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The Pattern of the Month - The Afternoon Blouse & Shift Dress

Monday, October 16, 2017

It's time for the second Pattern of the Month Reviewer Round Up, The Afternoon Blouse & Shift Dress - as voted by the Reviewers themselves.

It's an oldie but a goodie, and it was incredibly heart-warming to know that people still love the pattern and want to stitch it up all these years later. 

Did you know it was the first pattern I ever released, 3.5 years ago? Two years after the initial release, I extended the pattern and released the shift dress - definitely the best decision ever.

To read each individual review, click their name at the top to be taken straight through - enjoy!

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Chloe's gorgeous Afternoon Shift dress looks perfect strolling the streets of France. Throw on a pair of stockings and some lovely flats, and it's the perfect, comfortable autumn outfit.

Chloe chose the back box-pleat variation for shaping the back.


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Why make one when you can make three? It is called The Afternoon Blouse & Shift for a reason... it's quick! You should be able to whip one up in an afternoon.

Rhonda made two shift dress versions and a blouse and I think you'll agree that they look beautiful. And in such a fun array of fabrics — perfect for an up-coming Australian summer.


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I love how Katherine has styled her Little Black Shift. It really shows the versatility of the pattern and what a great piece it is for transitioning between seasons. 

Katherine also made the shift with the back box-pleat for shaping, but she decorated it with one of the buttons she used on the front. I can't believe I've never thought of doing this — it's such a sweet detail.


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The Stitch Sisters both made Afternoon Shift Dresses — Nikki made the pointed neckline (blue) and Rachel made the rounded neckline (tartan). And again, more beautiful autumn styling!

Head on over to their YouTube Channel to see their dresses in action!


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One of my favourite features of the Afternoon Blouse & Shift Dress is that the neckline is such a great way to showcase special/novelty/statement buttons, and Kristina's Kitty button is a choice after my own heart.


Kristina styled her crisp cotton poplin blouse with jeans and clogs and opted for a stunning silk/linen blend for the shift dress, showing that both types of fabric work a treat.

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Nadine made two different blouse versions, both in stunning pops of colour with more statement buttons.

Using a fabric with no print can really show off the neckline if you want to make a real feature of it, as Nadine has done. And I love how crisp and clean her versions look — a perfect blend of vintage-inspired and modern.


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Accacia also took the opportunity to make multiple garments from the pattern, and when I started getting the reviews in for the Afternoon Blouse & Shift Dress pattern, it became rather apparent just how many reviewers were making multiple variations.

Accacia put a dart into the bust of both of her versions after doing a FBA, and I think the fit looks beautiful on her! Head over to her blog to read more about her process. The blouse is her toile (and a damn fine wearable one at that!) and the shift dress her final make.

Oh, and let's not forget the cat getting into the action in the background. And up a tree no less.


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Another 'why make one when you can make three?' moment.

Sandra has gone above and beyond and showcased the pattern in such a lovely array of fabrics — from cotton voile, to a medium weight crisp cotton to a slinky polyester.

Sandra made no adjustments to the pattern and I think it looks amazing on her straight out of the packet!


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Jo's breezy rayon fabric choice is such a winner here. It highlights the kimono sleeves perfectly and just takes the over all vibe of the blouse up ten notches.

And I can't not mention the styling here — the boots, the skinny jeans and the roof-top garden deck — what's not to like?!


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Sylvia shows just how versatile one Afternoon Blouse can be.  From office-wear paired with the ultimate black wiggle skirt, to casual weekend wear in a pair of fitted pants.

Plus, the colour she chose is amazing, and I adore that teeny little button she chose for the neckline. While a statement button works beautifully, I love seeing the smaller button nestled perfectly in place.


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Tracey has the winter styling for The Afternoon Shift Dress perfected! Layered with a fitted long sleeve top, some tights and a pair of boots, all you need is a cardi and you're out the the door.

I also think that Tracey is one of the only reviewers to top-stitch her neckline down. There is plenty of room for your head if you also prefer this option (and I've done it for most of mine as well — it provides more security, especially when you have a grabby toddler). It can also be made a feature of by using contrasting thread.


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Another amazing statement button but this time it's on a Little Grey Dress! Sarah went with the rounded neckline and also opted for the back-box pleat shaping - a popular choice among the reviewers, it seems!


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Suzy



Suzy went for a bright summer / autumnal fabric here, and it looks ready for either sunshine or layering up. I especially appreciate the pop of colour in her statement button, and the mirrored flower-and-petal pattern makes a striking contrast to the pattern's neckline. 


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Marian Serenity




Marian's fabric is a stunning broiderie anglaise and it makes such a stunning dress. 

Can I also point out the gathered shaping at the back? This is the other option that is included for shaping the back if box-pleats aren't your thing. It's cinched in with elastic, making it incredibly comfortable.


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Such a fun, bright and inspiring bunch of makes - thank you so much reviewers! 

You can also check out some tutorials I've done for the pattern below:


xx
J
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Adjusting Seam Allowance Guides on Your Sewing Machine - A Mayberry Dress Tutorial

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Sometimes, a pattern calls for a specific seam allowance that may not be already marked on your sewing machine, and if you're planning on making the Mayberry Dress, this might just be one of those patterns. 

When attaching the bodice to the skirt, Mayberry needs a 2.5cm (1") seam allowance, and the majority of sewing machines, mine included, only have guides going up to 2cm (3/4"). 

Here's a picture of my well loved sewing machine - you can see it only goes up to 2cm (or 20mm), but there's an easy fix...


Take a ruler or measuring tape and measure out your new seam allowance. For Mayberry, I need to add on an extra 5mm or 1/4" (the pink line indicated below).


Take some washi tape (or electrical tape or even some clear tape with a straight line of brightly coloured thread stuck to the bottom of it) and pop it onto your sewing machine, lining it up with your new seam allowance measurement.


Double check you've placed your tape at the correct measurement all the way up - adjust as needed.


Now you can line up your sewing with your new seam allowance guide and stitch away. It's as easy as that.


You can purchase your Mayberry Dress pattern here.

xx
J
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A Paper Pattern Poll

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

I've lost count of the number of emails and messages I get asking about when I'll be stocking paper patterns. So, in the lead up to Christmas (yes, I said the C word!) I've been dipping my toes into some research, but I need a little help from you lot.

Which JLH patterns would you like to see in paper first?


The truth is, I'd love to to be able to provide all of my patterns in paper form, but it all comes down to cost and my location. Living in New Zealand has meant that it's been tough trying to source the components that go into a paper pattern at a comparable price to my fellow northern hemisphere Designers. I also need to make sure sending patterns out to customers doesn't cost the earth and finding the specialty printers and paper needed to keep things lightweight and good quality has been interesting.

BUT... I think I've finally settled on a solution. It does mean that I can't get all of my patterns printed on paper at once though, so I'd really like to know which patterns you'd like to see in paper first.

If you'd like to have your say, simply head on over to my little poll here, where you can vote for your 1st through to 5th pattern choice.

It'll help me out a lot and should only take a minute or two of your time.

Thanks so much in advance!

xx
J

ps) If you'd like to know how you can get your hands on paper patterns first, make sure you sign up to my newsletter. There are more exciting details to follow...

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The Mayberry Dress Tester Round Up

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Today I have a special treat. Some of my testers were kind enough to let me share some their finished Mayberry Dress photos!

I don't require testers to blog about the pattern, so I'm incredibly grateful to be able to share these makes with you today (along with some of their comments about the pattern).

I know that when tester makes are shared, there is the potential that what you're seeing is not what you'll get after pattern changes have been made. And while changes were made to the pattern after the makes you're about to see, rest assured that based on the feedback, the pattern itself hasn't changed all that dramatically from the original except in the larger sizes.

The 3/4 sleeve has been shortened as well as reduced in width/volume across the board, and the larger sizes (18-24) have been re-graded to remove some excess ease in the bodice. Parts of the instructions were also re-written, expanded for more clarity and typos fixed.

I go into a little more detail about how I approach pattern changes after a Testing round below, but let's look at some pretty Mayberry Dresses first!

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Khadetjes - 18C







I wore the dress the whole day, it's a pleasure to wear it! For me, the position of the dart is spot on, also very happy with the choice of cup.

I'm planning to make this dress again, I'm so happy with it, it's a comfortable yet fancy design... I am happy with the ease of the dress, normally I need to grade my hips into a pattern, so I was happy that I only had to use one size.

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It's a lovely pattern - really easy to make. I made the size 6D and the fit was spot on. I personally would narrow the sides of the skirt slightly, but I made mine in a cotton and it would work fine as is in a drapier fabric.

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Alyssa - 10A




It was very nice to have a dress/top that was already drafted for me instead of a B or C cup!

I feel like it fits great with enough ease for movement. I'll be honest, I wasn't sure about the drawstring waist (I haven't had good luck with those being flattering) but I do like how this fits - I'll be adding it to my general wardrobe rotation.


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I found the bodice fit to be really good, particularly at the bust. Found that the darts should have been a cm or so longer. I find the sleeves to be comfortable and I have enough ease of movement in them.

I think the pattern is really cute. I made it in a slightly stiffer fabric than recommended so it is slightly stiff at the skirt gathers, but I really like how the bodice works in my fabric.

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Michelle - 8C 



 

The cup size is great. I'm on the lower range of the C cup size, but I'm glad I did not size down, it would have been way too tight. 

I didn't make any changes to the darts or even the bodice length (which I normally do). I think it's a very nice relaxed fit. I really like the style and I can tell I'll get a lot of wear out of my dress.

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Jinx & Gunner - 8B (6 waist)




 

 This was the first pattern of yours that I've sewn up and I was really impressed. 

It was very professional and I was happy to see that you true'd your pattern pieces, for example, the hem of the short sleeve pattern piece actually flares out like it should. Also, the attention to detail, like reminding us to interface the area where we are supposed to ass rivets/buttonholes for the drawstring was great.

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  Christina - 22D



 

 The overall fit of the dress is good and it's comfortable. I did find it a little short so chose to hem it with bias tape. I seldom wear high necked garments as I'm very busty, but I do find that I like it. 

The pockets are awesome, love how they are inset a little bit and I really loved the construction of the dress, very intuitive and clean finishes. 

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Katrina - 14A


 

I like this dress so much that I decided to make two (I don't wear a lot of dresses). The fit is very good, I opted to use elastic for the back of my tie for extra comfort. I can easily get the dress on and off without the buttons being functional, I even sewed it up on my sleeveless version.

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I made the long sleeve variation, excellent fit. Perfect amount of ease in the shoulder and armscye. This was a very straightforward and enjoyable sew. I really liked how the drawstring was constructed.

It's a different silhouette from the 'fit & flare' style dresses I'm more used to, so it was a little harder to assess bodice fit, as it is drafted with more ease. I was tempted to over think the bodice fit (maybe I need to go down a size?) but I decided to trust the pattern and I'm so glad I did.

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I really liked the overall fit of the dress. The length was flattering and the drawstring waistband made it flattering. The dress is very comfortable and I love, love, love the pockets. They do not stick out and add bulk and I LOVE pockets!

 Overall I enjoyed sewing the pattern and felt you did a very nice job with details, illustrations etc.

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It's such a comfortable dress! I am so impressed with the fit with no alterations, it's brilliant. If I were to make it again, I would probably lengthen the bodice by half an inch (I am quite tall and I make this alteration sometimes) but otherwise it's pretty much perfect. The drawstring at the waist makes it very flattering.

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The general fit is excellent. The Tie waist is a great feature to ensure women can customise the fit at the waist without tinkering with the pattern.

What I really like about the pattern is the choice of cup sizes and bodice fit, the drawstring waist and it's design (very clever and easy to do) and the sleeve options. 

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Ellie - 10B





I loved making the Mayberry - I will wear it loads, it is a great work dress for me - comfy, not too tight fitting, modest neckline (all ideal for scuttling about on the floor with kids whilst looking tidy and professional). The instructions have resulted in a super neat finish and I'm really pleased with it. 

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As I mentioned above, I thought I'd go into a little more detail about how I approach making changes after I've received tester feedback.

Making fit changes to a pattern once you've received all feedback can be a tricky one because you can't always be sure whether suggested alterations are a personal preference or something that is more wide-spread. If testers have to make a change to the pattern, I always ask them to specify if it's a change they usually make or whether it's something new to them.

As a general rule, if I'm not sure about a suggestion (either I don't agree with it or it seems odd to me) OR if something is mentioned by two different testers (or more), I'll always look into it and get more clarification from the group or individual if needed.

For example, with Mayberry, two testers mentioned wanting a bit more room in the hips for the style of the dress but when I emailed the group, the general consensus was to leave them as they were.

So, just a heads up, I recommend checking the finished garment measurements included in the instructions to see if you might want a bit of extra hip room in your Mayberry Dress, just in case you fall into the 'more hip room' group.

Thank you so much Mayberry Testers!

xx
J
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