Sunday, April 18, 2021

Pattern review: Papercut Stacker Jacket in Donegal Tweed

As soon as we knew our pure wool Donegal Tweeds were on the way from Ireland I was excited to think about what I might make. The Stacker Jacket by Papercut Patterns ticked a lot of boxes for me: cropped and casual, yet fully lined and with the potential to be really warm (well, by Adelaide standards). 

The Stacker was released a while back so there are loads of versions out there on the interwebs for inspiration. Take a look on Instagram: #stackerjacket .

I made a muslin and was impressed by the drafting and the way it all comes together. It's reasonably simple as far as a fully-lined jacket goes (one-piece sleeves, cut-on facings and hems) but has some nice detail like separate and interfaced front and back yokes, pocket options and an under collar that is smaller and cut on the bias, to encourage a nice roll.

My measurements fit pretty closely into Papercut's size 5, but after making the muslin and carefully consulting the finished garment measurements given in the pattern, I decided to size down to a 4, for a less oversized look. I also took out 5cm of length at the lengthen/shorten lines to create a more cropped size on my short torso (for reference I'm 163cm/5ft3).

I used our luscious new plaid Donegal Tweed 'Oonagh', and cut the yokes on the bias to mix it up a bit. The pattern called for 1.7m of fabric at 150cm wide. Since I cropped the pattern by 5cm, I cut 1.75m of fabric and had enough to play with for very careful pattern matching and placement.

I love to do a layout of the cut pieces of a garment for a preview:

So excited at this point

So how do you cut a plaid on the bias when it's not square, and therefore won't be symmetrical? I agonised over this and consulted some RTW garments and decided that you pick a feature centre and then let it do its thing on either side of this. It looks totally fine! Most plaids are not square and I'll probably be noticing this everywhere now.

I love the enormous patch pockets which are an option with the Stacker (although mine became shorter when I took length out of the bodice), but I also love a pocket I can easily put my hands into. After a lot of consideration I added welt pockets to the side of the patch pockets, which extend between the jacket fronts and the lining. 


They're not 100% successful in practice because they're a little far off to the side for really easy tucking-in-of-hands, but I'm glad they're there, they're capacious and they hold a hanky or keys while the patch pockets are perfect for my phone, a shopping list etc. I was inspired by this blog post (check out the amazing cosplay jacket!) and was grateful for the tip to use the patch pocket topstitching to hold one half of the welt pocket lining in place. The rest of the pocket linings are secured in the placket and hem topstitching. I used this tutorial post from Thread Theory Patterns to create the welt pockets (or as the post points out, technically, jetted pockets).

A walking foot was a must to pattern match those patch pockets successfully. Before I used the walking foot I had a couple of unsuccessful attempts despite much careful pinning: the top layer kept being pushed forwards.

For the bodice lining I used a Liberty remnant that was just big enough for that and lining the welt pockets, supplemented with some acetate lining for the sleeves. Buttons are some lovely nut-brown Corozo ones that we have from Merchant & Mills, buttonholes done with the 4-step manual process on my old Bernina.



Note bias cut yoke where pattern cannot be symmetrical - I centred the dark brown diamond.

A couple of notes on construction: 

Papercut Patterns uses a 1cm seam allowance, which is great in that it's not wasteful, but it doesn't allow much room for error, or seam grading and taming of seam allowances in thicker fabrics. Most of the seam allowances here are pressed open, and I found it useful to have a rolled-up hand towel (as improvised clapper) to put pressure on the seams after a steamy iron. On the shoulders, which are interfaced and lightly curved, I ended up hand-tacking the seam allowances down to keep them in place.

The upper collar, cut on the straight grain and interfaced, is very stable. The under collar is cut on the bias, and not interfaced. In this twill-weave wool, it stretched a bit, so even though the under collar is cut a bit smaller, it does not produce the desired 'rolling' effect. Post-construction I have done some hand stitching to effectively understitch (attach the outer edge of the under collar to its interior seam allowance) which helps, and I've steamed it into better submission. If I had my time again I'd be sure to adjust the under collar so it is definitely smaller and pulling a little at the upper collar, before putting everything together. I'm hoping the natural malleability of wool will persuade the under collar to compress a bit over time (it seems to be doing this already).



Worn with Clyde Jumpsuit in our Japanese Corduroy in 'Cocoa', boots by Duckfeet

SUMMARY:

PATTERN: Stacker Jacket by Papercut Patterns

FABRIC: 100% wool Donegal Tweed, 'Oonagh' 1.75m x 156cm wide

SIZE: 4

ALTERATIONS: sized down from body measurement size and removed 5cm from front and back bodice length at lengthen/shorten lines. Added welt 'hand warmer' pockets.

COMMENTS: I'm thrilled with this jacket and it has slotted effortlessly into my wardrobe, as if I've had it for years. I plan to enjoy wearing this for a very long time! The Stacker Jacket feels like a contemporary classic pattern, nicely finished, with uncluttered lines that makes it easy to throw on over just about anything. Of course, at time of writing we have only one copy of the pattern left in the shop, but there are always unlimited pdfs straight from the designer!

 - Jane xx









Monday, March 22, 2021

Pattern review: Juno Jacket by Papercut in Double Indigo Selvedge Denim

Papercut Patterns of New Zealand recently released a new collection of patterns, and we loved the look of the Juno Jacket immediately. 

Image credit: Papercut Patterns


Fiona and I both independently had the thought of making it up in our new Double Indigo Japanese Selvedge Denim. Great minds, right? The one I have made is definitely a shop sample though. (Truly. It's in the shop right now... unlike my Merchant & Mills Mary White top from the previous post, which has 'somehow' ended up in high rotation in my wardrobe, ahem.)

When using a selvedge denim I like to make a feature of the selvedge, and the front bands and belt on the Juno were perfect opportunities. The pattern layouts supplied look very efficient, but I had to go my own way to incorporate the selvedge, and played a lot of pattern tetris, cutting in a single layer and tracing in chalk (which is quite satisfying on dark, smooth denim).

I subtracted the 1cm seam allowance from the neckband and belt pieces on the selvedge sides. The neckband pieces, though they end up curved, are cut perfectly straight. Attaching them to the slightly curved neck edge gives a nice bit of body-hugging dimension to the front of the jacket.

Given the relative heft and stability of my fabric, I did not interface anything. If your fabric is more supple you'll probably want to interface where specified, for structure.

The jacket is unlined, so I did my favourite finishing touch for unlined jackets, which is to bind all raw seams with bias tape made from Liberty Tana Lawn. I measured how much I was able to make from half a metre of Liberty: 11 metres of bias cut at 1.5" wide, and that was not using the triangles left over from each end. I like to save them to make bandannas for my dog, heheh. This was plenty to bind all the seams on the Juno, with a metre or two left over.


If you would like to bind the seams, here's a guide to what to do when (or skip this bit - jump to ***):

Before construction, bind: Outer curved edge of Back Neck Facing, Sleeve hems, Back Bodice hem, upper edge of Pockets.

Choose whether to bind Front and Back Bodice shoulders separately now, or together after sewing shoulder seams (read on for more info).

After attaching sleeves, bind Sleeve/armscye seam allowances together.

Now bind Sleeve and side Bodice seams in four continuous lines (left front and back, right front and back), before sewing the side/sleeve seams to complete jacket construction.

If you choose to bind the Bodice shoulder seams together after joining, and press towards the back, you'll achieve the smoothest finish in relation to the back neck facing application. Depending on your fabric, you may find this too bulky at the shoulder/sleeve join. I bound the shoulder seams separately before construction, so inside they are pressed together under the neck facing, then opened out towards the sleeve. This is not completely ideal along the shoulder seam, but with a lot of steamy pressing, it's behaving itself just fine. A similar opening-out is necessary at the bottom of the side seams, to facilitate the construction of both the back hem which encloses the front bodice pieces, and the openings in the side seams for the belt. I think these are the kind of quirk that is a bit bothersome during construction but then you never think of them again while wearing.

***

I cut and sewed the Juno from raw, unwashed denim. Here it is in unwashed state:


This was partly because I cut it out on impulse during a quiet day in the shop, and partly because I wanted to start the beautiful ageing process of this denim on the finished garment, so it would begin to fade on the jacket's shape. I won't be in a hurry to sew unwashed denim again because it's a bit like wrangling cardboard, TBH. All the pieces matched pretty much to the millimetre though, in their cardboardy state. (Oh yeah, except for the back neck facing, which seems to have about the equivalent of an extra seam allowance added at the top:


- no big deal, I just snipped it off, and I am open to the possibility that I made a mistake in application). 

I am pleased with the once-washed jacket:


I made a Size 5 as per my measurements in the new Papercut 1-8 sizing (hurrah for neutral sounding size names!). I find the fit just right. It's a loose-fitting jacket but I'm not swimming in it.




I'm wearing the jacket with my Papercut Palisade Pants, which were the inspiration for the awesome pockets on the Juno Jacket. Wear them together and you have eight pocket compartments to lose things in!


SUMMARY

PATTERN: Juno Jacket by Papercut

FABRIC: Double Indigo Japanese Selvedge Denim, 100% cotton, 10oz 2.6m

SIZE: 5, no alterations

COMMENTS: A fairly straightforward pattern, enjoyable to sew and wear. Nicely shaped, with awesome pockets. In the long term it's possible the long, loose belt might be a bit annoying, but it could easily be shortened, or sewn into the side seams, at a later date. As designed, threading through slots in the side seams and going across the back on the inside is a "nice, different, unusual" feature, and worth living with for a while at least! A versatile style that could be made in many fabrics from a flowy linen to a thick wool to suit different seasons and occasions. You'll probably want to make more than one.

- Jane xx



 

















Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Pattern review: Merchant & Mills Mary White top in Honeysuckle linen


The Mary White pattern is a recent release from UK's Merchant & Mills. It's slated as Intermediate skill level and described thus: "A loose fitting dress or top with front and back pleats, side in-seam pockets (dress only), breast pocket and a sailor collar. Perfect attire for any board walk."

Merchant & Mills is not (as far as I've seen) forthcoming about the origin of the pattern's name. A quick internet search revealed a Dr Mary White, prominent Australian Paleobotanist who died in 2018, and a Kansas schoolgirl of the early 20th century, daughter of a journalist and subject of a 1977 movie about her life and early death from a horseriding accident. Your guess is as good as mine. *EDIT* thanks to our lovely friend Dorothy who remembered that M&M had answered the query a while back - it's a lifeboat! 

I'm drawn to the sailor collar, but wary of the exaggerated look that brings to mind Popeye or Princess Di in the early 1980s.





However I trust Merchant & Mills to keep it classy. So I selected our soft washed Lithuanian linen in 'Honeysuckle' and went to work on the top (the dress version is simply lengthened straight down, with added side seam pockets).

As usual with M&M patterns, the sewing process was full of satisfaction, with notches lining up beautifully, sleeves easing in nicely and so forth. However, I did find the front pleat quite a head-scratcher. I got there in the end, and it was partly my fault for making chalk marks (which became hard to discern) instead of the recommended tailor tacks. Next time, I'll take the time to tailor tack properly. 

There is a section where facings are sewn to folded pieces of the front bodice, and in case it helps anybody, I offer the following as additional guidance in the second part of Step 13, where I found the diagram difficult to interpret:

Right front bodice (view of wrong side), interfaced neck facing above inner workings of the pleat. Fold both out away from the bodice.


Pin top of pleat to bottom of facing.

Sew across, the full width of the facing.

This is how it looks once folded back against the bodice.


After this, I sewed the closing of the pleat incorrectly several times before I finally worked it out. It's quite tricky to picture how it all comes together. If you're not sure, hand-baste the pleat and check it, which will be easier to unpick than my 'surely this time' machine sewing!

I had concerns about the length of the top (fairly cropped), but in the end I think it's fine. Taller people might like to add a bit of length though. I may have hemmed it a tad longer than as per pattern. Here it is in action, worn with shorts in (sold out) Traditional Japanese Dinosaurs, made with the Closet Core Carolyn Pajamas pattern. Better rumpled photos than not at all.






FABRIC: 'Honeysuckle' Lithuanian Washed Linen, 210gsm  1.4m as per pattern - we find M&M generally accurate with yardage and their layouts make efficient use of fabric.
SIZE: 14
ALTERATIONS: none
COMMENTS: Ultimately, after some frustrations, this was a satisfying sew. If I end up leaving this at the shop as a sample (as planned), I would like to make one to keep for myself. I actually chose this colour linen because I adore it (so, enjoyed the sew) but thought it was better suited to people with darker colouring... so I wouldn't be tempted to keep it. But I think the colour looks surprisingly fine. I'd better crack on with another 'keeper' then!

















Monday, November 30, 2020

Pattern Review: By Hand London Hannah Wrap Dress in linen

I love it when a sewing pattern really challenges my idea of styles I like to wear. Wrap dresses were not something I'd considered for a long time. So I was surprised when the Hannah Wrap Dress from By Hand London caught my eye, and kept playing on my mind.


A search of the #bhlhannah hashtag on Instagram showed the Hannah looking pretty great on a real range of people. And they recently released extended sizing, which I found promising for fit.

And what do you know - I love it! Hannah pairs beautifully with our washed Lithuanian linens. I used rich teal-blue 'Atlantic', one of our new custom-dyed colours. In this fabric the Hannah makes me feel well-dressed but not overdressed for everyday wear.


NB: BHL patterns are only available as PDF, and I purchased this direct from their website. It's a large print job: four A0 pages mostly filled by the three skirt pieces, or a bunch different files for A4, because you can choose between three sleeve options. I printed the bodice and short sleeve at home to make a muslin before I committed to the full dress, then needed three A0 pages printed to complete the dress. It was worth it in the end though!

I made several fitting alterations to the bodice, through the course of two muslins and the finished dress, but they were exactly as I might expect given my personal shape. I think the pattern is very nicely drafted 'as is'. 

After the first muslin I lowered the bust dart and made a narrow shoulder adjustment. Then after constructing the final dress I could see another area for improvement, with an excess of fabric in the upper bust/armpit area. This sat much better when I pinched a bit out towards the shoulder point along the shoulder seam. So I did a bit of unpicking and took a wedge out of the back shoulder, an inch at the shoulder point tapering to nothing at the neckline - a bit of a dodgy sloping shoulder adjustment. I made a pleat at the top of the sleeve to take in the resulting excess there. If I was to be really picky, I could have gone a bit further with this shoulder adjustment. Don't mind the low quality mirror selfies and mid-reno room... you may find the fitting demo useful!



I also shortened the sleeve, which made it better proportioned for me. The skirt needs no adjustments since it's just three big rectangles with lots of gathers. For me, with many patterns it's a tossup whether to choose a smaller size based on shoulders/high bust and make a full bust adjustment, or choose a larger size and then adjust the shoulders. I'm happy with how this one worked out in the end!

The skirt wrapover is generous and has you covered unless it's super windy (Bunnings carpark I'm looking at you!). The bodice wrap also feels fairly secure and I don't feel the constant need to check and adjust for coverage. I love the weight and swishiness that our washed linen gives to the skirt. Pockets are excellent, although a little difficult to find sometimes within the gathers. Extra shaping is given to the bodice with darts coming from the waist at front and back.






Summary

PATTERN: Hannah Wrap Dress, By Hand London

FABRIC: 100% linen, washed/softened, made in Lithuania - Atlantic (145cm wide, 2.5m)

SIZE: 16 in the original B-cup range (I dithered over which range to purchase because the curvier sizing also started at a 16 but my measurements seemed to fit this quite well)

ADJUSTMENTS: lowered bust dart, narrow shoulder adjustment, sloping shoulder adjustment, shortened sleeve

COMMENTS: I'm a wrap dress convert! Love it.

- Jane xx

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