I have lived in Canada since the mid 1980’s (having come from Australia via Hong Kong) so have slowly adopted clothing suitable for this Northern climate. That means more sweaters (or jumpers in Aussie slang) including a Cowichan sweater that my mum knitted, a puffy vest, hiking boots (because I have 2 active dogs) and the ubiquitous rain jacket. What has been sadly missing is a garment made in the (apparently) very Canadian red and black buffalo check.

How this has become something of a traditionally Canadian fashion statement, I’m not sure. From the internet research I have done, it seems to reference back to the lumberjacks of the early 19th century. Think Paul Banyan (except he is American). Interesting side note, the term lumberjack is of Canadian derivation.

Since this red and black check design is the Rob Roy tartan, maybe it came to Canada via the Scottish immigrants who became lumberjacks. Other internet sources say the buffalo plaid originated from the American company, Woolrich Woolen Mills which began producing the red and black buffalo check shirt around 1850. No matter, when the shop received a red and black buffalo check in an acrylic and wool blend (made in China), I felt a garment from this fabric had to be made.

The pattern I chose to make was McCalls 7202. Option B no less!

It is a poncho design with optional hood or collar with extended ties. I chose to make the hooded version in a size Medium. According to my measurements, I should have made Large, but decided the style was roomy enough for me to get away with a Medium.

It is an easy pattern to follow. If you wish to match the check design, you will definitely need to calculate extra yardage. I did find that the pattern pieces were slightly too wide for the fabric. The body pattern pieces, even when placed on the fold, were 3cm too wide for the fabric. I ended up shortening the poncho length by 5cm. This observation has not appeared by other reviewers of this pattern.

I did end up using a narrow bias tape to finish the neckline. The seam allowance was too narrow with the thickness of the fabric to fold down twice and finish.

Did you know of this neat trick to turn a point in thick fabric? Such as turning the point of the facing and hem? Instead of stitching a regular right angle, clipping the corner and turning it out, take the edge off the point. Also use a smaller stitch length so when you do trim, the small stitches will keep the fabric from fraying out.

To give yourself a guide, you can stitch the right angle. This is where the front facing intersected with the hem allowance.
Here I stitched the angle. Once you cut off the corner, the angle will give the fabric more room to sit.

Because the buttons I chose were bigger than my buttonhole maker from my Janome sewing machine, I had to make the buttonholes the “old” way – by sewing 2 narrow lines of zigzag stitching close together with a wider zigzag stitch across the bottom and top of these lines. I also used backer buttons behind the fashion buttons. Although not necessary, I find the backer buttons useful on heavier weight fabric garments since you can pull on the garment when buttoning and unbuttoning.

A quick and easy garment to sew. Now all I need are some sled dogs (my dogs are an Aussie shephard and a Border Collie) and an igloo! Eh!

I haven’t got the buttons on yet!

Because I was on a red and black buffalo check kick, I decided I would make some little fabric shoes for my new nephew with this fabric. Well, not so new as he is now 7 months and 20lbs (9kgs). Since babies seem to grow quickly, I searched for and found these toddler sized, Tom’s-inspired shoes by homemadetoast. Easy instructions, lots of pictures to guide you and fun to make! The nephew has to grow a little more, but it won’t be long! And it’s a great way to use up scraps.

Interesting reading sources:

Canadian Fashion Stereotypes

How Stereotypically Canadian Is Your Wardrobe?

The first mention of LUMBERJACKS

Buffalo Plaid: Its Origins


Rob Roy Tartan

Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Outfits