Monday, April 27, 2015

Grainline Cascade Duffle Coat - the muslin

I've never made a coat before. Not only does it seem a dauntingly large undertaking, I think the Grainline Cascade is the first coat pattern that's really jumped at me as a 'must make!'. And it seems the perfect project to try out some of our beautiful new Japanese wool.
I'm opting for View A, but with the hood instead of collar. I am hoping this will be a jacket I'll have and love for some years, so although the fit is simple and boxy enough, I thought it was definitely worth making a quick muslin of the critical parts.

The first thing you'll notice is a LOT of pattern pieces. Straight up I decided to do the usually-unthinkable (for me) and cut right into the pattern tissue rather than trace. I think I'd rather pay for a brand new pattern than ever have to trace this! According to my measurements, I graded out from a size 12 at the upper to 14 at the hips. The pattern sizes have been deliberately 'nested' to make this easy.

I chose to use the calico we have at the shop ($6/m) for this muslin, because it has the stability and precision I wanted for a jacket mock-up. (More often I'll use old sheets but that would have been a bit soft.)
I'd looked around the webs at other versions of the Cascade and noticed a couple of things I wanted to check:
- did I want to slightly lengthen View A (short jacket)?
- the patch pockets seemed to sit impractically high on View A, so could I adjust this and still have it look okay?
I used just the upper and lower outer body pieces and two sleeve outer pieces to make my muslin. (Please excuse the poor quality selfies.)

 Fit looking pretty good in the shoulder.
I'm pretty happy with the back too: I want plenty of ease for movement and it's meant to be a casual, boxy kind of shape. I'm also happy with the length on me, but those with a longer torso might like to add a bit at the lengthen/shorten lines which are clearly marked on the pattern pieces.

So here you can see how the large, rectangular patch pocket sits rather high on the short version. It's the same size on the longer version but sits much lower. I really like a useful pocket and I think the opening of this is just too high to work well. Fortunately it's a very easy fix since it's a huge pocket and can be cut a good deal smaller and still be a decent size. Below, the top is folded over about 4.5cm which shows the size I will make my pockets. (Yes, I went to the effort of making a lined pocket muslin, and a good thing too because I made a sewing error and messed up the top corners, which I won't do in the final garment now!)
I'm still pondering the sleeve length.
 Pretty long, but I quite like a long, cosy sleeve.
And with arm bent... still, from a technical tailoring point of view, this is a bit long, isn't it? What do you think? Maybe I will fold out about a centimetre at the lengthen/shorten line.

I've read through all the instructions (very clearly written), I've chosen my lining (ooh, Liberty!), I've bookmarked the online sewalong and I'm ready to cut!

Is anyone else out there contemplating the Cascade... or making one... or finished?

- Jane & Fiona xx

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Japanese Wools and Wool Blends

Wool. Who'd have thought it would be so hard to come by in Australia, the country that once 'rode on the sheep's back'?

At The Drapery, we've hunted high and low for suppliers of quality wool fabrics. Fabrics that are beautiful, but reasonably affordable for us to stock, and you to buy.
The woven wools we have stocked for this winter are from Japan, via one of our favourite suppliers whom we trust for excellent quality and service.

They are beautiful quality, gorgeous colours and very soft.

We believe the prices represent very good value: not cheap, to be sure, but quite approachable for the kind of 'investment pieces' you might want to make with wool.

Most of them also contain an amount of synthetic fibres. Gasp.

We thought long and hard about this.
How did it fit with The Drapery's 'natural fabrics' philosophy?
With our environmental concerns?
With - let's face it - our aesthetic concerns?

Here's what we concluded:
  • The fabrics did not feel at all synthetic.
  • We were instantly in love with a whole lot of them.
  • Shipping from Japan involves less 'fabric miles' than other potential sources, lowering the carbon footprint.
  • We have confidence in the quality of fabrics from this supplier, and confidence in the quality of Japanese fabrics in general.
  • The kind of garments and items that our customers would make from the wool fabrics would be likely to be long-term investment pieces (e.g. a jacket), rather than throwaway fashion.
  • 100% wool woven fabrics of a similar appeal are not only prohibitively expensive, they're extremely elusive. (We'd welcome anyone with tips!)
  • The synthetic content probably adds to the stability and durability of the fabrics.
  • We set a level of wool content that we were satisfied with: minimum 65% (there were lots of choices that were higher synthetic content).

The wools are really beautiful and we're delighted to have them in our shop (and champing at the bit to work with them ourselves). We hope you understand our reasoning for stocking the blended fabrics. Nonetheless, we're open to any and all feedback on the subject!

- Jane & Fiona xx

PS we will have some 100% wool knits from New Zealand coming in soon, and we have two genuine 100% Australian wool products in our shop: 100% pure new Australian wool quilt batting and 100% pure new Australian combed and carded wool tops, for toy stuffing.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Plantain top in Anna Maria Horner cotton interlock knit


We are nothing if not tireless in our testing of new fabrics for you all. Selfless I tell ya. And then of course we have to wear and wash and wear garments to test how they last over time. So when you see us wearing the fabrics and patterns that we sell, it's all in the name of research. Ultimately, it's for the good of you, our customers. You're welcome.
The print is actually quite straight, it's just how I'm standing to hold the camera!

This is my sixth version of the Deer and Doe Plantain top. I'm sure getting value out of that free download! Having made it using cotton interlock twice before, I wanted to try to refine the fit. The softness of interlock can make it tend to stretch out a bit more in width. I went down one size in the body, grading to two sizes down in the shoulders/armhole/neckline. I also narrowed the fit of the arms just a little. All in all, I'm pretty happy with it. Perhaps ultimately I need to perform some kind of narrow shoulder adjustment at the back but this is very wearable.

This Anna Maria Horner knit, new to us, is 100% cotton, beautifully soft and held its shape well in the pre-wash. The pattern lined up nicely for cutting on the fold. Interlock knit (the basecloth), on close inspection, looks the same on both sides. By nature it sits very flat for cutting, without the curling that jersey (which has two distinctly different sides), and especially jersey with spandex, can be prone to. So it's a great fabric for people with little knit-sewing experience to work with as it removes that potential frustration.

If you're sewing this knit on a regular machine I would definitely recommend a ballpoint (jersey) needle to slide smoothly through the fabric, and a walking foot to help feed the fabric evenly and without stretching. Use a polyester 'Sew All' thread for strength and small zigzag stitch for a little stretch.

We have three prints in this knit in the shop now: Sealing Wax (shown), Cracking Codes and Mary Thistle. You'll need 1.5 - 2m for a long-sleeved top.

- Jane & Fiona xx