The Peak Oil Company

The Peak Oil Company

Unique and durable clothing and equipment.

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Our new sewing machine - beast zoje

We can't even pronounce its name, that's how beastly this thing is. We're scared of it! Its foot stamps down, and it punches through layers of canvas like it were butter. When its on, the lights dim and flicker, and it growls. And that's just the girl in the picture! We don't even have words to describe how frightening the sewing machine is!

We bought this machine from MJC Sewing Machines in Brunswick. Florencio Garcia has been great to deal with. Honest, no fuss, knows his stuff, and fair prices.

We're going to use this machine for our prototyping.

Testing Peak Oil Jacket prototypes

At last, we had the opportunity to test the 2 prototype jackets in snow and blizzard conditions out back of Mount Hotham Victoria. Here's a video we made on phones, from the 2 days skiing testing:

So what did we learn?

We first pulled one of the jackets out of the bag when we stopped to put chains on the car. Yep, being canvas we could confidently chuck the jacket down in the mud and rocks, and not worry about pressing a hole in it.

Our first day was spent resort skiing. We're happy to confirm both prototypes kept us warm, dry and protected, including on the slow lift rides over the ridge and into the howling southerly that blew all day.

The unworn surface of the oiled canvas seemed to catch and hold the needle and stella snow flakes a bit, compared to the plastic jackets around us, but we suspect that's because the jacket was new, with the surface being kinda furry. By the end of the second day, we noticed the surface was starting to get that signature shine of a worn oilskin, and snow fell away.

The Riri Aqua zips worked beautifully! They set, glide and unset effortlessly. Easily the best waterproof zip out there. We'll change the placement of the zip though. We thought to end the front zip at the neckline, leaving the studs and plackets to close the neck, and keep it free and flexible. We wanted to avoid that slight stiffness that a zip can bring to the neck, but we concede this is not a big enough problem to warrant loosing the ease of the zip. In future makes, for the jackets that have the Riri Aqua zips, we'll place them up over the neck, and leave off the plackets and studs.

The difference between the Peak Oil Jacket prototype 2 and 3 is in the sleeve. On the 2 we set the sleeve in, meaning a seam runs over the shoulder and under the arm. On the 3 we used a raglan sleeve, where the seams run up to the neckline. We think the raglan fits better and offers more freedom of movement, but we'd like to work a bit more on the set-in sleeve, and experiment with a removable sleeve design.

The pockets. We reckon 4 pockets on the front is overkill. We didn't use the 2 lower pockets at all, and the vertical zip was difficult to manage. Either we'll leave off the lower pockets, or rethink their placement to reflect the rarity of their use. The two breast pockets where very useful though, and the vertical Aqua zips made them easy to access with a pack on.

The hoods covered well, and in these conditions they're a must have - both fully on, or half up the back of the head with the collar all done up. We're looking for a better way to do hoods though, that fits them to all different head and neck sizes, that blocks all wind, and keeps fitted on a moving head. We're also conscious that some people like to remove the hood, we've got a few ideas...

We're not sure the Ventile lining needs to be sewn in. We're thinking to try a removable lining so to make it washable and replaceable, plus the added versatility of using the liner alone, or swapping it for insulation.

Finally, the weight question. These jackets are heavier than their plastic counterparts, but we honestly didn't notice a difference. We spent a day resort skiing, followed by a pretty big day back country, which had us wearing them in a full range of situations and body temperatures. They packed down into our bags no trouble, and seemed to feel nicer than the plastics when we wore them climbing out of a valley.

All up, we're stoked the prototypes worked in the conditions we're designing for. They're confidently tough, perform well in snow conditions, feel good when active, and the weight didn't bother us on these extended day trips. This first test has shown us we're on the right track, and with a few minor tweaks we'll have a jacket we're proud to put out to market.

Music: On A Steady Diet of Hash, Bread, & Salt

On A Steady Diet of Hash, Bread, & Salt.
From the Free Music Archive.

We are loving this album, over and over again.

Rebetika, a truly underground music created at the beginning of the 20th century, was, in its preamble form, the music vehicle to express a culture bumbling under a constantly changing society – a culture based on drugs, haunted by poverty. Unfortunately, in its birth land Greece, Rebetika was transformed through the decades, became soft and gradually deteriorated to a stupid folklore music consumed by the neogreek unmusical masses and tourists alike.

For us, early 20s – late 30s Rebetika represents the rawest, purest and yet finest form of Greek folk music ever recorded. We regard this music as lyrically powerful, sentimentally resourceful and musically chaste as the blues.

Driven by our homage to it, this compilation tries to throw bridges between the dusty old roads of Rebetika and the shiny new twisty alleys, paved by the free form music pioneers of nowadays. As fanatic spectators we frequently hear the past couple of years, musicians from the scene declaring their love and respect for Rebetika and at the same time more and mor compilations with original tracks from 78rpm recordings comes to surface.
The interesting is growing. So we thought this is the right moment to invite musicians to delve into the roads of Rebetika and come up with a fresh, if not radical, reinterpretation of their own.

We sent three originals to each one and to our surprise, most people reacted positively and either picked one of the three songs to cover or preferred another one they believed more fitting. And even more surprisingly, the actual cover songs the musicians sent us back are of the best quality and wide variety we could hope for. From passionate heartfelt true-to-the-form takes, to completely improvised or fusion attempts to noise rock deconstructions, every contribution sounds vital and captivating. Our humble hope that you will download and enjoy this compilation as much as we did and our wildest dream is that this could set fire to new generations of fearless Rebetika explorers both in our land and abroad.

Film: Searching for West

Searching for West

The hunt is a pursuit of balance, while searching for the unknown. The balance that death has struck with life, the one sustaining the other. Everything we eat was alive once. The farmer clears his field in autumn for new life in the spring, and there’s a rhythm to it all. One man in one place, doing just one thing at a time. Mark Seacat’s son, West, was born 10 days before elk season. Husband. Father. Hunter. Where does he draw the line on how much to sacrifice?

Trailer on Youtube

Film on Vimeo 

Film: Come Hell or High Water

Woodshed Films have produced a film about Bodysurfing. Come Hell or High Water. Our copy is in the mail. 

10 years ago, we too were into bodysurfing in a big way. A group of us would head out off the rocks around Newcastle (Australia) nearly every day, sometimes out all day! Our favourite spots were The Cowrie Hole, just off from the Newcastle Baths, and the reef out off the North end of Nobbys.. some call it Big Ben. 

But then jobs, kids, and other lives came and we went our separate ways. Some of us don't even live near the ocean anymore. But these were great days, and it's films like these that inspire to get back there.. 

Ventile Shirt

The Ventile Shirt is a collared, pull over shirt made from fine cotton Ventile. It breaths as cotton, but repels water and wind like a rain coat.

Leigh's been wearing his around very hot Darwin, and says it feels the same as if wearing a cotton work shirt. But come the rains, it doesn't get soaked like a normal cotton shirt, it repels the water. It washes easy, and dries fast.

The Ventile Shirt is designed to allow full arm and body movement, with generous sleeve, cuff, collar and body length to keep you covered. Buttons are always unique - selected from vintage and antique markets. It is sewn together with a heavy duty poly cotton thread, in double stitched French Seams all over. One breast pocket with a flap is placed left or right, depending on your preference.

New concepts

Ventile fine cotton shirt

We have developed a range of products that are almost final concepts, but still need a little tweaking. We've really shaved the weight off the jacket and it allows all range of movement now. The oilskin outer and Ventile lining makes this a really tough yet comfortable foul weather jacket. The Ventile shirt does what it said it would. We've been wearing them around Darwin in high 20s low 30s (Celsius) heat and they're as comfortable as any other cotton work wear shirt, but our one repels water! Is it a shirt, or a raincoat.. we dunno yet. The wool shirt looks nice, and allows all range of movement, but she's a little itchy. We're thinking this one has to be worn over a Ventile shirt. The wool goes nicely with the oilskin to make the hoody vest, but we need to modify the cut some, and finish the cuffs better. This one still has a bit of development to go. Our oilskin/ventil overalls are nearly done and we can't wait to run through the wet, cold bush with them. They'll probably be the toughest pants out there, but subtle and comfy. Stay tuned.

Japanese construction worker fashion

A remarkable old post from the sadly discontinued PingMag, on the fashion conciousness of Japanese construction workers.

Of particular interest to us are the pants worn by Tobi workers, and the wrist protections.
"Now let’s get to the special parts of Tobis’ clothes. On their wrists they wear a broad and firm wristband called Tekou. This is used not only to wipe off sweat, but also to protect your wrist’s vulnerable arteries when cutting things and to prevent the sleeves from getting into your way when moving around... Tobi trousers: this shape is just amazing! (In fact many Japanese people identify Tobi workers by these special trousers.) There are various theories why the lower part under the knee is pumped up like a balloon. The main reason, however, seems to be a simple one: the baggy pants make it easy to move, easy to bend, stretch and stride." 
Sounds good to us. Now, we're wondering if it would fly - incorporating similar wrist and shin guards into cuffs on sleeves and pant legs...

Traditional Chinese Pants

Red Sorghum

A few of us own Thai Fisherman's Pants, and while we rarely, if ever, wear them out in public, we can agree they are by far the most comfortable pants we own.

Here's a pattern for making Thai Fisherman Pants.

So recently, while wearing these pants, Leigh was watching the movie Red Sorghum, and was pretty inspired by the version of pant the fellas wear in that movie. We can only refer to them as Traditional Chinese Pants, but others are associating them with Harem Pants. There are loads of how-tos out there for Harem Pants, but Katja at Of Dreams and Seams gives out a nice instruction for making Traditional Chinese Pants, and we can see from the zero waste in the fabric use, that she is onto the real thing.

Could we take a pattern for the Traditional Chinese Pants and modify it to make a durable, semi technical pair of pants, in oil skin, for use is cold, wet and sometimes snowy environments?

Let's see! To be continued...

Wax Converters


Wax Converters is probably Australia's best known producer of cotton and polyester canvas. In our bid to use Australian products in Peak Oil designs, we head out to Rutherford to meet Jim and learn more about the products and processes at WaxCon.

Jim is a lovely man who gave us well over an hour of his time to hear about some of our goals, and show us his products. WaxCon handles very large scale production including Defence contracts, so we really appreciate his generosity in considering the very small scale work we might bring him.

We were particularly interested in 2 of his products: Fortress (a 100% cotton with a dry waterproof treatment that leaves the fabric looking like oilskin, but without the oiliness); and Avanti 2000, or Dri Pel (a tight woven cotton that if scortched would be identical to the UK product Ventile, and a heck of a lot less expensive).

We learned that 500m are the minimum orders for these two fabrics, and we can order any colour we want in that. WaxCon can do printing too. Printing is off photographic roles of 75cm circumference printing area. There is a setup fee of $650 per colour and a minimum of 1000m.

We were a little disappointed to learn that while the weaving of the heavier canvas products is done in the WaxCon factory, the base cotton of these finer fabrics is done off shore. Wax Con is mostly set up for colouring, coating and treating the fabrics we're interested in. So now we want to find out if there is a factory weaving high grade cotton in Australia, and see if Wax Con will take it and treat it. Wax Con has a lab too, so some day maybe we'll ask them to trial the treatment of hemp and linen.

Jim gave us enough metres of Fortress and Avanti to use in our sample making.. So we're heading back to see Julio to tweak the pattern and make samples with this fabric.

Jacket prototype 001


These past few months, we've been designing a jacket, working with Julio Valdes in Sydney to develop a pattern, and get a prototype made up, ready for on-demand making. Here's photos of prototype 001. Its made of black oilskin, lined with ventile, and then kangaroo leather on the hood brim and cuffs. There are a few things not shown, such as the RiRi and splash resistant zippers we plan to use, as well as the flaps with press studs to shield the main body zipper.

Once we get the design, pattern and materials right, we plan to sell the jacket, made to order, in a variety of materials, from all Kanga leather, to recycled canvas. Although this particular version is pretty heavy weight, it is designed for outdoor activity like skiing. For those who are more worried about weight than they are about durability, there will be a light weight version made from single layer ventile.

We're working on pants, bib and brace over alls, shirts, feather down jackets and wool mid layer jackets. The designs will be open source and simplified to support DIY makers. The materials are natural, and the cuts for active wear. We hope to start marketing the first jacket by the end of the year, after we've finished fully testing the designs and materials in the field, through an Australian winter scrub.

+61 0404561009
Mount Dandenong, Australia