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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
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: 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: 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
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?

 

Sizing

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.

 

 

Cutting

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.

 

Construction

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).

 

 

 

Sizing 

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.

 

Construction

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 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.

SUMMARY

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