Thursday, May 16, 2019

Pattern Review: Papercut Sierra Jumpsuit




Hi, Jane here! The Papercut Sierra Jumpsuit has been on my to-make wishlist ever since its release last year.

Jumpsuits in general are tricky to test for fit until they're almost entirely sewn. So instead of a muslin, I made a properly finished garment that could be a shop sample if it didn't fit me well enough. Having a bit of Papercut experience under my belt, I was pretty confident in cutting the size M with a little bit of extra room added in the backside. (Ah, the things you end up casually writing in the name of sewing.) Here's how I added a little extra room in the 'seat':

That was good for size, with some expected bodice adjustments required for my final take-home version. Here's that first version, ain't she pretty?

You can see this sample in the shop and even try it on if you like!
I used our Hemp/Organic Cotton Chambray. It's such a well-behaved and pleasing fabric to work with, a mid-to-light weight that softens but doesn't bag out. With the given fabric allowance (2.6m) I was able to cut the bodice lining pieces in this fabric as well. Of course this made things extra-confusing when it came to working out which piece was which, especially since there is no right or wrong side. HOT TIP: label your cut pieces clearly! I used tailor's chalk but masking tape with details written on sounds like a great idea. I ended up with boobs cheerily labelled A and B before I washed my final garment.

This was one of those slightly baffling, origami-like makes where I just obediently followed each step to bring it all together. I love the finished garment, but 'straight out of the packet' on me there's significant armhole gape, especially at the front.  (Pardon the rough photos that follow, in the name of sharing the sewing information!)


I think the cause is twofold: I have a short torso, and full bust. To improve the fit, I pinned out a dart in the front armhole, and a bit of length at the back armhole/strap.


After transferring this to my paper pattern, I rotated the dart out of the armhole, into the bust dart. Then I moved the whole bust dart down to better match my apex. (Thanks be to Google and all the excellent sewing people who make tutorials.) I also added an inch of length to each of the ties, because I'm a little thicc around the middle.

I whipped up a quick & dirty bodice muslin to check the alterations and it was thumbs up and ready to go.

My final version is in a beautiful 100% cotton, yarn-dyed mid-weight by Haori of Taiwan, who make textiles in traditional Japanese styles. It's a bit heavier than the chambray, so I used a very lightweight cotton for the bodice lining. I didn't have a matching invisible zip, or the proper machine foot. Luck was on my side when I realised I could get in and out of the jumpsuit without using a zip, so I've just sewn up that side and it's good to go. (One step fewer when taking a loo break is always a win with a jumpsuit!)

I don't know what I'm doing here but it shows you the back.
On the inside, there's a part where a lot of seams come together and it feels not quite strong or finished enough. I used a bit of hand-stitching to neaten and strengthen the area, which is, in any case, completely hidden from the outside.



Look, no armhole gape!

Jump! suit

Like all good jumpsuits it's really comfortable to wear and there's no worry about unintended midriff exposure when sitting, bending or riding a bike. It's quite easy to get in and out of, and surprisingly easy to iron - a fact that always dramatically increases likelihood of wear in my wardrobe. If I want to wear it without a t-shirt in summer, I'll probably want to add a small snap at centre front just to help keep things tidy.



The side seam pockets have an unusual insertion method that helps keep them sitting towards the front, and allows for the zip insertion (which I didn't need). They're a decent size for hands, hankies and small objects, and shouldn't stretch out because the front opening is interfaced.

PATTERN: Sierra Jumpsuit by Papercut Patterns

FABRIC: Hemp/Organic Cotton Chambray, Haori 100% Cotton

SIZE: M with added bum-space, extra length in ties and bodice adjustments as detailed above.

COMMENTS:
The Sierra feels a bit dressier and more put-together than other jumpsuits I have made.
Tall people should note they may need to add length. I'm 5ft 3 / 163cm and consider myself short in the torso. While I did take a smidgen of bodice length out at the strap, this is *just* right on me and others may find they need to add length in both bodice and leg.
A step not noted on the pattern but worth the effort is to staystitch around the neck and armhole edges that aren't reinforced with interfacing, because they're handled quite a lot during construction and could stretch out.
Altogether a fun pattern to make and wear.

Check out some other thoughtful reviews of this pattern, including some similar notes to mine, at I Sew Therefore I Am and Diary of a Chainstitcher.

- Jane xx





Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Pattern Review: Thread Theory Strathcona Henley


I have a real aversion to buying new clothes. I try and make most of my own, but I haven’t so far made a huge amount for my partner, Neil. I’m always making promises, so I delay him buying new clothes, but often my intentions don’t match reality so his wardrobe can start looking a little threadbare….I could no longer ignore the little holes in his t-shirts (I don’t know how but they appear in all of them), necklines a bit stretched out, and the odd stain here and there. All looking a bit shabby.

Now was the time to come through on my promises, especially as we had the gorgeous 55% Hemp, 45% Organic Cotton Jersey fabrics in store. I am always excited to find fabrics with hemp content as hemp requires no pesticides and significantly less water to grow than cotton and is known for its durability. I decided to give the Thread Theory Strathcona Henley a try, in the t-shirt option (Variation 2). This pattern is described as a slim fitting t-shirt that can be sewn either with a straight crew neck (as I did) or a Henley style placket with long or short sleeves. It’s not often that you can find matching rib for your fabric, but for all of these fabrics we do have the ribbing in an exact colour match, so I used some of that too!



Sizing
Neil is usually a small or medium in t-shirts, but comparing the measurements of one of his well- loved tees with the pattern I was surprised to find I would need to make a L – the second biggest size. This is to give him what I would consider an average fit but certainly not oversized. 

I also found it to be very long in the body. I removed 10cm from the length before I cut which I think would have been spot on for Neil. Unfortunately I made him try it on before hemming and for some reason decided it needed to lose another inch so it’s a tad on the short side now.


Construction
The pattern instructions were very clear and the t-shirt came together fairly easily, albeit with a bit of tinkering to try and get the ribbed neckband right (I’d never used ribbing for a neckband before). The length required to get a neckband to sit flat and not pucker I have always found to be a bit of a mystery. Too short and it needs to be stretched too much when sewn, causing puckers around the seam. Too long and it sticks up away from the body. And each fabric will behave differently, based on the amount of stretch, so there’s no easy answer. I turned to the internet for help and found a couple of useful resources here and here.

I did veer away from the pattern somewhat at this point, as it calls for 5/8 in (1.6cm) seam allowances throughout. I prefer a narrower seam allowance on neckbands to give me half a chance of a good result so used ¼ in (0.6 cm).

I finished the hem and sleeves with an overlocked edge and a twin needle.


Final thoughts
The t-shirt fits really nicely on Neil and he reports that the fabric is really soft and comfortable to wear. The pattern is well written and easy to follow and contains plenty of extra tips for sewing with knits if you’re new to using this kind of fabric.
I did find the size range to be disappointing as it doesn’t cater to larger bodies. 
One t-shirt is not going to solve the current t-shirt crisis in Neil’s wardrobe so there will be more coming…(one in every colour of the hemp and organic cotton jersey we have in store!)

Find the Strathcona Henley pattern here.

- Lauren

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Pattern Review - Merchant and Mills Ellis Dress



We’ve had the Merchant and Mills Ellis & Hattie pattern sitting in the shop for years and I’ve often thought I’d like to give it a try. Gathered waists, however, are not necessarily my bag. Then there was the question of which one to make: Ellis with its sleeves and in-line pockets, or Hattie with a dropped waist, lined sleeveless bodice and impressively voluminous patch pickets. It was all too hard! The pattern stayed on the shelf.

Then, earlier this year one of our lovely customers, Alisha walked in wearing her gorgeous version of Ellis, and - BAM - straight it went to the top of my sewing queue. 

Weeks later when actual sewing was due to commence, we had just taken delivery of some beautiful fabrics from Japan and I was smitten with these linen/cotton light twills, especially in this lush deep teal. After cutting (of course, AFTER) I recalled that I may have unintentionally completely copied the version that inspired me: same pattern, same colour fabric. Oh no! Sorry, Alisha if you’re reading!



Merchant and Mills patterns usually have a lovely detail or two, and Ellis & Hattie is no different. What drew me to this dress was those swoon-worthy 4 darts around the neck line. Ditto the simple rouleau button closure at the back. 

As for the construction, this is a straightforward sew. The instructions and diagrams are clear and easy to follow. Also, the finishing is comprehensive - details usually left up to the maker like anchoring your facing to the finished garment are included in the pattern directions. Nothing is left to chance!


Sizing
I’m not going to lie, this is one roomy frock. I made a bodice muslin and was happy with the fit, even though it was fairly loose. I chose the size according to my measurements, but have to say, after the gathered skirt is attached the volume of this dress skyrockets. On me, this feels perhaps a little too much, and in retrospect I could have sized down. There is also some excess fabric at my shoulder tips, which I may go back and remove. Worth noting though that the fit is slightly off the shoulder on the women pictured on the pattern packaging: this is supposed to be a loose fitting thing.

We’ve heard from customers that M&M arm pieces can sometimes be drafted a little on the narrow side, so I approached these with caution. Mine fit well, but perhaps that’s a refection of having been generous when choosing which size I’d make. The arms are certainly much more fitted than the rest of this dress - a style thing, but worth keeping in mind. We’d definitely recommend you make a full muslin (arms AND skirt included) before you make a final call on which size to choose for this pattern.


Fabric
This cotton/linen, at 124gsm is fairly light and with good drape. We turned around and ordered a second bolt of this not long after the first arrived, such was our love for its slightly shot weave and gorgeous jewel-like hue. It works amply for the Ellis but I suspect this dress would benefit from something slightly weightier: a medium weight washed linen like Ocean would be ideal. But this is pleasingly floaty and will be nice and breezy on a warm day, or layered up with leggings when Autumn decides to actually hit.

Modifications
I took about 8 inches out of the skirt width because of my gathered skirt trepidation. It’s not even noticeable - this skirt is still plentiful! I also took about 10 cm off the hem, for reference I’m 167cm (5'5"). Straight out of the box, this is a true midi length.


The wash up
To be honest, between finishing and wearing this I thought Ellis might have been the nail in the coffin for gathered skirts and me. But after a day’s wear I’m loving this dress. It was a really enjoyable sew and now I’m even wondering what the pattern would be like made into a peplum-style top. Who would have thought?!


- Fiona & Jane xx

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Pattern Review: Frankie & Ray Breezeway Top in white linen

Jo of Frankie and Ray had been teasing the release of the Breezeway Top pattern on her Instagram for a while and we thought it looked like another winner. So I jumped in and made one as soon as the patterns arrived. It doesn't disappoint!


With a generous, roomy fit, gentle v-neck and optional back pleat and sleeve cuffs, the Breezeway Top is quick and simple to sew, with just enough detail to make it 'polished casual'.

I used our White Lithuanian Linen - this one is unwashed which lowers the price (and the original fabric's environmental impact through energy and water use). I even skipped pre-washing (gasp!) because I knew the Breezeway Top was generously sized. You can see the fabric below with its flat finish and clearly separate fibres. In this photo I'm stitching over the underarm point twice to reinforce it.

We find these 'unwashed' linens tend to be overlooked in favour of the - admittedly prettier - gently rumpled pre-washed ones. I'm here to say give them a go! It doesn't take long at all for them to achieve a lovely lived-in feeling. They even ought to last longer because the fibres have not been partially broken down. We DO of course love our washed linen fabrics, but please don't be turned off by their smooth, flat siblings... they are in fact the very same cloth. (You can find more information about our linens, with some comparison images, in this blog post from a few years back.)

Here's the finished top, after a wash and iron.


I chose the white linen because I thought it would make a great shop sample, both for the pattern and the fabric. My natural tendency would be to choose pattern or colour for myself. But once I'd tried this sample on I didn't want to take it off... and what the heck, it only takes one metre of linen, so I made another for me.

On my second version I decided to try the 'cap sleeve'. The finish will be familiar to those of you who have made the Frankie & Ray Box Top: simple, clever and neat. Without the cuffs, it's more layerable for the approaching cooler weather. Here it is just off the machine, pre-wash:

The trickiest part of this pattern is probably finishing the v-neckline with bias tape. Don't be intimidated; the instructions are good and the end result is neat and secure (except when my shop-dwelling machine - decades overdue for a service poor thing - decided to skip stitches right at the point, argh). The second time I thought I could try applying the bias tape without pins until I got to the point, then using a pin to execute that manoeuvre on the spot. In short: nah, use all the pins, or you may be spending some quality time with your unpicker, like me.

A couple of steps I added to the neckline finish:
- I staystitched* the raw edge to stabilise the neckline early on, because the binding isn't added until later in the construction and my linen could easily have stretched out.
- I understitched** the bias to the neckline seam allowance before turning the whole thing to the inside, to help the bias roll in nicely and not peek around the outside. (I particularly wanted to do this because I only had cream bias tape, not white.)

(*Staystitch: a line of straight stitching through a single layer of fabric, close to the cut edge, to help stop it from stretching out during handling. **Understitch: sew a facing to both layers of seam allowance where the facing is joined to the main garment, close to the stitching line. This helps produce 'turn of cloth' so the facing sits fully inside the garment and does not show from the outside.)

And of course, what does it look like on a human?


PATTERN: The Breezeway Top by Frankie & Ray
FABRIC: 100% linen, white 245gsm, 150cm wide, 1 metre
SIZE: S, no alterations (the fit is generous, the length just right on me at 5'3"/163cm) and yes, this sample now lives in-store so you can see it in person and try it on!
COMMENTS: Like the Frankie & Ray Box Top, I can see this being a great pattern to make again and again in different fabrics. It would be easy to embellish with patch pockets, a raw-edged bias finish neckline, shirt-tail hemline and other ideas. I could even imagine making one from a light woven wool as an easy throw-on top layer for winter. Jo, the designer, told us that the sleeve from her Friday Shirt pattern will fit this top so that would be a great option too - perhaps in a soft brushed cotton/flannel like these.

Easy, breezy, comfy Breezeway!

- Jane & Fiona xx


Thursday, March 7, 2019

Pattern Review: Papercut Ravine Dress in Hemp/Silk

Heckin' fancy! We don't do a lot of 'fancy' here at The Drapery. But sometimes, occasion calls. And fabric and patterns answer.

I sing in a choir and as with many similar musical groups, black is the main requirement for performance wear. It's not a colour I wear otherwise, and I needed a new option for our concerts in the Adelaide Fringe.


We recently received these very special Hemp/Silk fabrics (leftovers from a local designer/maker). I teamed the black one with the Ravine Dress pattern from Papercut Patterns' latest 'Geo' collection. 


Bias cut and backless, in slinky black... who even am I? It was quite out of my comfort zone but it somehow seemed promising.

On the roll this fabric has a slight pleated texture. A close look reveals intermittent shiny stripes, which we assume is the silk portion, and the matte part the hemp. I gave it a prewash and the pleating became more pronounced, and the width of the fabric therefore reduced. So much so, my pattern pieces wouldn't fit! What to do? It was almost like a knit in its ability to stretch and spring back.

I decided to give the fabric a very light, steamy press (not letting the full weight of the iron rest on the fabric) to stretch it back out, at least enough to fit my pattern pieces. Then I crossed my fingers and cut. My only deviation from the pattern was to cut two longer tie strips to go across the shoulders at the back, so I could tie a bow, instead of the single, optional narrow cross-piece. The bodice is the most unusual shaped pattern piece I've ever used, and this is the most unusual fabric I've ever worked with. Where would this adventure end?

Not fully considering the properties of bias cut, I was expecting that some pieces might end up with the pleats running different ways, highlighting the panel lines of the pattern. However the fabric layout ensures that the grain runs the same way all over. This means that the pleats wrap in a spiral around the dress, and the panel lines become a bit lost. I guess they're just a subtle feature in my Ravine Dress.

The assembly of the dress happens quite quickly. I opted for a simple zigzag seam finish. This fabric doesn't seem to fray much and I wanted to keep the seams as flexible and bulk-free as possible to allow the fabric pleats to do their springy, pleaty thing.

When I first tried the dress on, it was very long because the fabric had stretched out further. I didn't want to hem it shorter because this would mess with the panel lines. So I threw it in the wash to see if the pleats would work their shrinky magic again. They did! I also raised the underarm a bit with some simple taking in at the seams: about 3cm at the underarm pivot point, tapering to nothing either side, into the sleeve and bodice.

The neckline and back V are finished with self-bias, turned to the inside and topstitched. One side stretched out a bit more in the sewing and I had to unpick and adjust at the back until it sat evenly. Thankfully the same flexibility of the fabric that made it stretch out also made it easy to muck around in the back seams without distorting anywhere else.

Have a look below at the bias ties, which look a bit like macaroni!


I wouldn't normally choose a low V back pattern for myself, because of the implications for underwear (or lack thereof). However for my choir performances, the back view would rarely be seen, and I wore a fitted black singlet top underneath. I would like something a bit fancier but I was running very short on time. Initially I thought I'd need a full slip underneath in case the fabric was a bit sheer, but in its washed, pleated form it's really decently opaque, even under stage lights.

And here it is being worn.


Ultimately, whilst this dress is quite a style departure for me, I'm really pleased with it. It's cool and comfortable but also feels 'dressed up'. As a bonus, now the dress is finished it's definitely zero-iron. It can be gently folded or rolled in a bag and carried to a gig, then pulled out and it's ready to wear. I've washed it on a wool cycle using soap nuts (wool wash would also be good) and draped it horizontally over an indoor drying rack to prevent stretching.

This is a clever pattern and special fabric that's actually easy-care, and now I'm very tempted to make something - maybe more casual-fancy - with the white version, too.

The Ravine Dress would also be gorgeous in a drapey fabric like our Tencels and Cupros, or take on a  more casual elegance in washed linen or a double gauze.

Maybe you've been tempted by a 'style departure' project, too. It's worth a try now and then!

- Jane & Fiona xx









Monday, February 25, 2019

Pattern review: the Frankie & Ray Anna Knicker

Knickers! Undies! Dacks! Do you like buying them? I hate it. They're either ridiculously expensive or yawningly utilitarian, or even both.

The Frankie & Ray Anna Knicker has transformed my knicker drawer (actually the overflowing mess of a shelf in my tiny, cramped wardrobe... but let's for a minute pretend I have a pretty knicker drawer where everything is folded and perfumed with embroidered lavender sachets, shall we?).




Anna in 'Strawberry Humbug' linen (sold out)

The bias cut woven knicker is your friend, friends! I have written about this before, using another good pattern. I find the Frankie and Ray Anna Knicker an even better fit for me. The waist is a little higher and more snug, keeping these right where they need to stay, all day. Plus you have the option of two waist heights and a French knicker version.

Try any lightweight, natural fibre woven fabric

The Anna Knicker is a great scrap-buster or one to use for that adorable print that made you think 'I love it, but what can I do with it?'. I've made the Anna (lower waist, elastic leg) in Liberty Tana Lawn, cotton seersucker, voile, quilting cotton and linen, and they've all worked well. The linen may be a little less durable over wash & wear but it was from a scrap piece, so I'll enjoy them while I can! The gusset can be made out of the same fabric, which was a small revelation to me (why the heck not when it's all natural and breathable?) and I think it makes these all the prettier.

Aren't they kind of puffy?

If you haven't tried woven knickers before, this is a perfectly reasonable thing to wonder.
(Image source)
I'm certainly not going to model the knickers for a blog post but you'll have to believe me when I say the bias cut allows woven fabric to be cut quite closely to your body shape and smoothly conform to your curves. There might not be knit spandex-style negative ease 'hugging' happening, but no, they're not going to look like baby bloomers!
Top: finished. Bottom: in progress.
You might be able to see the untidy contrast stitching on the white elastic. I changed my thread colours for sewing the elastic on the second pair for a more pleasing result!

A note on elastic.

I was lucky enough to be a tester for Jo of Frankie & Ray when she was developing this pattern, which was over a year ago. So this means that I've been wearing my first versions of the Anna for over a year, and they're mostly still holding up well. But I used various picot-edge underwear elastics on them and some of that has not gone the distance. I replaced the waistband elastic on one pair, which was laborious, but I loved the fabric too much to let them go. It's well worth making sure you use quality elastic. If you have a supply of reliable decorative picot-edge knicker elastic, that's great. Otherwise I suggest you try an 'extra strength' 1/4 inch elastic like this one we stock. It's important to note that it is less stretchy than many other elastics, so you will need a bit more. I found a ratio of about 77 - 80% of the waist and leg measurements to work well. If in doubt, make sure you hold the elastic around your leg and waist to find the right length for your own comfort.

It can take a bit of practice to gain confidence applying the narrow elastic around curved edges. I found it best to take it a very little bit at a time, holding the lightly stretched elastic firmly in place with my fingers (with the other hand normally guiding the fabric and elastic behind the presser foot, but it's holding the camera in this photo).

Give it a try. You could be whipping up your own Anna Knickers in no time!

PATTERN: The Anna Knicker by Frankie and Ray

SIZE: Luscious (X-Small, Small, Medium, Luscious, X-Luscious, XX-Luscious)

FABRIC: Various remnants, scraps and small cuts in lightweight cotton and linen

NOTIONS: 1/4 inch elastic, Extra Strong Non-Twist

NOTES: Read elastic advice, above. A lovely pattern for comfy, stay-put knickers in all the pretty and fun woven fabrics!

- Jane & Fiona xx






Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Pattern Review: Pattern Fantastique Calyx Smock


When Pattern Fantastique released the Calyx pattern late last year, I suspected it would be only a matter of time before one passed through my sewing machine. So tempting were its nice deep hem facing, raglan sleeves and loose, heat-wave friendly cut. Another PF pattern, the Aeolian, has been a firm favourite of mine (ahem, 6 and counting…) and so the Calyx called as an appealing alternative.

From the front.

Fabric
Inspired by Nita Jane (owner of PF) and her talk of a denim Calyx for layering, I chose to make this version in some of our 6oz washed cotton denim. It’s a lightweight fabric that has good drape but is still quite sturdy. Certainly not the floaty tencel I had originally thought I might make this in, but I guess that leaves options for next time! And there will be a next time. When I first saw this pattern I could only imagine it being made up in something super lightweight & very drapery (tencel, washed linen, cupro) because of all the gathering at the neckline. But NJ encourages the use of different weights of fabric from the floaty to not so floaty (corduroy!) Somehow, the cleverly drafted proportions of the Calyx seem to make this pattern work in a variety of fabrics, despite all that gathery volume.

From the rear.

Sizing
I sewed size 12, even though my bust measurements put me closer to the 14. This is a great fit, and there’s still loads of ease. 

The Calyx comes with a bunch of different variations: top and dress lengths (with in seam pockets), a couple of sleeve lengths, optional cuffs and faced or turned hem. I opted for the short sleeved top.

Tie back and that nice wide facing.

Construction
Straightforward, and quick to sew! Nita Jane classes this pattern as intermediate, which seems a fair call.

I strayed from the (very thorough) instructions in two minor places. Firstly, I opted to stay stitch instead of using stay tape to stabilise the bias cut edge on the sleeves. The pattern suggests a particular kind of stay tape with built in basting thread (which sounds like rather an excellent product we reckon!) but I had none. Because this denim was already fairly stable, I didn’t think this was too much of a risk, but if I was going to make this with something very lightweight, I’d probably want to use stay tape or apply some lightweight interfacing to stabilise the seam. 

The other place I strayed from the directions was when it came to applying the bias to the neckline. The instructions call for sewing the tie end of the neckline bias tape in kind of tube, then turning them inside out, which would give a lovely clean finish. But, because denim, I just pre-folded & pressed the ends of the ties rom the right side and topstitched over the whole lot. I’d already done some light topstitching on the raglan sleeves so felt that a little more wouldn’t look out of place.

The Calyx also comes with an optional hem facing, which I cut out but at the last minute decided to go for the narrow turned hem instead. I love the look of the wide hem but made the call against any further volume the extra fabric on the hem would bring to the party since I was already using fairly substantial fabric.



I am so pleased with my Calyx top. It plays nicely with jeans so it’s the first thing I’m reaching for at the moment when we are lucky enough to score a cool day. I love the tie closure. And the back pieces fold back on themselves to make a great wide stitched-down facing which is such a pleasing detail, especially in a solid coloured fabric. All around thumbs up! 

The Calyx Smock pattern can be found here, and our 6oz washed cotton denim is here.

Fiona & Jane xx