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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
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
Pattern Review: By Hand London Hannah Wrap Dress in linen

Pattern Review: By Hand London Hannah Wrap Dress in linen

I love it when a sewing pattern really challenges my idea of styles I like to wear. Wrap dresses were not something I'd considered for a long time. So I was surprised when the Hannah Wrap Dress from By Hand London caught my eye, and kept playing on my mind.

A search of the #bhlhannah hashtag on Instagram showed the Hannah looking pretty great on a real range of people. And they recently released extended sizing, which I found promising for fit.

And what do you know - I love it! Hannah pairs beautifully with our washed Lithuanian linens. I used rich teal-blue 'Atlantic', one of our new custom-dyed colours. In this fabric the Hannah makes me feel well-dressed but not overdressed for everyday wear.

NB: BHL patterns are only available as PDF, and I purchased this direct from their website. It's a large print job: four A0 pages mostly filled by the three skirt pieces, or a bunch different files for A4, because you can choose between three sleeve options. I printed the bodice and short sleeve at home to make a muslin before I committed to the full dress, then needed three A0 pages printed to complete the dress. It was worth it in the end though!

I made several fitting alterations to the bodice, through the course of two muslins and the finished dress, but they were exactly as I might expect given my personal shape. I think the pattern is very nicely drafted 'as is'. 

After the first muslin I lowered the bust dart and made a narrow shoulder adjustment. Then after constructing the final dress I could see another area for improvement, with an excess of fabric in the upper bust/armpit area. This sat much better when I pinched a bit out towards the shoulder point along the shoulder seam. So I did a bit of unpicking and took a wedge out of the back shoulder, an inch at the shoulder point tapering to nothing at the neckline - a bit of a dodgy sloping shoulder adjustment. I made a pleat at the top of the sleeve to take in the resulting excess there. If I was to be really picky, I could have gone a bit further with this shoulder adjustment. Don't mind the low quality mirror selfies and mid-reno room... you may find the fitting demo useful!

I also shortened the sleeve, which made it better proportioned for me. The skirt needs no adjustments since it's just three big rectangles with lots of gathers. For me, with many patterns it's a tossup whether to choose a smaller size based on shoulders/high bust and make a full bust adjustment, or choose a larger size and then adjust the shoulders. I'm happy with how this one worked out in the end!

The skirt wrapover is generous and has you covered unless it's super windy (Bunnings carpark I'm looking at you!). The bodice wrap also feels fairly secure and I don't feel the constant need to check and adjust for coverage. I love the weight and swishiness that our washed linen gives to the skirt. Pockets are excellent, although a little difficult to find sometimes within the gathers. Extra shaping is given to the bodice with darts coming from the waist at front and back.




PATTERN: Hannah Wrap Dress, By Hand London

FABRIC: 100% linen, washed/softened, made in Lithuania - Atlantic (145cm wide, 2.5m)

SIZE: 16 in the original B-cup range (I dithered over which range to purchase because the curvier sizing also started at a 16 but my measurements seemed to fit this quite well)

ADJUSTMENTS: lowered bust dart, narrow shoulder adjustment, sloping shoulder adjustment, shortened sleeve

COMMENTS: I'm a wrap dress convert! Love it.

- Jane xx

January 12, 2021 by Jane Goldney
Pattern Review - True Bias Roscoe Blouse in washed linen

Pattern Review - True Bias Roscoe Blouse in washed linen

Sometimes a pattern can creep up on you, do you know what I mean? You’re making the things you need, sometimes getting distracted by shiny new patterns and fabric. Then, out of the blue, an old pattern that has never caught your eye before suddenly… does.

So it was for me with the Roscoe Blouse pattern. Released in 2015 and ahead of its time, probably, with its big sleeves and gathered volume. Great with jeans, good for work or not-work, pairs well with linen and other light, drapey cloth. Um, why hadn’t I sewn this before?



The beauty of making an older pattern is the volume of information available about it - and the almost unanimous message about the Roscoe is that there is a lot of ease. Referring to finished garment sizes on the pattern, I went down 2 sizes from my measurements. Yes, it’s supposed to emanate that oversized puffy, pirate shirt vibe, but I prefer the fit of these things to have slightly less volume. And there is still buckets of comfortable ease in this.




I cut 2.3m of this 145cm wide washed linen in Deepest Blue, but for the size 10 I used 25cm less - though you might need the full amount in a directional fabric. I also ended up taking 6cm off the hem for my 5’6” frame (more on that later), so could have got away with cutting just under 2m.



Nothing to report here, this came together with no dramas. The pattern is drafted beautifully and the instructions & diagrams plentiful and clear. If you don’t like making/distributing/pinning gathers - well, there’s a bit of that - but not excessively so.


While this weight of linen (170gsm) is lovely for a top or dress, I think this top could work well with something even lighter weight for super hot weather. A cotton seersucker, voile or Liberty Lawn would be peak light & floaty.




A couple of other things

After looking at these photos I’ve come to the conclusion that, in retrospect I’ve taken too much off the hem. Makes my choice of KATM label somewhat ironic, but I still think I’ll get plenty of wear out of this. Also, not with the blue jeans - too much blue! - but the opportunity to take a photo presented itself in a small window on a blue jean day. 


View C, dress with frill, also looks appealing in the same way that the Wilder Gown is - swishes aplenty!



We’ve just taken delivery of a bunch of True Bias patterns, so the Roscoe Top & Dress can be found here.


- Fiona xx

November 24, 2020 by Jane Goldney
Pattern Review: Republique Du Chiffon Flore Blouse in Ruby Star Society cotton

Pattern Review: Republique Du Chiffon Flore Blouse in Ruby Star Society cotton

EDIT: I wrote this post back in May but only just got photos of the garment being worn!
This was an occasion where the fabric came first. This lightweight cotton by Ruby Star Society (now sold out) just made my heart happy. It's officially a quilting cotton, with a lovely soft hand so great to use as shirting. I thought for a while about what to make with it, but I didn't want to wait too long and have this simply linger in my stash.
The Flore Blouse is a relatively new pattern from French company Republique Du Chiffon, and it turns out I bought it (as downloadable pdf) about a week before they released it with English instructions. C'est la vie! With a little very basic understanding of the language, enough diagrams, and the occasional help of Google Translate, this shirt came together nicely.
The combination of bright fabric and flouncy blouse had the potential to be altogether a bit much, but I went for it anyway. Yes, it's about as sweet as a giant stick of fairy floss but I love it. Working with this fabric and pattern brightened my mood and I look forward to wearing it in spring. (EDIT: now it's spring and I've been wearing it quite a lot - it's a real mood booster.)

I don't have much to report on the pattern, which I think is lovely and well drafted. It's very swingy and on the short side, so I'll be wanting to wear it with reasonably high-waisted bottom garments. It would be easy to lengthen through the bodice or frill (making sure to also lengthen the button plackets). I think it would also be lovely made sleeveless. I'd just check if I needed to raise the bottom of the armscye, and then bind with bias. This was my third time working with a Republique Du Chiffon pattern and I have been pleased with the results each time.
NB: you have to add seam allowances. I write this boldly on all my pattern pieces to remind me as I'm cutting out!

The Japanese-made Ruby Star Society fabric is lovely to work with and wear, with a cool, soft feel. If you've worked much with quilting cottons for garments you'll know that they can vary immensely. This is definitely a nice quality for shirts and tops.
If you look closely you'll see I used a range of different coloured buttons. These were a gift from my husband so it was really nice to use them, and helped with my usual dithering button indecision. Something about this pandemic time has made me eager to 'use the good fabric' (and buttons and trims etc) rather than wait for some mythical 'right time'. Have you felt that too?
PATTERN: Flore Blouse by Republique Du Chiffon
FABRIC: Clementine by Melody Miller for Ruby Star Society, 100% cotton, 1.75m (sold out), this pattern would work beautifully in any of our Lithuanian Washed Linens
SIZE: 44
COMMENTS: Delightful. Likely to make again, possibly slightly lengthened.
- Jane xx
September 22, 2020 by Jane Goldney
Pattern Review - Merchant & Mills Trapeze pattern, button back top

Pattern Review - Merchant & Mills Trapeze pattern, button back top

Have you ever made a list of your top 5/‘desert island’ patterns? If I made such a list - which, come to think of it, sounds like kind of a fun diversion - the Merchant & Mills Trapeze pattern would be included without hesitation. I’ve made quite a few of these over the years, (blogged about my first version in 2015). I’ve traced a couple of different sizes, too, as my weight has fluctuated over the years; this pattern has been a constant


About a year ago Merchant & Mills released a button-back iteration to the Trapeze, and I’ve been keen ever since to give it a go. A sleeveless pinafore was at the top of my list until seeing this button-back top on the M&M Instagram. Plus, those sleeve gussets are really rather nice, too (terrible low-light photo below).





The Trapeze has generous ease around the bust and hips, but I find the arms (as with other M&M patterns) quite tight fitting in comparison. The linen in this Essex blend has given a little with wear and so the tight-ish arms are wearable for this top but if I was using a tightly woven fabric like a liberty Lawn for this pattern, I would probably want to use the armscye and sleeve from the next size up.


M&M have recently extended their size range for the Trapeze, but only for PDF purchases from their website here, so we only have available the printed version of the pattern which covers sizes 8-18. Jess from Broad in the Seams gives a helpful review of the extended size range here.



There are no top instructions as such in this pattern, but converting dress to top is as straight forward as you would imagine. Making this version of the pattern required cutting the dress front, back and front & back facing pieces from self fabric and interfacing, cropping each at desired length. I cut about 65cm from shoulder seam to new hem. 




There is a nice wide hem facing on the dress version which I didn’t include in this top (I hemmed the whole thing with a 1cm double fold.) My fabric, this lovely Essex cotton/linen blend in Rust is 110cm wide. At a guess, I cut 2m (the full length facing pieces for the button placket make this a fairly fabric hungry proposition) and found I didn’t have quite enough to cut a hem facing for the top. In retrospect, an added facing at the hem using this substantial fabric would probably have made this top a bit rigid and a-line, but if your fabric is quite light (double gauze/washed linen) a facing would be lovely - perhaps just plan your project better than I did and cut about 25cm extra to begin with! ;)




These photos were taken after a solid day of wear with lots of time getting crushed in the car, but that probably gives a guide as to how the Essex wears over the course of a day. Looking now at the drag lines around the buttons at the back, I suspect I need a wide-back adjustment or more buttons - and bigger buttons, too (in my defence, there were only 5 of these left when I purchased and I was struck with decision overload in the button shop!) Oh, and, I can get this on and off without needing to undo any of the buttons… so if you are buttonhole-averse, you could probably get away with making these purely decorative. 




So, in my book, the Trapeze continues to earn its stripes as a versatile and wearable pattern. It’s most definitely still coming to the desert island with me!


- Fiona xx

September 08, 2020 by Jane Goldney
Pattern Fantastiqué Sleeveless Celestial Dress in Summerweight Denim

Pattern Fantastiqué Sleeveless Celestial Dress in Summerweight Denim

Over Summer, my much loved light-weight denim Aeolian dress met its sad, untimely end after a run in with a dropped bottle of black nail polish. It was replaced with a denim version of another Pattern Fantastique ‘classic’, the Celestial Dress. Made in the midi length, I enjoyed months of swishing around in it until the weather turned... so I promised myself that as soon as a suitable denim arrived in store, I’d make a sleeveless pinafore version of the same as its Winter alter-ego. 
Fast forward a few months and a fresh delivery of our beautiful Japanese denims, produced in the well-regarded denim manufacturing prefecture, Okayama. Among them Summerweight indigo denim. Winter swishing was on! This fabric feels a little stiff straight off the bolt, but starts to soften impressively after the first wash. It has turned out to be the perfect weight and drape for this generously skirted dress. 
The Celestial pattern has been kicking around for years, so I'll keep it brief. This is a multi-sized pattern from sizes 6 to 16, equivalent to bust measurement (the most important one for fitting this trapeze-style) 81 to 106cm. My measurements put me close to the top of the existing size spectrum, but the sizing/fit is spot on, especially for this version where I wanted some extra ease for layering. The only shame about this lovely pattern is that the largest size is a 16 - it would be great to see an expansion of the size range on offer.
To make the sleeveless version, you need to download the free pinafore ‘hack’ file from Pattern Fantastique here. This complements the printed pattern by replacing the sleeves with an underarm facing. You then cut double one of the yoke pieces and forego some of the others. There’s a bit of two-and-fro required between the printed pattern and ‘hack’ instructions, particularly while figuring out what is needed for each version. This is a good pattern for someone with some garment sewing experience behind them, or someone who would like to learn some new techniques like the burrito method, which is used to sew the enclosed seams on the yoke.
This midi length pinafore was cut from 2m of the 150 wide denim. You could also *just* squeeze the width of the skirt pieces on a 110cm wide fabric (but allow for more meterage to cover the yoke pieces, too!) For anyone interested, I squeezed the sleeved midi version out of 2.1m of 140cm wide non directional fabric rather than the recommended 2.8m.
Pocket love
My favourite feature of this dress is the roomy pockets. These are top-stitched to the front skirt to prevent any annoying pocket flapping, and conveniently provide some nice subtle stitching detail. I also love the length. This is sewn straight from the packet and is a proper mid-calf length on me, at 167cm/5’5” tall.
One more thing
It’s a personal preference, but I won't be wearing this without a shirt underneath unless with a strapless bra, as the neat 90 degree angle where the yoke attaches to the pinafore cuts right in at the front. But for layering, this is *exactly* what I had hoped for. I have worn it an almost embarrassing amount of times already in the month since I finished it. Already planing another for when this one is in the wash! Perhaps using one of our textured twills, or it would also work nicely in one of our new Japanese Fine Wale Corduroys.
xx Fiona
August 05, 2020 by Jane Goldney
Pattern Review: Clyde Jumpsuit by Elizabeth Suzann

Pattern Review: Clyde Jumpsuit by Elizabeth Suzann

Many sewists have drooled over the garments by Elizabeth Suzann, a clothing brand from Nashville USA. The company has recently closed due to the effects of Covid, but was run on extremely admirable business ethics, including all-local production, all natural fibres, diversity of size and colour in models, and producing only to order. You can read more about the company at its website, which is still up at the moment.
The brand's classic, comfortable styles are being released as free patterns, with a request that if you are able, you donate to charity (several suggested - I donated to The Loveland Foundation). I've just learnt that the Dropbox where the instruction-less patterns were shared has been closed. Credit and thanks to Instagrammers @minimalistmachinist @thestoryclubpdx and @mombasics for their work on preparing and sharing the pattern files.
I've long admired the Clyde Jumpsuit, so I leapt on the opportunity to try it and it doesn't disappoint! In case it helps anyone who already nabbed the downloads, I'll write down a few notes that may be helpful in the absence of written instructions.
I found the measurement/sizing charts at the ES website, and used these to determine my size. I chose size L (measurements Bust 39 Waist 33 Hip 43 matched mine exactly, wow) and the Short version since I am 5ft 3/163cm. I found this size to be just right for me. I was a little concerned it was actually a bit short in the torso at first (and I consider myself short-waisted) but it loosened up after some wear. 
The seam lines are drawn on the pattern, and seam allowance varies as follows:
Main construction seams: 1/2 inch
Pocket tops: 3/8 inch
Binding at neck and arms: 1/4 inch
I had my pattern printed A0 size. I didn't specify colour and it came out B&W. With all the overlapping size outlines and seam lines, it's not easy to pick your line. Since I was using the largest size in the document (there is another document with the rest of the size range) I found my line without too much trouble, but another size within the mass of lines would have been tricky.
The binding method I used: fold the bias strips in half with right side out, and sew to the right side of the garment with all three raw edges lined up, at 1/4" seam allowance. Then press all raw edges to the inside. Press again to turn the folded edge of the bias inside as well, rolling a little to the inside and covering all the raw edges. Stitch down along the edge of the bias.
The Clyde Jumpsuit walks that careful line balancing decent coverage if worn alone, and enough room to wriggle in and out! It has no buttons, zip or snaps which makes for a very clean finish and easy construction. But the wriggle is real. I am reliably informed that this is the 'Clyde Shimmy' and now I think of it fondly, haha! After a day of wear, my heavy canvas Clyde has become easy enough to get in and out of without having to dislocate an elbow. It wouldn't be difficult to add in some sort of closure if this is helpful to you.
I still need to do this because I have put the whole garment on back-to-front several times!
For my size I used 2m x 150cm wide canvas. Layout pictured below (I forgot to put the bias strips on there but they also fit within this layout, up at the top right.) This is a designer remnant canvas and there's just a little bit left as I write. 
The Clyde Jumpsuit would also be awesome in denim, and super-comfy in one with just a bit of give like our Everblue from Italy. A great trans-seasonal fabric would be our cotton/linen Crumple Texture Canvas, or for summer the cotton Crumple Texture Shirting. 
If you're on Instagram you might like to check out the hashtag #ESmadebyme for more garments made possible by this generous pattern release, and to find out more about the future of these patterns.
Here's Clyde in action.

- Jane xx
July 29, 2020 by Jane Goldney
Pattern Review: the Ilford Jacket by Friday Pattern Company, in Velvet Finish Australian Wool

Pattern Review: the Ilford Jacket by Friday Pattern Company, in Velvet Finish Australian Wool

Workwear-style or 'chore' jackets are having a moment. I sincerely hope it's more than a moment because it's a style I totally dig, and super practical.

When my eldest son needed a new warm jacket, the Ilford by Friday Pattern Company came to mind. 
Charlie spends a lot of time in his room at the cold end of the house, playing guitar, especially since his uni music course has been mostly online. The brief was: something warm, with sleeves that wouldn't get in the way of guitar playing, and with the simple collar style of a workwear or denim jacket.
I've previously made him the Foreman Jacket by Merchant & Mills (highly recommended) and he has worn that a lot, but it has a slightly more formal vibe.
I showed him a picture of the Ilford, which is a boxy, unisex pattern, and had the thumbs up so I bought the pattern (pandemic PDF format) and made a quick muslin in the short length. The fit was good and he requested it lengthened, and I also added a smidgen to the sleeve length. (Interestingly, the muslin fit me quite well too, but the sleeves were very long on me. Easy to remedy, and just an observation about the unisex pattern notion.)
The Ilford has a number of options, including length, a sleeve placket and cuff and loads of pockets. The sleeve placket/cuff option lets Charlie have the sleeves either rolled out of the way, or buttoned and sitting on the wrist, both of which work for guitar playing.
The fabric I used is our Velvet Finish Australian Wool in Mulberry. I've used this before in Navy to make an Assembly Line Wrap Jacket and it's simply dreamy to work with and wear. The smooth, flat reverse side makes it ideal for an unlined jacket, and for a touch of luxe I like to bind the seams.
I really enjoy making a little 'garment preview' after cutting out pattern pieces, by laying it all out:
I think it spurs me on to get through to the finished garment!
Now, there were a couple of things I didn't like about this pattern. Online reviewers are sometimes accused of gushing over indie patterns and glossing over shortcomings. The way I feel is that independent pattern designers are really putting themselves out there. Running a tiny one-or-two person business is a brave and vulnerable thing. I really like what Chelsea of Friday Pattern Company is creating for her brand. Her style is simple with a bit of drama. Without fanfare, she's been pushing representation of diversity in her product photography: body size, skin colour, disability. She donates part proceeds to charity. The pattern size range is inclusive of a wide range of bodies. So yeah, there are a couple of things I'd change about the Ilford pattern. But I won't be throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
I'd like to note that the issues I have with the Ilford's construction are not unique to this pattern. I've encountered them in other indie patterns as well as vintage patterns. Things that make you wonder 'surely there's a better way?'. I suspect with the Ilford they've been in the interest of creating a pattern that's simple and approachable. However I think the finish that could be achieved by using some very slightly more complex steps would be absolutely worthwhile, for any level of sewist.
The Ilford is truly boxy, with sleeves sewn flat onto the straight sides of the bodice. Then the bodice and sleeve are sewn up as one, pivoting at the underarm. I've used this method on other patterns, and in fact I used to wonder why all sleeves were not sewn in flat like this because it seemed so much easier than setting in, in the round. Lightbulb moment! In thick coating fabric the shortcoming of the all-in-one-and-pivot method is clear. The seam allowances pull on the inside and it takes some savage clipping to encourage this corner to sit well. In an unlined jacket, this leaves a bit of a mess inside, as well as weakening the fabric at the join.
My second gripe is the collar attachment. Again, I've seen this before; here it is on my Republique du Chiffon Jacqueline jacket:
And here it is on the Ilford, during construction (I'm sorry the critical part is a bit out of focus!):
The seam allowance needs to be clipped into, to allow part to be enclosed in the collar (to the right) and part to be enclosed in the placket (to the left), leaving a point of weakness.
I also found the part of the placket that folded back was not shaped as per the neckline. The photo below shows how it would be as per instructions.
Below: using the 5/8" seam allowance, I shaped the top to better meet the collar.
The upper and under collar pieces are cut from the same pattern piece, so there's no accounting for turn of cloth. I did not fully topstitch the collar, in order to let the heavy wool have a bit more movement as it folds.
I'm no pattern designer or drafter but I've had a bit of a think and if I was to make the Ilford again, here's what I'd try, in very rough sketch form:
The facings would securely enclose the collar, and the sleeve head and armscye shaping would allow for a set-in sleeve that could be neatly finished without buckling or clipping at the underarm. (I make no promises as to the efficacy of my sketched sleeve shaping, and would definitely muslin this first!) Facings could have the raw edges turned under or bound, and be topstitched down. If a cut-on neck facing was a bit too fabric-hungry (it makes an odd-shaped piece), the front facing could be cut separately (with seam allowances added).
I was in a bit of a rush to make this jacket because I really wanted Charlie to have something warm to wear as quickly as possible. If I had taken a bit more time examining the muslin I might have done a rounded-upper-back adjustment, because the back hem could sit straighter. It rises and billows a little in the middle and looks like a bit of pattern slashing across the upper shoulder (kind of adding a bit of a diamond shape between the shoulder blades) would release this. Probably to be expected in someone who is bent over a guitar for hours a day - and something to look out for in future makes for Charlie.
Here's something I loved about the pattern: the sleeve placket construction. I've never done a tower placket like this before - there's a whole extra fold that has you create the pointy 'tower' first for a really neat finish. I felt the instructions for this whole section were top-notch. In the thick wool fabric, an extra fold made for a lot of bulk but it was always going to be puffy anyway. Not my finest work stitching the under-placket there, but the wool is pretty forgiving.
There are loads of pocket options and choosing was fun. We went for the 'hand warmer' pockets (which are still large and secure enough for a phone) and a top pocket with button flap. I was pretty keen to add the little pencil pocket but Charlie thought it was a bit much.
I found some excellent buttons at The Button Bar and made all the buttonholes with my vintage Bernina's stepped buttonhole process. I finally learnt my lesson and made the buttonholes decently large so the buttons don't need to be wrestled through!
Ultimately I'm about 90% happy with this project and very glad that Charlie has the look and the warmth he was after. There are things I'd change, but I can tell this is going to be worn a huge amount. Hurrah!
PATTERN: The Ilford Jacket by Friday Pattern Company
FABRIC: Velvet Finish Coat-Weight 100% Australian Wool - Mulberry
SIZE: M (roomy but true to measurements), about 15cm longer than the 'short' length and a smidgen longer in the arms.
COMMENTS: Love the style and options. And hooray for a pattern suitable for men. I just love that my family members can mention a style they like and I can usually think of (or hunt down) an indie pattern that will suit, because there's so much out there these days. I think the construction method has suffered a bit in (what I assume is) the desire to make this a fast and simple project. I learnt from the project, and maybe you have learnt something from reading this!
- Jane xx
June 16, 2020 by Jane Goldney
Pattern Review: Darlow Pants by In The Folds

Pattern Review: Darlow Pants by In The Folds

One thing that continues to frustrate me is that no matter how I refine the fit, elastic waisted pants will still pull down at the back when I bend or sit, and I inevitably spend a lot of time hitching them up again. So I wanted to try a zip or button-up pattern again.
December 11, 2019 by Jane Goldney
Pattern Review: The Cielo Top by Close Core Patterns

Pattern Review: The Cielo Top by Close Core Patterns

Making garment samples for the shop can be a great chance for us to try out styles that might be a bit outside our usual comfort zones. The Cielo pattern by Closet Core has a version that offers considerable dramatic sleevage, and we thought it would pair well with the drapiness of our Lithuanian washed linens.

It's worth mentioning that, as seen above, the pattern includes a plain short sleeve as well as a shift dress with optional front seam pockets. There's potential to get plenty of long-term value out of this pattern, beyond the very 'now' statement sleeve. The other option given is a stitched-down neck facing (which I chose) or a bias tape neckline finish.

To make the most useful shop sample I sewed a straight size 14, as corresponded most closely with my measurements. If I had been making for my own wardrobe I would have dropped a size or two to better fit my shoulders, and then used the downloadable C or D-cup front bodice that is offered for this pattern on the Closet Core website (instructions on how to access are in the pattern). Hurrah, the full bust adjustment has already been done for us! I really appreciate this option on a pattern.

I used our washed Lithuanian Linen 'Diane Keaton' which is a great mid-blue, with a check that's subtle enough to not require a huge amount of thought about pattern matching. I just made sure the grain was nice and straight and centred well on the fold.

The pattern is designed with quite a lot of ease (a good 6.5" in the bust), and the finished garment measurements are very helpful in selecting a size.

The back shoulder pieces are a feature on every view of the pattern and whilst they seem to serve no practical purpose (there is no extra shaping built in), I like them! Perhaps the topstitched seam there provides a little extra support for the sleeve volume? (You can see a smaller size across the shoulders would definitely help for me here.)

The sleeves truly are vast, yet the volume is tamed a little with the tapered 'cuffs' which are fully self-lined, giving them a clean finish and swingy weight.

Overall I like the look more than I expected, although it's not for me. The sleeve puff gives me flashbacks to awkward early teen years in the frilly-pre-Wham! 80s (think Princess Diana in her 'shy Di' phase). It's a great look on other people though!

The dart coming down from the armhole is unusual in modern patterns, and it was one of the first things I noticed about the Cielo when it was released. It works perfectly well and it's nice to see a variation on the standard dart. I'm a fan of vintage patterns from the 1960s and their variation in panel and dart placement to create bust shape is fascinating. I welcome it back - more please!

The thing I'm not so sure about with this pattern is the size of the armhole. It's exaggerated a little in my version because this size is a bit big on me, and possibly because the washed linen can sometimes 'grow' a little. Partly I guess it is to accommodate the volume of the gathered sleeve. However the armhole is the same size for the plain sleeve, too. I think it's a style choice (it's described as 'boxy' and 'roomy fit') but I am wary about that shape of sleeve and armhole on me. Just my two cents' worth in case anyone reading has similar sleeve issues!

All that said, it occurs to me now that the dress, made sleeveless with this armhole, would probably make a good pinafore for wearing with shirts or t-shirts underneath. Imagine it in denim, with those front in-seam pockets, and some great topstitching. Yes!

Note also that the top is, as described, 'semi-cropped' and the hem is not deep so check the length for your own preference.

For more information I found the blog posts by Lara (Thornberry) to be very helpful regarding sizing.

This sample is in the shop and customers are welcome to try it on.


Pattern: Cielo Top and Dress by Closet Core

Fabric: 'Diane Keaton' washed 100% linen, made in Lithuania

Size: 14 (to better fit me I would choose a size 10 or 12 with C or D cup bodice)

Comments: A lovely example of the dramatic sleeve trend, if you can pull it off, and there are plenty of examples of people looking great in the Cielo. Roomy fit, sizing down may be an option. Large armholes, see notes above.

- Jane & Fiona
December 06, 2019 by Jane Goldney