Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Pattern Review: Darlow Pants by In The Folds

Pants, pants, pants. (Or trousers, trousers, trousers!) The ideal fit, comfort and style is a never-ending quest. But that's part of the fun when you can sew, isn't it?

I've had a lot of wear from my Papercut Palisade Pants - two pairs each of long trousers and shorts - and have enjoyed having 'pants that are not jeans' in my wardrobe. One thing that continues to frustrate me though is that no matter how I refine the fit, elastic waisted pants will still pull down at the back when I bend or sit, and I inevitably spend a lot of time hitching them up again. So I wanted to try a zip or button-up pattern again.

Enter the Darlow Pants by In The Folds. Released back in February this year (read more on her blog here), the curvy-panelled style had intrigued me. I trust that Emily Hundt, the Australian designer behind the brand, puts a lot of thought and work into her patterns so they come together beautifully.

The Darlow Pants have two views. On the cover is the more exaggerated, baggy style. I chose the slimmer leg style, but since making that I wouldn't rule out the other version in future. **Please note on the back cover, the View A and View B illustrations are mistakenly switched. I emailed Emily from In The Folds about this and she replied straight away, and has made an errata note on her website and provided a download of the cover, corrected. I mention this because it could affect the amount of fabric you need to buy when you check the fabric allowances given for View A/B on the cover.**

My measurements put me fairly well into one size, with potentially a bit more room needed in the waist. The pattern is drafted for a height of 5ft7 and I'm 5ft3, but the pants are designed as cropped. I decided not to cut out any length before making a muslin, but there are excellent instructions on how to do this if you wish.

I was excited to find that my muslin fit really rather well. As expected, I wanted a little more room around the waist at the front, and also a smidgen more space in the seat. I'm still on a big learning curve with pants fitting so I won't detail my adjustments for fear of leading anyone astray. In The Folds has provided a 'Darlow Fit Kit' resource which walks you through a number of common adjustments on the pattern, which is helpful because adjustments often need to be made across more than one of the panels.

Two further muslins later (I just ripped out and replaced the panels/part panels I had tweaked) and I was happy enough with the fit to proceed to the real thing.
Worn with Frankie & Ray Breezeway Top in our white Lithuanian Linen that I dyed with avocado.

The fabric I used was a coated denim I picked up on holiday two years ago. I'd never seen anything quite like it so grabbed some, but in retrospect it's a bit weird and plasticky-feeling, like it has a coat of acrylic paint. My hope is that the coating will wear down and age well. Time will tell! There was just enough to make the Darlows, and it was time to get the fabric out of my stash and into use.

I deviated from the pattern by using the patch pockets from the baggier view instead of the welt pockets, and I also omitted the side seam pockets. I felt they would probably gape on me and mess with the lines of the pants. Instead, I planned and cut out some patch pockets to go on the front panels, but forgot to add them at the crucial stage of construction. I can still put a hanky in a back pocket so that'll do for these ones.

Topstitching is not part of the pattern either, but I felt it would suit the jeans-like vibe of the denim and highlight the great panel shapes.

I didn't interface the waistband at all because I have a slight fear of inflexible waistbands, but in retrospect it would have been helpful as this denim is surprisingly stretchy and foldy.

In another review of this pattern I read that the Darlow instructions often have you finish (overlock or zigzag) seam allowances separately before construction, which means you are likely to lose the notches which are so crucial to matching all the parts up. This is a good point! So I finished almost all seam allowances after sewing the seams, using my overlocker, pressed them to one side and then caught the seam allowances in my topstitching. This worked fine, although if adding the side seam pockets there may be cases where raw edges would actually need finishing earlier.

The zip fly insertion went well, but the method was not my favourite. It seemed very similar to the method used by Grainline patterns, with multiple steps of hand-basting. Again, I'm not an expert so I don't wish to pass great judgements here. If you have your own favourite zip fly method, then go for it. If not, just follow this through and it should (eventually) work out! I trust there is method to the madness, but I did skip a couple of hand-basting steps with careful use of pins.

In the end I am thrilled with my Darlow pants. I'm really happy with the fit, although of course I probably won't leave well enough alone and will try a couple of tweaks for another version. The curved panels really do make for curve-hugging shapeliness, while the extra room around the knees is not only a style statement, it makes movement very comfortable.

The height and shaping of the waist mean I can bend over, cycle, move around and even sit on a picnic rug in my Darlows and there's nary a hint of plumber's crack to be seen. I can reach high shelves without unintentional midriff exposure. And there's very little hitching up to do. Yet I don't feel like these are sitting right up under my ribcage. Whatever this sorcery is, I like it. I've been making the most of every day under 30 degrees and thrashing the heck out of these already.

Here are some fabric suggestions for the Darlow Pants pattern - pretty much anything non-stretch with a bit of body, from a mid-weight denim down to a lighter twill:

Japanese Cotton Corduroys

Colour Printed Twill/denims

Crumple Texture Cotton/Linen Canvas

Organic Cotton Denim

Japanese Linen/Cotton Canvas - Heather

Japanese Textured Cotton/Linen Twill


Pattern: The Darlow Pants by In The Folds

Fabric: Coated denim, from my stash

Size: F (big hugs and kisses to In The Folds for the non-judgemental-sounding size naming)

Alterations: a smidge more room in the bum and belly

Comments: Love them. Note points above about zip insertion and seam finishings. Also note View A/B illustration mixup on back cover, with reference to fabric allowances. (Naturally, the more baggy version takes a bit more fabric.) The Darlows feel like jeans that are just a bit more 'me' than classic jeans. Will definitely make again... I think our chocolate brown corduroy may be calling my name, and maybe even those welt pockets.

- Jane

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Pattern Review - The Cielo Top by Close Case Patterns

Making garment samples for the shop can be a great chance for us to try out styles that might be a bit outside our usual comfort zones. The Cielo pattern by Closet Case has a version that offers considerable dramatic sleevage, and we thought it would pair well with the drapiness of our Lithuanian washed linens.

It's worth mentioning that, as seen above, the pattern includes a plain short sleeve as well as a shift dress with optional front seam pockets. There's potential to get plenty of long-term value out of this pattern, beyond the very 'now' statement sleeve. The other option given is a stitched-down neck facing (which I chose) or a bias tape neckline finish.

To make the most useful shop sample I sewed a straight size 14, as corresponded most closely with my measurements. If I had been making for my own wardrobe I would have dropped a size or two to better fit my shoulders, and then used the downloadable C or D-cup front bodice that is offered for this pattern on the Closet Case website (instructions on how to access are in the pattern). Hurrah, the full bust adjustment has already been done for us! I really appreciate this option on a pattern.

I used our washed Lithuanian Linen 'Diane Keaton' which is a great mid-blue, with a check that's subtle enough to not require a huge amount of thought about pattern matching. I just made sure the grain was nice and straight and centred well on the fold.

The pattern is designed with quite a lot of ease (a good 6.5" in the bust), and the finished garment measurements are very helpful in selecting a size.

The back shoulder pieces are a feature on every view of the pattern and whilst they seem to serve no practical purpose (there is no extra shaping built in), I like them! Perhaps the topstitched seam there provides a little extra support for the sleeve volume? (You can see a smaller size across the shoulders would definitely help for me here.)

The sleeves truly are vast, yet the volume is tamed a little with the tapered 'cuffs' which are fully self-lined, giving them a clean finish and swingy weight.

Overall I like the look more than I expected, although it's not for me. The sleeve puff gives me flashbacks to awkward early teen years in the frilly-pre-Wham! 80s (think Princess Diana in her 'shy Di' phase). It's a great look on other people though!

The dart coming down from the armhole is unusual in modern patterns, and it was one of the first things I noticed about the Cielo when it was released. It works perfectly well and it's nice to see a variation on the standard dart. I'm a fan of vintage patterns from the 1960s and their variation in panel and dart placement to create bust shape is fascinating. I welcome it back - more please!

The thing I'm not so sure about with this pattern is the size of the armhole. It's exaggerated a little in my version because this size is a bit big on me, and possibly because the washed linen can sometimes 'grow' a little. Partly I guess it is to accommodate the volume of the gathered sleeve. However the armhole is the same size for the plain sleeve, too. I think it's a style choice (it's described as 'boxy' and 'roomy fit') but I am wary about that shape of sleeve and armhole on me. Just my two cents' worth in case anyone reading has similar sleeve issues!

All that said, it occurs to me now that the dress, made sleeveless with this armhole, would probably make a good pinafore for wearing with shirts or t-shirts underneath. Imagine it in denim, with those front in-seam pockets, and some great topstitching. Yes!

Note also that the top is, as described, 'semi-cropped' and the hem is not deep so check the length for your own preference.

For more information I found the blog posts by Lara (Thornberry) to be very helpful regarding sizing.

This sample is in the shop and customers are welcome to try it on.


Pattern: Cielo Top and Dress by Closet Case

Fabric: 'Diane Keaton' washed 100% linen, made in Lithuania

Size: 14 (to better fit me I would choose a size 10 or 12 with C or D cup bodice)

Comments: A lovely example of the dramatic sleeve trend, if you can pull it off, and there are plenty of examples of people looking great in the Cielo. Roomy fit, sizing down may be an option. Large armholes, see notes above.

- Jane & Fiona

Monday, November 25, 2019

Pattern review – The Claryville Jeans by Workroom Social

I’m very late to the sewing your own jeans party –  they’ve been absolutely everywhere in the sewing community over the last few years. Still, I tend to sew based on gaps in my wardrobe, and with the recent demise of my ready to wear pair, the time had finally come. I’ve seen a few patterns doing the rounds, most famously the hugely popular Ginger Jeans but I decided to have a look around anyway and see what else was out there.
When I stumbled across the Claryville Jeans by Workroom Social, I knew I’d struck gold. The modelled pictures looked very similar to my shape and the description stated they were designed for women with a larger hip-to-waist ratio (me) and included extra ease in the calves (Yay! My full calves say thank you).
Workroom Social is a sewing studio which specialises in teaching people to sew clothes and this expertise really showed in the pattern instructions. As an intermediate sewer, and first time jeans maker, I found the diagrams included for every step to be helpful, without being too hand-holdy. It just told me exactly what I needed to do every step of the way. The only thing that wasn’t covered in detail was how to install the hardware so I turned to a couple of online tutorials for help there.
When I first got the pattern, my measurements matched a straight size 4 so that was what I cut….by the time I got to actually making the jeans, however, I was no longer that size….but I decided to go for it anyway. Having been in a sewing rut for a while, I felt like just embracing the process and I figured at the very least I would have learnt how to sew jeans by the end of it.
Imagine my delight when I got to the end and found that these actually fit. Better than most jeans ever have. And with no pattern adjustments? This has NEVER happened to me before!

The fabric is an organic cotton and spandex denim which we have in stock and at 314 gsm (about 9 oz) is about as light as I would go for in a denim. It was a dream to sew with and my machine (Bernina 1008) had no problems dealing with thick seams.
For the topstitching, I used standard thread and a triple stitch, instead of topstitching thread. I had seen this recommended and it worked really well for me. Yes, it is slower, but it not only removes the risk of a domestic machine not enjoying the heavier topstitch thread, but also gives those seams some stretch which, given I had unintentionally sized-down, felt like a good idea.

Pattern: Claryville Jeans by Workroom Social. Available as a PDF (with A0 print at copy shop option) or Workroom Social have a limited number of paper patterns in stock if that’s your thing.
Fabric: 98% organic cotton and 2% spandex stretch denim, 314 gsm (approx. 9.2 oz).
Hardware: I had a jeans zip in my stash and picked up the button and rivets from Adelaide Leather and Saddlery Supplies. We also have Closet Case Patterns Jeans Hardware Kits in store which contain all the hardware you need to make a pair of jeans.
Size: 4 (a bit smaller than my measurements)
Adjustments: None!
Next time I’ll use a size 4.5 jeans zip, rather than the size 5 which I had in my stash (it’s a bit too big and the zipper pull doesn’t like to lay flat) and will also increase the rise at the back by about 1cm as I’d prefer it a tad higher. But this pair will happily be worn for years to come!
Comments: If you’re looking for a stretch denim jeans pattern this could be the pattern for you, particularly if you usually need to size up through the hip. With very clear, step-by-step instructions, this is also a good place to start if you’ve never sewn jeans before.
If you’re between sizes, you might be able to get away with sizing down, particularly if your denim is on the lighter size and has the maximum (2%) recommended stretch – it worked for me!

- Lauren

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Pattern Review - The Diago Top by Pauline Alice (in linen, three times!)

Spanish pattern designer Pauline Alice has recently released several new patterns, and this one, the Diago Top, caught our eye for summer. It's a very simple dolman-sleeved top with a slight high-low hem and stitched down facings. Our new linens came along, and some hot weather, and the deal was sealed.

The Diago (available only as downloadable PDF from her website) is designed with beginner sewists in mind. The instructions are not quite as hand-holdy as they could be for absolute beginners but that shouldn't put anyone off, either. This is a lovely pattern with a forgiving fit, nice finishing like the faced hem, and thorough steps like French seams, clipping and understitching.
Can anyone tell I was fighting off a cold and had an afternoon nap in this outfit?
Sometimes you have to go with messy reality or things will never be blogged.
And for a not completely crumpled version, here's Fiona!

Fabric hungry?

The pattern, in my size (44), calls for 2.1m of 150cm wide fabric. That's a lot for a simple top! The layout shows even the little neck facings cut on the centre fold of 150cm wide fabric. Maybe because it's designed for beginners and this makes it really easy... but rather wasteful!  I cut the pink one from 1.5m and the checked one from 1.6m (a little extra for pattern matching). The hem facings line up directly under the front and back body, and the neck facings cut easily from the scraps at the sides.

The pattern is too wide for 110cm wide fabric. However you could use it if you don't mind shortening the sleeves a little. You'd probably need to allow an extra 20cm or so for the neck facings in this case.

Staystitch the neckline

This is not suggested in the instructions but I recommend, if your fabric is at all shifty. The other step I'd add is to trim down down the seam allowances after the first step of French seaming. Oh and if you like, pop a little label (Labels by KATM) in the seam.

Hem facing tip

In case you get spatially confused by curved hem facings like I do, let me save you some pain and say MATCH THE CURVE SHAPES. In garment sewing there is often fiddly pinning of opposite curves (e.g. at sleeve caps) so they lie correctly when opened out. This is not the case for facings, which are turned back. Okay. Now I've written that down I hope I never have to unpick a clipped and understitched hem facing again!

Simple but worth it

The Diago is beautifully loose and comfortable and those dolman sleeves are the kind of airy fit I want on a hot day. I feel the proportions are spot on, and the hem hits perfectly so I'm covered but not swamped. These are the reasons we are more than happy to pay an independent designer for her work in creating something apparently so simple. Simple, but so right!
Subtle high-low hem. Shorts are an iteration of the Papercut Palisades as I went through fitting and pocket adjustments.


PATTERN: Diago Top by Pauline Alice (available as pdf only from her website)

FABRIC: Lithuanian washed linens: Seaglass Check 1.6m, Sorbet 1.5m, Granny Smith 1.5m.

SIZE: 44, as per measurements, check also finished garment measurements given.

COMMENTS: If you can, get this printed at the A0 copy shop size. I pieced together the A4 and the margins/overlaps were quite large - it seemed to use a lot more paper than it should have.

Measure pattern pieces for your size; you can probably use less fabric than pattern states.

EDIT: after quite a few wears, I would recommend if you French seam as the pattern suggests, go over the last pass of the curved underarm seam a couple of times with a small stitch length for strength. I've repaired a few popped stitches there.

Make one or several in our Lithuanian linens, you won't regret it!

- Jane & Fiona xx

Monday, September 23, 2019

Pattern Review: the Kalle Shirt Dress by Closet Case, in Lithuanian Natural Linen

The Kalle pattern by Closet Case has been around for a couple of years now. The dress or shirt has a roomy fit with dropped shoulder and no bust dart, a lined back yoke and dramatic curved hem. It's lovely, and we've been meaning to make it up for ages.

By the way, the pattern name is pronounced 'Kal - ee' (rhymes with Sally). I checked that with pattern designer Heather Lou when it was first released. It was driving me crazy not knowing how to say it, either aloud or in my head! You can imagine how I felt reading the first Harry Potter book many years ago. Her-mee-ohn? Herm-yon? Hermi-oh-nee?

The Kalle has a fair few minor variations that can be mixed and matched as you please:

This Kalle, made in our heavyweight natural Lithuanian linen, is a shop sample. You can swing by and have a look and even try it on if you like. It's a straight size 12, dress length, in 'popover' style with box pleat and band collar.

Sewing went really smoothly and includes some intermediate techniques like a lined yoke, placket and collar attachment, with good instructions and diagrams. There's even a full online sewalong on the Closet Case blog if you need any extra tips and photos. When attaching the sleeve cuffs I switched steps around a bit so my final step was to attach the cuff from the outside with topstitching, which I find more accurate than the suggested method which was topstitching from the outside in order to catch the unstitched inside edge. The shaping of the cuff at the underarm seam is a really nice touch that helps stop the armholes from becoming a window-to-your-underwear.

I used the suggested flat felled seam finish for the side seams which means that the entire garment has clean finishes inside and out.

The lined yoke is attached with the 'burrito method' and I'd strongly recommend that unless your fabric is super-stable, you stay-stitch the neckline to stop it stretching out during the step where the whole garment is pulled through the neck opening. This is mentioned in the instructions, but not until after the burrito part which is, in my opinion, where it's most required.

And here she is on a human:
With half a day's worth of linen-y rumpledness

The back yoke and pleat create shaping and visual interest

There's that swooping hem

And here you can see a bit of the movement of this heavyweight linen even after only minimal wash & wear
The button placement as marked sits pretty much above and below the fullest part of my bust, unsurprisingly creating a bit of gaping in the middle. For the photos I put a safety pin in behind to hold it closed. I'm going to leave this one as-is for the shop, but if making again for myself (quite likely), I'd simply double the number of buttons, to secure where it pulls a bit. I'd suggest you try your Kalle on with the button markings pinned closed before committing to buttonholes, to make sure you're happy with the placement on you.

I've never sewn a garment in this heavyweight linen before but it was great to work with. It has a bit of shrinkage on first wash so (of course) please, please pre-wash. Due to the thickness I did a fair bit of grading of seams where several layers were coming together. I like the earthy, rustic vibe of this fabric. I don't want to sound too woo-woo about it but it's easy to feel more connected to the living plants that made this simple, lovely fibre.

It looks pretty creasy in the photos but we like to embrace that about linen - and this is the fabric after only one pre-wash and one garment wash. I can imagine it developing a lovely worn-in look and even greater softness over time. It also makes the best teatowels and yes, I'm fine with wearing the same fabric I wipe my dishes with, haha!

If making again I would consider how to add a functional pocket or two. I think hidden side seam pockets (or just one) would be best so as to preserve the standout features of chest pocket and curved hem.

In summary:

PATTERN: Kalle Shirt + Shirtdress by Closet Case Patterns

FABRIC: 100% Linen, Mid-Heavy Weight, Natural Flax, made in Lithuania, 1.8m

SIZE: 12, no alterations (current body measurements for reference: bust 39" waist 33" hip 43" height 5'3")

COMMENTS: A minimalist design dressed up with some statement shaping, easy to fit and comfortable to wear. It's easy to see why Kalle is such a popular pattern that has become a favourite repeat-make for many sewists. I am pretty keen to make myself one to keep, probably in our Blue Jean linen.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Pattern Review: The Assembly Line Box Pleat Dress

Please don't mind us as we slowly sew our way through every Assembly Line pattern on our shelves. After great success with The Puff Shirt, Hoodie Dress, the Wrap Jacket and Almost Long Trousers (unblogged) we’re kicking on with the Box Pleat Dress.

A note about these patterns. We sometimes hear from customers that they find the price of the Assembly Line patterns surprising. At $38 a pop (that’s everywhere, not just us by the way!), they are indeed pricier than the average of $30 for other indie patterns - so we understand the surprise. But frankly, we have trouble keeping up with the demand for these, despite the higher price point. We suspect that’s because these patterns are classic, simple shapes with some extra added interest. The kind of wearable things you can sew a few times to get your money’s worth. Plus they’re printed on nice sturdy thick paper. All this makes for a most satisfying sewing experience.

So! The Box Pleat Dress. It’s an a-line frock with a gently exaggerated sleeve and - hence the name - a nice big box pleat at the back.

I’ve seen a number of these made up and they often fit quite loosely all over, but I decided that I wanted mine to fit more snugly - at least across the shoulders. So I used the finished garment size to give me a good 5-6cm of ease in the bust and cut accordingly.

Fabric & Preparation
This version of the Box Pleat Dress is made from Robert Kaufman Essex blend (55% linen + 45% cotton) in ‘Espresso’. It’s a light to medium weight fabric that holds the a-line on this frock nicely, not to mention the shape of those sleeves. As the linen component of this fabric softens with wash & wear, I expect the drama to die down, somewhat. :)

Since Assembly Line patterns only give quantity suggestions for 140cm wide fabric I needed extra to accomodate for the 110cm wide Kaufman. So, for any of you wishing to sew the size M, here’s a PSA: this dress used 2.8m of an 110cm wide fabric (as opposed to the recommended 2.1m for 140cm wide).

As with other Assembly Line patterns, the drafting is reliable and the directions are clear. The Box Pleat dress has a slight high-low back hem which is separated by a split, all with lovely wide mitred corners which were very pleasing to sew.

pockets in action

For a fairly simple silhouette, there are a few things that lift this frock above your simple A-Line dress. There’s those sleeves for one. Then there’s the nice spacious side-seam pockets, and some lovely feature topstitching down centre front. For my money though the best take away trick I learned from this pattern was the triangular support stitching that lies under the box pleat. It really makes the pleat feel nice and, well, trustworthy. That's important since said pleat sits right at the middle upper-back where seams get subjected to lots of movement and stress.

creases courtesy of a days wear 

There’s a definite whiff of Gilead about this frock (I’d be careful not to make it in red!) Its exaggerated a-line and sleeves make it incredibly roomy - which is fine by me, but may not be for everyone! A relaxed washed linen would drape nicely and soften those lines if it’s too much for you. The Box Pleat Dress is super comfortable and layers well. A solid Spring frock, and it layers well too. I think I’ll be reaching for this quite a bit.

- Fiona xx

The Assembly Line Box Pleat Dress pattern can be found here.