Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Liesl+Co Woodland Stroll Cape - in aid of keeping warm

It's (relatively) really, stupidly, biblically chilly here at the moment. We need layers, and lots of them. Fortunately, this winter we started to stock this fantastic Japanese wool blend fabric, and I was keen to whip up something toasty - fast.

Enter the Liesl+Co Woodland Stroll Cape. Three main pieces for each outer shell and lining - stitch them together, add some buttons and you're done. It's a really stright-forward sew, and it comes together fast. If you're tentative about sewing warm outerwear because of the complicated nature of most coat patterns, then this cape would be a great place to start. It also uses a modest amount of fabric - another plus if you are dipping your toe into sewing with (sometimes more pricey) wools for the first time. The pattern is download only, but with so few pieces it takes less than an hour to complete all the necessary sticky taping and cutting.

Even though it's a beginner's pattern, because it is a Liesl+Co pattern, the finish on this cape is really lovely and well resolved. As mentioned, I made this version in our Japanese Wool blends. This buffalo check is sold out, but the others can be found herehere, here, here and here. It's lined with this (also Japanese) cotton lawn which we also have in store. Any light, slightly slippery cotton would do the trick:

 From the back...


Only a small amount of pattern matching across the shoulders is required if you decide to make this in a check. :)

The cape pattern is also available as a downloadable pattern for children as the Forest Path Cape under the Oliver+S label. Cute!

I finished this one over a month ago, and its been getting loads of wear. It's not so heavy or outdoorsy that I feel silly wearing it indoors. There's still plenty of Winter left, so maybe another is in order - perhaps lined in flannel for some added extra cozy?!

- Fiona & Jane xx

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Chataigne, je t'aime.

Winter shorts. They're a Thing.
 I've been looking for an alternative to my denim Grainline Moss Skirt that I wear so much, I don't even want to admit quite how much. (Let's just say it's a testament to the strength of hemp in the denim how well it's holding up.)
Enter the Deer and Doe Chataigne Shorts. In, um, exactly the same denim.
Hello, new winter staple.
Deer and Doe patterns are designed and printed in France on recycled paper. They are drafted for an average height woman of 168cm (5'5") with a C-D cup bust and larger hips. I find their patterns very true-to-size and so far, they fit me right out-of-the-box. If you are a similar shape, you might love Deer and Doe as much as I do!
I made Chataigne View A, which has a low waist and cuffs. There's a side zip, for which I used the regular kind rather than invisible as suggested.
Due to the thickness of the denim I lined the waistband and pockets with Liberty scraps from the stash, instead of self-fabric. And because, well, Liberty.
The front pockets are perfect for tucking your hands in or carrying your hanky. The small front pleats ensure there's enough room there for pocket use and comfort, without being excessively baggy. In fact I wasn't too sure about the pleats to start with - bad memories of baggy pants of the 80s, anyone? - but the shaped front waistband means a nice flat front where you want it and those wee pleats begin well below the tummy.
The back pocket flaps are just for show. Sometimes I find that sort of detail a bit odd but somehow Deer and Doe have got it right here. They seem pretty much perfect to me. I wouldn't use real back pockets anyway.
Construction notes:
  • When inserting the zip and stitching down the waistband lining, I took a leaf from the book of Jen of Grainline Patterns, and machine basted (using contrasting thread) from the wrong side before topstitching from the right side, then removed the basting. After inserting several Moss Skirt zip flies I understand now that a bit of basting - by machine or hand - can save a lot of pinning hassle. 
  • I couldn't get the waistband lining attachment to work around the zip like it does in the instructions. I'm not sure if this is because I did not use an invisible zip. It didn't matter; I just sewed the straight line around the top and turned everything else in and stitched down in the next step.
  • Thinking these will end up in high rotation, I used Gutermann Sew All (poly) thread for strength, and double-stitched the crotch seam, overlocked it and top-stitched it down. 
  • Wherever possible I used an overlocked finish, which also helped minimise the 5/8" seam allowance. 
  • Once again, channelling my inner Grainline Jen, I graded seams allowances where appropriate to reduce bulk.
  • These really come together much faster than you might imagine.

PATTERN: Deer and Doe Chataigne Shorts, View A. Pattern available in store, or email info@thedrapery.com.au or phone 08 7324 5883 (Deer and Doe do not allow others to sell their patterns online.)
SIZE: 44, no alterations, yay!
FABRIC: Hemp & Organic Cotton Denim, 150cm wide, 1 metre. Liberty Tana Lawn 'Ranga' scraps.
NOTIONS: 8" regular zip, Gutermann Sew All thread, lightweight woven cotton fusible interfacing on waistband outer.

Worn with: long sleeve top from Alabama Studio Sewing + Design in NZ cotton knit 'North Sea/Kalamata' (in stock again soon), Adventure Pants by Captain Robbo, boots by Duckfeet.

I love these so much I need another pair right away. Scalloped hem, coming up!

- Jane & Fiona xx

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Don't hate me, I'm wearing velour today.

Mmm, the feeling of wearing velour on a cold day. So soft. So snuggly. You know you want to.

This is another Grainline Hemlock (my first here) and I've barely taken it off since finishing it two nights ago.
It's made in this splendid Japanese velour in 'Smoke Grey'.
Not much more to say about it except I shortened the bottom by about 4cm/1.5". And even if velour totally evokes my 70s childhood, or perhaps because of this, I love it very much.
Trying to get a good photo of dark velour is a bit like photographing a black dog, except without eyes for a reference point!
 The whole top, with awkward hand pose (I think I was telling my son to move the camera down a bit to capture more than just the waist up).
Worn with Grainline Moss Skirt in hemp/organic cotton denim, because it goes with everything. Also, while I had black thread in the overlocker, I gave my bagged-out grey leggings a quick overhaul (i.e. trim down inside leg). Much better.

Anyway. Velour. Mmmm. Would also make an excellent Grainline Linden, Make It Perfect Skippy Dress, True Bias Hudson Pants or Colette Myrtle or Moneta dresses.

- Jane & Fiona xx

Monday, July 13, 2015

Grainline Hemlock vs Linden

First of all, this post wouldn't have happened without inspiration from one of our fab customers, who was buying the grey colourway of the pink French Terry (find both here) to make the Grainline Hemlock tee. I totally stole her idea. Sorry/thanks!!

Left: Linden. Right: Hemlock.
The Grainline Linden Sweatshirt pattern has been a big seller for us lately, and it's no surprise. In the Grainline style, it's a well-drafted pattern for a wardrobe staple. We ordered a whole bunch of French Terry fabrics with the Linden specifically in mind. The minute they arrived Fiona and I were both cutting, pre-washing and whipping up a Linden each, both of which have been in heavy rotation for casual winter wear ever since. (This is mine after a lot of wash & wear.)
And in action at the shop:

I added a kangaroo pocket because I had a similar RTW top with one that I'd pretty much 'worn to death'. (The pocket openings are stabilised with a small strip of fusible interfacing before turning and top-stitching, and the bottom edge of the pocket is stitched into the seam of the waistband.) Apart from that what you see here is a straight Size 12. Many people have commented on the sleeves being rather long on this pattern. I guess they do look a bit long but I have to admit I love a snuggly long sleeve in this kind of garment, so I can shake the cuffs down over my hands when I want the extra warmth.

The Hemlock Tee is a free pattern released by Grainline almost two years ago. It's a boxy, drop-shoulder style as opposed to the raglan-sleeved Linden. The sleeves and bottom are simply turned and hemmed, in contrast to the Linden's bands. At twenty A4 pages, just three pattern pieces, single size (and free), the Hemlock is within the limits of my pdf printing-and-taping tolerance! And it seemed the perfect match for the new lightweight Japanese Rose Marle French Terry that arrived in the shop last week.

For such a simple pattern, I learnt a couple of things. We can always rely on a Grainline pattern for learning nifty things!

First up, not really a technique, but just seeing how this shape of sleeve attaches to the body. There's no 'armscye' as such. You just pin it on until the sleeve finishes.

Secondly, a very clever way to tame curly and/or delicate knits and achieve a neat finish on the neck band (found in Jen's tutorial here). Briefly, you create a neck band a little wider than you require, press in half and overlock the edges together to make a neat band. Use tape on the overlocker bed to guide the band width on the left. Join the ends.

Then pin around the neckline, and overlock just inside the first line of overlocking so that's all trimmed off. Sorry the lighting is all over the place in this post. The weather is unkind and on top of that, Blogger just seems to dull everything down.
Also, Jen just marks the quarters of the neckline and band with pins rather than notches or chalk/marker. I mean, how simple is that? Why have I been messing around with anything else all this time?
The result is the neatest, most even neck band I've ever applied.
 And Hemlock in action:
Awkward hitched up side thing: when your kids take the photos, they don't think to mention things like this.
Both these French Terry fabrics are made in Japan and 100% cotton, and have been a delight to work with and wear. Amazingly for a red fabric, there was zero colour bleed in the pre-wash and the colour has continued to hold up strongly since. (Sorry red colourway sold out but it's available in Wattle, Lagoon, Cream Marle and Grey Marle.)

Two different styles, two great patterns.

I actually think the Hemlock is more my groove, mostly because the dropped shoulder is more flattering than the raglan sleeve to my narrow, sloping shoulders. I'm thinking it would also be great in a merino wool....

Are you more Hemlock, or Linden, or both?

- Jane & Fiona xx