Thursday, April 29, 2021

Pattern Review: Pattern Fantastique Vali top


Vali, the new dress/top pattern from Pattern Fantastique, was one of those patterns that knocked everything off my to-sew list as soon as it was released. Nita always has a clever way of focussing on an exaggerated element in her patterns, and this time it’s the elasticated puff sleeve. Friends, this is one significant sleeve. Paired with a fitted yoke and flared bodice, though, it all balances out nicely. The dress iteration sports some nice looking pockets, too: tick, tick and tick.

Fabric selection

I went straight to black linen for my shirt because I liked the idea of a solid fabric showing the beautiful design lines of this pattern and - since the mega-sleeve is a tad outside my comfort zone - to downplay any extra frou-frou that would prevent me from wearing it. Also, in full disclosure, Nita featured a plain black Vali in her photos and it just really looked like something that I wanted to wear. Our washed linen has a beautiful weighty drape to it, and it would similarly be lovely in a double gauze but if you wanted to turn up the sleeve volume even more it would look great in or Liberty Tana Lawn, or a crisp seersucker (you’ve all seen Anna’s amazing version, right?) 





Sizing

The Vali includes sizes 6 to 26. I measured between sizes and sized down based on the fit of other PF patterns I have made. Really happy with the fit! There’s a lot of helpful information about how to achieve best fit in the instructions.


Construction

The Vali is rated as intermediate. There are definitely some fiddly parts to this sew and some assumed knowledge.


Something I always enjoy about PF patterns is that Nita has you do all the preparation up front. It goes beyond the usual application of interfacing, to things like constructing ties and preparing all gathered pieces to exact measurements. Sure, sometimes you just want to get into the meaty bits, but sewing the garment happens satisfyingly fast once all of this is done.  Be warned, because this is a detailed sew, there is a lot of that preparation up front. This is a beautifully finished garment, too, so hat tip to Nita for making us do all of the boring but necessary bits first.


That said, there were a few times that I felt confused by this pattern, particularly around the construction of the yoke and its facing. First, I sewed the wrong end of the front neckline facing to the back facing (total user error, I should have checked the direction of the neckline curve before sewing). But it was where the neckline facing (piece F, for anyone playing along) joins the rest of the facing where I just couldn’t get my head around the instructions or diagram. Again, this was possibly user based, but I ended up pinning/basting it in two different ways, then laying it face down on the preassembled yoke to see how the two parts fit together. One (to the left of my mid-construction photo below) fell short by 5mm, the other worked, so I used that method to attach those two pieces. If you’re confused too, I definitely recommend basting. It’s a beautifully shaped yoke, and well worth the effort!




My other Vali related drama was with the hem. I felt the top was a bit long for me so decided to take a bit of length off; measured it on myself and against another similar top of favourite length. Despite measuring twice, I cut off too much hem and the top was too short and looked unbalanced. Sensing that this might be the black shirt of my dreams (spoiler, it is), I took to with with the seam ripper and replaced the bodice (so sad, I will do something with the leftover linen, also thank goodness we had a massive roll still from the same dye lot.) Anyway, please learn from my cautionary tale. Hem length can really make or break a garment.


Shop mirror selfie, please excuse mirror that needs a clean.


A couple of small modifications

I reinforced the seam where the split yoke at the front meets the bodice/skirt for strength, and hand stitched the two yoke fronts together at the base where they meet the bodice so that the turned up seam wasn't visible. I also squared off the hem and shortened it slightly.


I’m so happy with my Vali; it was totally worth the extra time and self imposed doubling back. Black shirt of dreams indeed.


The Vali pattern is now available in printed format via our website here.


- Fiona xx

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Pattern review: Papercut Stacker Jacket in Donegal Tweed

As soon as we knew our pure wool Donegal Tweeds were on the way from Ireland I was excited to think about what I might make. The Stacker Jacket by Papercut Patterns ticked a lot of boxes for me: cropped and casual, yet fully lined and with the potential to be really warm (well, by Adelaide standards). 

The Stacker was released a while back so there are loads of versions out there on the interwebs for inspiration. Take a look on Instagram: #stackerjacket .

I made a muslin and was impressed by the drafting and the way it all comes together. It's reasonably simple as far as a fully-lined jacket goes (one-piece sleeves, cut-on facings and hems) but has some nice detail like separate and interfaced front and back yokes, pocket options and an under collar that is smaller and cut on the bias, to encourage a nice roll.

My measurements fit pretty closely into Papercut's size 5, but after making the muslin and carefully consulting the finished garment measurements given in the pattern, I decided to size down to a 4, for a less oversized look. I also took out 5cm of length at the lengthen/shorten lines to create a more cropped size on my short torso (for reference I'm 163cm/5ft3).

I used our luscious new plaid Donegal Tweed 'Oonagh', and cut the yokes on the bias to mix it up a bit. The pattern called for 1.7m of fabric at 150cm wide. Since I cropped the pattern by 5cm, I cut 1.75m of fabric and had enough to play with for very careful pattern matching and placement.

I love to do a layout of the cut pieces of a garment for a preview:

So excited at this point

So how do you cut a plaid on the bias when it's not square, and therefore won't be symmetrical? I agonised over this and consulted some RTW garments and decided that you pick a feature centre and then let it do its thing on either side of this. It looks totally fine! Most plaids are not square and I'll probably be noticing this everywhere now.

I love the enormous patch pockets which are an option with the Stacker (although mine became shorter when I took length out of the bodice), but I also love a pocket I can easily put my hands into. After a lot of consideration I added welt pockets to the side of the patch pockets, which extend between the jacket fronts and the lining. 


They're not 100% successful in practice because they're a little far off to the side for really easy tucking-in-of-hands, but I'm glad they're there, they're capacious and they hold a hanky or keys while the patch pockets are perfect for my phone, a shopping list etc. I was inspired by this blog post (check out the amazing cosplay jacket!) and was grateful for the tip to use the patch pocket topstitching to hold one half of the welt pocket lining in place. The rest of the pocket linings are secured in the placket and hem topstitching. I used this tutorial post from Thread Theory Patterns to create the welt pockets (or as the post points out, technically, jetted pockets).

A walking foot was a must to pattern match those patch pockets successfully. Before I used the walking foot I had a couple of unsuccessful attempts despite much careful pinning: the top layer kept being pushed forwards.

For the bodice lining I used a Liberty remnant that was just big enough for that and lining the welt pockets, supplemented with some acetate lining for the sleeves. Buttons are some lovely nut-brown Corozo ones that we have from Merchant & Mills, buttonholes done with the 4-step manual process on my old Bernina.



Note bias cut yoke where pattern cannot be symmetrical - I centred the dark brown diamond.

A couple of notes on construction: 

Papercut Patterns uses a 1cm seam allowance, which is great in that it's not wasteful, but it doesn't allow much room for error, or seam grading and taming of seam allowances in thicker fabrics. Most of the seam allowances here are pressed open, and I found it useful to have a rolled-up hand towel (as improvised clapper) to put pressure on the seams after a steamy iron. On the shoulders, which are interfaced and lightly curved, I ended up hand-tacking the seam allowances down to keep them in place.

The upper collar, cut on the straight grain and interfaced, is very stable. The under collar is cut on the bias, and not interfaced. In this twill-weave wool, it stretched a bit, so even though the under collar is cut a bit smaller, it does not produce the desired 'rolling' effect. Post-construction I have done some hand stitching to effectively understitch (attach the outer edge of the under collar to its interior seam allowance) which helps, and I've steamed it into better submission. If I had my time again I'd be sure to adjust the under collar so it is definitely smaller and pulling a little at the upper collar, before putting everything together. I'm hoping the natural malleability of wool will persuade the under collar to compress a bit over time (it seems to be doing this already).



Worn with Clyde Jumpsuit in our Japanese Corduroy in 'Cocoa', boots by Duckfeet

SUMMARY:

PATTERN: Stacker Jacket by Papercut Patterns

FABRIC: 100% wool Donegal Tweed, 'Oonagh' 1.75m x 156cm wide

SIZE: 4

ALTERATIONS: sized down from body measurement size and removed 5cm from front and back bodice length at lengthen/shorten lines. Added welt 'hand warmer' pockets.

COMMENTS: I'm thrilled with this jacket and it has slotted effortlessly into my wardrobe, as if I've had it for years. I plan to enjoy wearing this for a very long time! The Stacker Jacket feels like a contemporary classic pattern, nicely finished, with uncluttered lines that makes it easy to throw on over just about anything. Of course, at time of writing we have only one copy of the pattern left in the shop, but there are always unlimited pdfs straight from the designer!

 - Jane xx









Monday, March 22, 2021

Pattern review: Juno Jacket by Papercut in Double Indigo Selvedge Denim

Papercut Patterns of New Zealand recently released a new collection of patterns, and we loved the look of the Juno Jacket immediately. 

Image credit: Papercut Patterns


Fiona and I both independently had the thought of making it up in our new Double Indigo Japanese Selvedge Denim. Great minds, right? The one I have made is definitely a shop sample though. (Truly. It's in the shop right now... unlike my Merchant & Mills Mary White top from the previous post, which has 'somehow' ended up in high rotation in my wardrobe, ahem.)

When using a selvedge denim I like to make a feature of the selvedge, and the front bands and belt on the Juno were perfect opportunities. The pattern layouts supplied look very efficient, but I had to go my own way to incorporate the selvedge, and played a lot of pattern tetris, cutting in a single layer and tracing in chalk (which is quite satisfying on dark, smooth denim).

I subtracted the 1cm seam allowance from the neckband and belt pieces on the selvedge sides. The neckband pieces, though they end up curved, are cut perfectly straight. Attaching them to the slightly curved neck edge gives a nice bit of body-hugging dimension to the front of the jacket.

Given the relative heft and stability of my fabric, I did not interface anything. If your fabric is more supple you'll probably want to interface where specified, for structure.

The jacket is unlined, so I did my favourite finishing touch for unlined jackets, which is to bind all raw seams with bias tape made from Liberty Tana Lawn. I measured how much I was able to make from half a metre of Liberty: 11 metres of bias cut at 1.5" wide, and that was not using the triangles left over from each end. I like to save them to make bandannas for my dog, heheh. This was plenty to bind all the seams on the Juno, with a metre or two left over.


If you would like to bind the seams, here's a guide to what to do when (or skip this bit - jump to ***):

Before construction, bind: Outer curved edge of Back Neck Facing, Sleeve hems, Back Bodice hem, upper edge of Pockets.

Choose whether to bind Front and Back Bodice shoulders separately now, or together after sewing shoulder seams (read on for more info).

After attaching sleeves, bind Sleeve/armscye seam allowances together.

Now bind Sleeve and side Bodice seams in four continuous lines (left front and back, right front and back), before sewing the side/sleeve seams to complete jacket construction.

If you choose to bind the Bodice shoulder seams together after joining, and press towards the back, you'll achieve the smoothest finish in relation to the back neck facing application. Depending on your fabric, you may find this too bulky at the shoulder/sleeve join. I bound the shoulder seams separately before construction, so inside they are pressed together under the neck facing, then opened out towards the sleeve. This is not completely ideal along the shoulder seam, but with a lot of steamy pressing, it's behaving itself just fine. A similar opening-out is necessary at the bottom of the side seams, to facilitate the construction of both the back hem which encloses the front bodice pieces, and the openings in the side seams for the belt. I think these are the kind of quirk that is a bit bothersome during construction but then you never think of them again while wearing.

***

I cut and sewed the Juno from raw, unwashed denim. Here it is in unwashed state:


This was partly because I cut it out on impulse during a quiet day in the shop, and partly because I wanted to start the beautiful ageing process of this denim on the finished garment, so it would begin to fade on the jacket's shape. I won't be in a hurry to sew unwashed denim again because it's a bit like wrangling cardboard, TBH. All the pieces matched pretty much to the millimetre though, in their cardboardy state. (Oh yeah, except for the back neck facing, which seems to have about the equivalent of an extra seam allowance added at the top:


- no big deal, I just snipped it off, and I am open to the possibility that I made a mistake in application). 

I am pleased with the once-washed jacket:


I made a Size 5 as per my measurements in the new Papercut 1-8 sizing (hurrah for neutral sounding size names!). I find the fit just right. It's a loose-fitting jacket but I'm not swimming in it.




I'm wearing the jacket with my Papercut Palisade Pants, which were the inspiration for the awesome pockets on the Juno Jacket. Wear them together and you have eight pocket compartments to lose things in!


SUMMARY

PATTERN: Juno Jacket by Papercut

FABRIC: Double Indigo Japanese Selvedge Denim, 100% cotton, 10oz 2.6m

SIZE: 5, no alterations

COMMENTS: A fairly straightforward pattern, enjoyable to sew and wear. Nicely shaped, with awesome pockets. In the long term it's possible the long, loose belt might be a bit annoying, but it could easily be shortened, or sewn into the side seams, at a later date. As designed, threading through slots in the side seams and going across the back on the inside is a "nice, different, unusual" feature, and worth living with for a while at least! A versatile style that could be made in many fabrics from a flowy linen to a thick wool to suit different seasons and occasions. You'll probably want to make more than one.

- Jane xx



 

















Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Pattern review: Merchant & Mills Mary White top in Honeysuckle linen


The Mary White pattern is a recent release from UK's Merchant & Mills. It's slated as Intermediate skill level and described thus: "A loose fitting dress or top with front and back pleats, side in-seam pockets (dress only), breast pocket and a sailor collar. Perfect attire for any board walk."

Merchant & Mills is not (as far as I've seen) forthcoming about the origin of the pattern's name. A quick internet search revealed a Dr Mary White, prominent Australian Paleobotanist who died in 2018, and a Kansas schoolgirl of the early 20th century, daughter of a journalist and subject of a 1977 movie about her life and early death from a horseriding accident. Your guess is as good as mine. *EDIT* thanks to our lovely friend Dorothy who remembered that M&M had answered the query a while back - it's a lifeboat! 

I'm drawn to the sailor collar, but wary of the exaggerated look that brings to mind Popeye or Princess Di in the early 1980s.





However I trust Merchant & Mills to keep it classy. So I selected our soft washed Lithuanian linen in 'Honeysuckle' and went to work on the top (the dress version is simply lengthened straight down, with added side seam pockets).

As usual with M&M patterns, the sewing process was full of satisfaction, with notches lining up beautifully, sleeves easing in nicely and so forth. However, I did find the front pleat quite a head-scratcher. I got there in the end, and it was partly my fault for making chalk marks (which became hard to discern) instead of the recommended tailor tacks. Next time, I'll take the time to tailor tack properly. 

There is a section where facings are sewn to folded pieces of the front bodice, and in case it helps anybody, I offer the following as additional guidance in the second part of Step 13, where I found the diagram difficult to interpret:

Right front bodice (view of wrong side), interfaced neck facing above inner workings of the pleat. Fold both out away from the bodice.


Pin top of pleat to bottom of facing.

Sew across, the full width of the facing.

This is how it looks once folded back against the bodice.


After this, I sewed the closing of the pleat incorrectly several times before I finally worked it out. It's quite tricky to picture how it all comes together. If you're not sure, hand-baste the pleat and check it, which will be easier to unpick than my 'surely this time' machine sewing!

I had concerns about the length of the top (fairly cropped), but in the end I think it's fine. Taller people might like to add a bit of length though. I may have hemmed it a tad longer than as per pattern. Here it is in action, worn with shorts in (sold out) Traditional Japanese Dinosaurs, made with the Closet Core Carolyn Pajamas pattern. Better rumpled photos than not at all.






FABRIC: 'Honeysuckle' Lithuanian Washed Linen, 210gsm  1.4m as per pattern - we find M&M generally accurate with yardage and their layouts make efficient use of fabric.
SIZE: 14
ALTERATIONS: none
COMMENTS: Ultimately, after some frustrations, this was a satisfying sew. If I end up leaving this at the shop as a sample (as planned), I would like to make one to keep for myself. I actually chose this colour linen because I adore it (so, enjoyed the sew) but thought it was better suited to people with darker colouring... so I wouldn't be tempted to keep it. But I think the colour looks surprisingly fine. I'd better crack on with another 'keeper' then!