Just in time for the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, I've finished my third garment in the 1912 Project, the Ladies' Spring Mantle. The official patternreview is here; the review below is using a template supplied by the VPLL project to give them information they need in cataloging the work we've done and the work that may need to be done with these patterns.
1. Pattern Name: E0189 Ladies' Spring Mantle
2. Sewer's Skill Level: Advanced.
3. Pattern Rating and why: 5 - I LOVED IT! It totally lived up to the pattern drawing. Not only is it a beautiful jacket of its period, it's just as beautiful 100 years later. I fully intend on wearing this as part of my day-to-day wardrobe, not as a period piece.
4. What skill level would someone need to sew this pattern and why? This is another pattern that looks more complicated than it is. While it might not be for beginners, I think an intermediate sewist with patience would have no problem making this at all. Patience simply because these patterns expect a certain level of knowledge; there's no spoon-feeding here. And while nothing in this pattern was particularly complex, like other VPLL patterns in the 1912 Project, there are fiddly bits (i.e., the trim) that take a lot of time.
5. Were the instructions easy to follow? If not, what needs to be changed? The instructions were minimal (by today's standards), but clear. One issue I had with the instructions was regarding the underarm gusset - the instructions said to follow the marked stitching line on the gusset, rather than using the seam allowance, and I just couldn't make that work no matter how I tried. When I did what I instinctively thought was right, using the seam allowance, it worked and fit fine. So there's something amiss there, unless it was just me.
6. How was the fit/sizing? Did it correspond to what you thought? The pattern was sized for a 36 bust, and since that's what I generally require, I was hoping for an accurate fit. I actually cheated and didn't make a muslin for this jacket, I was so hoping that it would fit. Hubris isn't always rewarded, so I'd better watch it next time I think I'm safe.
7. Did you make any pattern alterations? If so, what alterations did you make? Were they fit or design alterations? My changes were to the order of construction - rather than constructing and trimming the shell, then constructing the lining and sewing the two together, I constructed the shell and lining and bagged them together as I would a modern jacket, leaving a small opening at the hem to turn the jacket right side out. I then made all the trim and hand sewed it on.
8. Changes I'd like in this pattern: None whatsoever. This worked out beautifully for me and I intend on making another very soon.
9. Changes to instructions: I think some clarification regarding the gusset would be helpful. Also, for those who aren't accustomed to older techniques, maybe providing modern alternatives would be helpful (as in bagging the jacket lining). Though personally I like the challenge of figuring it out on my own, but I've been told before that I'm a little strange.
10. Discussion of fabric/trim, etc. I used very historically inaccurate polyesters all the way. The shell fabric feels a bit like taffeta, with a crinkled texture and embroidery/sequins. The lining is copper poly charmeuse. The two fabrics work well together, but I think I could have gotten a better texture on the shirred trim if I had used silk charmeuse; even cut on the bias, the poly is just a little too bouncy.
11. Description of technique - insertion, cutwork, etc. The only unusual technique in this garment is the trim, which is a 10 yard long bias strip (I used the charmeuse lining fabric), sewn together, turned and pressed flat. The instructions offer an option of threading strips of quilt batting into the tube before it is gathered, but I found the batting to be too thick when added to the already substantial fabric. Maybe 1912 batting had a better texture? Stuffed or unstuffed, the bias tube is then gathered on both sides and pinned or basted around the edge of the jacket and sleeves. To gather the trim, I used my machine's basting stitch, in 2 foot long increments. As I gathered each section, I pinned it to the jacket and then I hand sewed it to the jacket. I did the same for the sleeves.