Thursday, February 15, 2018

The True Bias Ogden Cami in gingham seersucker

Are you thinking ‘here we go… yet ANOTHER person rabbiting on about that camisole pattern? Yes? If so I fully admit to knowing where you're coming from. The True Bias Ogden Cami must be be one of the most sewn patterns in the indie pattern/Instagram/sewing/blogging world since it was released back in 2016. It’s been almost impossible to scroll through ones Instagram feed without seeing another version of it sewn as is, lengthened into a dress, turned into PJs or otherwise customised. Not being much of a camisole person myself, I guiltily admit to having glazed over now and again when it has come to all this cami-love.
So. You know where this is going, right?

the front!
Lots has been said about this pattern, so I’ll keep it brief. It really is a good one, and now I see what the fuss has been about. It’s a simple garment, but those basics are sometimes challenging to get just right. It’s true - the Ogden is nicely drafted, comes together in a jiffy and the fit and shaping are spot on. There’s a good size range too (81.5-113cm bust measurement), plus there's also a mini/kids version available as a PDF from the True Bias website.

the back!

Considering the broad size range, I thought this would be a good one for my 14 year old daughter. At first she didn’t seem very excited about the pattern but chose this Japanese cotton gingham seersucker. I thought I’d just sew it up in her size and offer it to her, then use it as a shop sample if she didn’t want it. But, after getting her to try it on before hemming she declared it “legit” and nicely asked if it might be ready for her to wear for school casual clothes day later in the week. Win!

The Ogden has a half-lining/facing whereby the strap ends are fastened and enclosed between each layer, so the inside finish is nice and neat. With precious few pattern pieces here (front, back, lining front and back plus straps), and nothing tricky to sew, I think this would be an absolutely sterling gateway drug for a beginner garment sewer. Ideal for teens! I have been trying to make non-bossy suggestive noises about how great this would look in other colours to try to entice mine into letting me help her sew her own Ogden next time.

Sewn as per the pattern, but shortened by about 4-5cm and hemmed straight as per the request of the recipient. There’s a gentle shirt tail hem in the pattern, which is lovely too.

This seersucker has less drape than the pattern asks for, but we both liked the boxy shape we ended up with. The Ogden would also be lovely in washed linen, liberty lawn, a polished cotton like this Nan Iro or one of our new cotton/silk blends.

The Ogden has recently been introduced to print and we have copies in the shop, and online here.

- Fiona & Jane

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Pattern Review: the Charlie Caftan by Closet Case

When Heather Lou of Closet Case patterns released the Charlie Caftan last June, it flew under my radar a bit. Of course, it was our Australian winter (her Canadian summer) so my mind was on wintry patterns. But once our Adelaide summer took hold the Charlie looked like the most appealing thing ever. Must Make Now.

If you Google the pattern you'll find heaps of lovely versions to look at, and many people rock the maxi version with gathers. I was more drawn to the simple-but-interesting pleated version. In fact there are multiple variations possible, with gathers or pleats, maxi or above the knee, two armhole heights and an optional waist tie. Both times I opted for a straight View A, above the knee and higher armhole.

For my first Charlie I used a sample of some lovely cotton poplin (actually close to a lawn in feel).

We are presently working on bringing you this fabric and more, soon, so stay tuned! I had a bit less fabric than required so I left out the side seam pockets. In fact I made this with the intention of it being a swimsuit coverup, but I love it too much to only wear it for that purpose. Into high rotation it went.

It's so cool and breezy, extremely comfortable but also, I think, a bit polished with its v-neck, pleats, inset panel and slightly tapered shape towards the hem.

So how was that inset panel to sew?

Yeah, a bit of a bugger. It's constructed in a similar way to a welt pocket, and I wouldn't say I've totally mastered those. It's one of those situations where you're torn between clipping further into a corner to straighten things out on the right side, and not wanting to clip too far in case it loses all structural integrity and you get fraying on the outside. However, I do love a sewing challenge and I really like the clean look of the end result. So I say go for it. There's a detailed blog post walking you through here. And if you have a few pull lines on the right side, even after a heck of a lot of steamy pressing, after a couple of wears you will forget all about them in your state of easy, breezy Caftan love.

Or... you could simply fold all the seam allowances of your panel under, pin or hand baste carefully, and topstitch the panel in place. No-one's going to call you a cheat and you may just save some stress.

I opted for the fully hand-stitched inside panel (which covers all the guts of that inset piece) because I don't mind a bit of hand-stitching, and the machine stitching instructions ... oh, I didn't even attempt to understand! But all power to you if you do.

I was pretty keen on making another Charlie, with pockets. When a piece of this Clark Gable linen sort of fell in my lap, it was decided.

I love the way the clever lines of the pattern interact with the lines on the linen. Pleasingly, the side seam pockets don't seem to add any hip bulk, whilst being wonderfully practical and capacious.

I cut straight into this washed linen at the shop, and its soft and slightly rumpled state, as well as the general nature of washed linen, has meant this Charlie has turned out a bit roomier on me. Next time I cut a washed linen I'll at least give it a good press first, if not a pre-wash also, in order to help prevent this 'growth'. That said, I'm not complaining about an extra-loose, soft linen Caftan on a 40 degree Adelaide day! (Okay, 38.7 degrees at time of photos.)
Skims over all those festive season indulgences.

PATTERN: Charlie Caftan by Closet Case Patterns
FABRIC: sample poplin, and Clark Gable washed linen, approx 1.8m
SIZE: 12 - NB if you sew View A, Hip is probably the most important measurement due to tapered shape - take note of Finished Garment Measurements
ALTERATIONS: none (except omitted pockets on first version due to fabric constraints)... yes NONE!
COMMENTS: This pattern has a lovely loose, forgiving fit, great if you're not keen on alterations and also (ssshhhhh...) if you hate making muslins. Let's just say it's the ideal project for a 'wearable muslin' from less precious fabric. Then move on to the 'good stuff' and you may well end up with two new dresses you love, like I did. Yay! The inset panel is the only challenging part of this garment, and it's definitely worth a go. Practice on scrap first if you're worried. I simply love the Charlie Caftan. We hope you do too.

Some other suitable fabrics:
Cotton lawns, voiles, rayons and soft shirtings (more Liberty in-store)
100% linens
Washed linen/cotton blends like this patterned natural, this vintage-look jacquard and this 'toffee apple' check
Double gauzes

- Jane & Fiona xx

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Papercut Moana top using Gertrude Made solid cotton barkcloth

My peplum kick is showing no signs of slowing down. After firmly believing that peplums and I were not for each other, I met the Peplum Top by In the Folds for Peppermint Magazine last year, and have since churned out 2 tops plus a dress version. For me, these are perfect summer wear and I could easily have a wardrobe full of them, should that not be cause for an intervention.

So despite the fact that I probably have reached peak peplum, I felt duty bound to try the Moana pattern when we recently started stocking New Zealand’s Papercut patterns in the shop. The Moana is a double duty peplum top and dress pattern, with exposed zip at the back, slight high/low hem, front and back darts plus facings. The frill is cut on the bias rather than gathered for less bulk around the waist. All together it’s… well to be honest it’s a fair bit of detail for a sleeveless top. But that makes it feel a little bit fancy too, and I could certainly do with a touch more fancy now and then.

I used an 100% cotton barkcloth from The Gertrude Made essentials range in ‘Rust’. This fabric is a gorgeous, textured, stable thing that was a joy to sew. It worked brilliantly for the bodice, but in retrospect, it isn’t the greatest fabric choice for the narrow peplum of the Moana. I’m hoping it will relax downward somewhat with wear ‘cause its a bit too sticky-out for my liking at the moment. A drapier or lighter-weight fabric would totally get around this problem. Because the barkcloth is substantial, I opted not to interface the facings, instead just finishing the edges before sewing.

Construction & Adjustments
Papercut patterns come in beautiful die-cut brown paper boxes and are printed on nice light recycled paper, both of which makes the tracing experience really rather nice. The patterns are well drafted too, and being produced in NZ means the seam allowance is a delightfully easy to remember metric 10mm.

I cut 140cm of 150cm wide fabric and had around 30cm left, so if you’re using similarly non-directional cloth, best test how much you need before you buy.

I’ll admit that I was lazy with this top and decided not to muslin. In the process I was reminded (again) why that’s rarely a good idea. 

First, there was a fracas with the zip whereby I changed my mind about which length/style of zip to use after having already prepared the opening. This left a gap at the base of my zip which necessitated a cover up using a “design feature” (cough) patch. I was hoping the patch would disappear and look intentional, but looking at it in the photos now, it's too big and obvious so I’ll be needing to change that. I wasn’t on board with the idea of wearing something with an exposed contrast zip either, but I have to say I don’t hate it. Who woulda thought?

Dodgy Instagram photo - evidence of underarm triangle. Please excuse bingo wings...
Second, I ended up with a fair whack of excess fabric at the front underarm. I suspect that the most likely reason for this is that the bust dart sits way too high on me (of course I would have discovered this had I made a muslin, and then moved it down…) After turning to Instagram for help, I ended up basting out a wedge of fabric at the underarm - and it worked well enough. Ideally inserting another dart above the existing one would have been a better solution but I couldn’t do that without changing the line of the front armhole. The bust dart is still comically high, but it’s wearable now. Lesson re-learnt. Muslin!

The only other thing to note about the Moana is that it was a bit of a bugger hemming those extreme curves on the frill. The instructions suggested either rolling the hem, a small double turn (which is what I did) or a simple finish then stitch down. I think the latter would have worked best for this fabric. I’d also recommend stitching down the facings at the side to avoid any flipping.

Other than the completely avoidable problems I had sewing the Moana, I’d have to say it’s a lovely pattern. Does it suit me? I’m not sure, but as a sewn thing, I like this top a lot. The dress looks rather nice too - the gathered skirt option is particularly tempting. But first? A muslin!

The Papercut Moana pattern can be found on our website right here, and the Gertrude Made barkcloth here.

- Fiona + Jane xx

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Wanted: fabric donations and sewing volunteers for community project!

We've been contacted to spread the word about a wonderful intergenerational project by our local council, the City of Unley, involving students of Unley Primary School and people living with dementia.

What you can donate:

  • Fabrics lingering in your stash that are plain or have a small print, are at least 50 x 50cm and strong enough to make into durable, reusable shopping bags.
  • Your time and sewing machine to sew Boomerang Bags at a community sewing bee on Friday 23rd March 2018 at the Clarence Park Community Centre (lunch provided).

Image from

What's the project?

The Forget Me Not Program is a collaboration between aged care provider ECH, Unley Primary School and the University of South Australia. Over eight weeks, 90 grade four/five students at Unley Primary School will learn about ageing and dementia. This will include five excursions to spend time amongst people living with dementia and their carers. They'll work together on arts activities, printing, painting and dyeing the donated fabrics, that will be sewn into 'Boomerang Bags' (reusable shopping bags). The kids will also be learning about sustainability, reuse and mending things, and how this was commonplace yesteryear. From this point of view, they would like to minimise purchasing new textiles, hence the call for donations.

Forget Me Not is being funded by the Office of the Ageing through an Age Friendly grant. The University will evaluate the initiative, with the aim to develop Forget Me Not into a sustainable program available state-wide, deliverable by educators within schools.

If you have fabrics to donate, and/or can help at the Boomerang Bag sewing bee on Friday March 23, please contact Alyssa Hill, Active Ageing Project Officer at the City of Unley on 8372 5472 or 

You can find more information about Boomerang Bags here.

- Jane & Fiona xx

Thursday, December 14, 2017

2017 Christmas/New Year trading hours

We'll be open our usual trading hours right up to 4pm, December 23rd before closing for a break until Saturday January 13th (12-4pm). Our online shop never closes, and we'll be shipping orders throughout the Christmas/New Year break. Wishing you all good times and a spot of festive cheer - Fiona & Jane xx

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Pattern Review: The West Coast Skirt by Frankie and Ray

I love learning new sewing skills. I love a challenging project that pushes me to conquer a new technique and achieve professional looking detail in a complex garment.
There are times I also long for simplicity. That effortless chic of a design market stallholder-type (you know what I mean don't you?) with her minimalist jewellery. Pure, simple lines that are obviously handmade, but with thoughtfulness, not fuss. Garments you can pull on time and again and never tire of. Garments you can dress up, or down.
Jo of Frankie and Ray has that aesthetic down to a fine art. Based in seaside Victoria, she designs, makes and sells beautifully simple garments in gorgeous fabrics (lots of Liberty and linen!). And she's begun releasing patterns so we can all join in the fun.

The West Coast Skirt is just that kind of effortless style I have in mind. Pull-on, pockets, elastic and drawstring waist. Below the knee, just a little bit A-line. Extremely achievable for beginners and a breath of fresh air for more experienced sewists.

I made this up in our 6oz denim: firstly in the washed denim and absolutely by-the-pattern, with side seam pockets.

The sizing is pretty generous and I was looking for a slightly narrower shape so that first one is now our shop sample. (Come on in, you're welcome to try it on!) For my next one I sized down, tried the non-washed 6oz denim and swapped the side seam pockets for front patch pockets.
Top is Marilla Walker Roberts Collection in Liberty. Shoes are Duckfeet.

 Actually I'm not sure which pockets I prefer - the side seam ones are nicely placed for putting your hands in and low enough not to add much bulk at the hips. But I do love a good big patch pocket.

I added a wee strip of colourful linen down the side of one pocket for fun, although it kind of draws attention to the angle between the side seam and the pocket. (These were applied parallel to centre front.) Patch pockets might look better if applied at the end of construction, parallel to and overlapping the side seams.

The instructions are good - my only note is that I couldn't find mention of the standard seam allowance (for side seams), although that could be my misreading. I used 5/8"/1.5cm which worked fine.

On my second skirt I made the drawstring by folding, pressing and topstitching rather than making a tube and turning it, because my denim was a bit of a bugger to turn and I don't have a bodkin (turning tool).

After wearing this for the afternoon I unpicked a little of the back waistband, pulled out the elastic, snipped a bit out of the middle and rejoined it to tighten it. I think this is mainly because I used thinner elastic than specified (whatever I had on hand). You might like to cut the recommended amount and then hold it up to your back waist to see if you'd like it any shorter. I think a thicker, stronger elastic as per the pattern is best.

The simple shape of this skirt fits comfortably now and promises to take on a more personalised fit over time. All in all I look forward to wearing this a lot and it becoming a softly worn-in and well-loved wardrobe staple. (Editing this later and I've worn it 4 out of 6 days since!)

It's nicely fabric-efficient, with all sizes using just 1.2m of 150cm wide fabric, and very little left over. I also think this would be great cut on the bias. It reminds me of a linen skirt I had years ago, elastic waisted and bias cut, that I wore pretty much to death. Hmmm.... (sewing a few more West Coast skirts in my mind....).

PATTERN: West Coast Skirt by Frankie and Ray
FABRIC: 100% cotton 6oz denim - washed and regular
SIZE: 3 then 2
ALTERATIONS: None in first, changed to patch pockets in second.
COMMENTS: Great for beginners and anyone keen for an elegant casual and easy-to-wear skirt. Love the length. Bicycle-friendly. Would be a great base pattern for creative customisation. I'd love to try it bias-cut.

- Jane & Fiona xx

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Pattern review - Tessuti Leni Top in natural washed linen

I’m a bit of a one trick pony at the moment. I have a favourite skirt - it’s a slightly modified, midi length Colette Ginger, made from a heavy black stretch denim. I want to wear this skirt every single day, preferably with an In the Folds/Peppermint Peplum top. Problem is, even for this lover of a personal uniform, this combo may be getting a little too predictable. So I’ve been searching for another top to wear with my basic black skirt, and the Tessuti Leni top looked to be just the thing.

The Leni pattern is a v-necked sleeveless top with some nice top stitched facing details. I love a stitched down neckline facing, and this a proper big feature one. There’s also a topstitched yoke at the back.

Leni is very wide and boxy so it’s perfect for something with a decent amount of drape. I wanted a plain fabric to show the topstitching so chose our lightweight washed natural linen. If you’re happy to really emphasise the wonderful boxiness of this pattern, we think Leni would also work really well in something slightly more structured like a barkcloth.

Because there’s a decent amount of ease in this pattern I made one size down from what I measured for. (If it helps, I measured for the M and made the S).

Tessuti rate this pattern for intermediate sewists. There are a few techniques required like binding, a semi burrito-style yoke attachment and topstitching that do require some experience, but there’s nothing overwhelmingly challenging. Like the other Tessuti patterns I‘ve made, this one is beautifully finished, plus - win - this can easily be knocked over in a couple of short sewing sessions.

Pattern modifications:
- Because I wanted it quite cropped to wear with high waisted skirt, I omitted the wide hem facing. I lengthened the body by about 5cm and gave it a deep hem. The facing is such a nice detail and really balances the garment, so I’m keen to include it next time.
- I didn’t sew the back yoke as directed as I was opting for the top stitched facing option anyhow, so I just finished the hem on the outside back facing, folded back the seam allowance then topstitched it in place.
- I stay stitched the arms and necklines instead of using tear away Vilene. Just a personal preference (usually because I never have any Vilene at hand!)

Love it! Natural linen goes with everything (especially my old friend black), plus the big facing is the perfect place for a brooch.

Download the Tessuti Leni pattern here. You can print it at home (it’s only 30ish pages so not too stick-a-fork-in-your-eye annoying) or there’s a copy shop option. Alternatively you can buy the paper pattern direct from Tessuti.

The washed natural linen is available from us, here. Our other linens can be found here, plus we've got a big lot more winging their way towards us now. 

- Fiona + Jane xx