Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Pattern Review: Maven Patterns Rochester top

 I’m always on the look out for woven top patterns that have a couple of interesting details. Something that can be worn with jeans that feels slightly less casual than a boxy top. Far be it from me to diss the boxy top - my cupboard is full of them - but, bless them, they are not for all occasions. 

Frankly, the Rochester  pattern (named for Jane Eyre, surely?) had me at that neckline. I found the narrow elastic casing really appealing, and you may be relieved to hear that it doesn't sit *too* high around the throat, either (never a comfortable feeling).  The elastic casing can be set right at the neckline edge as I have done, or 15mm lower for a spot of added neck frill. I love how the gather cleverly forgoes the need for bust darts and additional closures. But wait, there’s more! The Rochester also has a nifty pleat in the back plus a nice wide curved hem facing. It’s a dress pattern too, with inseam pockets and a waist tie.

I chose our washed linen in Slate, which is super soft and has a lovely amount of drape for the swingy hem. Next time, I’m tempted to try one in Liberty, or perhaps some double or triple gauze.

No dramas here. The pattern instructions are chock-full of extra details, hints and links to tutorials to get the details just right. All the notches match up and the set-in sleeves both went in perfectly first time with no puckers (win!) More on the shoulders later, though…

loving the wide curved faced hem sick
Despite all the extra information included in this pattern I found selecting my size slightly confusing.  There is a finished garment size chart but unfortunately the bust measurement (which is all you really need too take into account when fitting this pattern) is taken with the back pleat closed - so that’s roughly 10cm of ease unaccounted for. For the record I chose the sized closest to my bust measurement and it worked out fine. Be aware that the size range is standard: the largest size offered here is an 18 with 42 inch bust and 46 inch hips, although considering that back pleat there is a lot of extra ease included within that range. 

So. Overall I’m thrilled with the fit - the edge of the shoulder hits right where it should and the extra ease created by the back pleat makes this a comfy but not too puffy shirt. All good! That is until I lift my arms and… cue a whole bunch of excess fabric pooling at my shoulder tips. Waaah! 

Next time I make this, I’ll swap the arm hole and sleeve head with one from another pattern that works well for me to get around this problem. This shape arm block must work well for some people, but not for either Jane or I unfortunately! Perhaps for you it will present no issues… garment drafting is fascinating like that.

you can see some the excess shoulder fabric remains on the left here, post arm-hole surgery
In order to fix this without wasting the linen, I reluctantly removed those pucker-less sleeves and trimmed a crescent-shaped piece from the top of each. Fortunately they went back in without a hitch. Some excess fabric is still there when I lift my arms, but less so and I’m happy to live with it now.

This will be worn to bits. Other than the shoulder drama, this is a really pleasing shirt with beautiful proportions and some really lovely details. Initially I wasn’t sure about the deep high-low hem facing (not really my style) but it’s turned out to be one of my favourite features of this top. Definitely worth the time. It’s a win!

The Maven Rochester pattern is available as downloadable PDF (with copy shop option) from the Maven website here.
Slate washed linen can be found here.

 - Fiona xx

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Pattern Review: The Assembly Line Wrap Jacket (times two)

Some patterns sneak up on you. This project started out as a practical shop sample which took me a couple of weeks to slowly cut out and put together, as a job - a not unpleasant one, granted - rather than a passion project.

The moment I tried it on however, I wanted one for myself. In a cosy wool. NOW!

Adelaide has been so cold lately (by Adelaide standards) and I lacked the mid-length jacket or cardigan this weather demands. The Assembly Line Wrap Jacket combines unlined, raglan-sleeve softness with long, clean lines for a mix of comfort and put-togetherness. This pattern was formerly known as the Kimono Jacket but, as with a number of similarly-named patterns by other designers, has changed name to respect the cultural importance of the traditional Japanese garment.

The shop sample shown above is made in 'This Way Up' Japanese Textured Indigo Cloth, a white print on yarn-dyed indigo-coloured cotton. This fabric is 110cm wide, while the pattern only states fabric requirements for 140cm+ width. I laid out my Size M pattern pieces and this took 2.5m of 110cm width. My fabric was directional but I think you would still need 2.5m in a non-directional.

For 'my' version I cut 2m as per pattern of our Velvet Finish 100% Australian Wool in Deep Navy. I didn't consult the pattern layout before I cut, and this actually has pieces running in both directions - but my fabric has a nap - gasp! With some careful juggling I managed to squeeze the Size M jacket out of the 2m, folded, as shown below. So please bear this in mind if you're working with a directional fabric. An extra 20 - 30cm might make all the difference.

The construction is rather nifty, especially the creation of the collar which also makes a dart for shaping on the front bodice. I followed all instructions to the letter, except I bound my seams and hem edges with Liberty.

It just makes me so happy to see Liberty bound seams in an unlined jacket. In the wool version, I bound everything except the small shoulder darts. Here it is inside out:

This pleasingly used almost every last scrap of a single fat quarter cut of our new 'Isadora C' tana lawn (cut in 1.5" bias strips and folded using the red Clover bias maker). You can see I also added a 'me made' label by Kylie and The Machine.

And here it is in action.

My only comment on the fit is that the sleeves are quite long, but this allows me to fold them up and show a bit of binding if I wish, or roll them down for extra hand warming. Yes, it does have a little bit of a dressing gown vibe but you know? I don't care. I think it's actually something I love about The Assembly Line patterns: they're not afraid to make a little bit of a statement, while being comfy as heck.

Both fabrics were a pleasure to work with, and the wool especially was a dream. It's so stable, cuts like butter, barely frays and really doesn't distort at all. I used a walking foot for the majority of the wool construction, which helped the thick layers pass smoothly through the machine. The wool responded well to pressing using a 'pressing cloth' (i.e. teatowel), pressing on the back of the fabric wherever possible, and using a 'clapper' (improvised bit of flat wood pressed down after the iron) to hold in the steam and set the crease. When pressing the belt straps, I also used fine Entomology Pins to hold the seam flat - pinned right into the ironing board padding, you can just see the tiny ends below - before I lowered the iron.

This wool, also available in Mulberry and Black, is excess stock from a local, ethical design company. It's incredibly beautiful and a feel-good purchase to boot.

Note here that if you are using a fabric that is shifty and/or fray-prone, there's a fair bit of handling of the garment while some raw edges, particularly angles and curves at the top, are still unsewn. It might pay to use quite a bit of stay-stitching or other stabilisation technique.

I have comfortably worn this jacket all day whilst doing a number of tasks at home and at work. The inside button fastening keeps it securely in place while done up. If worn open, the jacket ties don't make a nuisance of themselves. The pockets are a fabulously useful size and perfectly placed. Small details like elbow and shoulder darts and topstitching elevate this jacket's finish but it's a really achievable one-day sew. Can you tell I love it?


Pattern: The Wrap Jacket by The Assembly Line

Fabric: 2.5m 'This Way Up' Japanese Textured Indigo Cotton plus a fat quarter (50cm x 67.5cm) Liberty Tana Lawn 'Dapper Dogs' (version 1), 2m Velvet Finish 100% Australian Wool in Deep Navy (also available in Black and Mulberrry) plus a fat quarter Liberty Tana Lawn 'Isadora C' (version 2)

Size: M

Alterations: None except seam finish - bound instead of overlocked

Comments: I loved this more than I expected to. It's another winner from The Assembly Line!

- Jane xx

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Pattern freebie: mini dachshund jacket

** ETA Dec 2020: Sorry! Due to technical issues (a broken laptop where the pattern was stored) this pattern is no longer available. You can use the illustrations of the pattern pieces below as guide by taking the measurement of the length of your dog's back to correspond to the length of the jacket body along the fold line. Alternatively, we recommend you try the new free dog jacket pattern by Closet Case here

When we published a photo on Instagram of one of our dogs (wee Lola, above) wearing a jacket made from the scraps from one of our projects recently, we had a few requests to share the pattern. So here it is! A quick guide to how I make a my dog jackets. This is a super simple pattern that is easily adaptable to the size of your dog. But please note that the straps are short and the body long on this pattern to fit the long n’ low dachshund in particular as most jackets are too short for their gorgeous sausagey bodies. 

Pattern pieces are below in JPG format (sorry, couldn't upload PDFs to Blogger, please send us an email if you'd like the PDFs!) They may or may not print to scale, so please check the measurements for a mini dachshund outlined in the directions -  and you might want to smooth out some of those roughly-drawn curves! There's also a picture of the finished product out flat to give a guide as there are no diagrams here. 

Enjoy and feel free to distribute to others. But of course this pattern - rough as it is - has been shared because we love dogs and is not for commercial use. :)

Please note that seam allowance is not included in this pattern. Please add your desired seam allowance before cutting, 1cm should be ample.

You’ll need:
- 35cm fabric of any width for outer (we recommend a light to mid-weight washable woven wool (these Japanese wool blends are perfect) or a soft canvas).
-  35cm lining fabric (light woven cotton or linen)
- Velcro (less than 10cm)
- Thread, fabric marker, scissors, point turner, iron, sewing machine.

Cut out dog jacket pieces as per pattern, transferring all markings from paper to fabric. 

Pattern size guidelines for a miniature Dachshund: the length of the body pattern along the centre back fold line is approximately 35cm long by 14cm wide; the length of the under body strap 23cm long by 7cm wide, and the length of the neck strap about 20cm long by 5cm wide (all measurements given are before the addition of seam allowance).

If you don't want to assemble the straps, you can easily substitute some thick, soft elastic and sew it into the seams as you assemble the body of the jacket instead.


1. With right sides together pin one body piece to one body lining piece, matching head end with head end and tail end with tail end. Sew around perimeter (using the seam allowance you selected and added during preparation) but leave an 8cm gap in your stitches at the tail end of the jacket, backstitching at each end. Finish seams with a zig zag and set aside.

2. Repeat as above for under body strap and neck strap, leaving a smaller gap in your stitching along the longest sides of each strap.

3. Using the turning tool, turn all pieces inside out through the gap in the seam then press well, tucking the seam allowance of the unfinished gap/hole back inside the jacket.

4. Topstitch around the entire edge of all jacket and strap pieces, enclosing the turning holes.

5. You might want to do a quick fitting on your dog before this next step to ensure that you are getting the position and length of the straps right for the size of your dog. Using the cross on one side of the body piece as a guide, top stitch the short end of the under body strap to the body piece on the outer side of the jacket. Repeat with the neck strap, affixing one short end of the strap to the head end of the body piece using the cross on the pattern as a guide.

6. Cut two small lengths of velcro, about 3cm each, and separate the pieces. Sew one side of the velcro onto the body pieces at the remaining crosses on under body and neck. Then sew the other side of the velcro to the lining side of each neck and under body strap.

You’re done! Pop the jacket on your hound and pat yourself on the back for keeping them warm.

- Fiona xx