Monday, July 23, 2018

Pattern Review: the Pippi Pinafore by Jennifer Lauren Handmade (with bonus Ostara Top)

Personally I love the style of patterns by Jennifer Lauren Handmade of New Zealand. They combine a little vintage flair with everyday wearability. I had great success with the Laneway Dress last year and her latest release, the Pippi Pinafore, was impossible for me to resist. Pinafores, jumpsuits and overalls are my favourites! I bought the pattern immediately, and by the time Jennifer put out a call for pattern reviewers I had it sewn up and happily volunteered. (Just for transparency: reviewers can be sent a free copy of the pattern but I had already purchased it for myself, and in any case Jennifer encourages entirely honest reviews.)

From the pattern:
 With a fitted bib, deep patch pockets and fun side button fastening, Pippi is a fresh take on the classic overall dress, combining comfort with a sleek and playful silhouette.
The Pippi Pinafore is your new favourite weekend dress — darts and gently curved sides shape the bib, creating a flattering silhouette for multiple bust sizes. The pleated front skirt and side button placket create a relaxed look while also stepping your sewing repertoire up a few notches. Straps cross over at the back and fasten to the bib using your choice of overall hardware or buttons (depending on what you have in your stash). 

With cup sizes A to D, Pippi is perfect for the adventurous beginner seamstress and beyond.

Jennifer's patterns are currently only available in PDF format, so I had mine printed as A0 size at Aish Solutions just down the road from our shop. They're probably not the cheapest option for this but they're extremely convenient and helpful, which is just what I want when I can't get my hands on a printed-and-packed sewing pattern.

I ummed and ahhed for ages over fabric selection. The Pippi would be extremely versatile in denim or another neutral mid-weight plain colour. However it had been ages since I'd made something in a fun print. This fabulous dandelion cotton canvas by Kokka had been calling my name and I decided it was time for a bit of bright joy. Why the heck not?
Pre-washed and ready to go
Pippi has a lined bib and waistband so I chose an equally happy Cotton + Steel print for those.

I've noticed a trend for large, shaped patch pockets on many indie patterns lately: e.g. Sew House Seven Burnside Bibs, True Bias Lander Pants, Closet Case Jenny Overalls & Fiona Sundress. It produces a nice flat pocket and gives the opportunity for topstitching detail. However I'm not convinced it's always the most flattering look on my shape, pasted over the widest part of my body. (For example I think on my Burnside Bibs the pockets are too long and curved on me and I mean to summon the effort to unpick and shorten and square them off.) In hindsight the Pippi's pockets are a better proportion for me, so not really an issue, but initially I wished to alter the pattern to have inset pockets. This wouldn't be difficult (here's a great tutorial for the alteration on the Lander Pants) but then I wondered whether an inside pocket would pull out of shape with the Pippi's side button closure. Again, in hindsight, I think this would not have been a problem because there is a decent amount of ease in the hip area. However I was concerned enough to stick with the pockets as drafted, and pattern-match as well as possible to make them less prominent. This meant I needed to cut an extra 60cm of fabric to find the correct part of the pattern repeat to match, which felt a little wasteful. But most fabrics in my scrap drawer end up being used in one form or another!

As many female sewists are aware, a large floral pattern like this is fraught with potential for The Dreaded Flower Boob. So I selected my bib pattern placement carefully. With help.
Helper dog is helpful. Model wears Greyhound size S by
Jennifer's patterns include a wonderfully broad range of sizes (6 - 24) and the valuable option of different bodice cup sizes (A - D). I found the Laneway Dress size 12D fit me well with just a little shortening of the bodice and loosening of darts around the waist. This experience and my measurements led me to select the 12D bodice, grading out to 14 at the bottom of the bodice, through to the waistband and skirt for Pippi. I didn't make a muslin (gasp) because I had confidence in the sizing, and the pinafore bodice is forgiving and adjustable via the straps. Ultimately my straps are shortened a decent amount, which is consistent with the bodice shortening I required in the Laneway. (Let's face it, most designers draft for a greater height than my 5ft 3/163cm.)

I have to admit I had a bit of head scratching and unpicking to do when making the front skirt pleats and attaching the pockets, but I think this was really my fault for not adequately marking the notches. It all came together in the end! Everything else went smoothly.

The pattern offers a couple of different suggestions for attaching the straps to the bib. There's also no reason you couldn't simply sew them on once you determined your personal length. I chose jeans-style hammer-on metal buttons and overalls-type clips because I'm into the overalls vibe. Unfortunately I ordered the wrong size sliders to match the overalls clips so my straps are just secured underneath with safety pins for now (and possibly forever). I could probably just stitch the ends down and be done with it. It's not like I'm going to grow any taller, is it? So here's Pippi, worn on a bright day to match the bright print!

I really love my Pippi Pinafore. I think I'll wear it more in the warmer months because the busy print I chose requires a bit much thought to co-ordinate with all the other necessary layers during winter. I'm pleased with the comfort and happily surprised by how well the straps stay on my shoulders, thanks to the crossover at the back.
If you look carefully at the top of the strap on the left you can see the end of the strap peeking out, which shows just how long these ended up on my short torso - NB the overalls clips do add some length, too.

On the subject of winter layering, in all pictures I'm wearing the Jennifer Lauren Ostara Top in organic cotton jersey. I made this pattern for the first time this winter and highly recommend - I'm up to version three. Great neckline!
As worn during Me Made May

PATTERN: The Pippi Pinafore by Jennifer Lauren Handmade (available at this stage only as PDF from her own online store)
FABRIC: 100% cotton canvas by Kokka of Japan, Dandelions, 1.75m + extra 60cm to pattern match pockets, and 50cm Cotton + Steel quilting weight cotton for lining.
SIZE: 12D bodice graded to 14 through waist and skirt. I found it very true to size/measurements.
ALTERATIONS: None except for above.
WORN WITH: Jennifer Lauren Handmade Ostara Top, Cake Espresso Leggings, Duckfeet Australia boots
COMMENTS: The darted bib, cup sizes and waistband make Pippi a shapely, slightly 'dressed up' pinafore that's nonetheless very comfortable to wear. A garment to make you smile!

- Jane & Fiona xx

Friday, July 6, 2018

Pattern review: Jedediah Pants by Thread Theory in Wide Wale Corduroy

I've had the Jedediah pattern for a while now, but we've recently begun stocking the Thread Theory pattern range at The Drapery, so it was time for a review. I have made several pairs of the shorts for my teenage sons, with great success. This was my first time making full-length trousers from the pattern, but really the sewing is no more complicated because all the detail is above the knee!

The 'brief'
The 17y.o. wanted corduroy trousers and was very taken by our wide wale cord. I asked him to find some reference pictures for his 'vision' of the ideal shape, to help me pick the pattern. In the end, after some research, I went back to the good old Jedediahs because I knew they fit him well, and I thought a couple of minor adjustments would achieve the style he wanted: a bit baggy, yet fitted in the waist, and tapered to the ankle.

What did I change?
I changed the front pockets to a higher, curved jeans-style opening. If you would like to do this, remember you also need to change the shape of the pocket facing, which is in 'self' fabric and attached to the pocket lining. It's the bit that shows above the pocket opening. In hindsight I should have made my pocket facing a little bit wider at the top because the lining wants to peek out. However a strategic rivet is helping to keep everything in place.

I also changed the leg shape a little: narrowed a bit at the hip (the Jedediahs have the slightest hint of jodhpur about their roomy hip and slim leg, on my long thin teens), and then widened a little at the inseam and outseam through the lower thigh, knee and upper calf, tapering to the original narrow ankle. My changes were extremely un-technical... just re-drawing lines and making sure the back alterations matched the front.

The instructions have you flat fell the inseams and bind the outer leg seams, which makes for a great feature, especially in the shorts with rolled up cuffs. For reasons I can't actually remember (probably accidental), I flat felled both inner and outer leg seams. It was tricky to do the second side but I like the finish.

For a slightly more jeans-like vibe (and because I am in possession of a large pack of rivets), I added rivets on the back pockets as well as front.

Sewing them up
I find the Thread Theory patterns to be beautifully drafted and the instructions are excellent, resulting in a satisfyingly professional-looking finish. Additionally, they have great online sewalong blog posts to help with each step, so if you get stuck at any step there's plenty of information and helpful photos. I was grateful to my past self for writing a few notes in my instruction booklet, especially around the fly insertion. Once I had my head around it, the fly insertion was the simplest and most fuss-free method I've used.

Having said that, I had a little trouble with getting the fly to sit straight once I'd attached the waistband. I think this was more in my waistband sewing than the fly. I hadn't checked how the waist ends met at the top of the fly, and the buttonhole end was sitting a bit higher. So when I attached the waistband evenly all the way around, the overlapping buttonhole end also sat higher. I did some unpicking and adjusted this and it's much improved, although not perfect. Just a little something to keep in mind next time.

One of the lovely tailoring details in the Jedediah Pants is the easing of the front leg into the back. You're instructed to use an iron to give the fabric a bit of a stretch in specific places to assist the easing, and the result is a natural leg shape that accommodates a knee bend with comfort. (I guess the only drawback of this would be that a plaid fabric would not match front-to-back, so no plaid pants!)

The corduroy behaved itself beautifully and has washed and worn very well.
You can see the slight wonkiness at the top of the fly here, but fortunately Mr 17 is not into tucked-in shirts!

The critical question

Did they meet with the teenager's approval? Why yes! The proof is in the wearing, and these have been worn at almost every non-school-uniform or pyjamas opportunity since they were finished. I'd say that's a thumbs up! (It's hard to photograph teenagers 'in the wild' so pardon the casual/messy pic below but it's proof of the wearing!)


PATTERN: Jedediah Pants by Thread Theory
FABRIC: 100% Cotton Wide Wale Cord in Tobacco (3 colours available)
SIZE: 30
ALTERATIONS: pockets and leg, as detailed above
COMMENTS: Pleasing contemporary, slim-shaped pants or shorts. An excellent base pattern for minor style alterations. I've had great satisfaction from sewing shorts and pants that look really polished and have been worn a lot.

- Jane & Fiona xx