Wednesday, April 11, 2018

In the Folds/Peppermint Magazine Pleated Summer Dress

Spending time in the shop talking to sewing people most days, it’s always interesting to us to hear which sewing related tasks entice some people and send others running. We all have our favourites and the things we dread, whether it’s inserting collars, installing an invisible zip or sewing buttonholes. On my personal Top Ten List of Enjoyable Things To Sew, plackets would have to bring up the rear around 10. Perhaps minus 10. Give me a collar or a buttonhole over a placket any day! Love the look of them, I’m just not a fan of sewing them.

So when Emily from In The Folds released the (free download!) Pleated Summer Dress for Peppermint magazine's Sewing School last year, I was excited, yet also not excited to get cracking. I did suspect though, that if anyone was going to help me join team placket it would be Emily. 

The Pleated Summer Dress is a midi length dress featuring in seam pockets, waist pleats and of course that good looking yet pesky concealed front placket. I chose to make mine from this very soft, striped washed linen (now sold out, but other striped linen options here, here and here).

Like all In The Folds patterns, this one is beautifully drafted and thoughtfully written with thorough directions. It’s a loose fitting dress with lots of ease built in. This one is for a more intermediate sewist. It’s a methodical make, but nothing too challenging. Pleasingly, even for the placket averse like me, even the placket was fine, its one-piece construction was something I’d never come across before. Fun even… who knew!?


Style wize, this was a bit of a fingers-crossed make for me. I’m only 5’6 and on the curvy side so I wasn’t sure if the volume of all those pleats would suit me. But, after whipping up a muslin I decided to give it a crack with roughly 20cm off the length and without the in-seam pockets.

As far as 'accidental modifications' go, I made a mistake when binding the collar about which was the right side of my fabric (right and wrong are practically identical on this linen), so I ended up with the bias turned to the inside instead of exposed. Rather than unpicking this soft, loosely woven linen, I just went with it and did the same for the arm binding too in the hope that it looks intentional. 

back yoke
I also ended up taking about an inch out of each side-seam at the bodice and top of the skirt. My muslin was made using a fairly stiff cotton fabric, so when it came to the real thing in this extremely soft, slightly loose weave linen, the whole thing grew a bit. We know that some of the softer washed linens can have this effect, so I should have known better, but I hoped the drape of the linen would compensate and make this oversized frock work on me. Nope! But all fixed after some side seam surgery.

Even though it’s Autumn now in the southern hemisphere, I anticipate I’ll still get a lot of layered-up wear out of the Pleated Summer Dress. It would work so well pinafore-style made out of a heavier washed linen like this or even this washed denim. I’m even tempted to placket again!

The Pleated Summer Dress pattern is downloadable for free via Peppermint Mag here

- Fiona & Jane xx

Friday, April 6, 2018

In The Folds / Peppermint Jumpsuit in Japanese Selvedge Denim

I posted about my first version of the Jumpsuit pattern designed by Emily of In The Folds for Peppermint Magazine, back last spring. I've had a tremendous amount of wear from it, both on its own and layered over t-shirts. (As an aside the Outback Wife barkcloth is holding up extremely well.) The idea of a denim version has been building in my mind's eye for a while. And you know how we like to selflessly test out our new fabrics for you, don't you? The new Japanese 'Nep' Selvedge Denim wasn't going to test itself. So a denim jumpsuit came to be.

A few minor changes make this version more kind of overalls/workwear style:
  • Zip changed from centre back seam to centre front (I used a shorter zip which ends at about my navel, as the roominess of the jumpsuit still makes it easy to get on and off). 
  • Snap tab added at top of zip.
  • More patch pockets, five in total.
  • Topstitching on leg inseam, neckline and armholes.
  • Small triangles of leather reinforce stress points at underarms and centre back neckline.
  • Optional tie belt omitted. 

The only other change from the pattern was as per my first version, with 1.5" removed from the bodice and 1.5" from the legs at the lengthen/shorten lines.

I topstitched in orange and cream and added rivets to the pockets, for strength and, let's face it, because adding rivets to denim is just incredibly satisfying!

Zip is a sturdy metal YKK brand from The Button Bar. I used a couple of different tutorials - mostly this Papercut one - to work out how to insert it in the 'exposed zip' style. I thought a zip shield on the inside might be needed to protect my skin from the back of the zip but so far, no discomfort. Some sort of button or snap tab for the top was part of my orginal vision. When I miscalculated my zip insertion and the top ended up a couple of centimetres shy of the v-neck edge, well, it became a necessity! You know, we sewists like to call it a 'design feature'. Snap was from my stash, but Adelaide Leather and Saddlery have quite a few of these kinds of things, as well as the rivets used here. (Sold in packs of 100. Rivets on all the things!) They also have Tiny Anvils, which just might be the sewing tool you never knew you needed, until now.... #enabler

Since the outer leg seam of the Jumpsuit is too curved to be placed on the fabric selvedge (for look-at-my-selvedge cuffs), I featured the denim selvedge on a couple of the pockets instead.

Other than the zip and my extra embellishments, construction was pretty much as per the instructions. I had to add a seam allowance to the front facing and cut it in two pieces instead of on the fold, and the reverse for the back facing, because I swapped the zip from back to front. When it came to attaching the all-in-one facing, I was pretty sure the pattern's clever burrito method wouldn't quite work with the bulk of my denim. I used the method but stopped sewing before the narrowest part of the shoulder, and started again on the other side of the shoulder, so that stayed open to help me pull the fabric through. Once all turned, the remaining seam allowances were then quite easily tucked in and topstitched. Even so, a few stitches at the centre back V ripped with the effort of wrestling all that fabric through small openings. After hand-stitching it back together, I decided to reinforce this point with a scrap of leather. It's rather neat how many denim details - rivets, topstitching, bar tacks, button tabs etc - are born from a need for durability and function, but also serve as attractive visual features.

After a couple of days' wear, one of the side seams was showing stress at the underarm, so leather patches went on there as well.

The denim was lovely to sew with: not too thick, very stable, presses beautifully. After a few wears I gave it a machine wash for the sake of fabric research. (It wasn't really dirty and one of the things we love about denim is its infrequent washing needs.) It has softened up beautifully, and the slight fluffy/hairy appearance of the surface has become more apparent. Dye bleed was minimal, shrinkage little to none and the indigo colour has lightened/brightened just a touch.

I'm ridiculously pleased with this jumpsuit; it was one of those visions with a slightly uncertain outcome, because I strayed quite far from the fabric recommendations for the pattern and fiddled about with it a bit, but I couldn't be happier! Unlike traditional overalls, the coverage of this style means it doesn't always need a separate top underneath. In our current variable autumn weather I've been wearing it (ahem, a lot) alone and layered. Is there such a thing as too much jumpsuit? I may have to be the guinea pig for that research.

PATTERN: Jumpsuit (free downloadable pattern) by In The Folds for Peppermint Magazine.
FABRIC: Japanese 'Nep' Selvedge Denim, 3.1m x 120cm wide.
ALTERATIONS: shortened by 3" total, changed invisible zip at back to exposed zip at front, added patch pockets, snap tab, leather patches and topstitching.
COMMENTS: Pardon me if I wear this at least every second day for the forseeable future.

- Jane & Fiona xx