This will be an epic blog post. Three garments. I am exhausted just thinking about writing it, let alone thinking about you reading it. Be warned!
Okay, I’ll start with the coat. This is the Style Arc Riley Coat. From their website: RILEY COAT: This cleverly designed and patterned coat fits all the boxes. Suitable for every season, Riley has a very “on-trend” shape with its deep panelled raglan sleeve and free flowing front. This coat is unlined and so easy to construct. FABRIC SUGGESTION & DESCRIPTION: Wool, Wool Cashmere, any Suiting, Linen or Ponte
I chose to use a wool blend coating fabric from Clear It to sew my jacket. I didn’t purchase quite enough, but by judiciously piecing the facings I was able to cut out the entire jacket from my fabric. The fabric restrictions did limit the amount of check matching that I was able to do. I focused on keeping the checks balanced more than matched.
I eliminated the centre back seam in an effort to save fabric, but otherwise this is sewn pretty much as per the pattern. I did add topstitching beside certain seemliness, as the mood took me. The description is correct – it is easy to construct.
There is no closure on my coat. It can be worn with the collar folded across and pinned in place, but I’m not likely to wear it that way. I sewed size 12, which is my usual Style Arc top/dress/jacket size, but could have gone down to a 10 in this jacket.
I really enjoyed working with this coating fabric. It has great texture, was easy to sew and press, and the hand-stitches securing the facings are invisible. Hooray!
If you have long arms, you might want to consider lengthening the sleeves. It wouldn’t be too difficult to draft a lining either, if you prefer one. There are inseam pockets in the front seams, and I really like the angles at the centre front hemline. I am not certain that lapels at the front like this, with nothing at the back neck, is the best look for me. To me it looks very “front-heavy” which I am anyway. I think I prefer a jacket with no collar at all or one that has a roll collar at the back. Will ponder on that further. But I do recommend this pattern.
I have been reading the designer Leimomi’s blog for some time, and have always been impressed with her sewing knowledge and the thought that she puts into garments. She is a trained pattern maker and is a fashion and textile historian. This is her first pattern, and I was very impressed with both the quality of the drafting and the quality of the instructions.
I sewed this in a wool crepe remnant from Rathdowne Fabrics. It was a great choice for this top. Wool crepe is such a divine fabric to work with! It presses beautifully, and has wonderful drape. Now check out all those cartridge pleats. Just sewing the pleats took around two hours. Crikey.
I finished the inside edge of the neckline self-facing with lace, and the lower hemline with a narrow double-turned machine stitched hem. This is actually quite simple to sew, you just have to be patient because of ALL THOSE PLEATS. Have I mentioned that there are a lot of pleats?
The website describes this pattern as follows: The Henrietta Maria is a versatile, wear-anywhere trans-seasonal shift dress or top, with full raglan sleeves and cunning pleats that shape the neckline and sleeve hems. The top can be made with a straight or shaped hemline. The dress has set-in side pockets.
Dress it up for evening in chiffon and satin, make it as your go-to summer wear in cottons or viscose (rayon), or effortless winter office wear in wool crepe. Worn loose, the top and dress are great on straight figures. Belted or tucked in, they flatter the most bodacious of curves.
The Henrietta Maria works best in fabrics with good draping qualities, such as lightweight wool crepes; viscose crepes; silk & synthetic crepe de chine; lightweight draping cottons such as cotton voile; and wool, viscose & cotton challis. Silk or synthetic charmeuse satins, chiffons and georgettes also work well, but are trickier to work with.
I sewed view B, with the curved hemline. I think that I sewed size 40, as per my measurements (it is about three haircuts ago since I sewed and photographed this, so my recollection of some details is a little hazy). I’d rather like to sew the dress version for summer in a cool drapey fabric – but ALL THOSE PLEATS. I might need to sew some other summer garments first. This is a great pattern – highly recommended if you are looking for something a little out of the ordinary.
So, now to the jeans. These are the next step along my quest for non-stretch denim jeans that fit my decidedly non-standard shape. I used the Bootstrap Fashion Vado Designs boyfriend jeans. The rigid denim is from M. Recht. From the Bootstrap website: The best-fitting jeans custom-sized sewing patterns are here. These ‘boyfriend’ style jeans have plenty of design ease around thighs and hips and require minimum measurements.They are extra long and designed to be worn rolled up. Ease: 4 3/8″ (11 cm) at hips and thigh.
These are the jeans on the right in the picture above. I’ve sewn the flared version in the centre photo before, and you can read that review here. So, the jeans on me.
So, right to it. I don’t love the way that these look on me from the side or the back at all. So much fabric around the upper thigh! Yes, the pattern description does say that there is plenty of ease there, and on a more typical shape it probably works well. But my legs are so thin in comparison to my torso that it’s hard to eliminate that excess while still having the non-stretch denim fit the rest of me and me still being able to move.
I do need to emphasise however that the fit is actually GREAT from the perspective of the waist and tummy and hips fitting me – that normally NEVER happens – and the length, which is spot on. These are also incredibly comfortable for a non-stretch pair of jeans! I do need the belt to keep them in the most comfortable position, despite me being very accurate with my measurements, but that is because without that extra bit of cinching (and consequent muffin-top) all my pants fall down. It’s why I usually go for an elastic waist. With a waist-hip differential that is so small – plus most of the measurement being on my front – most skirts or pants fall down on me.
I was very happy with the construction of these jeans. Bootstrap Patterns have lots of detail and photos in their instructions now, and everything went together nicely. I also got some rivets for the back pockets, and in combination with the red topstitching am very happy with the final look of these jeans. I did place the pockets much closer to the centre than the pattern suggested, based on some of my existing pairs of jeans.
Pockets were sewn from quilting cotton. I chose not to flat-fell any of the seams, as I feel that I get a similar effect with the seams overlocked then topstitched. I know it’s not as “authentic” a jeans technique, but I’m just as happy with the finished result.
I often wonder why I put so much effort into waistband and upper pants details that will never been seen other than on this blog. I never, ever tuck anything in.
So, my final verdict? I think that Bootstrap Fashion (and Lekala) patterns are GREAT. I love the made-to-measure aspect and the price, and the ability to customise things like tummy and buttock protrusion. If you haven’t tried them, I really do think that you should! It does require ACCURATE measurements, and lots of them, and tweaking to find out what the fit adjustments really do. But once you’ve got it sorted, it’s wonderful – especially if you are not a “standard” shape.
As for me and my non-stretch jeans quest? Basically, it’s over. My shape really is best in elastic waists and stretch denim. These jeans aren’t likely to get much wear at all. In the future I’ll keep sewing my tried and true Style Arc jeans from stretch fabrics. But don’t let that put you off giving Vado jeans a go – I honestly do think that they work beautifully for lots of people, and have seen quite a few of them on blogs that look fabulous. There is no questioning the fit.