Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Neon Polar Bear Nova Coat

I'm a little embarrassed about this one. I already made one coat this year, my Moonrise Kingdom coat. It's awesome, a dream come true, I'm so happy with it...but I almost immediately made another coat. Actually, it was a coat sandwich with lingerie in the middle. Anyway.

Papercut Patterns Nova Coat

I blame Josie at LA Finch Fabrics for this one. Not my inability to control my fabric shopping. Wool is my weakness, especially affordable wool that is high quality. When Josie stocked these teddy French Terry wools, I tried to resist. The pink! The black! It would make such a good coat! And then I finally bought the Nova Coat pattern (I can't remember why...probably saw yet another cool one on IG). I knew the FT and the Nova would be a perfect match. 

But white? I live in the country, have three kids and four pets. Why did I buy white?

Papercut Patterns Nova Coat

Well. I had this idea. White plus NEON. A neon pink lining. Neon green piping along the interesting seam lines of the Nova. Wouldn't that be cool?? And so I got online to order the coating and low and behold, Josie had just stocked a pretty coral rayon challis that was on sale. It all came together, what else was I supposed to do but give in to the idea?

Papercut Patterns Nova Coat

To prep the wool, I talked to some other sewists who had bought it. I decided to dampen the fabric with a spray bottle, then put it into my dryer on low heat with some wet towels. It did shrink a few inches with that very simple treatment (and maybe 10 minutes on high heat before I remembered to do low). Buy extra and prep it!

Papercut Patterns Nova Coat

I will describe this fabric more as a boucle than a French Terry. It has a nice stretch and heft. I've seen some people make tops with it, but for me that would be too bulky. I like it for a coat, personally. Just keep it FAR away from velcro (ask me how I know).

The Nova Coat comes in 5 sizes. I measured into a 2 for the bust and a 3 for the hips. The pattern pieces are unusual and I did a lot of head scratching about how to grade out. Then I realized, there is a gajillion inches of ease and I don't need to grade. Honestly, I could probably make a size 1 and it would fit too. This one is a straight size 2 without mods.

This coat came together really quickly, as far as coats go. I even had to spend extra time basting the piping in and it was still fast. The directions were great. I only got confused once, with the mitered corner on the inside, but I kinda just pinched it out until it looked right. I don't think I've ever had a coat lining sit so smoothly inside a shell as I did this one (granted, it might be because the rayon challis grew so there isn't any pulling). If you use this fabric, I would recommend a walking foot just because of the bulk. My walking foot didn't cooperate well with the piping (the foot is too wide) so I had resort to a regular or even zipper foot. The walking foot was better.

Papercut Patterns Nova Coat

The sleeves are finished with a facing and the lining is sewn to the facing. I LOVE this method in coats and used it for my Yuzu Raglan, I'm not sure why more patterns don't do it this way.

This patch thing is wonky AF not CUTE AF

I used a leopard print faux fur as my neckline facing. It doesn't match the rest of the coat, at all. It's totally ridiculous. But I think we've already established the ridiculousness of this coat in general. Don't tempt me to do something cool with a small facing, I'll do it and laugh at myself for years.

This Nova is super cozy and fun to wear. I will do my best to keep in clean but my expectations are low. I will also stop making coats...this year...maybe...

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Ginger Jeans vs. Ash Jeans

I've been promising this post for a while now, and it's time. If this were a documentary, there would be a clip of two boxers getting ready to fight:

Ginger Jeans vs. Ash Jeans

Ash versus Ginger! The fight to the top of the indie jeans pattern world! I'm going to start this post with a comparison of the facts, and my completely biased opinion will be at the end. I've made both patterns, obviously. Ginger four times, Ash twice. You can scroll down to the end to see photos of each of my versions.

And because of course this happened in the middle of drafting this post, I have to mention that CCP just released the Jude Jeans pattern. It's two views and regurgitates their Ginger block into another pattern.

Size chart

Ginger offers two ranges, 0-20 and 14-32. Ash offers two ranges, 0-20 and 14-30. Ginger is drafted for 5'6" and Ash for 5'5" (Ash offers tall and cropped heights all within the pattern). The hip range for Ginger is 33"-63", for Ash it's 34"-62". Here are the charts:





On the 0-20 charts, Ginger has a 9" difference between waist and hip. Ash has a 10" difference. On the 14-32/34 charts, they both have a 10" difference between waist and hips. What this information tells me is that if you fit into the 0-20 range of sizes, there will likely be one of these charts that is closer to your measurements than the other. Of course, you may require grading regardless, but there is a difference between the two and it's worth investigating which is better for you.

Note that the mid-rise Ginger expansion pack is only available in the 0-20 size range.


I made a handy chart for you to reference which views, rises, etc. are available with each pattern. As I mentioned above, the Jude Jeans have been released using the same Ginger block, so I went ahead and added them to the chart.

You cannot mix views on Ginger. I found this out the hard way. The pattern pieces are vastly different between rises/leg types and you need significant drafting skills to mash them up. For whatever it's worth, CCP is claiming in the comments on their Jude release post that you CAN mix those views up. 


Ash is available as a PDF for $19.50 or a printed pattern for $22.29 (prices converted from AUD to USD).

The original Ginger is $16 for a PDF and $20 for a printed pattern (each size range sold separately). The mid-rise "expansion pack" (in quotes because it's a whole pattern) is $14 and is only available in PDF.

The cheapest you can get all views of Ginger is $30 and Ash is $19.50.

Jude is only available in PDF (still two size ranges) for $16.


I purchased a printed version of Ginger in 2016, and the mid-rise expansion PDF in 2021. I bought Ash in PDF in 2022. I make these notes to let you know that there is always a chance instructions change and are updated from what I used.

I found many mistakes in my printed version of Ginger (detailed on my blog here). The instructions for Ash were thorough and detailed and I had no issues. Take it with a grain of salt that by the time I was making Ash, I'd already made a lot of jeans and needed less hand-holding.

There is a Ginger sew along here and an Ash sew along here. At the time I was making a lot of Gingers, I used the sewalong a lot to supplement the instructions. I never even looked at the Ash one.


low rise Ginger Jeans
Ginger low rise in denim

mid rise Ginger Jeans

flared leg Ash Jeans

wide leg Ash Jeans

Biased Conclusion

I tried to keep my above comparisons as factual as possible, so you could draw your own conclusions about these patterns. Of course, I have my own opinions.

Ginger sucks. Ash is awesome. The existence of Jude is a stupid slap in the face.

That's the short version. So, why? Objectively speaking, you get way more for your money with Ash than you do with Ginger. Yes, Ash only has one rise, but in my experience it's much easier to stick with a mid-rise and change the legs as you like. After kids, low rise became very difficult for me to fit well, and high-rise just isn't loved enough by me to care about having that option.

The directions for Ash are just plain superior.

Ash fits me better. Both patterns require me to adjust the center back for a swayback, but that's the only change I need with Ash. These are facts that are true for my body, and honestly, it might depend on the day. Fit is in the body of the beholder and what works for me, even if our stats are the same, may not feel comfortable for you. Fabrics change, in particular stretch denim, and unless we're cutting the exact same bolt our mileage will vary.

I am salty about CCP. I've struggled with many of their patterns (and had success with others too). I resent the lavish praise I often see about Ginger when, in my opinion, it's not merited. Making jeans is difficult, and there is no magic pattern that will make it easy. It's harmful to praise a pattern to the high heavens and set up unrealistic expectations for other sewists. Sometimes things aren't clicking, we make mistakes, whatever, but sometimes the pattern is the problem, not you.

Jude being released right in the midst of me writing this post is so typical of what I would expect. Instead of four views in one pattern, CCP wants you to buy two different patterns. I'm sure I'm comparing apples to oranges; everyone has their own business model, expenses, etc. and maybe it's not fair to say Megan Nielsen and CCP should operate the same way. But as the customer and consumer here, my feedback is that buying two patterns vs. one is annoying.

As you can see, I have four pairs of Ginger Jeans, but the mid-rise are the only ones I wear. I'm sure I will soon replace those with a skinny pair of Ash Jeans, and my Gingers will be shoved to the bottom of the closet.

You can buy Ginger here and Ash here. Do you have any more questions about these two patterns?

Monday, February 13, 2023

Moonrise Kingdom Coat

I can't believe I'm here. Inside this coat that I've been dreaming of for I don't even know how long. 

The Wes Anderson movie Moonrise Kingdom came out in 2012, ironically the year I started learning how to sew. I'm not sure when I first saw it, but I certainly fell in love right away. As my sewing skills grew, I realized that if I could find the right fabric, I *probably* could recreate the iconic pink coat that the main character Suzy Bishop wears in the climax of the film.

Every time I got an email from a fabric shop about new wool coatings, I looked for the right fabric. Pink and white small scale houndstooth. Fabric Mart. Emma One Sock. Mood. Blackbird. Places that I knew I could count on for quality wool coatings. Every winter became a sad treasure hunt that never paid off. 

Until 2022.

Finally, finally, finally...Emma One Sock stocked THE ONE (it's sold out, I'm sorry). The one I had been waiting for. It was 100% perfect. It has since sold out, but at $25/yard it was even reasonably priced (it's a blend). I ordered it, it arrived, and it was still perfect in person. Thus began the search for the perfect pattern.

If you've been around the sewing interwebs long, you've probably seen the Tilly and the Buttons version of the Moonrise Kingdom coat. Tilly used the Watson Jacket pattern from Papercut. I attempted to track down a copy of this pattern, but it's no longer in print. It has notable differences anyway, so I decided to go ahead and find a good coat base and hack it from there. I landed on Lisette for Butterick, B6385. The length was correct and the collar looked similar. Even though Big 4 patterns aren't my favorite, I've worked with some Lisette patterns in the past and trust Liesl+Co wholeheartedly. This pattern also comes with multiple cup sizes, the front center pattern piece (with the dart) are the pieces that are drafted differently. I used a C-cup piece.

I made a muslin because I often have to grade out in the hips with long coats. The bodice is a 10 and I graded to a 14 in the hips. It was a pain in the arse because there are so many panels to the pattern and I wasn't sure of the easiest way to accomplish the grading. I ended up only grading out on the side seams.

I played around with muslin and draping and looked at pattern pieces for capes online (I have some resources saved on Pinterest). I wish I would've actually drafted something on paper but I hate math, so, there. In the end, the cape is fine. A little more swish would've been good but I'm okay with it. The neck edge of the cape is the same as the neck of the coat. I basted them together and sewed the coat like normal. The cape is a single layer and the edges are finished with rayon seam binding.

I also increased the height of the collar by 2". Suzy's coat looked like it had a very tall collar, tall enough that it could flop over and be buttoned into the cape. Two inches ended up working out great.

I omitted the welt pockets and changed them to in-seam. I used the pocket bag pattern pieces that came with the coat and they are a bit small to use as in-seam pockets.

The pleat is sewn down in a few places and open in others

This pattern has some nice details and finishes that you won't see in all coat patterns. The lining is hand-sewn, there is a very particular back lining pleat, etc. The only thing I disliked is that there is no shoulder seam, it has a yoke that comes over the shoulder into a forward seam. I would have preferred a traditional shoulder seam just to make my cape-drafting easier.

I only saw one "mistake" and that was that the back pleat in the lining was basted closed, but then you were never told to remove the basting stitches.

My lining is a cotton lawn that I got in a $5 mystery box from Michael's (watch the unboxing video here, it's hilarious). For the sleeve lining, I used a poly woven leftover from a previous coat (I think it's the same as what's in my Oslo coat). The buttons are from Jo-Ann's.

This was me trying to make Suzy's face

The beret. Oh Lordy this beret. The only reason I made it is because I already had the most perfect fabric. It's an expensive, thick, reversible wool coating from Blackbird and I absolutely ruined it trying to make a poncho thingy. I managed to make this beret from it but it took a LOT of trial and error. If you review Suzy's beret, there are no visible seams on it. If you look at beret patterns online, they all have seams. I should've just made one with seams and been done with it, but I'm a glutton for punishment. Anyway. This is as good as it's going to get and that's that.

I didn't intend for this coat and beret to become a costume, but now that I've put all the work into it, that may happen come Halloween. We'll see. It's sort of an obscure reference if you're not a Wes Anderson fan. In any case, it feels amazing to have had this goal for so long, and to finally see it come to life.

Wednesday, February 8, 2023

BFF Bag Pattern

Apparel sewing will always be my first love, but every couple of months I get the urge to make a bag. Luckily, the urge struck me just as Loni from Havin Sew Much Fun asked for testers for her first ever pattern, the BFF Bag. 

BBF Bag Pattern

Full disclosure: as a child of the 90s, I have a hard time accepting that fanny packs are back. But mom jeans are here and I've worn those, so I guess I should get over it. Not gonna lie, it helps to have a fanny pack that is as cute as this one!

The BFF Bag can be worn as a fanny, or crossbody. There are directions for right or left-handed wearing, which is something I've never seen in a bag pattern. I was thoroughly impressed with Loni's directions and illustrations. You never would've guessed it was her first pattern!

This is the tester version of the bag, but nothing changed in the design during testing, the instructions were just updated to be more clear in some areas. The only word of caution I have for you is to test the strap length a bit. You want it to be able to shorten it enough to wear over your hips, but also be long enough to go crossbody.

This is a quick sew requiring only a small amount of fabric. I was super excited that I could use my last precious scraps of pre-quilted Merchant and Mills fabric (used for a Tamarack here) and this fun coneflower cotton poplin print from LA Finch Fabrics. I interfaced the M&M fabric and that worked well. I made the strap from cotton twill. The pink and white striped trim on the outside pocket is vintage, from a garage sale. I used a magnet closure for the exterior pocket. Everything was from my stash except the hardware.

The interior zip that I had was a few inches too short, so I covered the ends with leather scraps. I added a sweary label inside because, if you know Loni, that just fits her vibe. 

I'd never done the seam binding finish on a bag before, but Loni's directions hold your hand and walk you through it just fine. Be patient and sew slowly. You probably will need a machine that can handle heavy fabrics. When going over the binding and the straps it gets pretty bulky.

I love how this bag turned out, and I think I'll be wearing it a lot this spring and summer! Grab your pattern here.

*I received this pattern for free during testing. All opinions are my own.

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