Thursday, July 13, 2017

Grainline Studio Tamarack Jacket - again!

We're revisiting the Grainline Tamarack Jacket pattern on the blog today, because after trying on Jane's excellent version I knew I wanted some warm, quilty goodness of my own.

I also had a very specific hole in my wardrobe to fill. I needed something in the form of a jacket or cardigan, hip length and (somewhat predictably) black. Something I could get away with wearing both inside and out. I'd been admiring the gorgeous Bernadette Jackets made by Kate and Klarissa at Bombazine, and thought I could crop the Tamarack to a similar length. Three cheers for sewing, hey?

After choosing the outer fabric (a basic black top-dyed Japanese cotton, not online), and inner (100% Australian wool batting, also in store) I kept returning to this gloriously pretty and slinky Rifle Paper Co. for Cotton and Steel rayon for the lining. 

I’ve done a bit of quilting before but I was worried if I was up to quilting with rayon - I was worried it's slinkiness might see it end up a puckered mess once it met with my walking foot. In the end though pretty won out, and I found myself doing something I never thought I'd do - using a spray on quilt basting glue. (Insert scream-face emoji - not the most environmentally sound choice!) Thankfully, Jane had an old can left over from a previous stencilling project, so hey, we were just combining forces and using up what was already out there in the world on this occasion. 

A note on the quilting if you've not done much before and you're considering using a less-than-stable fabric for your Tamarack: baste then baste some more! My basting strayed way into OTT territory. I used the wicked spray glue, (both sides), plus I did more hand basting than the pattern recommended. But all that nerdy preparation paid off and it quilted like a champ: nothing fancy,  just straight lines, 3.5 inches apart as per the pattern suggestion - I didn't want to push my luck. I used my walking foot and also did a few test runs on offcuts to be sure I was happy with the stitch length, tension etc.

After the quilting this came together very quickly. I enjoyed sewing this more than any other garment I've made. Perhaps it was the quilting, perhaps it was knowing that this will fill a much needed gap in my wardrobe or perhaps it's just a fun pattern? Perhaps because it's terrifically warm but light to wear and, handily, mid-winter here? Perhaps the pretty lining had an intoxicating effect (could be... check the slightly mad eyes above).  In any case, I've worn this almost every day since sewing the last of that binding into place. Finally - an excuse to walk around in a quilt! Don't know why I waited so long. 

Pattern notes:
- I machine stitched the binding on one side, then hand stitched it into place on the inside. Jen's instructions for mitred corners are great! Mine aren’t perfect, but they were very satisfying to make.
- I cropped around 20cm off the length (comparing it to a much loved denim jacket, about 60cm from neck to hem). 
- Because I took so much off the length, I omitted the welt pocket. 
- This cropped and pocketless version of the Tamarack used 1.9m of 110cm wide fabrics for each lining and outer, plus an extra half metre of outer fabric for the binding.

 - Fiona & Jane xx

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Pattern Review - Burnside Bibs by Sew House Seven

I'm an overalls fan from way back... from 70s toddler style, through 80s black denim with badges all over the bib, some late 90s op-shop classics, a roomy maternity version and more recently, the overalls' close relatives the jumpsuit and pinafore.
I've been very tempted by the Pauline Alice Turia Dungarees but never quite taken the plunge. And then, just recently, Sew House Seven (of the gorgeous Tea House Dress and popular Toaster Sweater) released the 'Burnside Bibs' pattern. I was smitten.

(Just a little aside for non-Adelaide people, the name Burnside Bibs sounds kinda funny to our ears because Burnside is renowned as a rather toffy area with a rather toffy shopping centre; a not very overalls-ish place at all.)
I digress.
The wide legs and fabulous back strap/belt loop detailing on this pattern elevates it from workwear to stylish casual, and it works in a wide variety of fabrics. This is well demonstrated in the samples shown on the Sew House Seven website, which include rumply linen, a decent weight denim and drapey tencel blend. There are two bib styles to choose from (straight across or scooped top) and the pants can be made in a loose pull-on style or more fitted at the waist, with a side zip.

For a nice warm wintry pair of overalls I chose our Japanese wool blend tweedy herringbone. I like the contrast of this 'serious' type of fabric used in a fun pattern. I made a muslin of the more fitted pants in the size matching my measurements and found the fit to be spot on, hurrah! Being a non-willowy 163cm / 5ft3 I was able to take out 2 inches at the lengthen/shorten lines on the leg pattern pieces and still have a good deep hem for maximum swishiness.
This fabric has a bit of give and I used more interfacing than suggested in the pattern to ensure it wouldn't stretch out in places like the pocket edges, waistband, all edges of the bib facing and straps and belt loops. The pattern came together smoothly, with the fiddliest bit definitely ironing the straps into shape (turn in edges then fold in half), since there was no way I'd attempt a turned strap in this fabric (and the pattern wisely gives both methods to accommodate all fabrics). All facings are stitched down and the inside finish is pleasingly neat.
Inside of the front bib
 This wool blend was a pleasure to work with, taking a steamy iron on wool setting very well. It's definitely warm, but not too heavy, and not at all scratchy against my legs.
My only other deviation from the pattern was to use a regular zip rather than invisible. (I think I did one properly, once, but... eh.) I hand-stitched the facings down to the zip on the inside to finish it off.

And as soon as I had finished that little bit of hand-stitching I put them on and wore them for the next two days straight! And then restrained myself for two days... and now they're back on as I type.

I had a moment when I wondered if these might look better slightly cropped. I'm likely to always wear them with boots anyway. But on the first day of wear I realised I loved the warmth of all that wool and I don't want to lose any of it!

These are so much fun to wear. I feel a bit fancy, and extremely comfortable. The wide legs are quite a style departure for me but I quickly felt at home in them. I love my Burnside Bibs and I think I see a denim version... or maybe a linen one... in my future. The only thing I'd change next time would be to lengthen the bib a bit (probably the equivalent of an FBA in this pattern!).

Burnside Bibs by Sew House Seven (currently pdf only from their website)
Version 1 (darted back), full length
Japanese wool blend herringbone - pattern stated fabric requirement to be 3m for 147cm wide fabric, but I was able to use about half a metre less.
12  - pattern goes from US size 00 to 20 so I imagine would fit young teens through to some decent curves.
Shortened legs by 2 inches, interfaced at all likely stretch points, used regular rather than invisible zip.
Important note! These are actually quite easy to take on and off (including for quick trips to the loo) and do not require the straps to be undone, although I can't speak for the zip-less version. I imagine that would depend on how tightly you tied the straps. Happy dance!

Other fabric suggestions:
Art Gallery Denims
Mid/heavy weight natural linen
10oz black denim
Linen/viscose in Smokey Blue
Nani Iro 100% Linen

- Jane & Fiona xx

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Pattern Review - Christine Haynes Lottie pattern

The Christine Haynes Lottie is one of those patterns that we were really keen to buy for the shop as soon as it was published. In a similar way to the Lotta Jansdotter Esme dress, the Lottie is the kind of easy sew, easy wear top/tunic/dress you could make a few of in different fabrics and call it your uniform. Even better, the pattern itself is a fulsome offering, with shirt and maxi-length options as well as a sleeves of varying lengths and style - 18 different combinations in total.

In light of this being such an appealing and versatile pattern, I honestly can't tell you why it has taken me so long to make this sample and blog about it. I suspect we were at the height of our Fen fever when it arrived and poor Lottie has been overlooked. But she is no less worthy.

I made View B - the one with the 3/4 length sleeves. Pockets were left off ('cause, let's face it - the wall in our shop where this will be displayed does not need pockets), but rest assured there are patch pockets included in this pattern, plus it would be easy to add side seam pockets to should the need arise.

Working with a 1.8m remnant of 150cm wide fabric meant that I needed to leave 5cm off the dress length, so this version falls squarely into tunic territory. The full length dress would be easily eked out of 2m rather than the 2.3m stipulated in the instructions, unless you've got pattern matching to do where you might want more. This version is a size 10 as per my measurements but note that this pattern makes a roomy frock. Christine kindly gives finished garment measurements, so I'd recommend you refer to those as there's a decent amount (more than 4 inches) of ease built in. I'd size down next time, especially after seeing these photos.

Of course you can leave the sleeves off this pattern as it has a decent cut-on dolman sleeve already, but I was keen to add them for cooler days - plus, the way the sleeves come together is a nice touch. There is a different piece for the front and back of each sleeve which are cut on an angle so they drape well. This also helps them to look nicely finished if your fabric is directional or patterned. The top-stitching is a nice touch here too.

The pattern itself is an easy sew (Christine rates it as 2/5 level of difficulty) - there are no closures or fitting, and the neckline is finished with bias tape. It's very beginner friendly. 

This fabric is an Art Gallery printed denim - a lovely crisp, soft cotton, available in our online shop here.

The top version of Lottie would be great with jeans, sewn up in a variety of lightweight fabrics - linen, double gauze or chambray. We're also thinking that a light wool Lottie would be a useful winter layer too… I suspect there will be more Lotties around here.

- Fiona & Jane xx

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Pattern Review: Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat

Thread Theory is a Canadian independent pattern company designing for men (with a couple of women's patterns in there too). The Belvedere Waistcoat is their latest release, currently available only as a pdf but eventually to be in print like their other patterns.
This is the third Thread Theory pattern I've sewn. I find their attention to detail and level of instructions to be excellent, and felt confident the Belvedere Waistcoat would be likewise. And it was!

My husband Andy is a great fan of waistcoats as part of his work wardrobe. The Thread Theory Fairfield shirt is a good fit on him with minor alterations, so I was hopeful this pattern would be too. I was also able to compare the Belevedere pattern pieces to one of Andy's favourite waistcoats and it seemed a good match.

The Belvedere is exactly what I was hoping for in a waistcoat pattern, being fully lined, having front and neck facings and proper welt pockets. Several optional add-ons are in the process of being released, including patch pockets, a back waist cinch and a collar.

Morgan, the designer behind Thread Theory, explains that the Belvedere is drafted to pair with higher-waisted formal pants. People wanting a waistcoat to go with jeans or other pants that sit lower would probably wish to lengthen it. I also read this review by a pattern tester who found it quite short on her partner. After comparison with Andy's ready-to-wear waistcoat I decided to add 2 inches in length. This was an easy alteration to the relevant pattern pieces at the clearly marked 'lengthen and shorten' lines.

I made two other alterations to the pattern:

- shortened the front darts - after adding the 2" of length, which goes right across the centre of the darts, I lowered the top point of the dart 3". This means the entire dart is just 1" shorter than on the original pattern, but the top sits 3" below its original position. This is more in line with the position of darts on Andy's existing waistcoats.

- altered side seams a little (in at the top, out at the bottom) at the 'trying on' stage suggested in the pattern instructions. This small adjustment changed a good fit to a great fit.

I used this beautiful 'Cashmere Finish' 100% Wool coating in Silvered Black, which was a pleasure to work with and gives the waistcoat a luxurious feel. Wrangling those welt pockets, situated right in the middle of darts, was certainly a test of fabric manipulation. It required a lot of careful steamy pressing, which made me grateful to be working with pure wool that wouldn't easily singe/melt! I can understand the use of a wooden 'clapper' better now, because pressing down with my hands on steaming wool after the iron is removed is a bit... toasty.

The layers of wool also proved too challenging for my beloved Singer buttonholer attachments (which can whip out a series of shirt buttonholes in minutes). After some trial and error I became friends with the 3-step buttonhole on my vintage Bernina, and was very happy with the result.

The lining and back is an acetate from DK Fabrics - using the darker, greyer side for the outside and the fancy gold on the inside. Shell buttons were also from DK. The acetate was a bit tricky to work with (not least because my hands are a bit dry and rough and my fingers caught on the fabric, ugh!) and it seemed like a minor miracle when the final waistcoat was turned right way out and all the wispy frayed seam allowances were hidden neatly away. It's a beautiful result and after a bit of recovery time I'll have probably forgotten the pain of sewing with acetate and attempt it again. You know how it goes. Pretty shinies!

And here we have my cooperative model, who knows the price of a lovingly tailored garment!
Real, functional welt pocket!
As soon as the waistcoat was finished Andy claimed it and has hardly taken it off, although I do want to grab it back at some point and re-sew the buttons on with a bit of a thread shank to allow some room for the thickness of the wool.
Altogether a very gratifying sew, and I'm sure there will be more Belvederes in the future.

There's a full step-by-step sewalong for the Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat in progress on their blog right now, and this will be available as a valuable resource for anyone sewing it in future.

- Jane & Fiona xx

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Extremely practical, fairly unglamorous

I'm sandwiching this post in between two 'pretty' projects because it's firmly in the category of Dull But Necessary. Sometimes sewing is like that. The rewarding part is not in the sewing or the finished object, but in the repeat upon repeat wearing of the garments.

With the onset of cooler weather we're all rummaging through our wardrobes and drawers for the longer layers. More than likely, some have seen better days or you realise you're down to those same two tops you had on repeat last winter. I realised I needed neutral-coloured long-sleeved tops and leggings. Yawn. We have a great selection of knits in store at the moment so at least the fabric selection part is a bit fun!

Cut to the chase: I made two versions of an Alabama Chanin top (machine-sewn rather than hand-sewn as the pattern is intended), one in this beautiful fine tencel/linen jersey:
and another in super-soft modal.

No modelled shots I'm afraid as they're a) boring and b) quite fitted and meant for layering only!

I also made some leggings (I use the Cake Espresso leggings pattern) in a similarly neutral colour from some organic cotton/spandex (available in store). Scintillating photo:
Are you still awake and reading?

Dull as each of these garments is, I am incredibly grateful to my recent-past-self for making them and they are already in heavy rotation. So do yourself a favour -
- and sew some basics. Check out our knit selection here. We have also just restocked on the Grainline Lark Tee pattern which is a great place to start if you're looking for a go-to knit top with lots of options.

- Jane & Fiona xx

Friday, May 26, 2017

Grainline Tamarack Jacket in Velveteen

Have you ever sat with a quilt on your lap in winter and thought how cosy it would be if you could actually wear it? Well the Grainline Tamarack is your opportunity to do just that - and look socially acceptable at the same time!
Jen of Grainline Studios first released this pattern in October 2015. Since we were heading into the Aussie summer we didn't really think a lot about it. But Jen seems to have a way of being a little ahead of trends and designing long-lived classic garments, and the Tamarack has been sneakily growing on us. I loved this one by Heather Lou of Closet Case Patterns, and the final push for me was seeing this quilted jacket by Kate of Bombazine. I was in need of another casual, warm jacket that I could throw in a bag and take anywhere. My Grainline Cascade Duffle has been possibly my most worn/thrashed item of handmade clothing ever, and although it's holding up pretty nicely in its third winter, it could use a little respite.
I'd been hanging out to do something with the beautiful new cotton velveteens we had in the shop, so I chose Cherub (Millennial pink, anyone?) and carried it around the shop until I found it a partner in this subtly awesome Cotton + Steel print of grey and silver bunny heads. Add a puff of pure Australian wool quilt batting (available in store) and I was off.

I have discussed previously that Grainline drafting 'out of the packet' doesn't work for my shape. With my full bust measurement putting me in a size 12, and my high bust in a size 8, I decided to split the difference, trace the size 10 and make a small full bust adjustment, adding a dart. Whilst an 8 might have been ideal in the shoulders, I didn't want to end up putting a giant bust dart in a pattern that was intended to have none.

There's plenty of wearing ease in the Tamarack pattern (and Jen very helpfully always includes finished garment measurements in her patterns) but actually getting this to fit across my bust was not the only concern.  It was more a matter of how the finished garment would sit: without a dart, a jacket can tend to be pushed up and back over my narrow shoulders and ultimately, hang really poorly. A dart will give me a nice sloped roof and straight wall below, if you get the picture!

How did the bust dart work in quilted fabric? It was a bit of a gamble but in fact it worked quite well. I thought I may need to trim off the dart inside but it folded and pressed just fine. There are two things to watch out for:
- what does the dart do to your quilting pattern? In my case it meant that the quilting lines at the jacket side seams did not meet up below the dart. Not ideal but I can live with this. A more complex quilting pattern would help hide this difference.

- how will you deal with the bulk of the fold in the side seam? You'll end up with 3 layers of quilt, which is 9 layers of substrate, at one point! My regular sewing machine was quite happy to chug through this but my overlocker struggled... and the result was ugly. Perhaps a blessing in disguise though, because I decided to bind the seams to hide all the mess. I simply sewed bias tape over the seam allowance. After sewing down the first side I trimmed the seam allowance back considerably to reduce bulk, then folded it over and sewed the second side. Much, much better and a finish I would highly recommend for all the interior Tamarack seams. (I wish I'd done the shoulder and armhole seams this way but by this stage I'd overlocked them neatly and they were joined to other seams and they're not visible when I'm wearing the jacket anyway.)
The slight patchwork effect on the pocket bags is a long and uninteresting story but I get bunnies on the inside and outside!
Apart from adding the bust dart, the other small changes I made to the pattern were:
- shortening it and straightening out the bottom, cutting off just below where the curved hem begins on the pattern. In a colder climate the extra warmth of a longer jacket would make a lot of sense but a shorter one seems more versatile for an Adelaide winter.
- rounding off the corners of the front edges. I simply took a small saucer from the cupboard and traced the rounded edge of that, after the jacket was constructed but before binding. I was a little worried the binding may bunch up a bit around the curves, but I stretched it out a little (it's bias cut) on the first pass and it folded over and sewed down beautifully.
The majority of construction is pretty straightforward. I followed the quilting instructions (making the sandwich and basting) to the letter and my fabrics, with the help of a walking foot on my Singer, behaved very nicely. The welt pockets were a bit different to my previous (limited) welt experience and it was one of those occasions where I couldn't quite picture the end result and just had to walk through it with blind faith. And it worked. Since I shortened the jacket, I had to also shorten the pocket bags but they're still a really useful size.

I am simply delighted with my Tamarack. It's so cosy, so comfy and really, really like wearing a quilt. (#secretquilt ?) Go on. If you've been on the fence, hop on over into Tamarack land. You'll like it here.

- Jane & Fiona xx

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Easter trading hours

We are hitting the hills for Easter, folks! Our Easter trading hours are:

April 14th, Good Friday: CLOSED
April 15th Saturday: CLOSED

Normal opening hours will resume next week from Wednesday April 19th. 
(Wed/Thurs/Fri 10-4 & Sat 12-4). 
Wishing you all a relaxing and safe break!
May your sewing time and chocolate supply be plentiful.

- Fiona & Jane xx