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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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




 

 

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

 

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


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

- Jane xx

 

 

May 19, 2021 by Jane Goldney
Pattern Review: 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: 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