Friday, January 20, 2017

Outback Wife by Gertrude Made - what to sew with these beautiful barkcloths!

There was a great suggestion on Instagram that we do a blog post on pattern recommendations to go with the gorgeous new cotton barkcloth fabric range Outback Wife. They've been selling very quickly though so please don't hesitate to snap some up - otherwise we have plenty of other fabrics that will be equally well suited to the patterns below.

From parent company Ella Blue's website:
"Outback Wife is the debut collection of Cathi Bessell-Browne, the hands and heart behind Gertrude Made. Each fabric has been a labour of love and they have taken more than a year to complete.
Inspired by the beautiful floral barkcloth fabrics of the 1940s and 1950s, each detail of this collection has been meticulously and sincerely considered to create a range with an authentic vintage voice. The stunning hand-painted floral designs printed on an exclusive cotton barkcloth base, tell the story of four Australian rural women. Outback Wife is an ode to the strength, passion and courage of rural women across Australia."

At 150cm wide, these fabrics are fantastic for dressmaking, with a medium-to-light weight, soft hand, a little give and medium drape. Produced in Japan, the quality of the basecloth and the printing is just beautiful. It really is like original mid-century barkcloth that was often used in curtains.

So what sort of garments could you make with Outback Wife? Here are some suggestions:

Deer and Doe Belladone Dress
Anna Maria Horner Painted Portrait Dress 

Grainline Willow Tank Dress and Top
Grainline Alder Shirtdress
For little girls: Merchant & Mills Trapezette Dress

 Named Patterns Lourdes Cropped Jacket
Merchant & Mills Trapeze Dress

Merchant & Mills Dress Shirt
For the blokes: Merchant & Mills All State Shirt
Merchant & Mills Top 64
Deer and Doe Chardon Skirt

With the vintage vibe of these fabrics we can also really imagine them in a 1950s fit-and-flare style dress. People have also been buying Outback Wife prints for use in quilting. What would you use them for?

- Jane & Fiona xx

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Pattern Review: Papercut Patterns Skipper Tunic in Washed Linen

I have to say this project fought me somewhat along the way. However I was so in love with the fabric, a beautiful blue/green crossweave washed linen from our late 2016 delivery, that I was determined to make it work. And I'm pretty happy that I got there in the end. (End-of-the-day crumpled photos because we like to keep it real.)

The Skipper Tunic was released by NZ designers Papercut Patterns last year as part of their nautically-inspired 'Ahoy' collection. I loved the simple shape, square neckline and lace-up placket. Papercut offers free worldwide shipping (how?) so I bought this from their shop and in fact added another pattern because, to tell the truth, I wondered how they could make any profit on single pattern purchases with free postage. I can't help thinking of other small businesses.

Initially I made a basic muslin to test the sizing and fit. As I expected, I felt it worth sizing down and adding a full bust adjustment, a very common alteration for me. I also lengthened the pattern quite a bit because I wanted it to be a just-above-knee dress rather than mid-thigh tunic.

Then I went ahead with the linen. It all came together quite nicely, tra la laa... until I tried the almost finished garment on. Meh. It felt baggier and more boxy than I was hoping. And when I lifted my arm, the shoulder bunched up and the side seam 'tented' out, while it seemed to pull at the centre front of the sleeve/armscye join. I'm afraid the poor quality pictures below are the only remaining evidence, but you should get the idea.

There were a few contributing factors here.
- The washed linen has a bit of 'give' so probably increases the size and bagginess a bit.
- The neck facing (which I had omitted in my muslin, simply cutting a square neck hole), which is interfaced and goes right across to join in at the top and sides of the armholes, added quite a bit of structure to the shoulders. Omitting the interfacing would have softened this off a bit. I probably could have left the interfacing out of the placket pieces too because these ended up quite stiff as well.
- The sleeve shape simply didn't suit me. I guess I hadn't done enough moving around in my muslin to work this out.

I compared the shape of the Skipper sleeve pattern piece (on top, below) to a sleeve I like, from the Deer and Doe Aubepine dress (underneath).

As you can see there's quite a dramatic difference. The Skipper sleeve cap is tall and pointy, meaning it joins in to the armscye at quite an acute downward angle. The Aubepine sleeve cap is much more rounded and, for me, gives a more natural shape and range of comfortable movement. I compared the armscye shapes and sizes of Skipper and Aubepine and they were very similar. Solution found!

I was able to unpick the sleeves and recut the sleeve caps using the Aubepine pattern piece. I basted the sleeves in place and also basted the side seams, narrowing the dress a bit more through there. Once I tried it on I was much happier with the sleeves and fit, so I sewed it all up properly. Arm movement restored!

I still felt the whole dress was a bit 'boxy' on me, so to soften it off a bit I brought in the ends of the sleeves with a bit of elastic. I added patch pockets to break it up a bit and also because, well, pockets.
The placket lace holes are meant to be made with metal grommets, but my one and only grommet experience so far had been disappointingly fray-prone. So I chose to make very small buttonholes instead.

With no appropriate lacing cord to hand I tried a bit of folded and zigzagged selvedge, which I don't mind and I haven't got around to changing yet. So it's probably staying!

Beer: Prancing Pony. Shoes: Duckfeet.

Pattern: Skipper Tunic by Papercut Patterns
Fabric: 100% linen, washed/softened, Marine (sold out) but more linens here
Size: Sizing for the Skipper (I'm not sure about their other patterns) seems to run on the large side. I measured around a Size M, sized down to S with an FBA and then took the sides in. The sizing ranges from XXS to XL.
Comments: This is my first Papercut Patterns make. They have quite a few lovely designs and seem to have a good reputation with sewists around the interwebs. I find the Skipper sleeve shape odd but it may well be a design choice that just doesn't suit my shape. The patterns are beautifully presented, the instructions are clear and thorough and it's all printed on recycled paper. I've worn this dress quite a lot already, it's comfortable, easy to wash and iron and hits a great mid-point between casual and dressy that suits my wardrobe.

One last note: I sifted through every available blog post about the Skipper to see if anyone mentioned gaping at the placket, because it certainly dips down way past where I would be comfortable with giving anyone an eyeful. No-one did. In the end my placket pieces ended up overlapping a few millimetres at the bottom, which was not intended but I decided it would help with keeping things secure. I also increased the number of lace holes. And I'm happy to report no flashing so far.

- Jane & Fiona xx