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