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Pattern Review: Hampton Jean Jacket in natural denim

Pattern Review: Hampton Jean Jacket in natural denim

It might be Summer, but denim jackets are a year-round option, right? We sink our teeth into the Hampton Jean Jacket pattern, made from our natural cotton heavy twill.
December 07, 2021 by Fiona Dalton
Pattern Review: Elbe Textiles Steele Pinafore in Tencel/Linen

Pattern Review: Elbe Textiles Steele Pinafore in Tencel/Linen

A sweet pinafore named after a deceased goth-metal dude? We give it a bash, and find it hugely wearable.
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: 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
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
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
Pattern Review: Papercut Patterns Stacker Jacket

Pattern Review: Papercut Patterns Stacker Jacket

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

 

 

 

April 19, 2021 by Jane Goldney
Pattern review: Merchant & Mills Mary White top in Honeysuckle linen

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.
 
 
 
PATTERN: Merchant & Mills 'The Mary White' Top & Dress
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!
 

 

February 11, 2021 by Jane Goldney