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Choosing a Size and Making a Toile - The Willa Wrap Coat Sew Along

Thursday, January 21, 2021

I think I can safely say that this is one of the biggest hurdles to even starting making a coat - choosing  a size and making a toile. 

I've tried to make this part as easy and stress-free as possible by providing heaps of additional Finished Garment Measurements, but read on for some more in-depth info...

Making a toile:

I promise if you make a toile, you will feel absolutely confident that you will have a great fitting final coat come the end of this sew along. You will enjoy the process and take your time, knowing none of it was wasted.

As I mentioned in the Fabric & Tools post, it's important to choose the right fabric for your toile, and not to overfit it if you're using a lighter weight fabric than your final coat. 

The reality is that you'll more than likely have lighter toile fabric laying around that you want to use, rather than thicker coat fabric. Just bare in mind that once the final coat is lined and interfaced as well as fitted over any additional garments, you want to leave enough wearing ease for comfortable movement.

A Whole Bunch of Additional Finished Garment Measurements:

If the toile/fitting part of coat sewing seems like it could be endless, NEVER FEAR! I've included a whole bunch of additional measurements that you can use to get the best start and make the least changes possible to your Willa Wrap Coat toile so that you can get to sewing your final coat as soon as possible.

First of all, if you have a coat you love (or one that you know you'd like to make changes too to make it more comfortable) I suggest you grab this and get measuring. You can compare the measurements of this coat to the additional Finished Garment Measurements included in the instructions. 

This way, you'll already have a great reference point for how your final Willa Wrap Coat will fit you and you'll know straight away whether you might want to grade between different sizes or make any specific pattern alterations before you even print anything out! YAY!! 

This will cut down on a huge amount of time as well as quell any negative 'coat fitting' thoughts that may have entered your head.


The Finished Garment Measurements included are:

A - Full bust circumference

B - Natural waist circumference (smallest part of the torso, usually above the belly button)

C - Hip circumference

D - Sleeve length, from top of shoulder to finished hem

E - Bicep circumference

F - Armscye circumference

G - Back width, from outer sleeve seam across

H - Length, from top of inner shoulder seam to finished hem

Let's talk about the bust:

The Willa Wrap Coat combines two cup sizes per front coat pattern. Because of the easy wrap style and less tailored fit around the front, combining cup sizes made more sense in terms of the pattern and grading. This means that there is one Front Coat pattern set for A+B cups and one for C+D cups in the JLH Original patterns, and the same goes for the Curve sizes. 

It does mean that if you're the smaller of the combined cups (the A cup for example) that there may be a touch more fullness at the bust - this should not effect the overall relaxed fit and feel of the coat though.

It's important to always choose your cup size first before you choose the rest of your coat size. This is because fitting the bust is harder than fitting the waist/hips. If you've got the bust fitting well from the get go, you can then grade the pattern from there to get the rest of it fitting nicely.

I'll be doing an in-depth post on bust adjustments next week, but you can also work out your cup size here!

Choosing a size:

Once you've worked out which cup size you are, look along the cup row to find the closest measurement to your Full Bust circumference. 

NOTE: Don't fall into the trap of thinking you should make a different cup size if your Full Bust measurement fits exactly (or closer to) the next cup size up or down. In reality, the cup size your measurements put you into has more to do with your shoulders/upper bust proportions than it does your full bust circumference. So, if you go up (or down) a cup size based solely on your Full Bust circumference (rather than the difference you worked out to get your cup size), you will probably have fit issues over your shoulders/neckline, which is much harder to fix after the fact.

If you don't fit exactly into one of the Full Bust Circumference measurements within your cup row, you can grade the pattern at the sides to get the circumference correct for you (whether that's adding or subtracting).

There is enough wearing ease in Willa to be able to layer 1-2 light-weight layers or 1 mid-weight layer underneath. If you're going to want to layer more than that (or you have a really thick outer coat fabric), I would suggest sizing up, as you do want to be able to move, after all. This is just one of the instances where trying on a coat you already own and comparing measurements is extremely helpful. Do you need more or less room than you current coat allows? And how does that compare to Willa? This is really useful information so that you can make the smallest number of toiles possible for the best fitting final coat.

Next week is Pattern Adjustment week at the Sew Along, so if you've found you need some pattern adjustments, we'll be covering the major alterations you might need then.

You can purchase your Willa Wrap Coat pattern here and check out the full Sew Along Schedule here.



Downloading and Printing your Pattern - The Willa Wrap Coat Sew Along

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

So, you got all confident that you could tackle sewing Willa. You chose your fabric, purchased the pattern and then went WHAT?! Why are there are SO MANY FILES TO DOWNLOAD? This is not what I signed up for!

Let me explain, it all makes sense, I promise!

Yikes! That's a lot of files. So many, I could't even fit them all on the screen shot...

First up, yes, there are lots of pattern files to choose from, eleven to be precise...

  • Now that I have two pattern blocks (JLH Curve and JLH Original) and you get both pattern blocks with your pattern purchase, you're essentially getting two patterns in one. These cannot be layered on top of each other because they are different, so need separating out.

  • I also offer both a Print-at-home format AND a Print Shop format for ease of use. These need to be broken down so that whichever way you choose to print your pattern, they will print to scale.

  • Finally, because I include multiple bust cups - Willa comes with A to D cups in the Original pattern and C to F cups in the Curve pattern - smooshing all of the pattern files together really would just make for one big headache trying to cut the correct outline and masses of paper when it comes to printing. So, I opt to break things up into more manageable sized chunks to make it easy, especially if you're only wanting to print one cup size set.

JLH Curve or JLH Original?

The first thing you need to decide is whether you're going to make the Curve or the Original pattern.  I'll be going into more depth on choosing a size in the next Sew Along post tomorrow, but you can find all of the information you need in the instruction file. Just read it through carefully and thoroughly.

Once you've decided, just find all of the pattern files that have the word CURVE or ORIGINAL at the start of the named pattern file. For this example, I've chosen Curve, these are circled (squared?) by a blue box below.

Which Cup Size are you making?

The next thing you need to decide is which cup size you're making. Willa has two cups combined per front piece. So, if you're an A cup, you'll choose the Original A+B cup front pattern.  If you're making an F cup, you'll choose the Curve E+F cup size. 

If you're in between sizes, have a look at the sizing information included in the instructions - again, a more in-depth post about choosing a size will be available tomorrow. But let's pretend I'm wanting to make an F cup.

Are you printing at Home OR sending to a Print Shop?

If you're printing from home, find all of the pattern files that say 'A4/Letter' at the end of the file name. There will be two of these, one that contains the front of the coat called 'Coat Front_All Cups'  and one that contains the remaining coat pieces, called 'Back, Sleeves, Extras'. Download and save these to your computer.

Open the Front Coat file - you'll see on Page One that the cups are broken into two C+D & E+F for the Curve file (and A+B & C+D for the Original file). 

You only need to print the pages of the cup size you're making, if you want all cups printed, print all pages. If you've opened your Curve file and are planning on making an F cup only, you only need to print pages 47-92 etc.

Print out the entire Back, Sleeves, Extras file.

If you're printing at a Print Shop, find all of the pattern files that say 'A0 Print Shop' at the end of the file name - there will be three of these. Two that contain the front pattern pieces in their respective cup sizes and one that contains the rest of the coat pattern not effected by differing cups. Download and save these to your computer.

You can send all three files to your Print Shop if you want to have all of the cups printed on paper. 

If you only want one (the F cup for example), then just download and send the file that is labelled Front Coat E+F  as well as the file that contains the remaining coat pieces, called 'Back, Sleeves, Extras'.


And then, there's just one set of lonely Instructions to print out, all the way down at the bottom of that long list of files. You can either download and save to your computer for viewing during construction, or print them out if you find it easier to have a physical copy.

If it's all still confusing and overwhelming, just send me an email with the size you're wanting to make and I'll let you know which to print out!!

You can purchase your Willa Wrap Coat pattern here and check out the full Sew Along Schedule here.



Let's Talk Construction Order - The Willa Wrap Coat Sew Along

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Today's Sew Along post is just a short one, and it's one that gives you permission to tackle the construction of the Willa Wrap Coat however you feel makes the most sense to you. You don't have to follow the order of construction in the instructions (or even in this Sew Along!).

Here's a secret... I may write and illustrate all of my instructions and decide the order each step should go in, but I actually rarely follow my own construction order. When I approach the writing and illustrating of any instructions for a new pattern, I tend to aim them at a complete novice, even though a pattern may be an intermediate or advanced pattern. I write each step in a logical order, building on the last step so that it's easy to visualise where you're going in the next without having to repeat steps  constantly. However,  this isn't always an efficient use of time - it may be logical, but it's not efficient.

When you're sewing up Willa, you're essentially making two coats - the outer coat and the lining coat - before the two are joined. This means that many of the steps for the outer coat are exactly the same for the lining, and for the sake of not repeating the same step twice in the written instructions, I will often say something like 'repeat for lining' throughout. 

For example - instead explaining and illustrating how to set in the sleeve for the outer and the lining, once we've done that step for the outer coat, I've written 'repeat for the lining', because it's exactly the same. This would assume that you're sewing both the outer coat and lining at the same time, which is completely fine if that's what makes sense for you, but personally, I find it most efficient to sew up the entire outer coat first and then the entire lining before joining. That way, I'm not needing to constantly switch up my needle and thread for each step - as these will often be different when sewing up a thick outer coat and then a thin lining (that is maybe in a different colour).

For this Sew Along, I'll be publishing each step in the order the instructions are written BUT, I won't actually be sewing my own coat in that order for the above reasons.

I hope this post gives you permission to tackle your coat making how ever you feel is easiest and most efficient for you. You don't have to follow the order of the instructions, I don't!

You can purchase your Willa Wrap Coat here and check out the full Sew Along schedule here.



Useful Coat Sewing Tips - A Confidence Boosting Post

Monday, January 18, 2021

If you've ever thought about making your own coat and then talked yourself out of it because it seems too daunting, then this post is for you!

I would say the biggest obstacle to tackling coat sewing (and this is for any coat) is your mind set. So, keep these three things in mind as you make your way into this new, unknown, yet exciting world...

Mind Set:

Like most things that seem hard when you're new to sewing, making a coat is right up there as the ultimate 'hard' thing. It can seem like there are endless new techniques and a bunch of weird new lingo to learn (what even is a sleeve roll and what does it do?!). All of this will have you questionning whether you can do it and I'm here to tell you that you most certainly CAN tackle Willa, even if you're not an 'advanced' seamstress.

Honestly, the general construction is pretty straight forward. If you've sewn in a dart and set in a sleeve before, then there's not a whole lot of additional technical know how needed.

Yes, there are some additional prepping steps before you start sewing, there are a few little extra steps that will give your coat a professional finish (hello sleeve roll!) that you don't actually technically have to do, and there are a few tricky steps that you need to take your time with. But, I'll be holding your hand every step of the way during this Sew Along, with a mix of photographs, additional drawings and video tutorials.


You're making a coat not a simple t-shirt. Remember this and don't rush. It's a marathon (of fun!) not a sprint. You don't make a coat everyday, so revel in the process, do all of the little things that maybe take an extra 10minutes and fall in love with the sewing process, rather than the finished project.

And make a toile. No really, don't skip this step, you'll be so much more confident whether you have to make a few pattern changes or none.  If you end up not needing to make any adjustments, it might feel like you just wasted a whole bunch of time, but if you turn that around, I say you've not only practised some of the trickier steps ahead of using your good (possibly expensive fabric) BUT you've also made it easier to jump in and cut into your good fabric, because you know the end coat will fit.  If you end up needing to make adjustments, again, you'll be confident making a start in your good fabric, knowing that you'll end up with a garment that fits, and sometimes, it's starting the cutting that can be one of the hardest things.

Maybe it'll take you a week, a month, a year to complete, but if you take your time, you'll have a finished garment that you will love, wear and cherish for a lifetime. It's worth taking your time and paying attention to the details here. You'll also pick up so much useful sewing knowledge along the way that you'll be able to apply to all of your future sewing projects. 

Plus, how proud and confident will you be now that you've MADE A COAT. And it wasn't even that hard...


One of the biggest hurdles for me when coat making (and boy did I make A LOT of coats during the making of this pattern) is the sheer amount of fabric you need. Depending on what you choose to use for your final coat, it can be heavy, long and thick, plus you have to cut out an additional lining (which is pretty much like cutting out and making another coat, and then you have to join them together...) as well as interfacing. And all of that fabric, when you add on pockets, belt/hang loops and a belt, can be HEAVY and bulky.

The part of coat construction I always tend to dread is when I get to the joining of the outer coat and lining. There is so much fabric to manoeuvre through the machine. But, I can do it and YOU can do it too. Approach coat making knowing (like with most other sewing projects) that there will be annoying parts. Take your time, take regular breaks, but most importantly, push through, it's so worth it.

Also, make sure you have everything before you start. Get your machine serviced - depending on what your outer coat fabric is, you'll be giving your machine a thorough work out. Clean your machine regularly throughout the construction process, your poor little feed dogs will probably get clogged quite quickly - as many outer coat fabrics and the way they are woven, mean all of those little fluffy threads will make your machine their new home in no time. I suggest having a quick clean of your feed dogs and bobbin case each time you sit down to sew (or after each sewing session, so you're ready to go next time).

And lastly, make sure you have a packet of appropriate needles for your chosen weight of fabric. Once you get to adding on pockets/belt loops etc, there are many layers to go through, so having heavy duty machine needles are essential.

For more in-depth info on fabrics and tools you'll need for your Willa Coat, check out the Fabric & Tools Sew Along post here.

If you're still not sure you can sew a coat, I encourage you to check back with the Sew Along regularly and follow the sewing process in it's entirety. I promise you'll come out wondering what all the fuss was about and ready to jump in.

You can purchase your Willa Wrap Coat pattern here and view the full Sew Along schedule here.



2020, The Year that was...

Friday, January 1, 2021

JLH Instagram Top Nine for 2020

What a year 2020 has been.

I generally like to reflect on the good bits at this time of year, but it really has been a year of extremes. It's hard to focus on the positive without acknowledging all of the other turbulent things have come along with it. Like any thing in life, you can't have the good without the bad, and sometimes, it's the bad that makes the good in the first place.

We've had COVID-19, the unnecessary deaths of innocent Black lives & leadership debacles. We've made mistakes and we've (hopefully) learnt from those. Out of these huge events, we've learnt that we need to come together as a community to look after each other, we've learnt about our privilege and how to use this for good. We've got leadership coming in (and staying!) that will build on these things and bring people together, rather than divide. For me personally, 2021 feels hopeful, but without the events of 2020, to be honest, we probably would have been in exactly the same place we were on these issues at the start of the year. 2020 has created the momentum, and now it's important that we continue with the changes that we know are necessary for the good of everyone. 

JLH Paper Patterns

JLH Pattern's wise, it was a hard start, not knowing how world events would impact on my energy, time and of course, pattern sales. I opted not to turn any new patterns into the paper format this year, which was a hard decision because 2019 had been such a great year for paper, with the introduction of the format in late 2018.

I still haven't come to a conclusion about paper in 2021, but I'll spend some time pondering the future of JLH paper patterns over the next few months and will let you know how that goes once I've come to a decision.

The Willa Wrap Coat, available in JLH Curve sizes

Extended Sizes - JLH Curve

2020 did see my pattern offerings round themselves out a bit with the introduction of my first 'pants' (trousers?) pattern, The Bastion Culottes and my first coat pattern, The Willa Wrap Coat. I also introduced my new expanded size range  - JLH Curve - with The Dulcie Pinafore and Willa Wrap Coat currently available in sizes 6-34 in A to F cups.

Adding the new sizes was something I'd been meaning to do for a long time, and I'm sorry that they didn't happen sooner.  It is a lot of work, as they are essentially a new pattern all in themselves (based of an entirely different block with a new fit model etc) and then needing to source models to photograph samples on top of that (it's usually just me and I squeeze photoshoots in around naps!).  

It also took a lot of careful consideration to be able to implement the new sizes without raising prices or having to sell them separately. But now that I've got a process worked out, the aim is to continue this on into 2021. I'll be continuing building on the extended sizes by releasing some popular older styles over the year as well as all new release patterns being available in these sizes. 

The Dulcie Pinafore, available in the new JLH Curve sizes.

Work/Life Balance

In terms of work/life balance, 2020 has been HARD! It's still just me running this little business, along with a handful of other freelancers, and I've only had 1 full day a week to work (along with evenings and weekends) because I've essentially been at home full time with Rowan. This has been both a blessing and also some serious hard work. It's left me incredibly tired and drained, both mentally and physically. And while I'm super grateful to have been able to spend that time with her, gosh, it's not exactly ideal.

This year, Rowan starts a few regular Kindy mornings from March and I'm hoping that once she settles into the routine, I'll be able to feel, and be, much more focussed and able to spend more quality time on each aspect of life, rather than having to do all-of-the-things with half my mind on something else.

With that in mind, I've decided not to release any new patterns for the first few months of 2021, and instead spend that time on getting Rowan properly settled into Kindy and all of my 'JLH Patterns' and 'personal-life' ducks in a row. Hopefully, my first pattern (The Esme Top) will be released towards the end of March/start of April, but I'm giving myself some breathing space on that and not pushing myself to get it out just for the sake of it (it's all designed and nearly ready for testing though...). 

The Bastion Culottes

New Patterns and Plans for 2021

I currently have three brand new patterns designed and in the works, and several older styles that are getting the extended-sizes make over. But as I said, I'm trying not to put too much pressure on the beginning of 2021. I hope once the momentum starts though, it'll keep ambling along at a productive pace. 2021 does feel more energetic and like it will be far more balanced than 2020 was.

I'm also wanting to spend more time catching up on things I haven't had the time to do over the last 1.5 years I've been at home with Rowan. I have so many tutorials and pattern hacks in my head that I'm excited to share with you this year, so that you can get even more out of your JLH patterns.  

The first cab off the ranks is the Willa Wrap Coat Sew Along. It's my first proper sew along for a long time, and it's been fun jumping back in and going a little deeper with each step of the construction process. I hope you'll be sewing along with me come January 18!

Thank you!

If you've read this entire post, brava to you. Let's not wish 2020 good riddance though, let's take what we learnt and do better in 2021, for without 2020, we would not be where we are today, we would not know what we know today and we would not do what we need to do today, for a better tomorrow.

And last but not least, a huge thank you for all of the support during 2020, I wouldn't be here without you. Happy New Year Friends, let's get some more sewing done, shall we?



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