Monday, November 23, 2020

Pattern Review - True Bias Roscoe Blouse in washed linen

Sometimes a pattern can creep up on you, do you know what I mean? You’re making the things you need, sometimes getting distracted by shiny new patterns and fabric. Then, out of the blue, an old pattern that has never caught your eye before suddenly… does.

So it was for me with the Roscoe Blouse pattern. Released in 2015 and ahead of its time, probably, with its big sleeves and gathered volume. Great with jeans, good for work or not-work, pairs well with linen and other light, drapey cloth. Um, why hadn’t I sewn this before?



Sizing

The beauty of making an older pattern is the volume of information available about it - and the almost unanimous message about the Roscoe is that there is a lot of ease. Referring to finished garment sizes on the pattern, I went down 2 sizes from my measurements. Yes, it’s supposed to emanate that oversized puffy, pirate shirt vibe, but I prefer the fit of these things to have slightly less volume. And there is still buckets of comfortable ease in this.



Cutting

I cut 2.3m of this 145cm wide washed linen in Deepest Blue, but for the size 10 I used 25cm less - though you might need the full amount in a directional fabric. I also ended up taking 6cm off the hem for my 5’6” frame (more on that later), so could have got away with cutting just under 2m.


Construction

Nothing to report here, this came together with no dramas. The pattern is drafted beautifully and the instructions & diagrams plentiful and clear. If you don’t like making/distributing/pinning gathers - well, there’s a bit of that - but not excessively so.


While this weight of linen (170gsm) is lovely for a top or dress, I think this top could work well with something even lighter weight for super hot weather. A cotton seersucker, voile or Liberty Lawn would be peak light & floaty.



A couple of other things

After looking at these photos I’ve come to the conclusion that, in retrospect I’ve taken too much off the hem. Makes my choice of KATM label somewhat ironic, but I still think I’ll get plenty of wear out of this. Also, not with the blue jeans - too much blue! - but the opportunity to take a photo presented itself in a small window on a blue jean day. 


View C, dress with frill, also looks appealing in the same way that the Wilder Gown is - swishes aplenty!



We’ve just taken delivery of a bunch of True Bias patterns, so the Roscoe Top & Dress can be found here.


- Fiona xx

Monday, September 21, 2020

Pattern Review: Republique Du Chiffon Flore Blouse in Ruby Star Society cotton

EDIT: I wrote this post back in May but only just got photos of the garment being worn!

This was an occasion where the fabric came first. This lightweight cotton by Ruby Star Society (now sold out) just made my heart happy. It's officially a quilting cotton, with a lovely soft hand so great to use as shirting. I thought for a while about what to make with it, but I didn't want to wait too long and have this simply linger in my stash.

The Flore Blouse is a relatively new pattern from French company Republique Du Chiffon, and it turns out I bought it (as downloadable pdf) about a week before they released it with English instructions. C'est la vie! With a little very basic understanding of the language, enough diagrams, and the occasional help of Google Translate, this shirt came together nicely.

The combination of bright fabric and flouncy blouse had the potential to be altogether a bit much, but I went for it anyway. Yes, it's about as sweet as a giant stick of fairy floss but I love it. Working with this fabric and pattern brightened my mood and I look forward to wearing it in spring. (EDIT: now it's spring and I've been wearing it quite a lot - it's a real mood booster.)


I don't have much to report on the pattern, which I think is lovely and well drafted. It's very swingy and on the short side, so I'll be wanting to wear it with reasonably high-waisted bottom garments. It would be easy to lengthen through the bodice or frill (making sure to also lengthen the button plackets). I think it would also be lovely made sleeveless. I'd just check if I needed to raise the bottom of the armscye, and then bind with bias. This was my third time working with a Republique Du Chiffon pattern and I have been pleased with the results each time.

NB: you have to add seam allowances. I write this boldly on all my pattern pieces to remind me as I'm cutting out!



The Japanese-made Ruby Star Society fabric is lovely to work with and wear, with a cool, soft feel. If you've worked much with quilting cottons for garments you'll know that they can vary immensely. This is definitely a nice quality for shirts and tops.

If you look closely you'll see I used a range of different coloured buttons. These were a gift from my husband so it was really nice to use them, and helped with my usual dithering button indecision. Something about this pandemic time has made me eager to 'use the good fabric' (and buttons and trims etc) rather than wait for some mythical 'right time'. Have you felt that too?


FABRIC: Clementine by Melody Miller for Ruby Star Society, 100% cotton, 1.75m (sold out), this pattern would work beautifully in any of our Lithuanian Washed Linens

SIZE: 44

COMMENTS: Delightful. Likely to make again, possibly slightly lengthened.

- Jane xx







Monday, September 7, 2020

Pattern Review - Merchant & Mills Trapeze pattern, button back top






Have you ever made a list of your top 5/‘desert island’ patterns? If I made such a list - which, come to think of it, sounds like kind of a fun diversion - the Merchant & Mills Trapeze pattern would be included without hesitation. I’ve made quite a few of these over the years, (blogged about my first version in 2015). I’ve traced a couple of different sizes, too, as my weight has fluctuated over the years; this pattern has been a constant

About a year ago Merchant & Mills released a button-back iteration to the Trapeze, and I’ve been keen ever since to give it a go. A sleeveless pinafore was at the top of my list until seeing this button-back top on the M&M Instagram. Plus, those sleeve gussets are really rather nice, too (terrible low-light photo below).



Sizing 

The Trapeze has generous ease around the bust and hips, but I find the arms (as with other M&M patterns) quite tight fitting in comparison. The linen in this Essex blend has given a little with wear and so the tight-ish arms are wearable for this top but if I was using a tightly woven fabric like a liberty Lawn for this pattern, I would probably want to use the armscye and sleeve from the next size up.


M&M have recently extended their size range for the Trapeze, but only for PDF purchases from their website here, so we only have available the printed version of the pattern which covers sizes 8-18. Jess from Broad in the Seams gives a helpful review of the extended size range here.


Construction

There are no top instructions as such in this pattern, but converting dress to top is as straight forward as you would imagine. Making this version of the pattern required cutting the dress front, back and front & back facing pieces from self fabric and interfacing, cropping each at desired length. I cut about 65cm from shoulder seam to new hem. 



There is a nice wide hem facing on the dress version which I didn’t include in this top (I hemmed the whole thing with a 1cm double fold.) My fabric, this lovely Essex cotton/linen blend in Rust is 110cm wide. At a guess, I cut 2m (the full length facing pieces for the button placket make this a fairly fabric hungry proposition) and found I didn’t have quite enough to cut a hem facing for the top. In retrospect, an added facing at the hem using this substantial fabric would probably have made this top a bit rigid and a-line, but if your fabric is quite light (double gauze/washed linen) a facing would be lovely - perhaps just plan your project better than I did and cut about 25cm extra to begin with! ;)



These photos were taken after a solid day of wear with lots of time getting crushed in the car, but that probably gives a guide as to how the Essex wears over the course of a day. Looking now at the drag lines around the buttons at the back, I suspect I need a wide-back adjustment or more buttons - and bigger buttons, too (in my defence, there were only 5 of these left when I purchased and I was struck with decision overload in the button shop!) Oh, and, I can get this on and off without needing to undo any of the buttons… so if you are buttonhole-averse, you could probably get away with making these purely decorative. 



So, in my book, the Trapeze continues to earn its stripes as a versatile and wearable pattern. It’s most definitely still coming to the desert island with me!


- Fiona xx

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Pattern Fantastiqué Sleeveless Celestial Dress in Summerweight Denim



Over Summer, my much loved light-weight denim Aeolian dress met its sad, untimely end after a run in with a dropped bottle of black nail polish. It was replaced with a denim version of another Pattern Fantastique ‘classic’, the Celestial Dress. Made in the midi length, I enjoyed months of swishing around in it until the weather turned... so I promised myself that as soon as a suitable denim arrived in store, I’d make a sleeveless pinafore version of the same as its Winter alter-ego. 


Fast forward a few months and a fresh delivery of our beautiful Japanese denims, produced in the well-regarded denim manufacturing prefecture, Okayama. Among them Summerweight indigo denim. Winter swishing was on! This fabric feels a little stiff straight off the bolt, but starts to soften impressively after the first wash. It has turned out to be the perfect weight and drape for this generously skirted dress. 


Sizing  
The Celestial pattern has been kicking around for years, so I'll keep it brief. This is a multi-sized pattern from sizes 6 to 16, equivalent to bust measurement (the most important one for fitting this trapeze-style) 81 to 106cm. My measurements put me close to the top of the existing size spectrum, but the sizing/fit is spot on, especially for this version where I wanted some extra ease for layering. The only shame about this lovely pattern is that the largest size is a 16 - it would be great to see an expansion of the size range on offer.

Construction
To make the sleeveless version, you need to download the free pinafore ‘hack’ file from Pattern Fantastique here. This complements the printed pattern by replacing the sleeves with an underarm facing. You then cut double one of the yoke pieces and forego some of the others. There’s a bit of two-and-fro required between the printed pattern and ‘hack’ instructions, particularly while figuring out what is needed for each version. This is a good pattern for someone with some garment sewing experience behind them, or someone who would like to learn some new techniques like the burrito method, which is used to sew the enclosed seams on the yoke.

This midi length pinafore was cut from 2m of the 150 wide denim. You could also *just* squeeze the width of the skirt pieces on a 110cm wide fabric (but allow for more meterage to cover the yoke pieces, too!) For anyone interested, I squeezed the sleeved midi version out of 2.1m of 140cm wide non directional fabric rather than the recommended 2.8m.


Pocket love
My favourite feature of this dress is the roomy pockets. These are top-stitched to the front skirt to prevent any annoying pocket flapping, and conveniently provide some nice subtle stitching detail. I also love the length. This is sewn straight from the packet and is a proper mid-calf length on me, at 167cm/5’5” tall.


One more thing
It’s a personal preference, but I won't be wearing this without a shirt underneath unless with a strapless bra, as the neat 90 degree angle where the yoke attaches to the pinafore cuts right in at the front. But for layering, this is *exactly* what I had hoped for. I have worn it an almost embarrassing amount of times already in the month since I finished it. Already planing another for when this one is in the wash! Perhaps using one of these textured twills, or it would also work nicely in one of these new Japanese Fine Wale Corduroys.

xx Fiona

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Pattern Review: Clyde Jumpsuit by Elizabeth Suzann

Many sewists have drooled over the garments by Elizabeth Suzann, a clothing brand from Nashville USA. The company has recently closed due to the effects of Covid, but was run on extremely admirable business ethics, including all-local production, all natural fibres, diversity of size and colour in models, and producing only to order. You can read more about the company at its website, which is still up at the moment.

The brand's classic, comfortable styles are being released as free patterns, with a request that if you are able, you donate to charity (several suggested - I donated to The Loveland Foundation). I've just learnt that the Dropbox where the instruction-less patterns were shared has been closed. You can read more about the future plans for these patterns on Instagram here. Credit and thanks to Instagrammers @minimalistmachinist @thestoryclubpdx and @mombasics for their work on preparing and sharing the pattern files.

I've long admired the Clyde Jumpsuit, so I leapt on the opportunity to try it and it doesn't disappoint! In case it helps anyone who already nabbed the downloads, I'll write down a few notes that may be helpful in the absence of written instructions.


SELECTING SIZE
I found the measurement/sizing charts at the ES website, and used these to determine my size. I chose size L (measurements Bust 39 Waist 33 Hip 43 matched mine exactly, wow) and the Short version since I am 5ft 3/163cm. I found this size to be just right for me. I was a little concerned it was actually a bit short in the torso at first (and I consider myself short-waisted) but it loosened up after some wear. 

SEAM ALLOWANCE VARIES
The seam lines are drawn on the pattern, and seam allowance varies as follows:
Main construction seams: 1/2 inch
Pocket tops: 3/8 inch
Binding at neck and arms: 1/4 inch

PRINT IN COLOUR IF YOU CAN
I had my pattern printed A0 size. I didn't specify colour and it came out B&W. With all the overlapping size outlines and seam lines, it's not easy to pick your line. Since I was using the largest size in the document (there is another document with the rest of the size range) I found my line without too much trouble, but another size within the mass of lines would have been tricky.

BINDING NECK AND ARMHOLES
The binding method I used: fold the bias strips in half with right side out, and sew to the right side of the garment with all three raw edges lined up, at 1/4" seam allowance. Then press all raw edges to the inside. Press again to turn the folded edge of the bias inside as well, rolling a little to the inside and covering all the raw edges. Stitch down along the edge of the bias.

THE CLYDE SHIMMY
The Clyde Jumpsuit walks that careful line balancing decent coverage if worn alone, and enough room to wriggle in and out! It has no buttons, zip or snaps which makes for a very clean finish and easy construction. But the wriggle is real. I am reliably informed that this is the 'Clyde Shimmy' and now I think of it fondly, haha! After a day of wear, my heavy canvas Clyde has become easy enough to get in and out of without having to dislocate an elbow. It wouldn't be difficult to add in some sort of closure if this is helpful to you.

LABEL THE BACK
I still need to do this because I have put the whole garment on back-to-front several times!

FABRIC REQUIREMENTS
For my size I used 2m x 150cm wide canvas. Layout pictured below (I forgot to put the bias strips on there but they also fit within this layout, up at the top right.) This is a designer remnant canvas and there's just a little bit left as I write. 

The Clyde Jumpsuit would also be awesome in denim, and super-comfy in one with just a bit of give like our Everblue from Italy. A great trans-seasonal fabric would be our cotton/linen Crumple Texture Canvas, or for summer the cotton Crumple Texture Shirting

If you're on Instagram you might like to check out the hashtag #ESmadebyme for more garments made possible by this generous pattern release, and to find out more about the future of these patterns.

Here's Clyde in action.











- Jane xx











Monday, June 15, 2020

Pattern review: the Ilford Jacket by Friday Pattern Company, in Velvet Finish Australian Wool

Workwear-style or 'chore' jackets are having a moment. I sincerely hope it's more than a moment because it's a style I totally dig, and super practical.

When my eldest son needed a new warm jacket, the Ilford by Friday Pattern Company came to mind. 

Charlie spends a lot of time in his room at the cold end of the house, playing guitar, especially since his uni music course has been mostly online. The brief was: something warm, with sleeves that wouldn't get in the way of guitar playing, and with the simple collar style of a workwear or denim jacket.
I've previously made him the Foreman Jacket by Merchant & Mills (highly recommended) and he has worn that a lot, but it has a slightly more formal vibe.

I showed him a picture of the Ilford, which is a boxy, unisex pattern, and had the thumbs up so I bought the pattern (pandemic PDF format) and made a quick muslin in the short length. The fit was good and he requested it lengthened, and I also added a smidgen to the sleeve length. (Interestingly, the muslin fit me quite well too, but the sleeves were very long on me. Easy to remedy, and just an observation about the unisex pattern notion.)

The Ilford has a number of options, including length, a sleeve placket and cuff and loads of pockets. The sleeve placket/cuff option lets Charlie have the sleeves either rolled out of the way, or buttoned and sitting on the wrist, both of which work for guitar playing.

The fabric I used is our Velvet Finish Australian Wool in Mulberry. I've used this before in Navy to make an Assembly Line Wrap Jacket and it's simply dreamy to work with and wear. The smooth, flat reverse side makes it ideal for an unlined jacket, and for a touch of luxe I like to bind the seams.

I really enjoy making a little 'garment preview' after cutting out pattern pieces, by laying it all out:
I think it spurs me on to get through to the finished garment!

Now, there were a couple of things I didn't like about this pattern. Online reviewers are sometimes accused of gushing over indie patterns and glossing over shortcomings. The way I feel is that independent pattern designers are really putting themselves out there. Running a tiny one-or-two person business is a brave and vulnerable thing. I really like what Chelsea of Friday Pattern Company is creating for her brand. Her style is simple with a bit of drama. Without fanfare, she's been pushing representation of diversity in her product photography: body size, skin colour, disability. She donates part proceeds to charity. The pattern size range is inclusive of a wide range of bodies. So yeah, there are a couple of things I'd change about the Ilford pattern. But I won't be throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

I'd like to note that the issues I have with the Ilford's construction are not unique to this pattern. I've encountered them in other indie patterns as well as vintage patterns. Things that make you wonder 'surely there's a better way?'. I suspect with the Ilford they've been in the interest of creating a pattern that's simple and approachable. However I think the finish that could be achieved by using some very slightly more complex steps would be absolutely worthwhile, for any level of sewist.

The Ilford is truly boxy, with sleeves sewn flat onto the straight sides of the bodice. Then the bodice and sleeve are sewn up as one, pivoting at the underarm. I've used this method on other patterns, and in fact I used to wonder why all sleeves were not sewn in flat like this because it seemed so much easier than setting in, in the round. Lightbulb moment! In thick coating fabric the shortcoming of the all-in-one-and-pivot method is clear. The seam allowances pull on the inside and it takes some savage clipping to encourage this corner to sit well. In an unlined jacket, this leaves a bit of a mess inside, as well as weakening the fabric at the join.

My second gripe is the collar attachment. Again, I've seen this before; here it is on my Republique du Chiffon Jacqueline jacket:

And here it is on the Ilford, during construction (I'm sorry the critical part is a bit out of focus!):

The seam allowance needs to be clipped into, to allow part to be enclosed in the collar (to the right) and part to be enclosed in the placket (to the left), leaving a point of weakness.

I also found the part of the placket that folded back was not shaped as per the neckline. The photo below shows how it would be as per instructions.


Below: using the 5/8" seam allowance, I shaped the top to better meet the collar.


The upper and under collar pieces are cut from the same pattern piece, so there's no accounting for turn of cloth. I did not fully topstitch the collar, in order to let the heavy wool have a bit more movement as it folds.

I'm no pattern designer or drafter but I've had a bit of a think and if I was to make the Ilford again, here's what I'd try, in very rough sketch form:


The facings would securely enclose the collar, and the sleeve head and armscye shaping would allow for a set-in sleeve that could be neatly finished without buckling or clipping at the underarm. (I make no promises as to the efficacy of my sketched sleeve shaping, and would definitely muslin this first!) Facings could have the raw edges turned under or bound, and be topstitched down. If a cut-on neck facing was a bit too fabric-hungry (it makes an odd-shaped piece), the front facing could be cut separately (with seam allowances added).

I was in a bit of a rush to make this jacket because I really wanted Charlie to have something warm to wear as quickly as possible. If I had taken a bit more time examining the muslin I might have done a rounded-upper-back adjustment, because the back hem could sit straighter. It rises and billows a little in the middle and looks like a bit of pattern slashing across the upper shoulder (kind of adding a bit of a diamond shape between the shoulder blades) would release this. Probably to be expected in someone who is bent over a guitar for hours a day - and something to look out for in future makes for Charlie.

Here's something I loved about the pattern: the sleeve placket construction. I've never done a tower placket like this before - there's a whole extra fold that has you create the pointy 'tower' first for a really neat finish. I felt the instructions for this whole section were top-notch. In the thick wool fabric, an extra fold made for a lot of bulk but it was always going to be puffy anyway. Not my finest work stitching the under-placket there, but the wool is pretty forgiving.

There are loads of pocket options and choosing was fun. We went for the 'hand warmer' pockets (which are still large and secure enough for a phone) and a top pocket with button flap. I was pretty keen to add the little pencil pocket but Charlie thought it was a bit much.

I found some excellent buttons at The Button Bar and made all the buttonholes with my vintage Bernina's stepped buttonhole process. I finally learnt my lesson and made the buttonholes decently large so the buttons don't need to be wrestled through!

Ultimately I'm about 90% happy with this project and very glad that Charlie has the look and the warmth he was after. There are things I'd change, but I can tell this is going to be worn a huge amount. Hurrah!







SIZE: M (roomy but true to measurements), about 15cm longer than the 'short' length and a smidgen longer in the arms.

COMMENTS: Love the style and options. And hooray for a pattern suitable for men. I just love that my family members can mention a style they like and I can usually think of (or hunt down) an indie pattern that will suit, because there's so much out there these days. I think the construction method has suffered a bit in (what I assume is) the desire to make this a fast and simple project. I learnt from the project, and maybe you have learnt something from reading this!

- Jane xx







Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Pattern review: Republique du Chiffon Paule Jumpsuit in Organic Cotton Denim

Has the amount of washing in your household dropped off significantly? Mine has, and I'm attributing it to Iso Uniforms.

During this stay-at-home time my family members have more-or-less adopted personal uniforms. A few key garments are in high rotation and that often means day upon day of wear without washing. We're not going anywhere much so we're not getting very grimy or needing to look pristine, are we? And the certainty of a 'uniform' is comforting in these uncertain times.

The staple of my Iso Uniform has been a denim jumpsuit. Two years ago I made a denim version of the Peppermint Magazine/In The Folds Jumpsuit and it has been one of my most worn me-made garments ever. Maybe the most.

I have thrashed that thing, year-round. It's still travelling well, and the denim has aged so beautifully, but is just a wee bit tight across the chest now. Ah, hormones. It's still very wearable but I got to thinking, perhaps I could justify a second denim jumpsuit.

Then we had some beautiful new Italian denims come in, and we like to test as many of our fabrics as possible... so?

The Paule Jumpsuit pattern by Republique Du Chiffon had caught my eye.

Once my panic-addled brain had regained enough focus, I bought the pattern, printed it and pieced it together on A4 paper at home. I made a full muslin to test it out. A good start!




I wanted to eliminate the shoulder ties. I think they look great but wouldn't work well in denim, or under jackets. Other adjustments I made:
  • Added length in the bodice (a first for me! I think this was a full bust thing).
  • Raised back neckline.
  • Added bust darts at armholes.
  • Raised armholes for more coverage.
  • Changed strap shape & placement a little at front.
  • Made a bodice facing, incorporating neckline and armholes, informed by the In The Folds/Peppermint Jumpsuit facing.
  • Added a smidge more room in the seat (by, er, flattening the curve a bit).
  • Whacked in an exposed zip down the centre front because I needed a way to get in and out after all my adjustments, and from experience this makes a jumpsuit extremely easy to wear.
  • Lengthened the legs a bit (original are kind of cropped).
I had some excellent help cutting it out.

All the adjustments took another couple of muslins/partial muslins and quite a lot of tracing and cutting and staring at pencil lines, but I'm super happy with where this ended up. Same sort of thing as my first one, but different enough to feel new.







Things I love about the pattern
  • Those pockets! I love the look of them, they're really large and useful and quite simple to construct.
  • The slightly closer-fitting silhouette and waist seams that help make this 'different enough' to my Peppermint Jumpsuit.
  • The fit 'out of the packet' was good and sizing accurate.
  • The method for bringing the crotch seams all together was new to me, and worked extremely well.

Things I love less
  • The instructions - mostly really good - were a little scant when it came to the original finish of the neckline and armholes, including the shoulder ties. This is an 'add your own seam allowance' pattern and it suggests 1cm everywhere except the leg hems. The armholes/straps/neckline are finished with bias tape, width not specified, to be stitched on at .5cm from the edge. The shoulder tie ends are squared off, but the instructions say to finish continuously with the bias tape, and there's no diagram. I wasn't planning on using the shoulder ties or a bias finish so I didn't persist, but if I had wanted to, I might have contacted the company to ask for a bit more explanation.
  • Also, it's a bit sad that my size is the top of the available range (46). I think this style would be great on many bodies.

The denim

This denim is 12&3/4oz Organic Cotton with 2% Elastane, made in Italy. This is the 'Everblue' colourway. It's a fabulous 165cm wide and that meant I could cut this whole jumpsuit from at least half a metre less than anticipated. It really feels like a rigid denim to me, although perhaps there is just a little extra 'give' in there. I love the deep, dark colour and I felt that between the fabric and the lines of the Paule pattern, it didn't need further embellishment. I topstitched in places to reinforce seams but just used construction thread rather than contrast topstitch. After wearing a couple of times I added rivets on the pocket edges to add strength to these stress points.

The fabric was great to work with and my vintage Bernina handled it easily using a Jeans needle. I overlocked all the inside seams. In a couple of places where there were several layers coming together, I trimmed the seams with scissors first so my overlocker only had to sew, not cut.
To reduce bulk at the pockets, I made the pocket facings out of some scrap mid-weight cotton/linen (navy with cranetrucks, an old Kokka favourite!).
At time of writing we have a little bit left of some of these Italian denims, and we eagerly anticipate ordering more when lockdown restrictions are able to be lifted in Italy.

Here's the jumpsuit after one 'garment wash', so you can see how it's settling in, and a picture showing the bodice facing.





Have you adopted an 'Iso Uniform'? I think the rise of the boilersuit - the next logical step from the jumpsuit - has probably come at a very useful time!

- Jane xx