Thursday, September 28, 2017

Pattern Review: In The Folds Jumpsuit (free pattern for Peppermint Magazine)

Did someone say jumpsuit? Free pattern? By fantastic Australian designer In The Folds?
I was onto it like a shot! Pattern promo pic:
I certainly hope Emily of In The Folds is paid quite well by Peppermint Magazine for the patterns she designs for them, because she's a thorough professional. This is a great pattern, a really well-constructed blank slate for individual interpretation or just a really clean, simple silhouette. So thanks Peppermint Magazine, for making this available to sewists everywhere (and for encouraging sewing in general)! And thanks Emily for the fab designs (more online here).

I made a muslin, which we always recommend and is particularly wise for a fabric-hungry pattern like this. You really don't want to use your 'good' fabric until you're sure of what you're doing.
Muslin legs not full length because that was not necessary to check fit

The pattern states that it's designed for a height of 5'7" which is a good four inches taller than me. So before I even made the muslin I removed 1.5" at the bodice 'lengthen/shorten' line and another 1.5" at the line on the leg (front and back, of course). Apart from that my measurements fit nicely into one size, which is unusual for me but no complaints! And the muslin was a great fit, hurrah. Didn't even need a full bust adjustment.

I wanted to add pockets, and thought large patch pockets on the front would suit this very minimalist silhouette. A template made simply by folding a piece of A4 paper in half looked just right to me. So I used that and added seam allowance and top hem allowance.

I kind of fell in love with the green of my muslin (an old bedsheet) and couldn't get it out of my mind. That drew me to the 'Eucalypt' green Outback Wife cotton barkcloth by Gertrude Made. I generally find green a bit hard to work into my wardrobe but when we're talking single-garment-as-entire-outfit, all I need to match is shoes! And I already knew how lovely this barkcloth is to sew and wear, thanks to my Laneway Dress. Voila - green Jumpsuit!

Hmm what else do I need to say about this? I love it! The all-in-one neck and armhole facing gives a nice clean finish and the instructions to achieve this are great.

I was all geared up to try an invisible zip as specified, which I haven't tried in years and usually avoid like the plague. But all I could find (without travelling too far) was a regular zip in a good colour match. So I decided now was the time I would give the ol' "hand-picked zip" a go.
(speaking of colour match, please ignore the colour variations in my photographs!)
Basically this just means hand-sewing the zip in, using a backstitch that picks up just a tiny bit of fabric on the outside. I followed this tutorial at the Sewaholic website and am pleased with the result. I'd do it again! I'm also pleased to report that the jumpsuit is quite easy to get in and out of, even after a couple of drinks....

So here's the jumpsuit with and without the waist tie.
 I've also worn it with a fitted t-shirt underneath and love it like that, too. This is a year-round winner! It would be cute cut with short legs too, I think. I can imagine this being a real wardrobe staple in denim or chambray, or quite special in this linen viscose. And naturally our drapey, cool, soft washed linens would be a summer delight.

PATTERN: Jumpsuit by In The Folds for Peppermint Magazine (free pdf download, printable in large format AO or piece-together A4)
FABRIC: 100% cotton barkcloth, Outback Wife by Gertrude Made, in Eucalypt, made in Japan 2.6m
SIZE: E - this pattern is available in sizes A-K, full bust measurement 76cm/30" to 131cm/51.5" and designed for height of 170cm/5'7"
ADJUSTMENTS: 1.5" length taken from bodice and legs (3" total)
COMMENTS: A very nicely drafted pattern that came together well. I really appreciate details like angled ends of seam allowances that fold back to fit beautifully along the body pieces. I think this has a pretty forgiving fit, which makes it more beginner-friendly. The armhole is a wee bit low on me and I did mean to raise it a tad but forgot and then I'd cut out the first piece and it was too late... but I don't mind. If you've never tried the 'burrito method' of attaching facings before, you'll be introduced to this magic to create a lovely neat finish (trust in the instructions, it's very hard to visualise!).

I think this pattern will be an absolute winner this summer. Will you give it a try?

- Jane & Fiona xx

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Pattern Review - Grainline Hadley top view A

The Hadley is the new offering by Grainline Studio. It's a loose fitting top with both sleeved and sleeveless variations, plus the choice between a round/jewel and v-neckline, with back pleat or without. I opted for view A, the sleeved top with the round neck and the billowy back.

If I was a jeans wearer I would be all over this pattern. Late last year I decided to give jeans the flick. I just didn’t feel any good in them any more, and, frankly, with the short hair, I felt like a bit of a boy wearing them. (I know, I know. It's a can of worms). So I made this top as a shop sample, thinking that it’s really not something I’d wear much during this jeans-free phase. However, this top has me questioning my no-jeans policy because a couple of Hadleys plus a reliable pair of jeans could really be a useful sort of Spring uniform. (I’m wearing another Grainline make in these photos, the Moss Skirt).  

There’s a lot of detail in this top that might not be immediately obvious from my choice of plaid fabric here. The nice topstitching down the centre front is one. The Hadley is also a facing frenzy. This version has not one but three sets of facings, for neck, sleeve and hem. With that there’s a healthy amount of clipping and understitching, but the combined effect is that the finish is great. Thankfully every piece is so well drafted they come together without any swearing or unpicking (other than that caused by user error, ahem.) I like the way the hem facing gives the whole thing a pleasing weightiness and helps to add some extra swing to the pleated back.

As is usual with Grainline patterns, Hadley was a pleasure to sew. I usually ignore set in sleeves unless they are really necessary, but in order to sew up the sample and be familiar with the pattern I followed the instructions to the letter and the sleeve went in first time like a dream. Possibly the nicest set in sleeve I’ve ever made! So satisfying!  I love how a well drafted pattern can make you feel accomplished, when all you are really doing is following some thoughtfully prepared instructions.

Fabric choice
This is one of those patterns where the amount of drape in your fabric is all important. I love this yarn-dyed textured cotton fabric (it’s one of the co-ordinating cottons from the Ella Blue/Gertrude Made Outback Wife range) and I really like the finished top, but I don’t think they are a perfect match. With its medium drape, there is a touch of the ‘maternity effect’  in this top when viewed from the side. With a swishier fabric this would not be an issue at all. In fact, this top would be gorgeously flowy in one of these linen/viscose blends, or one of our new washed linens. Or, indeed a rayon.

I cut this out of 2.3m of 110cm wide fabric which is spot on the recommendations. Using contrasting fabrics for the facings would suck up less fabric if you're looking to save a little. As you can see, I was careless when cutting, so after sewing the bust dart any hopes of my side seams matching were kicked to the curb. Jen of course suggests to cut more for plaid matching, and that certainly would have helped. I'm not terribly fussed about it in this case, though. 

I usually fluctuate between an 8 and a 10 for Grainline depending on the pattern, so I didn’t bother making a muslin (also, shop sample!) This one is a 10, and the shoulders are fairly narrow - not uncomfortably so, but I think they sit too far in from my actual shoulder edge. Also, for me the arms are long on this top, so I need to roll them up with facing on the outside to stop them getting in the way. Jane tried this on and noticed the same, so perhaps the arm length is intentional… a design feature? There are lengthen/shorten lines on the arm pieces in any case, so they'd be easy to shorten without needing to mess with the facing. The sleeve facings could also be nice in a contrasting fabric.

On the subject of fit, there's a nice sew-along on the Grainline blog, with a guide to making a full bust adjustment here.

Will I Hadley again? That depends on my ‘difficult’ relationship with jeans. ;) If anything is going to push me back over the edge, though, it could very well be this pattern.

 - Fiona & Jane xx

Monday, September 4, 2017

Pattern review: Merchant & Mills 101 Trousers in washed linen

The Merchant & Mills 101 Trouser pattern states:
"A gentle drawstring trouser with side pockets and a false fly, cut to sit right on the waist. Features 3 versions - cropped & tapered trouser, wide straight trouser or shorts."
I made these trousers as a shop sample and I put them on for blog photos to demonstrate the fit. They're not really my style or fit (explained below!) but we hope this review is helpful if you're considering the pattern for yourself.

I used one of our washed 100% linens - this one in 'Tapenade' - since the pattern calls for something soft and drapey (washed linen suits just about every Merchant & Mills pattern, and we have a lovely new shipment due any day!).

Merchant & Mills patterns tend to run on the generous size, and a size 12 in their dresses has always been plenty roomy on me. My measurements, and the finished garment measurements (provided) for the 101 Trousers however put me in the size 14. Made up, I think this was the correct size for me. So be aware and measure carefully rather than just choosing your regular M&M size. Also, check the leg measurements. These babies are LONG!

Ahem... learn from my mistake, yeah? I am a fabric miser and tend to assume my fabric ninja skillz will outsmart any given pattern layout. I merrily started cutting without laying out all the pieces and ended up with one much-shortened front leg. Fortunately these pants were so long on me that it didn't matter in the end, but please, trust me: this pattern layout (for 150cm wide fabric, at least) knows what it's doing.

In general the instructions were good and there's always some nice detail in M&M patterns - in this one, the pocket construction is rather satisfying and you could use the separate facing and lining pieces to insert a different fabric as lining and have hidden pretty pocket insides, if you like. At Step 2, attaching the False Fly, I couldn't make sense of the left/right description but followed the diagrams without problem. That said, it's a bit of a flimsy false fly so I'm not sure it's worth the bother. While I'm being nitpicky, at the end of Step 14 there should be instruction to finish seam and press open (I like that these details are included everywhere else).

I chose the wide, straight trouser because I thought it was the best one to have as a shop sample. And hey, it looks great hanging on our wall. Rumply, drapey, gently gathered. On me?
 Like I predicted, not really my thing. But that's okay!

As promised, these really are cut to sit right on the true waist - the narrowest part of the torso. Having a particularly short waist/torso, this brings the 101 Trouser up comically high on me. Hello, Tweedledum!

There is, fortunately, an easy fix for this, because Merchant & Mills have included a lengthen/shorten line in the hip area of the pattern. If I was to try it again I'd remove at least 10cm length there (to be honest I was hoping for a good new pyjama pant pattern and hope is not necessarily lost). The drawstring waist is pleasingly not-too-gathered or bulky. Comfort is good.

I used cotton piping cord for the drawstring for expediency but would recommend something a bit wider/flatter/softer because this cut in a bit uncomfortably when I sat down. In fact, I'd probably do a full elastic band and half drawstring just at the front.

PATTERN: Merchant & Mills 101 Trouser
FABRIC: 100% Linen, washed/softened - Tapenade, 150cm wide, 2.15m
ADJUSTMENTS: Shortened leg (accidentally - but would have needed to anyway!)
COMMENTS:  An easy and fairly quick sew. Definitely high-waisted - but that can be shortened. Carefully consider your preferred rise. The pattern gives all finished measurements and the 'back crotch depth' refers to length from top of waistband to bottom 'drop' of fabric when on a hanger or laid flat. Other than that the fit is pretty forgiving. Probably the epitome of rumpled, casual elegance on someone with a long waist and legs.

Any of our washed 100% linens
Linen/Viscose Twill
Cotton Double Gauze
Cotton flannels

Have you tried the Merchant & Mills 101 Trouser pattern? What did you think?

- Jane & Fiona xx