THE DRAPERY BLOG: Pattern Reviews & News (click 'filter' for categories)
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.
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.
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!
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.
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
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.|
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|
PATTERN: Stacker Jacket by Papercut Patterns
FABRIC: 100% wool Donegal Tweed, 'Oonagh' 1.75m x 156cm wide
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
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!
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