Friday, January 20, 2017

Outback Wife by Gertrude Made - what to sew with these beautiful barkcloths!

There was a great suggestion on Instagram that we do a blog post on pattern recommendations to go with the gorgeous new cotton barkcloth fabric range Outback Wife. They've been selling very quickly though so please don't hesitate to snap some up - otherwise we have plenty of other fabrics that will be equally well suited to the patterns below.

From parent company Ella Blue's website:
"Outback Wife is the debut collection of Cathi Bessell-Browne, the hands and heart behind Gertrude Made. Each fabric has been a labour of love and they have taken more than a year to complete.
Inspired by the beautiful floral barkcloth fabrics of the 1940s and 1950s, each detail of this collection has been meticulously and sincerely considered to create a range with an authentic vintage voice. The stunning hand-painted floral designs printed on an exclusive cotton barkcloth base, tell the story of four Australian rural women. Outback Wife is an ode to the strength, passion and courage of rural women across Australia."

At 150cm wide, these fabrics are fantastic for dressmaking, with a medium-to-light weight, soft hand, a little give and medium drape. Produced in Japan, the quality of the basecloth and the printing is just beautiful. It really is like original mid-century barkcloth that was often used in curtains.

So what sort of garments could you make with Outback Wife? Here are some suggestions:

Deer and Doe Belladone Dress
Anna Maria Horner Painted Portrait Dress 

Grainline Willow Tank Dress and Top
Grainline Alder Shirtdress
For little girls: Merchant & Mills Trapezette Dress

 Named Patterns Lourdes Cropped Jacket
Merchant & Mills Trapeze Dress

Merchant & Mills Dress Shirt
For the blokes: Merchant & Mills All State Shirt
Merchant & Mills Top 64
Deer and Doe Chardon Skirt

With the vintage vibe of these fabrics we can also really imagine them in a 1950s fit-and-flare style dress. People have also been buying Outback Wife prints for use in quilting. What would you use them for?

- Jane & Fiona xx

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Pattern Review: Papercut Patterns Skipper Tunic in Washed Linen

I have to say this project fought me somewhat along the way. However I was so in love with the fabric, a beautiful blue/green crossweave washed linen from our late 2016 delivery, that I was determined to make it work. And I'm pretty happy that I got there in the end. (End-of-the-day crumpled photos because we like to keep it real.)

The Skipper Tunic was released by NZ designers Papercut Patterns last year as part of their nautically-inspired 'Ahoy' collection. I loved the simple shape, square neckline and lace-up placket. Papercut offers free worldwide shipping (how?) so I bought this from their shop and in fact added another pattern because, to tell the truth, I wondered how they could make any profit on single pattern purchases with free postage. I can't help thinking of other small businesses.

Initially I made a basic muslin to test the sizing and fit. As I expected, I felt it worth sizing down and adding a full bust adjustment, a very common alteration for me. I also lengthened the pattern quite a bit because I wanted it to be a just-above-knee dress rather than mid-thigh tunic.

Then I went ahead with the linen. It all came together quite nicely, tra la laa... until I tried the almost finished garment on. Meh. It felt baggier and more boxy than I was hoping. And when I lifted my arm, the shoulder bunched up and the side seam 'tented' out, while it seemed to pull at the centre front of the sleeve/armscye join. I'm afraid the poor quality pictures below are the only remaining evidence, but you should get the idea.

There were a few contributing factors here.
- The washed linen has a bit of 'give' so probably increases the size and bagginess a bit.
- The neck facing (which I had omitted in my muslin, simply cutting a square neck hole), which is interfaced and goes right across to join in at the top and sides of the armholes, added quite a bit of structure to the shoulders. Omitting the interfacing would have softened this off a bit. I probably could have left the interfacing out of the placket pieces too because these ended up quite stiff as well.
- The sleeve shape simply didn't suit me. I guess I hadn't done enough moving around in my muslin to work this out.

I compared the shape of the Skipper sleeve pattern piece (on top, below) to a sleeve I like, from the Deer and Doe Aubepine dress (underneath).

As you can see there's quite a dramatic difference. The Skipper sleeve cap is tall and pointy, meaning it joins in to the armscye at quite an acute downward angle. The Aubepine sleeve cap is much more rounded and, for me, gives a more natural shape and range of comfortable movement. I compared the armscye shapes and sizes of Skipper and Aubepine and they were very similar. Solution found!

I was able to unpick the sleeves and recut the sleeve caps using the Aubepine pattern piece. I basted the sleeves in place and also basted the side seams, narrowing the dress a bit more through there. Once I tried it on I was much happier with the sleeves and fit, so I sewed it all up properly. Arm movement restored!

I still felt the whole dress was a bit 'boxy' on me, so to soften it off a bit I brought in the ends of the sleeves with a bit of elastic. I added patch pockets to break it up a bit and also because, well, pockets.
The placket lace holes are meant to be made with metal grommets, but my one and only grommet experience so far had been disappointingly fray-prone. So I chose to make very small buttonholes instead.

With no appropriate lacing cord to hand I tried a bit of folded and zigzagged selvedge, which I don't mind and I haven't got around to changing yet. So it's probably staying!

Beer: Prancing Pony. Shoes: Duckfeet.

Pattern: Skipper Tunic by Papercut Patterns
Fabric: 100% linen, washed/softened, Marine (sold out) but more linens here
Size: Sizing for the Skipper (I'm not sure about their other patterns) seems to run on the large side. I measured around a Size M, sized down to S with an FBA and then took the sides in. The sizing ranges from XXS to XL.
Comments: This is my first Papercut Patterns make. They have quite a few lovely designs and seem to have a good reputation with sewists around the interwebs. I find the Skipper sleeve shape odd but it may well be a design choice that just doesn't suit my shape. The patterns are beautifully presented, the instructions are clear and thorough and it's all printed on recycled paper. I've worn this dress quite a lot already, it's comfortable, easy to wash and iron and hits a great mid-point between casual and dressy that suits my wardrobe.

One last note: I sifted through every available blog post about the Skipper to see if anyone mentioned gaping at the placket, because it certainly dips down way past where I would be comfortable with giving anyone an eyeful. No-one did. In the end my placket pieces ended up overlapping a few millimetres at the bottom, which was not intended but I decided it would help with keeping things secure. I also increased the number of lace holes. And I'm happy to report no flashing so far.

- Jane & Fiona xx

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Spring Top Series final In the Folds Peplum Top

We're rounding up our Spring Tops series today with another item to add to the growing Drapery "never say never" file. A top with a peplum - and a frilled peplum at that! I'd sworn off both of those things in the past as a no-go zone for me and my shape, but, well, here we are.

Let's lay the blame squarely on the lovely Emily, whose pattern company In the Folds produced the Rushcutter dress, a Drapery favourite from last Winter. The Peplum top is a free downloadable Emily produced for Peppermint Magazine's Sewing School series. At 21 pages it's not a very big PDF - and, honestly the Rushcutter was such a pleasure to sew, I was fairly sure that the Peplum pattern would be cut and paste worthy.

And indeed it was. The Peplum Top comes together so nicely, the drafting - as with the Rushcutter - is spot on. This is the perfect beginners pattern, the directions are very thorough and there's a nifty glossary of terms as well (over and above for a freebie pattern!) 

My top was made in one of our new washed linens, Creamsicle, a slightly nubbly off-white linen with a teensy hint of peach. Emily suggests lightweight fabrics for this top, and this linen leans on the bulky side of lightweight, so I was ready to take out some of the gather-volume if needed. But there's something weighty and pleasingly swingy about wearing a big-ass frill in this fabric, so it's staying put. Note also, that because of the width of the peplum pieces, this top can't be made in a fabric under 150cm wide (though I think you could probably get away with 140cm width too). I cut this out flat as per Emily's suggestion and was able to get this out of 1m rather than the 1.2m.

As far as sizing goes, I sewed size E based on the finished measurements, but I could have stuck with the same size that my Rushcutters were made in (D). It's a loose-fitting style, though, so it's not a big deal. The pattern is drafted for a B cup, and even though I wear a D, there was no need for any adjustments. Yay!

The back - with swing! Again, I went outside my comfort zone and resisted the urge to round off that deep point at the back with a higher back neckline. (Much discussion about age and baring of flesh going on in these parts lately, but we say forge ahead and show those upper arms none the less, yeeks). On the baring-of-flesh theme, it's also worth mentioning that the finished length of this top is around 40cm, so if I was going to make it to go with jeans I'd personally want to lengthen it

Close up of the shoulder panels - a lovely extra detail, and I think they help achieve a nice fit too.

The verdict? The Peplum Top is fun to wear, and a quick summery sew. Ticking all the spring top boxes!

So, there ends our foray into Spring Tops. Thanks for coming along for the ride with us! Now it's time to fill those wardrobe holes with something to go with all these tops - or perhaps even a Summer frock...

Read about our other Spring Tops here:

Thread Theory Fairfield Buttonup
Pattern Fantastique Aeolian Tee
Deer & Doe Ondee
Modal-Tencel-Spandex t-shirts
Cashmerette Springfield Top
Vanessa Pouzet Hippie Top
Deer & Doe Melilot Shirt (View B)
Grainline Studio Willow Tank

- Fiona & Jane xx

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Pattern Review - The Farrow Dress by Grainline Studios

When we received the preview email about the new Farrow Dress by Grainline Studios, we knew this was a Good 'Un. We both wanted to make it up for ourselves and we knew it would appeal to lots of Drapery customers. The swingy shape is flattering to all kinds of figures, the diagonal seam lines lift it out of the ordinary and the pockets - well they just seal the deal!
 Naturally, we leapt upon the pattern delivery and set about tracing and sewing like mad. Here's mine, made up in a 50/50 cotton/linen lightweight denim. (There's a small amount left in the shop, and this light denim would give a similar result.)

From previous experience with Grainline patterns I know they are drafted for a figure with wider shoulders and a smaller bust than my own. Grainline always provides finished garment measurements on the pattern envelope which is a great help in selecting size. The swingy shape of the Farrow means there is more ease than usual at the bust. So I selected my size by my high bust measurement (to fit narrow shoulders) and made a quick muslin of the top half of the dress. It still needed a bit more room at the bust so I made a 3/4" Full Bust Adjustment, adding in a dart where there is none in the pattern. (I.e. I added 3/4" to the pattern piece, resulting in an extra 1.5" width in the front bodice.)
I then cut-and-spread the front skirt piece by 3/4" in width so the top and bottom pattern pieces would match. If anyone would like more details on these adjustments feel free to ask in the comments!

My bust darts match the lines of the diagonal front seams, and I'm going to pretend that was completely intentional....

The construction of the Farrow is pretty straightforward and it all comes together quite quickly. It can be slightly tricky to envisage how the front bodice and skirt pieces come together, with the pockets, but when you have them properly aligned the pocket stitching lines will match perfectly.

The clever in-seam front pockets mean there are three full layers of fabric at that point all the way across the front of the dress. Initially I was concerned about the bulk of this, but on wearing I realised that the weight works to nicely balance the extra length and swinginess of the back of the dress. Ingenious.

The sleeveless version has neckline and armholes finished with facings. Now I have to admit I'm not generally a fan of loose facings as I find them annoying to iron and a bit unfinished-looking. However, I can see the point of them in the Farrow, because of the clean lines they produce, so I put my trust in Jen (pattern designer Jen Beeman who really knows what she's doing) and went with the facings. They're stitched down by hand at the shoulder, side seams and centre front and back so they're not too flappy and when I'm wearing the dress I'm unaware of their existence. I wouldn't say I'm a facings convert but the Farrow is worth it. (Also, it would be a very simple matter to finish the armholes and neck with bias tape instead, and not stress about visible topstitching. I certainly wouldn't rule out doing this on a future version, especially on the armholes.)
The pattern suggests to close the back neck opening with a hook and eye, but I'm always keen for an opportunity to use a cute button from my stash so created a thread chain loop for this little red number.
Grainline Studios Farrow Dress
Sizes US 0 - 18 (bust 32 - 44"), finished garment measures up to 49" at bust.
50/50 cotton linen lightweight denim, 150cm wide, 2m
8 with  3/4" full bust adjustment (high bust 35.5" full bust 38"... ish, measurements seem to vary by the day/stars/mood!)
A fabulous wardrobe staple for year-round wear. Sleeveless version could easily be layered, the long-sleeved version would be great in a wool for winter, and it would be easy to adapt to make a short cap-sleeve for those who prefer a bit of shoulder coverage. The Farrow has a similar appeal to the very popular Merchant & Mills Trapeze Dress, and offers a point of difference with the diagonal seaming and those awesome pockets.
The Grainline Farrow suits a wide variety of fabrics, and here are some suggestions:
100% Linen, washed/softened, Slate, Olive (and more)
Linen/cotton in Emerald, washed/softened
Linen/cotton print 'Rhombus'
Linen/cotton Brumbies
100% Linen, Mid-heavy weight, Natural
Japanese Wool Blend, Herringbone
Linen/Rayon blend
100% Cotton Lawn by Cotton + Steel, fish print

We'll see you round in our Farrows!

- Jane & Fiona xx

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Spring Tops Series - the Grainline Studio Willow Tank

As far as we're concerned, no run-down of Spring Tops could possibly leave out one of our favourites, Grainline Studio. Jen Beeman's well drafted patterns and cleverly clean design always give non-fussy and (we think!) eminently wearable clothes. How's that for some introductory fan-girling?!

And, you guessed it, the Willow tank is no exception. It's been doing the rounds since its release during the past American Summer, and now our weather is finally warming up, it's our turn to give it a go. This is a great pattern for first time garment makers. There's a few useful (but not scary) techniques in here, like sewing darts and understitching a bias-facing, but the directions & diagrams are clear and there's a handy glossary at the back. For experienced sewists, it's a nicely drafted, quick sew. Not to mention a good wardrobe basic to thrash.

I made my Willow up in this light/mid-weight cotton denim. Because it's a non directional fabric (and I didn't follow the suggested layout plus I was happy to piece my bindings ), I was able to scrape it out of around a metre of this 150cm wide fabric. Very pleasing! This is one of those garments that seems to work well in a variety of different fabric weights - so far in the shop we've seen Willows in linen, double gauze, and lightweight canvas like this one:

Yep, Willow is a dress as well!  This gorgeous version was made from a Nani Iro cotton linen (now sold out) by our lovely friend Amanda (who always hand stitches her hems - honestly, it's a thing of beauty!)

 View from the back, making it appear that I have neither arms or legs. Moving on...

The arm and neck binding method Jen uses is to attach the short ends of the bias tape first before attaching the facing to the garment. Because of that ace drafting we keep going on about, it goes in neatly every time. Also, check out that deep hem with no frustrating excess of fabric/annoying bubbling. It's the little things, right? 

We find that Grainline patterns seem to be drafted for a reasonably straight up and down kind of body shape. Whilst I'm definitley not lacking in the curve department, I find that they fit me fairly well with no adjustments required so this one was made this in my usual Grainline size (10).

I think I'll be getting a fair bit of wear out of this. This plain denim version has already been in service with a cardigan and beads, but I reckon that this pattern might also be a handy go-to for fabric with a large pattern repeat or one of those fabrics that you love but don't quite know how to use. I'm looking forward to making the dress version next.

Willow is available on our website here.

- Fiona & Jane xx 

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Spring Tops: Deer + Doe Melilot view B

Are we really banging on about the same pattern for the third time on this blog? Well, yeah. In our defence: 
1. it's a really good pattern;
2. this is a different version;
3. how could we not include the Deer and Doe Melilot in our Spring Tops series? 
So there you go, it was unavoidable.

The Deer and Doe Melilot view B has short, dropped/cut on sleeves with cuffs and regular button placket. As shirts go, there are refreshingly few pieces - the placket is a folded over number and is included as part of the shirt fronts, plus there's no yoke at the back. 

Our English language booklet instructions had gone awol, so I doddled along with the French instructions, the (excellent) diagrams, an online translation service, a wing and a prayer. It worked out fine! It's labeled as difficulty level 4/5 but I found that it all came together without too much confusion.

To be honest I was also really just looking for an excuse to use this fabric, because I've been a bit in love with this fish print since it arrived in the shop. It allows me to stay in my comfort zone (black) with a little nod of fun (we've got it in blue too, just in case black isn't your thing). It's a crisp cotton lawn by Cotton and Steel and it's light, silky and very tightly woven. Yup, no ease at all, which makes it perfect for shirt making (so precise! takes a good crease!) but also perhaps not ideal if you have a tendency to wing it and you're working from directions in another language to your own. Thank goodness for seam-rippers.

Changes to the pattern: very few! I tried on one of Jane's Melilot shirts, so I knew the fit was fine without needing any fit adjustments. This is the 42, graded out slightly at the waist to a 44 (note to future self, probably not necessary). I only added one pocket instead of the two, plus I shortened the back shirt length so it matched the front.

A close up of the collar and my shabby ironing job. You might also notice that I didn't do any pattern matching - I was happy to embrace randomly scattered fish, hope I'm getting away with it.

I wasn't sure about the button down shirt for me but it's already seen a bit of wear so I can see more in my future. I'd love to incorporate the rounded collar in my next one, too. (I have my eye on this blue cotton gingham). Melilot would work brilliantly in some of our new linens, too.

Read about our other Melilots blogged here (view A, with sleeves) and here (popover version). We're currently out of stock of this pattern but please call or email us if you're interested and we'll let you know when it returns.

- Fiona & Jane xx