First up the Linden. I was tempted not to buy this pattern- I have a few raglan style patterns I could hack and frankly I find it expensive for what it is, but with so many Insta-sewers obsessed with it, in the end I thought I should give it a go- there must be some magic in it?!
So the good news- its super quick - I think I can make one in 1.5 to 2 hours- so sticking to my self imposed 30min sewing limit per day, I completed one in 4 days. But I have to say it. Underwhelmed. Its just a raglan and not a very well fitting one at that for me at least- I found the neckline way to wide (everything you wear under it shows) so I had to alter that. I found you therefore needed to draft your own neck facing too. And for me, I added more shape to the bodice. I love the end product, but with hindsight could have saved a lot of money and hacked one from a raglan t-shirt pattern I have. I have no issue in spending £10-£20 on a good indie pattern where I need good instructions and very well cut pattern pieces- the Closet Case Clare Coat/Ginger Jeans or Tilly Rosa Dress for example- but when a pattern is this simple, with limited variation, I struggle with it being retailed at £16 for the printed pattern. Am I alone and do I sound very cheap saying this?!
But that Liberty fleece makes me smile every time I look at it. Given its nearly £40 per metre, I bought half a metre (god I am starting to sound tight!!) and used it for front, back & cuffs- using a contrasting navy in between. My second one was another Liberty fleece- this time off eBay and I had enough to do the whole thing- but I still chose a contrast as I liked the accent.
For my second one, I was aiming for a look a bit more like the Toaster sweater (after feeling like I spend to much on the Linden pattern I didn't want to buy another one when I thought I could get close to it from hacking the Linden ;) ).
I squared off the sides & bottom band (so bottom band is the same width as the bodice pieces) and same for the cuffs. I made the cuff and bottom band much thinner and then I added a funnel neck - I used the altered Linden with higher neck, measured the neck line and cut the funnel neck -20% of that size. Its just a rectangular piece double the height I wanted the neck to be and I added it as you would a neck band. I really LOVE this version. It feels more cosy and more stylish at the same time.
So after these two, I gave the Bowline a go. I bought this when it came out as I love the neck and obviously you need a pattern for this as I wouldn't know where to start (even with a pattern it is still a bit of a mystery how it works). So good news, it actually is still a really quick sew!! I thought it may be complicated - and well that neck takes some getting your head around, but once you get it, its also quick to make.
I discovered the most important thing with this is the fabric choice. I trawled Instagram looking at other versions and found that some, in a lightweight jersey didn't hang in shape. I loved Rachel's version. I would say you need something heavy enough and with not too much stretch so it will hold its shape (you also want something that will withstand a good hot iron for the press) but nothing too heavy as the steps and the bulk around the neck would get very difficult with say a sweatshirt. I used a boiled wool I bought from Fabworks and actually it turned out to be a good choice.
Here is what the pieces looks like:
You sew a dart & fold at A & B respectively, then you fold the whole thing together into a 'burrito roll' and sew them together...
It look totally wrong. Now you see why this would be tricky with a heavyweight fabric?!
So it was all going swimmingly until I hit 2 related issues. My first clue was that the sleeve didn't match up, I ended up with a huge amount of excess on one side...
And the neck didn't lie flat.
Cue unpicking. I had misunderstood the instructions on how much overlap there should be on the neck joining the back piece. Well I m still not sure exactly what the instructions want you to do, but I basically fitted the final piece together from bottom up- so sorted out the under arm meeting first, then basically judged the overlap of the pleat to what looked right on. In the end I had to attach it at a really odd angle for it to look straight, cutting off a big triangle... could be I stretched it so much working on it that the fabric had gotten out of shape.
But anyway, that sorted it, phew!! I had one more adjustment. I found it really hung down at the front (maybe made for someone with much larger assets than mine!) so i straightened that off before I added the bottom band.
And here it is finished. You need a really good press to get the shoulder bit looking sharp. The other top tip (not in the instructions) is don't overlock the steps associated with the neck fold ( that makes them too heavy) and do trim back the seam allowances at each stage- I found at first a lot of bulking in the pleat as I had excess seam allowance (and some overkeen overlocking) on the inside that was causing bulk, so I flipped it back inside out & trimmed it right back).
Nice isn't it? This is a pattern worth buying and a nice skill stretch (you actually need to engage brain to work out the steps around the neck). Its not rocket science- don't be put off, but you do need the instructions and the online sew along on the Papercut website was super helpful.
Ok I m now sorted for cosy clothes. Off to make a skirt to match the Bowline next.
Messy Essy Makes