Thursday, August 22, 2019

Pattern Review: The Assembly Line Wrap Jacket (times two)

Some patterns sneak up on you. This project started out as a practical shop sample which took me a couple of weeks to slowly cut out and put together, as a job - a not unpleasant one, granted - rather than a passion project.

The moment I tried it on however, I wanted one for myself. In a cosy wool. NOW!

Adelaide has been so cold lately (by Adelaide standards) and I lacked the mid-length jacket or cardigan this weather demands. The Assembly Line Wrap Jacket combines unlined, raglan-sleeve softness with long, clean lines for a mix of comfort and put-togetherness. This pattern was formerly known as the Kimono Jacket but, as with a number of similarly-named patterns by other designers, has changed name to respect the cultural importance of the traditional Japanese garment.

The shop sample shown above is made in 'This Way Up' Japanese Textured Indigo Cloth, a white print on yarn-dyed indigo-coloured cotton. This fabric is 110cm wide, while the pattern only states fabric requirements for 140cm+ width. I laid out my Size M pattern pieces and this took 2.5m of 110cm width. My fabric was directional but I think you would still need 2.5m in a non-directional.

For 'my' version I cut 2m as per pattern of our Velvet Finish 100% Australian Wool in Deep Navy. I didn't consult the pattern layout before I cut, and this actually has pieces running in both directions - but my fabric has a nap - gasp! With some careful juggling I managed to squeeze the Size M jacket out of the 2m, folded, as shown below. So please bear this in mind if you're working with a directional fabric. An extra 20 - 30cm might make all the difference.

The construction is rather nifty, especially the creation of the collar which also makes a dart for shaping on the front bodice. I followed all instructions to the letter, except I bound my seams and hem edges with Liberty.

It just makes me so happy to see Liberty bound seams in an unlined jacket. In the wool version, I bound everything except the small shoulder darts. Here it is inside out:

This pleasingly used almost every last scrap of a single fat quarter cut of our new 'Isadora C' tana lawn (cut in 1.5" bias strips and folded using the red Clover bias maker). You can see I also added a 'me made' label by Kylie and The Machine.

And here it is in action.

My only comment on the fit is that the sleeves are quite long, but this allows me to fold them up and show a bit of binding if I wish, or roll them down for extra hand warming. Yes, it does have a little bit of a dressing gown vibe but you know? I don't care. I think it's actually something I love about The Assembly Line patterns: they're not afraid to make a little bit of a statement, while being comfy as heck.

Both fabrics were a pleasure to work with, and the wool especially was a dream. It's so stable, cuts like butter, barely frays and really doesn't distort at all. I used a walking foot for the majority of the wool construction, which helped the thick layers pass smoothly through the machine. The wool responded well to pressing using a 'pressing cloth' (i.e. teatowel), pressing on the back of the fabric wherever possible, and using a 'clapper' (improvised bit of flat wood pressed down after the iron) to hold in the steam and set the crease. When pressing the belt straps, I also used fine Entomology Pins to hold the seam flat - pinned right into the ironing board padding, you can just see the tiny ends below - before I lowered the iron.

This wool, also available in Mulberry and Black, is excess stock from a local, ethical design company. It's incredibly beautiful and a feel-good purchase to boot.

Note here that if you are using a fabric that is shifty and/or fray-prone, there's a fair bit of handling of the garment while some raw edges, particularly angles and curves at the top, are still unsewn. It might pay to use quite a bit of stay-stitching or other stabilisation technique.

I have comfortably worn this jacket all day whilst doing a number of tasks at home and at work. The inside button fastening keeps it securely in place while done up. If worn open, the jacket ties don't make a nuisance of themselves. The pockets are a fabulously useful size and perfectly placed. Small details like elbow and shoulder darts and topstitching elevate this jacket's finish but it's a really achievable one-day sew. Can you tell I love it?


Pattern: The Wrap Jacket by The Assembly Line

Fabric: 2.5m 'This Way Up' Japanese Textured Indigo Cotton plus a fat quarter (50cm x 67.5cm) Liberty Tana Lawn 'Dapper Dogs' (version 1), 2m Velvet Finish 100% Australian Wool in Deep Navy (also available in Black and Mulberrry) plus a fat quarter Liberty Tana Lawn 'Isadora C' (version 2)

Size: M

Alterations: None except seam finish - bound instead of overlocked

Comments: I loved this more than I expected to. It's another winner from The Assembly Line!

- Jane xx

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Pattern freebie: mini dachshund jacket

When we published a photo on Instagram of one of our dogs (wee Lola, above) wearing a jacket made from the scraps from one of our projects recently, we had a few requests to share the pattern. So here it is! A quick guide to how I make a my dog jackets. This is a super simple pattern that is easily adaptable to the size of your dog. But please note that the straps are short and the body long on this pattern to fit the long n’ low dachshund in particular as most jackets are too short for their gorgeous sausagey bodies. 

Pattern pieces are below in JPG format (sorry, couldn't upload PDFs to Blogger, please send us an email if you'd like the PDFs!) They may or may not print to scale, so please check the measurements for a mini dachshund outlined in the directions -  and you might want to smooth out some of those roughly-drawn curves! There's also a picture of the finished product out flat to give a guide as there are no diagrams here. 

Enjoy and feel free to distribute to others. But of course this pattern - rough as it is - has been shared because we love dogs and is not for commercial use. :)

Please note that seam allowance is not included in this pattern. Please add your desired seam allowance before cutting, 1cm should be ample.

You’ll need:
- 35cm fabric of any width for outer (we recommend a light to mid-weight washable woven wool (these Japanese wool blends are perfect) or a soft canvas).
-  35cm lining fabric (light woven cotton or linen)
- Velcro (less than 10cm)
- Thread, fabric marker, scissors, point turner, iron, sewing machine.

Cut out dog jacket pieces as per pattern, transferring all markings from paper to fabric. 

Pattern size guidelines for a miniature Dachshund: the length of the body pattern along the centre back fold line is approximately 35cm long by 14cm wide; the length of the under body strap 23cm long by 7cm wide, and the length of the neck strap about 20cm long by 5cm wide (all measurements given are before the addition of seam allowance).

If you don't want to assemble the straps, you can easily substitute some thick, soft elastic and sew it into the seams as you assemble the body of the jacket instead.


1. With right sides together pin one body piece to one body lining piece, matching head end with head end and tail end with tail end. Sew around perimeter (using the seam allowance you selected and added during preparation) but leave an 8cm gap in your stitches at the tail end of the jacket, backstitching at each end. Finish seams with a zig zag and set aside.

2. Repeat as above for under body strap and neck strap, leaving a smaller gap in your stitching along the longest sides of each strap.

3. Using the turning tool, turn all pieces inside out through the gap in the seam then press well, tucking the seam allowance of the unfinished gap/hole back inside the jacket.

4. Topstitch around the entire edge of all jacket and strap pieces, enclosing the turning holes.

5. You might want to do a quick fitting on your dog before this next step to ensure that you are getting the position and length of the straps right for the size of your dog. Using the cross on one side of the body piece as a guide, top stitch the short end of the under body strap to the body piece on the outer side of the jacket. Repeat with the neck strap, affixing one short end of the strap to the head end of the body piece using the cross on the pattern as a guide.

6. Cut two small lengths of velcro, about 3cm each, and separate the pieces. Sew one side of the velcro onto the body pieces at the remaining crosses on under body and neck. Then sew the other side of the velcro to the lining side of each neck and under body strap.

You’re done! Pop the jacket on your hound and pat yourself on the back for keeping them warm.

- Fiona xx

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Pattern review: The Puff Shirt by The Assembly Line

Many sewists find themselves on the hunt for a simple-but-stylish top pattern for woven fabrics. One you could potentially repeat in a number of different fabrics, maybe use as a basis for long and short sleeved versions; a go-to, pull-on woven top.  I have a couple of these in my repertoire: the Roberts Collection top by Marilla Walker and the Breezeway Top by Frankie and Ray; excellent everyday tops. The Roberts Top now offers a free downloadable sleeve option and the Breezeway can use the sleeve from the Frankie and Ray Friday Shirt so they both have year-round potential.

But how about something a little more tailored and dressy? The Assembly Line Puff Shirt has been a popular pattern and has a charming mix of simplicity, elegance and a little bit of fun with those dramatic gathered bell sleeves. I was particularly inspired after seeing versions made by our delightful customer and blogger Pips (she's made quite a few of the Assembly Line patterns and has a fabulous personal style, well worth a look - on Instagram and blog.)

Having had success with the Assembly Line Hoodie Dress pattern (in fact I made a second one because I wanted to wear the first all the time and they've become my winter 2019 uniform), I felt fairly confident diving straight in to a Size M in the Puff Shirt.

I used a Japanese yarn-dyed brushed cotton, for a bit of winter cosiness.

The Puff Shirt is quite a simple pattern to sew and I found all the notches lined up perfectly, the sleeves had just the right amount of ease and it was an enjoyable project. I feel like a bit of an expert on the elastic cuff now (that's what's tucked inside those sleeve ends, and used to great effect on the Hoodie Dress). When I tried on the finished shirt I was very pleased with the fit through the body, the length and the proportions. 

And that sleeve - just enough drama to feel a bit special but not ridiculous. It's possibly a little long on me but surprisingly doesn't get in the way of anything. The instructions ask you to fold the cuff to the inside of the 'puff' and stitch down to keep them tucked in, but I haven't stitched them down. They stay put on their own and this way the cuff can be turned out fully to help the shirt dry after washing.

Sleeve drama!

As with the Hoodie Dress, the lovely angled French darts provide enough shaping without need for a Full Bust Adjustment. Hurrah.

The envelope neckline gives a lovely boat-neck shape. On me it tends to pull a little at the front shoulders, so it doesn't sit completely flat. In fact in the photographs above I have a small safety pin under the overlap on my left shoulder, which is keeping things in place quite well. I wonder if the pulling is because of my sloping shoulders. Or possibly I do actually need a small FBA. Or to narrow a little through the back shoulders? Hmm. If it bothers me I could potentially put buttons and buttonholes at the join, which might look nice, or perhaps a pair of hidden press-studs to hold the overlap in place. There is surely a small fitting adjustment I could make to help with this. Here's a quick snap of the offending part after wearing the top for a while without the safety pin, and after that, a photo of the back of the shirt. If anyone has any fitting suggestions I'd be grateful!

There is a centre back seam so I could possibly attempt some shaping through there.

It's very comfortable to wear and I am really pleased to find a simple woven top that fits me through the bust without being too wide in the shoulders. With the elastic cuffs, the puff sleeves are easy to push up out of the way, for example, when washing hands. I also quite like the idea of trying this without the puff; it would be simple to trim the sleeve to a narrow tapered shape that would be easier to wear under jackets and cardigans. I think this top could be a useful 'base' for variations.


PATTERN The Puff Shirt by The Assembly Line

FABRIC Brushed cotton - yarn dyed, made in Japan 1.9m (amounts are only given for 150cm wide fabric so I laid the pattern out)

SIZE M (my measurements approx. bust 39" waist 32" hip 42", height 5ft 3/163cm)

ADJUSTMENTS None, but would investigate for a second version to help with pulling at front overlap

COMMENTS Another lovely wardrobe-builder from The Assembly Line. I like it with jeans/pants and it will also layer well with my pinafores and overalls. It works in a fabric with light body like this brushed cotton, but the sleeves would have more 'swish' in something drapier like a washed linen, Tencel, Cupro etc.

- Jane x

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Pattern review: The Wilder Gown by Friday Pattern Company in Natural 100% Linen

Sometimes a sewing pattern seduces you, despite it being outside your usual comfort zone. The new Wilder Gown by California-based Friday Pattern Company lured me in with its siren song. The magic of sewing would instantly transform me into the amazing model in the photographs, right? I mean, swoon. Just add a floral headpiece.
Back in the real world... I made a sketch of the Wilder on the 'My Body Model' fashion sketching croquis, based on my own dimensions. (I highly recommend this as a sewing project tool.)
Hey, this could work!

I bought the pattern (pdf only at present) and had it printed in large format at Aish on Glen Osmond Road. I have a 'fancy' evening version of the Wilder in mind for later on, but as a first run I thought I'd try it in our favourite all-occasions standby, Lithuanian Natural Linen. The earthiness of this fabric helps dress the design down a bit. With all that volume and gathering, I want this dress to feel either super-relaxed or super-dressy.

So, excellent news - the Wilder sews up in a very short space of time. The line drawings show you just how beautifully simple this dress is:
Raglan sleeves, neckline gathered with a long tie and those skirt tiers are simple gathered rectangles.
The hardest part is pinning the layers together and I confess I went with 'rustic' gathers rather than trying for perfectly spaced and evenly sewn. The shirt version is very appealing and avoids sewn gathers altogether.

The instructions are great and you're encouraged along the way by adorable little images of happy sewing tools with positive advice. I love touches like this which keep you motivated through some of the duller parts of sewing like cutting out.

I measured a Size L and made a small FBA (simplest FBA ever) as per the instructions, adding 1/2" to the width of the front bodice pattern piece. The other adjustment I made was to take 10cm out of the length, to account for my height, by reducing each tier by 5cm.

When I first tried the finished dress on I could absolutely feel the unapologetic 'nightgown' references made in the pattern. There's so much volume and length. However, the whole point of this gown is to be loose and flowy and swingy. After I wore it a bit, and the linen softened up, its voluminous glory really grew on me. Can you imagine how comfy it is? And, twirly? (Check out the pattern hashtag on Instagram for many sewists swishing and twirling!)

As the pattern helpfully suggests, I played about with the neckline gathers, since this can make quite a difference in how the dress sits. After a bit of wear, I stitched the ties in place with a few hand-stitches on the wrong side at the channel opening. This means the gathers stay in place even if I knot the tie a bit more loosely.
There is hand stitching in there somewhere I promise.
For daytime wear I still feel the need to dress the Wilder down. I like it with leggings and boots, or neutral, sensible shoes like my trusty Duckfeet Mols. It works well with a denim jacket. Basically, something that declares I am not off to bed in a four-poster or to picnic at Hanging Rock. A fancy evening version? Well, something with a touch of translucency, layered over a slip is twirling in my mind's eye.

Has the Wilder Gown captured your imagination?

In summary

PATTERN: The Wilder Gown by Friday Pattern Company (pdf available direct from designer)

FABRIC: 100% Linen, Natural, 160gsm. Pattern asked for 3.5m of 150cm wide fabric. I used about 2.9m, part of which is accounted for by my shortening the skirt tier piece, which would have used another 25cm at full size. My advice would be to buy the full amount suggested for your size and fabric width, unless you know you will shorten it.


ALTERATIONS: 1/2" FBA and shortened each skirt tier by 5cm.

COMMENTS: Fast and simple construction and almost no fitting issues meant a low-risk adventure into unknown style territory. The only drawback is the considerable fabric consumption if you're not sure whether the Wilder will be for you.

The sleeves are a bit wider and meet the bodice at a lower point than I anticipated from the product photographs. Finished garment measurements are given, and accurate; it turns out I really couldn't imagine how super-roomy six inches of bust ease would be! I am in two minds about narrowing down through this area, or simply sizing down, in any subsequent versions. It might be best to leave well enough alone.

For me the Wilder is the right meeting of volume and drama with pared back simplicity. It's great to try a different style now and then!

- Jane xx

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Pattern Review: The Hoodie Dress by The Assembly Line, in Deep Navy Twill Linen

The new pattern range by Swedish company The Assembly Line has been selling like hotcakes, and we've been hearing many positive reports back from customers about their garments. We like to be able to advise our customers from our own experience and The Hoodie Dress looked more and more appealing as the wintry weather set in here in Adelaide.

The pattern says: "The Hoodie Dress slips over the head, there are elastic cuffs at sleeve and skirt bottom. It features large front pockets and a hood. If you prefer the dress without the hood, this pattern includes a pattern part for neck facing to be used instead."

To help choose your size, the pattern includes body measurements plus comprehensive finished garment measurements. This showed that there's a decent amount of ease built in, but I made a muslin of the bodice and sleeves to check whether I should do a full bust adjustment (which I often require). The deeply angled 'French' style bust darts actually provide plenty of shaping and I made no adjustments to the pattern. The sleeve head and armscye are a shape I know works well for me and indeed, the shoulder and sleeve sat nicely.

The Deep Navy Twill linen I chose is a great partner for this cosy pattern: quite a good weight and very soft. However, in my head the song from the old Alice in Wonderland animated film was nagging at me: "I give myself very good advice, but I very seldom follow it". I knew I should have pre-washed the linen to give it back a bit of crispness for the cutting and construction. But did I? Nope. So the lovely linen was a bit shifty and fray-prone to work with (typical of a twill weave, softened linen). I staystitched all over the place, and pinned, pinned, pinned, and breathed a sigh of relief when the final seam was neatly overlocked!

The only part where I strayed a little from the (excellent) instructions was in binding the seams inside the hood, rather than overlocking, because they are sometimes visible. I made some bias tape from Liberty Tana Lawn in 'Autumn Trip',  and it's amazing how far a fat quarter can go. Not only did it bind this and part of my Sierra Jumpsuit, but I still squeezed out a dog bandanna from the leftovers!

The cuffs call for 5cm wide elastic for the cuffs. Since I didn't have this, I joined two strips of narrower elastic side-by-side with a zigzag stitch. I saw this tip online somewhere recently - I'm sorry I don't recall where so I can't credit - but it works perfectly! I used a soft knitted elastic for comfort. It's sewn into the seams as per the instructions so the elastic won't twist in its casing, hurrah.

When I first tried on the almost-finished garment I was a bit overwhelmed by its... monastic vibe. There's no getting away from the hood which contributes a lot to this, but it's also a large part of the pattern's charm. I ended up chopping 16cm off the bottom of the dress, which was tremendously long on me, and then when I added the elastic cuffs the true essence of the design came through and it felt a lot less 'costumey'. In fact I really love it.

If I put the hood up it also has a Jedi feel, but I'm okay with that. As you can probably imagine it's all kinds of comfy. Those monks and Jedi are no fools.

I carefully tried this on before I set in the sleeves and was rather taken with the look of it sleeveless. It would be great on its own and with fitted layers underneath. I'd take the time to make a sleeve facing pattern piece, interface it and have a stitched down finish like the hood facing.

Other fabrics I'd recommend for this pattern include:

Hemp & Organic Cotton Indigo Chambray

Cotton/linen Japanese Textured Twill

Any of our 100% linens

Japanese Tencel/Cotton Light Denim

Japanese Utility Cloth

Japanese Wool Blends

In summary:

PATTERN: The Hoodie Dress by The Assembly Line

FABRIC: 100% linen Deep Navy Twill

SIZE: M, shortened by 16cm at bottom hem

COMMENTS: A very nicely designed and well-written pattern. Not complicated yet has nice small details like an elbow dart, shaped back seam and topstitching. The large pattern envelope makes it easy to store all the traced pattern pieces and the A4 instruction booklet is clear and thorough. I love it and can definitely imagine another of these in my wardrobe - probably sleeveless for layerable year-round wear.

- Jane xx

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.

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