Thursday, September 22, 2016

Pattern Review: Marilla Walker 'Evan Skirt' in Art Gallery Denim

I've had the notion of a longer A-line skirt in my mind for a while, and have been casting my eye around for patterns. I wanted something quite plain, multi-seasonal, comfy; I guess the skirt equivalent of a pair of jeans.

Well pattern-wise I certainly went with 'the vision' but perhaps not so much the fabric, ha! This Art Gallery Textured Denim in 'Canyon Sunset' (currently sold out but on re-order) is no shrinking violet. But it makes me happy!

I chose Marilla Walker's 'Evan' skirt (named after her young son, how cute) because it had just enough seaming/yoke/fly detail to break up the expanse of fabric, great front pockets and a nice just-A-line-enough shape. Also, because I love her style and have had great success with her Roberts Collection pattern.

Pattern description: "This classic a-line skirt is a 'jeans' style with back yoke, fly front fastening and front/back pockets. The waistband is curved for a flattering fit and sits just below the natural waist. There are two different length options with interchangeable details."

As with all her patterns it's download only, unless you're lucky enough to snap up the limited run, hand-packaged printed versions from Marilla's Etsy shop. There is a copy shop option, fortunately, and I had the AO file printed out at Aish, just down Glen Osmond Road.

I left off the back pockets and did not make the interesting optional pleated front pocket details, because I wanted more of a blank canvas.

I'm really pleased with the result! (Top is handstitched Alabama Chanin in Japanese cotton jersey and boots by Duckfeet.)

The Evan Skirt offers a great range of 10 different sizes, Waist 62-104cm/24.4 - 41" and Hip 86-128cm/34 - 50.4".
To begin with I measured where I thought I wanted the skirt to sit, lower on my torso than the skirt is designed for. After cutting the pattern at this size and sewing it up, I tried it on before attaching the waistband. I decided I wanted it to sit a bit higher (as per design, what a surprise!) and to achieve this fit, I ended up taking it in 2cm at each side seam (i.e. 8cm reduction total). This took the skirt down almost two full sizes. I think this was my own waist/hip measuring uncertainty than any sizing issue with the pattern. Fortunately the pockets are really generous and even with my shearing off the sides there is still plenty of room to put my hands in. It should be noted though that the pocket openings would normally extend a bit further towards the centre. And what awesome capacious pockets they are!

Fit: Although this is a much higher-waisted skirt than I have worn for years, I'm really pleased with the fit and comfort. The front pockets go right from the side seam across to the zip fly, so there's a good amount of structured fabric right across where it matters. Originally I made the full-length version, which on 5ft3 me was pretty much skimming the floor. I took a little length off and hemmed it, but still wasn't sold so after a quick Instagram poll...
 ... I cut more off. Ad it feels much more me! So ultimately I could have saved myself some fabric, and won't need as much (2m x 150cm full length requirement) if I make this again.

Construction: The skirt came together easily and the instructions are clear. I was really interested to try Marilla's zip fly instructions, since it seems there are lots of small variations in the way people do this (and some seem a lot easier to me than others!). The zip went in nicely and the only thing I found a little confusing was a step where you trim away a small part and leave it hanging, then tuck it back in later on. However I just did as I was told and it all worked well. Sometimes you just have to believe! I used a metal jeans zip which gives a satisfying RTW look.
Instead of the specified button, I spared myself the pain of trying to make a buttonhole through layers of denim and used a hammer-on snap, which works well and suits the denim.

I've already worn this skirt multiple times and I think it will see a lot more wear in summer too. It's a great wardrobe staple and I can imagine making at least one more. Probably in a plain denim, boring but I know I would wear it to bits!

You can purchase the Marilla Walker Evan Skirt pattern here.
Art Gallery Fabrics denims in store and online here (while stocks last).
Other suggested fabrics:
10oz Dark Denim
Hemp & Organic Cotton Lightweight Denim Indigo
12oz soft Bio Wash Denim, Mid Blue
Recycled Hemp & Organic Cotton Duck, Granite
or perhaps a fun or funky mid-weight print?

- Jane & Fiona xx

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Liberty Undies!

No matter how enthusiastic a sewist you may be, there's probably some project you've dismissed with an 'oh, I'd never sew that'. To tricky, too dull, too easy to buy ready-made? I'm pretty sure I've said it about underwear in the past. But Fiona and I are both beginning to pause and realise, 'never say never'!

Thanks to the ever-inspiring internet I happened upon a free bra pattern called the Maya Bra by Romanian blogger Ana at her blog AFI. Armed with a kit from Booby Traps (Sydney/online), and AFI instructions and more from Cloth Habit, I ventured in. And my first bra was quite a decent fit and quite comfortable! And a world of possibility opened in front of me (cue heavenly harps).....
AFI Maya Bra pattern in Liberty 'Lady Zadie', other components from Booby Traps online
*NB: photo above is not my first attempt!
One of the biggest revelations to me was that bras don't have to be made entirely of stretchy fabrics. In fact many require that at least some parts (cups and 'frame' at front) are non-stretch. And what fabric is very fine, very stable and very pretty? Liberty of London Tana Lawn!
AFI Maya Bra pattern in Liberty 'Heads & Tails', other components from Booby Traps online

 While I was exploring Liberty bra-making I also discovered a knickers pattern suitable for Liberty fabrics.
The Maker's Journal is Melbourne-based, and came to my attention via The Handmakers' Factory who ran a knicker-making workshop. I highly recommend the 'Tried and True' pattern for bias-cut wovens. I'm gradually sewing myself a drawer full! (Beautiful printed pattern from Etsy store here.)
The maker's Journal Tried and True knicker pattern in Liberty 'Heads & Tails'

Alterations: I found the sizing extremely accurate but I did add a bit extra to the back rise for personal preference. Tightening up the waist elastic (cutting it about 5cm shorter than according to pattern) also helps the knickers stay where I want them. The online instructions to attach the elastic are good but do not mention how to portion out the elastic along the length of each edge. If you'd rather not wing it, I suggest stretching your elastic right along each edge and pinning it at the halfway point, or quarters or other points of your choice, to help it be evenly distributed.

Liberty Tana Lawn is the perfect fabric for the Tried and True knickers and it's such a delightful little luxurious treat to yourself. If you choose a non-directional print, and arranging carefully, you can cut a pair of any size (8-14) out of just a fat quarter. (You may even have enough scraps left to embellish a matching bra.)

Selflessly, I have also tried the pattern in seersucker so I can recommend that to you all. From a 55cm cut of this 110cm wide Japanese cotton seersucker you can make 2 pairs!
Tried and True knickers in Japanese cotton seersucker

You'll also need a tiny amount of cotton jersey for the gusset and between 1.5 - 2m of scalloped lingerie elastic per pair, now available at The Drapery. I am pleased to report that the elastic we have in stock (in cream) is the most firm and 'springy' of the lingerie elastics I have tried yet.

The second bra pattern I tried was the Marlborough Bra by Orange Lingerie. There are many beautiful versions of this bra to be seen on the internet. Very inspiring! Norma, the woman behind Orange Lingerie, is very responsive to questions about her patterns and shares lots of good information on her blog.

Orange Lingerie Marlborough Bra with Liberty 'Fairy Land'
And the third (but unlikely to be last!) pattern I have made is the Chelsea Bra by Elise Patterns. A very pretty bra but I measured myself incorrectly and it turned out too big. I will size down and try again! (Briefly - when measuring, have arms by sides, exhale and hold tape firmly. The exhale bit is very important!)

Elise Patterns Chelsea Bra in Liberty 'Lodden' (personal stash)
I'm not going to waffle on too much about bra-making here because I realise it's not for everyone. But if you have any specific questions about the patterns I have used, sizing, notions or other aspects please comment below and I will be happy to answer!

A few of the other places I have found useful underwear sewing information:
Measure Twice Cut Once blog
Emerald Erin blog
Marilla Walker Instagram
Life of a Fairy Bra Mother blog 

How about you? Have you sewn underwear? Are you tempted? What's holding you back?

- Jane & Fiona xx