The weather is turning. The leaves are falling. The tea is brewing. It’s outerwear time. I was actually thinking about making a Seamwork Jill in another fabric with the a hacked lapel, and thought I would try out the pattern in this slightly lighter-weight fabric for autumn. I bought it from Maggie’s in Lewisham without any fixed plan in mind – I only knew it it was a steal, wool-free, and I liked the weave. It’s hard to describe, but I will try: it’s cotton, the texture and pattern is woven, not printed, and the loose texture reminds me of upholstery fabric but for the fact that it has quite nice drape to it. I’ve worked with a similar bouclé (is it a bouclé?) before, and I know it has certain challenges, but forewarned is forearmed. I think the end result is worth the extra care.
The pattern is one of those Seamwork hits that seem to really resonate with the online community (I’ve seen several really great blogger Jill’s), and it’s easy to see why. It is a fast sew, with great modern lines and serious hack potential: in other words, this is what Seamwork does best. Beginner-friendly, without being boring. I personally think beginner-level patterns are underrated, and they often get pride of place in my wardrobe – who says an hour-long sew can’t make your favourite garment? Anyway, it’s fast. Even matching stripes. I don’t often wade into whether a pattern is, in my opinion, well-drafted or not, based on whether or not it works for me (Named patterns, for instance, are a challenge for me because they seem to run tall. This is not a drafting issue, and it is not a poor reflection on the company – it is a fitting challenge for me personally. Pattern houses use a fitting block just like ready-to-wear designers, and we can’t expect sewing patterns to fit us perfectly out of the packet any better than RTW; a poor fit is not neccesarily the result of bad pattern making. I digress, but I may follow this up at some point with a post about fitting expectations.), but there are a few keys things that give me confidence here, green flags if you like. 1. The sleeve is easy to set. A good sleeve draft is a gift from the sewing gods. 2. My stripes matched up easily. I matched the stripes at the notches, and they more or less fell into place everywhere else (apart from a little slippage on one side seam, which was just a sewing error). I know that is exactly what should happen in a well-drafted pattern, but I still appreciate it. See how they match all the way down my sides, from the sleeve to the body? So satisfying. I won’t get into stripe-matching too much here, except to say that I find it really helps to always double check where your seam line will be, rather than just looking at the point where the cut edges meet, and pencil the stripes on your paper pattern pieces if it helps you! I also liked this article.
My only quibble on the pattern would be the sizing on the petite end of the spectrum – I cut an XS based on my bust size, and I’m very happy with the fit, but there are surely more petite people out there than me?? I’m surprised and a little skeptical that I should be the smallest size.
I should also say that I omitted the back vent in favour of cutting my back piece on the fold. I figured I had enough stripes to match as it was. It maybe would have looked smarter with the vent, but I just can’t get worked up about it.
For this kind of fabric, which is loosely woven and wants to unravel if you so much as look at it funny, I have a few tips:
- Staystitch everything. Everything. I finished several of the pieces with the overlocker before doing anything at all. Then finished some of them again together at the seam.
- Expect your notches to disappear. Even if you cut whacking great notches, you may not be able to see them well when this weave starts to come apart, especially on the bias. I also marked with chalk and pins. Tailor’s tacks would be a very good idea as well, if you can be bothered.
- Be really, really sure which is the front and which is the back. Mark it any way you have to (I often use safety pins for this purpose). This particular weave is easier than the black and white one I used last time, but with the texture on both sides it is surprisingly easy to make that mistake.
- Unpicking is a nightmare, so be bloody careful before you sew. I think I probably could unpick a seam in this if I really had too, but it would be dicey with fraying. Just try extra hard not to make a mistake. On one side seam my stripes got away from me a little bit, but I really think it would have caused bigger problems to fix it, so I’m living with it. Rather more easily than some, I admit.
So, that’s my cozy autumn coat! It’s a big thumbs up from me, and I’m getting lots of compliments in real life, which is always nice. I may well tackle the other one I mentioned, in a fluffy, thick, weirdly-stable sweater knit that could easily look like a bathrobe if I don’t get it exactly right. We shall see!