testing Eden by Tilly & the Buttons

It’s always nice to be asked isn’t it? Doesn’t especially matter what but anyway, it is. So when I was asked if I would help in the testing process of TATB’s new pattern for a jacket/coat to be released in the spring I was both flattered and happy to help.

I know I have a regular moan about some Indie pattern designers but TATB are one of those who I think do a very good job. The presentation (recently with refreshed new look packaging) and the quality of the drafting and the instructions is, in my opinion, of a very good standard. Tilly doesn’t usually chuck out loads of patterns one after another, they are often in pairs and spaced out through the year.

As is quite often the case with testing there was originally a fairly tight turnaround to return feedback so my first problem was to source the fabric, and quickly. I’m not a great one for buying fabric online unless I’m confident the description and other information is accurate, or I know exactly what it is. This time though I didn’t have time to explore my regular fabric shopping haunts in London and so I had to search t’internet to see what I could find. I’d hoped to get some kind of waterproof or waxed fabric but the ones I found were either very expensive, too boring, too childish (a lot of dinosaurs and unicorns!) or not suitable for the purpose. Next I looked at wool and wool-blends and many of these were also much too expensive as well but in the end I found a really nice felted wool from FabWorksOnline so I ordered that. I was very impressed with the speed it arrived too! It’s a fully lined jacket and I’d got some silky pale pink cloque in the old stash which I didn’t think I’d use for anything else, and I had a cream-coloured open-ended zip which I thought ‘that’ll do’ so I was good to go. One version of Eden is lined with jersey, you might want to consider putting a silky lining in the sleeves, although you could still put jersey just at the cuff ends if you want the contrast roll-up effect.

After a bit of a hold up the pattern arrived but when it did I hit the ground running. In all of Tilly’s other patterns I make myself a size 5 but after checking the finished measurements for the jacket I opted for a 4 this time.

I’m not going to give you a verbatim run through of the pattern here, this time I’ll highlight areas where I used specific techniques which I think work well for this kind of garment.

There are two style variations of the Eden, either a simple longer-length duffle coat style with toggles, or a shorter jacket with ’storm flaps’ and bellows pockets which is the one I opted for. We were asked not to make any drastic pattern hacks during testing but I chose to add 5cms to the overall length of the shorter style, it was shorter than I would wear it but the other was too long.

The next thing I did differently was to use the lining fabric on the underside of the flaps instead of the wool, to reduce the bulk of them when they go into the seams. If you’re using a thinner fabric this step isn’t so necessary but I knew that once all those thicknesses were layered up into the sleeve seams it would because very bulky.

this is the underside of the front ‘storm flap’ with lining instead of double wool.

The next thing I changed (and which hasn’t been altered on the final pattern) is the shaping at the cuff of the sleeve. This is because if you have a deep turn-back but the sleeve continues down straight ie. getting narrower all the way down, when you fold it back it doesn’t lie flat against the inside of the sleeve seam. Look at the photos below and you’ll see what I mean.

I’ve shaped the seam outwards, if you look at the next photo you’ll see why.
when you turn the cuff up inside the sleeve it will sit flush inside now.
I also opted to make the lining shorter to the line I’ve marked so that it wasn’t going to droop out of the end of the sleeve. I felt there should have been a notch to mark where the turn up point was. I made a 5cms turn up for mine.

My other suggestion for the cuff is to use a strip of iron-on interfacing to stop it from stretching, being baggy and to give it some body. This is a technique I’ve picked up after doing numerous sleeve-shortening alterations for people because this is what you will commonly find inside RTW coats and jackets to stabilise it.

Iron-on interfacing applied to the lower edge of the cuff so that it’s just over the folding point of the cuff.
it looks like this when it’s folded back.
After sewing up the sleeve seam I use my ‘clapper’ as a mini ironing board to press the seam open.
Then I turned the cuff back into position to give it a good steamy press. Use a pressing cloth so your fabric doesn’t go shiny. If you aren’t familiar with a clapper, as you can see it’s a wooden tool which can be used in a number of ways. It gets its name from when you whack the steam out of woollen fabrics during the tailoring process, so that it doesn’t remain damp.

I’ve also learned from doing alterations that a few hand stitches inside the cuffs, and also the lower coat hem facing will help hold them in position so that they don’t drop down and spoil the look of your finished jacket. It’s tricky to describe what sort of stitch this should be, it’s a kind of slip-stitch a bit like you might find on handmade curtain hems. The sleeves are raglan so they are easy to insert.

The instructions for putting the zip in are good and the photos are a help here too-there will be an online tutorial although at the time of writing this I’m not sure if it’s available yet. Putting the lining in isn’t actually that complex but it does take time and concentration, and a bit of brute force. Don’t make the opening in the sleeve lining too small because it will make it very difficult to pull everything through, especially if you have stiff or thick fabrics. The gap gets sewn up and is then down inside the sleeve eventually any way. If you’re in any doubt about accomplishing this part my suggestion would be to get the lining sewn by machine to the edges around the front (zip) and hem, pull the lining through and then slip hem the lining to the cuffs by hand.

I chickened out of putting snaps on my jacket even though they would look nice. I haven’t used them on anything else and I didn’t want to spoil my Eden so near the finish line! I opted instead for very large silver press studs which I sewed on by hand.

I finished my Eden in December and I’m really pleased to say that I have worn it loads over the winter months. I’m very happy with my size decision too because there is still plenty of room for jumpers to layer up underneath, I think the next size up would have been too big. I also think the grey and pink look really pretty together as well.

I hope you find the techniques I’ve mentioned helpful, although I don’t think they were carried through to the final pattern, TATB obviously felt that their own methods and descriptions were good enough and maybe I’ve over-complicated things but overall I’m happy with the finished garment. It’s categorised as for ‘improvers’ and I think this is a fair analysis, it would be too complex for a novice sewer although with online tutorials and determination anything is possible!

As you can see from my photos my colour palette is a little more ‘mature’ shall we say than the TATB samples but I think that also proves that it’s a nice casual style which will actually work in lots of fabric and colour combinations. I enjoy the process of testing although there are times when it’s frustrating, I assume I’ve been approached because of what my experience can bring to the party and that isn’t always borne out in the end but it can be rewarding and personally I always take a lot of time over it and try to use my skills and experience to help, advise and improve when possible. I probably won’t be asked again now so I hope you find this post helpful…

Until next time,

Sue

16 thoughts on “testing Eden by Tilly & the Buttons

  1. I enjoyed this post on testing, very much. I do a bit of testing as well and have also found it to be a rewarding experience. And frustrating at times, too. Your post reflects your “test” very well and remaining positive while pointing out how you, as an experienced sewist, would correct drafting issues is, I think, the right thing to do. I’m referring to the sleeve hem. Someone just beginning their sewing journey would be frustrated with the fit, and that would be so discouraging.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, yes, I would have felt dishonest not to bring to people’s attention what I consider to be an important point. The idea is to be helpful not criticising, the materials for this project will cost quite a lot of money and the maker deserves to get a good result. Only my opinion though 🤷‍♀️

      Liked by 1 person

  2. If you are not asked to test out a pattern again, Sue, it’s the pattern makers who will be the losers. Your experience is invaluable, as in your care and attention to detail in the sewing process. For shame if they don’t improve their instructions to include your tips as that makes both the end product and the maker better. Your jacket is lovely. I’ve never sewn a TATB pattern but this one has possibilities.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I really love your version! It’s clean and smart yet woolly and warm – perfect! Obviously you’ve gotten a lot of wear out of it even if it’s a test garment. Isn’t the point of testing so that they can make improvements using their feedback?

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Gorgeous coat – I love the wool fabric you chose and it looks great with the pink. The sleeves hem drafting is a sticking point with me…I once had a convo with an etsy pattern seller over a similar issue and they just couldn’t see what the issue was! Needless to say I didn’t try any of their other patterns!
    I think some pattern sellers use testers to promote their pattern as much as checking for issues. TATB have always been good at promotion and its a makes sense to reach out to a new audience/demographic.
    It’s a pity that your suggestions weren’t incorporated in the final draft – it’s details like altering the sleeve hem pattern, that would prevent frustrations for less experienced stitchers.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi! This was a very helpful post, thank you!

    I’m stuck at the point where I have attached the hem facings to the lining. I’ve trimmed the seam allowances, and pressed them towards the facing and understitched them together.

    But now, the instructions say to ‘fold the lining to bring the pleat notches together at the centre front edges, wrong sides together, and fold over the top of the hem facing’. I have no idea what this means and am completely stuck, can you explain this part, perhaps?

    Thank you so much!

    Abi

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    1. I’ll try! Basically it means that the lining should droop down overhanging the top of the facing into a pleat which should be roughly parallel to the hem but a bit above it. If you have a RTW lined coat or jacket take a look, the lining inside won’t be as long as the coat itself but should be droop down a bit. This is to allow for ease of movement in the garment, if the lining is too tight eventually it will shred and tear at the seams. I hope that helps.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you so much, Susan! Thanks to this super helpful explanation I figured it out.

        I actually got as far as the hood now.. and have attached the lining and turned it the right way out ready to attach to the coat. But unfortunately something has gone wrong and the curved sides of the hood (just above where the snaps will go to fasten it at the chin, where the hood facing was attached) are all bunched up and tight… perhaps you can’t help me figure out where I went wrong there (I did everything the instructions said!) but if you have any thoughts at all I would be SO grateful! It’d been going so well up to this point…. I have enough fabric so may have to simply try to reconstruct the hood again..hope not though.

        Thanks again, very much 🙂

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      2. Sorry Abigail, I’ve been on holiday and have only just seen this, have you figured it out? It could be that you haven’t trimmed away or snipped the seam allowances sufficiently inside.

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