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