Sunday, July 21, 2019

Pattern review: The Puff Shirt by The Assembly Line

Many sewists find themselves on the hunt for a simple-but-stylish top pattern for woven fabrics. One you could potentially repeat in a number of different fabrics, maybe use as a basis for long and short sleeved versions; a go-to, pull-on woven top.  I have a couple of these in my repertoire: the Roberts Collection top by Marilla Walker and the Breezeway Top by Frankie and Ray; excellent everyday tops. The Roberts Top now offers a free downloadable sleeve option and the Breezeway can use the sleeve from the Frankie and Ray Friday Shirt so they both have year-round potential.

But how about something a little more tailored and dressy? The Assembly Line Puff Shirt has been a popular pattern and has a charming mix of simplicity, elegance and a little bit of fun with those dramatic gathered bell sleeves. I was particularly inspired after seeing versions made by our delightful customer and blogger Pips (she's made quite a few of the Assembly Line patterns and has a fabulous personal style, well worth a look - on Instagram and blog.)

Having had success with the Assembly Line Hoodie Dress pattern (in fact I made a second one because I wanted to wear the first all the time and they've become my winter 2019 uniform), I felt fairly confident diving straight in to a Size M in the Puff Shirt.

I used a Japanese yarn-dyed brushed cotton, for a bit of winter cosiness.

The Puff Shirt is quite a simple pattern to sew and I found all the notches lined up perfectly, the sleeves had just the right amount of ease and it was an enjoyable project. I feel like a bit of an expert on the elastic cuff now (that's what's tucked inside those sleeve ends, and used to great effect on the Hoodie Dress). When I tried on the finished shirt I was very pleased with the fit through the body, the length and the proportions. 

And that sleeve - just enough drama to feel a bit special but not ridiculous. It's possibly a little long on me but surprisingly doesn't get in the way of anything. The instructions ask you to fold the cuff to the inside of the 'puff' and stitch down to keep them tucked in, but I haven't stitched them down. They stay put on their own and this way the cuff can be turned out fully to help the shirt dry after washing.

Sleeve drama!

As with the Hoodie Dress, the lovely angled French darts provide enough shaping without need for a Full Bust Adjustment. Hurrah.

The envelope neckline gives a lovely boat-neck shape. On me it tends to pull a little at the front shoulders, so it doesn't sit completely flat. In fact in the photographs above I have a small safety pin under the overlap on my left shoulder, which is keeping things in place quite well. I wonder if the pulling is because of my sloping shoulders. Or possibly I do actually need a small FBA. Or to narrow a little through the back shoulders? Hmm. If it bothers me I could potentially put buttons and buttonholes at the join, which might look nice, or perhaps a pair of hidden press-studs to hold the overlap in place. There is surely a small fitting adjustment I could make to help with this. Here's a quick snap of the offending part after wearing the top for a while without the safety pin, and after that, a photo of the back of the shirt. If anyone has any fitting suggestions I'd be grateful!

There is a centre back seam so I could possibly attempt some shaping through there.

It's very comfortable to wear and I am really pleased to find a simple woven top that fits me through the bust without being too wide in the shoulders. With the elastic cuffs, the puff sleeves are easy to push up out of the way, for example, when washing hands. I also quite like the idea of trying this without the puff; it would be simple to trim the sleeve to a narrow tapered shape that would be easier to wear under jackets and cardigans. I think this top could be a useful 'base' for variations.


PATTERN The Puff Shirt by The Assembly Line

FABRIC Brushed cotton - yarn dyed, made in Japan 1.9m (amounts are only given for 150cm wide fabric so I laid the pattern out)

SIZE M (my measurements approx. bust 39" waist 32" hip 42", height 5ft 3/163cm)

ADJUSTMENTS None, but would investigate for a second version to help with pulling at front overlap

COMMENTS Another lovely wardrobe-builder from The Assembly Line. I like it with jeans/pants and it will also layer well with my pinafores and overalls. It works in a fabric with light body like this brushed cotton, but the sleeves would have more 'swish' in something drapier like a washed linen, Tencel, Cupro etc.

- Jane x

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Pattern review: The Wilder Gown by Friday Pattern Company in Natural 100% Linen

Sometimes a sewing pattern seduces you, despite it being outside your usual comfort zone. The new Wilder Gown by California-based Friday Pattern Company lured me in with its siren song. The magic of sewing would instantly transform me into the amazing model in the photographs, right? I mean, swoon. Just add a floral headpiece.
Back in the real world... I made a sketch of the Wilder on the 'My Body Model' fashion sketching croquis, based on my own dimensions. (I highly recommend this as a sewing project tool.)
Hey, this could work!

I bought the pattern (pdf only at present) and had it printed in large format at Aish on Glen Osmond Road. I have a 'fancy' evening version of the Wilder in mind for later on, but as a first run I thought I'd try it in our favourite all-occasions standby, Lithuanian Natural Linen. The earthiness of this fabric helps dress the design down a bit. With all that volume and gathering, I want this dress to feel either super-relaxed or super-dressy.

So, excellent news - the Wilder sews up in a very short space of time. The line drawings show you just how beautifully simple this dress is:
Raglan sleeves, neckline gathered with a long tie and those skirt tiers are simple gathered rectangles.
The hardest part is pinning the layers together and I confess I went with 'rustic' gathers rather than trying for perfectly spaced and evenly sewn. The shirt version is very appealing and avoids sewn gathers altogether.

The instructions are great and you're encouraged along the way by adorable little images of happy sewing tools with positive advice. I love touches like this which keep you motivated through some of the duller parts of sewing like cutting out.

I measured a Size L and made a small FBA (simplest FBA ever) as per the instructions, adding 1/2" to the width of the front bodice pattern piece. The other adjustment I made was to take 10cm out of the length, to account for my height, by reducing each tier by 5cm.

When I first tried the finished dress on I could absolutely feel the unapologetic 'nightgown' references made in the pattern. There's so much volume and length. However, the whole point of this gown is to be loose and flowy and swingy. After I wore it a bit, and the linen softened up, its voluminous glory really grew on me. Can you imagine how comfy it is? And, twirly? (Check out the pattern hashtag on Instagram for many sewists swishing and twirling!)

As the pattern helpfully suggests, I played about with the neckline gathers, since this can make quite a difference in how the dress sits. After a bit of wear, I stitched the ties in place with a few hand-stitches on the wrong side at the channel opening. This means the gathers stay in place even if I knot the tie a bit more loosely.
There is hand stitching in there somewhere I promise.
For daytime wear I still feel the need to dress the Wilder down. I like it with leggings and boots, or neutral, sensible shoes like my trusty Duckfeet Mols. It works well with a denim jacket. Basically, something that declares I am not off to bed in a four-poster or to picnic at Hanging Rock. A fancy evening version? Well, something with a touch of translucency, layered over a slip is twirling in my mind's eye.

Has the Wilder Gown captured your imagination?

In summary

PATTERN: The Wilder Gown by Friday Pattern Company (pdf available direct from designer)

FABRIC: 100% Linen, Natural, 160gsm. Pattern asked for 3.5m of 150cm wide fabric. I used about 2.9m, part of which is accounted for by my shortening the skirt tier piece, which would have used another 25cm at full size. My advice would be to buy the full amount suggested for your size and fabric width, unless you know you will shorten it.


ALTERATIONS: 1/2" FBA and shortened each skirt tier by 5cm.

COMMENTS: Fast and simple construction and almost no fitting issues meant a low-risk adventure into unknown style territory. The only drawback is the considerable fabric consumption if you're not sure whether the Wilder will be for you.

The sleeves are a bit wider and meet the bodice at a lower point than I anticipated from the product photographs. Finished garment measurements are given, and accurate; it turns out I really couldn't imagine how super-roomy six inches of bust ease would be! I am in two minds about narrowing down through this area, or simply sizing down, in any subsequent versions. It might be best to leave well enough alone.

For me the Wilder is the right meeting of volume and drama with pared back simplicity. It's great to try a different style now and then!

- Jane xx