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Pattern Review: Elbe Textiles Steele Pinafore in Tencel/Linen

Pattern Review: Elbe Textiles Steele Pinafore in Tencel/Linen

We review the Steele Pinafore sewing pattern by Elbe Textiles, which we made in a Tencel/Linen blend.
November 24, 2021 by Jane Goldney
Pattern Review: The Style Arc Hope Dress

Pattern Review: The Style Arc Hope Dress

It's an easy to sew and fit sack dress, sure. But there are a couple of things about the Style Arc Hope pattern that we didn’t realise until recently. You might be a bit sick of hearing about this oft-sewn dress, but if - like us - you'd overlooked it and would like to know more, come on down.
November 02, 2021 by Fiona Dalton
Pattern Review: Merchant & Mills Harlene Dungarees in Double Indigo Denim

Pattern Review: Merchant & Mills Harlene Dungarees in Double Indigo Denim

Jane offers up her thoughts and tips on sewing a classic pair of overalls: the fab Merchant & Mills Harlene Dungarees in Japanese Double Indigo Selvedge Denim.
October 21, 2021 by Jane Goldney
Pattern Review: the Bombazine Shirt (x 3!)

Pattern Review: the Bombazine Shirt (x 3!)

This shirt is a lovely blank canvas; a simple shape finished with a few key details. It's just the sort of dress-it-up, dress-it-down garment that we love and we couldn't wait to try it!
October 08, 2021 by Jane Goldney
Pattern Review: Deer and Doe Myosotis dress in Lyocell/Cotton Sateen

Pattern Review: Deer and Doe Myosotis dress in Lyocell/Cotton Sateen

The Myosotis pattern was really at the forefront of the ruffles and gathers trend, and it has a lightly fitted, buttoned bodice to elevate it beyond a casual sundress.
September 07, 2021 by Jane Goldney
Elbe Textiles Cornell Shirt

Pattern Review: Elbe Textiles Cornell Shirt

This pattern lets us choose between two casual shirt styles - one with a button up placket extending down past the hip (also known as a ‘popover’), and the other a classic full button front. Appealingly, it’s a gender neutral style, too, made to fit a bunch of different bodies.
July 22, 2021 by Fiona Dalton
Tags: shirt
Pattern review: Muna and Broad Waikerie Shirt

Pattern review: Muna and Broad Waikerie Shirt

Muna and Broad patterns began in 2019 and if I'm counting correctly, has already released an impressive eighteen patterns for plus-size bodies. Well realistically, and statistically, average-size-and-up, with the size range beginning where many pattern companies have historically (and frustratingly) tapered off. The brand even promises to grade its patterns up if you don't fit into their current range.

Muna and Broad patterns are currently available in downloadable pdf format only, so hop on over to their website and check out their array of incredibly wearable garments. Leila and Jess who created the company have such great personal style. I really relate to their aesthetic of simple, well-cut garments in a mixture of statement and workhorse fabrics.

Jess lives in New Zealand and Leila is an Aussie living in Canada, so you'll notice some distinctly local names popping up on their patterns!

I've been looking around for a cropped, long-sleeved shirt pattern and the Waikerie ticked a lot of boxes. I roughly fit into the bottom of the Muna and Broad size range and have been keen to try one of their patterns. It's been a very long time since I've worn a white button-up but sometimes a fabric and pattern combo just won't leave your mind. I used our Japanese Dobby Triangle Shirting, which is a crisp cotton covered in woven triangles with delightful little fluffy edges. It's also available in Midnight navy and Forest green.

The result is quite structured, which I really like, but I can see how this would be quite a different shirt - and equally nice - if made in fabric with soft drape, like one of our washed linens. I followed the pattern precisely and made no alterations except omitting interfacing on the front facings, since I felt this fabric had enough structure and I didn't want it to end up too stiff.



Things I love about the Waikerie:

 

  • the way it looks buttoned right up and doesn't feel at all chokey
  • the stitched down facings (lurve a good topstitched facing)
  • the perfect deep-hemmed cropped length, with just a teeny gentle dip at the back
  • the low-fuss sleeve placket and cuff methods

 

Things I learnt from the pattern:

 

  • what a 'drill hole' is and how to use it - am keen to use more
  • an interesting method for attaching the collar and facings, which ultimately gave a nice clean finish
  • an unusual sleeve attachment method which delightfully refers to 'this strange loop'
  • my new favourite sewing term, 'pinstitch' (to sew a pin's width away from an edge)

 

The pattern refers to video instructions if extra help is needed, which is great. I'm firmly in camp written instructions however, and found that walking through step by step, even trickier parts made sense once I got there.

From a practical wardrobe-incorporation point of view, the Waikerie's extreme dropped shoulder, while a cool style decision and very comfortable, is a bit limiting for layering over. My mind is already working on how I could adjust the pattern to knock back some width at the top of the bodice and lengthen and narrow the sleeve, to make something that would retain a lot of the pattern's character and be easier to wear under jumpsuits and jackets. In the meantime though, here's another great shirt that probably won't make it into the shop as a sample, ha!

 

 

NB: Worn here with another recent make, my second version of the excellent Darlow Pants by In The Folds, made in our 100% cotton velveteen in Chocolate, which I can confirm makes great pants! I cut with the nap running upwards to make the colour look extra richly chocolatey. Boots - Duckfeet (not sponsored, just love 'em!).

 

SUMMARY:

PATTERN: The Waikerie Shirt by Muna and Broad

FABRIC: 100% cotton Japanese Dobby Triangle Shirting, white, 2.2m x 110cm wide (pattern states 2.9m - quantities specified cover whole size range, so if you're down the lower end I suggest doing a trial layout to see if you can save some fabric)

SIZE: A

ALTERATIONS: omitted interfacing on front facings

COMMENTS: For a button-up shirt, this is a relatively low-fuss sew. Once you've finished, you can easily imagine launching straight into your next version! I adore the style and I'm pleased to be able to recommend this to a large audience of assorted body shapes, from around a 41" hip upwards. Also worth noting is that I think the Waikerie would make an excellent unlined jacket, e.g. in a denim, corduroy, velveteen or non-scratchy wool. Just throw on a couple of big front patch pockets, use some chunkier buttons and voila!

- Jane xx

 

 

 

 

 

June 10, 2021 by Jane Goldney
Pattern Review: Papercut Patterns Aura Skirt

Pattern Review: Papercut Patterns Aura Skirt

After going down a jeans sewing rabbit hole last Winter, I've found myself happily reaching for jeans most days since the weather turned cool. But there's a hole in my wardrobe for a high-waisted, midi-length, straight-ish skirt *jeans alternative* and the Papercut Aura pattern looked promising.

 

Aura includes a pattern for both a dress and skirt, the feature of each a wonderfully wide wrap tie (the dress has some appealing balloon sleeves, but that’s for another day!) A word on sizing: this pattern is inclusive of sizes 1-8 (or UK 6-20), which translates to waist/hip 56/82cm to 98/124cm or, in the old money 22/32.3 to 38.6/48.8 inches. This places me near the top of the range, and leaves out a helluva lot of other sewists. In an email to stockists recently Papercut indicated that they are currently putting their energy toward expanding their size range; we look forward to that change.

 

 


 

Fabric

This black version is made from our Japanese textured linen/cotton twill. It’s a great basic light-medium weight fabric, nice and soft but not cardboardy, but with some stability and structure; we have it in four colours and have all used it with great results for pants - and now a skirt. You could also use one of our mid-weight crumple texture canvases, or washed linen for a floaty warm weather version.

 

Construction

Someone recently asked on Instagram why we thought this pattern - ostensibly a fairly straightforward wrap skirt with no extra closures - was rated for intermediate sewists. I suspect that probably has something to do with the side seam opening for one of the ties to pass through. The method used to make the opening falls squarely in the ‘just do what they say and trust the process’ camp. The resulting opening is a nicely designed one that’s well finished, so well worth any jumps of faith required. When it came to putting the skirt side and back pieces together to complete the opening, I called on old-friend seam ripper as I couldn’t get the top skirt edges sitting quite as flush as I wanted first time, but other than that, this was smooth sailing. I can’t speak to the dress iteration of the pattern but I think the Aura skirt could be happily sewn by an advanced beginner. Once you join both the front pieces to the skirt back, the resulting piece of fabric takes up quite some real estate on the sewing table, so clear some space around your machine!

 

 

 

Wearing

The ties can be tied at the back or the front. So far, I feel most comfortable with them to the front, but like the look of it tied to the back in the pattern booklet, too. There’s a lot of fabric to wrangle when you put this on for the first time, trying to figure out which tie goes where; the ties sort of scrunch down a bit and cross over at the back, if you’re wondering!

 

 

As it’s June, I’m currently wearing this with tights and boots. The fabric does catch a little if I’m walking at top speed and it honestly doesn’t bother me, but I could investigate some kind of slip if push came to shove. If making this for cool climate wear only, I’d consider underlining it. That said, I’m looking forward to teaming this with a tee shirt and sneakers in warmer weather, too.

 

 

 

Modifications

I measured across two sizes so graded from an 8 at the waist to a 6 in the hip. I checked the finished measurements, took a risk and didn’t make a toile figuring there would be wearing ease from the wrap. On reflection grading was possibly not completely necessary given some excess fabric at the back waist, so I could have gone down a size or so there. Luckily, it’s a wrap skirt and these are minor adjustments, so I will pull those ties in and move on! 

 

Regrettably, the Aura skirt has no pockets. I didn’t add any and I’m really missing them! I'd rather not add a patch pocket so not to distract from that lovely curved seam at the front, and one in the side seam may interfere with fit at the hips... but this skirt is on notice; a pocket may be installed before Winter is out!

We are currently sold out of the Aura paper pattern but the PDF can be downloaded direct from Papercut. 

 

- Fiona xx

June 04, 2021 by Jane Goldney
Sewing accessories: the Brooklyn Hat by Elsewhen Millinery and the Panda Bag by Urk!

Sewing accessories: the Brooklyn Hat by Elsewhen Millinery and the Panda Bag by Urk!

You can sew some very satisfying accessories with small cuts of special fabric, and even scraps leftover from larger projects.

I've always liked the idea of wearing hats, but seldom found any that suit me. I have, apparently, a big head (yes, very amusing) which means it's hard to find hats that fit in the first place. But now I can make hats, they can be any size and I can tweak to find a style I really like. So, pardon me if I develop a bit of a hat affectation.

In the past I have used the excellent 'You Sew Girl' patterns by Australian designer Nicole Mallalieu. I highly recommend her Flat Cap and Beret patterns. I made a beret from scraps leftover from my tweed jacket - no photos because I gave it away to my son's girlfriend, who looks great in it.

I wanted to try a more 'newsboy' style cap, and bought the Brooklyn pattern by Elsewhen Millinery on Etsy. Excitingly, the Elsewhen patterns fit up to a 25" head circumference, so my considerable noggin wasn't even at the top of the size range. I used just a 25cm cut of our Ciara Donegal Tweed, plus a strip of corduroy for the inside band and some silk from my stash for the lining.


I was a little generous on the sizing of the band, and I feel the large brim has ever-so-slight Holly Hobby vibes, but I really like it and have worn it a lot. (At least I have a face, and it actually offers quite good sun protection.) The method for creating the brim, using felt fused inside, works really well and creates a pliable yet smoothly shaped brim.

I made a second version of the Brooklyn using scraps of our Sinead Donegal Tweed, left over from making pants for my eldest son. I decreased the size of the brim and also the band. The points at the top did not meet completely convincingly so I've added a self-covered button. What points?


The other alteration I made was to create a fully enclosed interior, by using the construction method from the You Sew Girl beret and turning through a gap in the lining. It's a much neater finish in my opinion.

So what next? A handbag! A small remnant of the amazing Orla green tweed (sold out) was calling out to become some sort of bag. After much, much trawling of Etsy for bag patterns, I settled on the Panda Bag by Urk! (I made the Small Panda with Flat Bottom). I purchased leather and some hardware from Adelaide Leather and Saddlery in the city, then discovered that DS Horne at Hampstead Gardens has an excellent range of bag hardware, and purchased most of that, including a zip, from there. I found some structural interfacing and foam online at Brisbane-based Voodoo Rabbit, because if I can't find things locally I at least like to try and purchase from within Australia. Not having much bag making experience, I wanted to use the exact products recommended by the pattern. Now that I've used them, I have some ideas about substitutes I might be able to use in future, but Voodoo Rabbit has a good range if you need.


The Panda Bag instructions were very good and I put it all together over several intense sessions in just a few days.

Even though I used thin and soft leather, and leather needles, it was hard-going on a domestic machine. It's easy to see why there are specialist machines for this sort of thick, fiddly, angular sewing. I broke or bent seven machine needles and one hand sewing needle throughout the process. It's possible I should have used some more heavy duty thread than the regular Gutermann Sew All. Time will tell, as I see how this bag holds up. In any case I reinforced in many places with rivets, for security, and for fun. Sewing with hammers is always fun.




 

 

I lined my bag with Liberty Tana Lawn for an extra touch of luxury. I've been using it for a week now and I'm very pleased with its practicality. It's big enough to hold my purse, phone, sunglasses and other bits and pieces as needed, including a novel and small water bottle on one day. Yet it's compact enough to comfortably wear with the cross-body strap while strolling about.

 

Since a friend mentioned it's hard to picture the dimensions of a bag without seeing it with a human, here's a photo with hat and bag, and bonus doggy in the window, wondering what the heck her human is doing.


All in all, I'm really satisfied with my accessory sewing. I'm not keen to dive into another bag really soon, but I feel a bit hooked on hats, which can be whipped up in a session or two. Hats for everyone!

- Jane xx

 

 

May 19, 2021 by Jane Goldney
Pattern Review: Vali Top by Pattern Fantastique

Pattern Review: Vali Top by Pattern Fantastique


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.

 

 

 



 

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.

 

- Fiona xx

April 30, 2021 by Jane Goldney