive is a company that makes highly regarded cold weather gear for cyclists. At the moment it is hard to find them via the internet; you can either go to SnowTrekkerTents and find a link to EmpireCanvasWorks who apparently is now owned by Vulpine, or you can go to Icebike and read a little about the Vulpine Mitt. An actual Vulpine adaptive location may only be accessible via the telephone, or perhaps, the Vulpine name is now Empire Canvas Works (even though the Snow Trekker Tent site says that Empire Canvas Works was sold to Vulpine?). Both ends of the story claim to be located (physically) in Duluth, Minnesota. [Shortly afterwards Empire Canvas Works was declared the place to go for further information regarding the Vulpine name, Kevin Kinney is the person behind this and does keep his company in Duluth. For a short article on Kevin and his work – from another site – read MnBicycleCommuter]

Anyhow, a Vulpine Mitt was delivered for a hem job recently*. These are big mitts, with insulation in mind and thermal capacities stretched to the limits of cold weather protection, so cutting down the two fingers and thumb would not be as simple as cutting across and tacking the ends back together – undermining the designs integrity. The mitts have this three finger design to create a hybrid glove/mitten, which allows for maximum insulation and uses the two fingers together to create their own warmth, without sacrificing all the fingers dexterity (like that of a full mitten) and allowing your index and middle finger to control braking and shifting on the bike**. After looking at them – folding them inside out, and right side in again a few times – the shears came out and 3″ long incision was cut in the inside liner (made of pile fleece), length wise in relation to the arm. Figuring that the mitts are made to be tighter around the wrists and expand and contract from there (to keep the snow out, but let you get your arm in), it made more sense to make the incision perpendicular to this so that it would not work against this motion – after it is sewn back together and becomes slightly (very slightly) more stiff (pushing against the stretch).

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After the incision, the mitts are turned inside out completely and hemming*** begins. The next step was to un-stitch (seam rip) the fingers around the tips and at least an inch further towards the vertex (crotch) of the fingers on the longer sides. Then cutting about 3/4″ off of the top and bottom panels of the fingers, the length of material that wraps around the two panels (creating the wall-like structure that basically supports the top and bottom panels) could be approximated. Once this was determined, that piece met it’s other half again and was sewn to a make a complete half circle (or half-finger-shapen circle). Why the mitt does not use a single piece of fabric to go along the sides of the fingers is unknown, possibly that would be the normal case, but in this instance the material ran short, so another piece had to be spliced in to complete the routed path. Or, as it is now clear, determining that length takes a bit of guessing, so having the material start from the outside of the fingers and traveling in is easier, because you can chop it at it’s best place for fitting (making up for small inaccuracies in the top and bottom panels patterns which could adversely affect how long the side panel needs to be every time the mitt goes together). Next the top was sewn back into place as was the bottom along the newly measured radius, this completed the outer mitt. The inside liner was made out of three panels per finger so that was a bit easier and did not require seem ripping, instead one new seem was stitched in and then, the excess out side of that was cut off. The inside liner hem was strange in that the pattern seems to be flat, yet it expands very easily to take on a kind of “A” frame shape. After the inside liner was hemmed up the mitt was turned right side out again, the incision closed up and it was ready for the winter again.

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*These mitts were not made on this machine – they (the fingers) were only hemmed for a better fit – to the person’s hand who purchased them.

**The origin of the lobster-claw shape is not known at this time, but a company by the name of PearlIzumi is thought to have coined the phrase when they introduced the first mass-produced cycling lobster-claw with shifting and braking in mind without losing as much thermal qualities as you would with a traditional glove.

***Again, these mitts were not devised and made on the Brother DB2-B791-015. They were sent to have the fingers hemmed down to fit the owners hands better.

The Teflon Foot

This is the Teflon foot. It is shaped like a regular foot – no gate/guide. It is made out of Teflon and slides over any material that may be too sticky to work on with a regular foot, causing the material to bind up or the stitching to get stuck in one place and leave you having to tug away – or push – on the machine and the materials. It is good for leather, rubber, PVC coated nylons, and was also advantageous for the Dow Weathermate material which has a soft side and a coated side (the coated side being very sticky against the normal presser foot). This particular Teflon foot has been ground out just like the rest of the feet for the Brother DB2-B791-o15, the slot has been widened and lengthened to accommodate the needle-feed motion.

smocking

The smock is a slightly more abstract endeavor. It is a shop/project/activation/wellness/building designed to increase our everyday comfort through form and function (for the Brother function preceding form in these initial instances).

The object-as-smock begins with Andrea Zittel and her fellow smockers in Los Angeles (see – www.smockshop.org) and continues from there to all areas of art/design, culture, and textiles. Considering some of these smocks have been made on this machine, we will discuss it briefly here. Because the Brother DB2-B791-015 has been a kind of testing ground for materials which may suit function more than form (this of course applies to all the whereabouts of this machines production) – and considering that the smock is inherently more useful than it is decoration (temporarily at least – as you will see), this (the smocking) was/is a good testing place for the materials and how well they reacted to the machine, fitting over forms, taking form, and resisting form, becoming function, disavowing function, or creating new functions*.

For closure, some of the smocks use a traditional interlocking buckle, some “D” rings, and some of them use a quick clip – which is somewhere between an alligator clip and a slide-loc. Each smock ties together in the front, but under the front panel using a light material.

*As you can see in the text – sewing/building with textiles – becomes an easily confusing endeavor when you put form and function side by side, it is quite circular no matter how many times you cut it.

(The following text has been omitted as crucial to the post. It only discusses the earliest smocks and is therefore connected, but slightly under-sighted. “…So far the Brother has been used to build six of these peculiar articles, in three phases. The first four were a result from building the initial courier bag (“V” Bag) that came from the street banner material and the tarping. Going with this, new tarping was sourced out and used as the outer shell for these initial four, two of which were lined with a drop-cloth (the kind that house painters use) material, one of which was lined with denim, and another lined with a stretch/suit-like material (plaid patterned). Once these four were built, two were sent off for the smockshop, and two remained for further alterations – mainly incorporating exterior pockets out of the left over scraps, which had an odd shape that called to be used. The last two smocks were the initial endeavor into the Dow Weathermate material. With these the idea was to keep it simple and create lightweight smocks that are very water-repellent and also able to release underlying/building vapors. They went together well and the Teflon foot worked like a charm on the sticky surface of the Dow material.”)