Well, this was a wee breath of fresh air. A new-to-me couple of sewing companies (it’s a collaboration), a very indulgent sew (it’s a wee bit of a crazy make) and utterly gorgeous fabric, all combined to make a mad, wonderful, beautiful item that I love to pieces.
This is the Shona Romper by Pipedream Patterns and Workhorse Patterns. Pipedream Patterns is actually the only Scottish pattern making company that I know of (does anyone know any others?) and while their patterns have always been a wee bit dressy for me, the Shona hits all the right spots. I must say that I love the naming: Shona is a popular girl’s name in Scotland, and Beatha (the smaller size range) means ‘life’ (it is used in the Gaelic name for whisky: uisge beatha – water of life) and the pattern also comes in the Saorsa size range. Saorsa is the Gaelic for freedom – what words could be better suited to size categories? And, the Shona has a wonderful size range, from 35″ to 66″ hips. The website showcases the views on all different sizes – body acceptance, hello.
I loved the pattern as soon as I saw it. There’s just something about it. Whether it’s that lovely swooping neckline, the sheer indulgence of this apparently useless item, or the juxtaposition of the short legs and long sleeves: I don’t know, but it’s love. I immediately started searching fabric companies for that perfect one, and found it at Poppy Bear Fabrics, a company that never fails to have beautiful jerseys. I promptly ordered 1.5m of this gorgeous flower print, 0.5m of coordinating ribbing, popped in a couple more bits of jersey for t-shirts for my boyfriend and waited anxiously for the post delivery.
The fabric did not disappoint. It is divine, washed beautifully and really just perfect. It’s single jersey, 95% cotton with 5% lycra, and the colours absolutely pop. Now it was time to print and assemble the pattern, and make the necessary adjustments.
My sizing fell into quite a few different sizes, basically as follows: bust – medium; waist – large; hips – small and I carefully graded between each of these changes. I decided to make the arms medium in size, adding two inches in length, and then came the issue of adding length to the body. I am 5’11” tall, and so knew that the body length would need to be increased, the only problem was how much? Well, happily, PP & WHP have the answer to this. As part of their instructions they give details as to how to measure your torso, and how to add length too. I added four inches overall, two in the front and two in the back, and it worked perfectly.
Well, the pattern itself worked perfectly, but somehow in my impatience to get it all cut out, I misjudged and ended up with not enough to get my second arm out of. I ended up having to piece a bit in, which is really only noticeable if you look (forgot to get photos, sorry). I would have been fine with the 1.5 metres, even though I’d lengthened my pieces rather drastically, if I’d laid everything out beforehand to check the layout as I normally do, but this time I was too hasty. Let this be a lesson: take care in the cutting out, pals.
I must say that overall this pattern is one of the best I have ever worked with. Everything, from taping together the pattern pages, to the instructions, to the way the information was portrayed, was just absolutely perfect. Even tricky areas such as the placket were made simple with the instructions (even though mine ended up a wee bit wobbly at the bottom). I will look out for more patterns by either company, as I think they are ones to watch.
Anyway, I digress. As I mentioned above there are some tricky parts, but that’s really just the placket. Taking time to get it right is advisable, although you can see that I haven’t quite at the bottom. It’s not noticeable in this print, and indeed even I can’t see it in these photos, but my next version will be improved. The confusion really came about by the suggestion of using a twin needle, and my doing this, and at the last minute realising I didn’t know how to corner with a twin needle?! Any advice gratefully received, but this momentary hesitation caused pulling at the corner that I failed to repair.
These wee niggles are sent to test us, and this hasn’t detracted from my overall appreciation of either the pattern or my finished Shona. One mistake I made was to misread the instruction regarding the neck binding. The instruction reads: “You’re not folding up the inside hem of the ribbing; the previous crease on the fold line is only a seam allowance guide. You’re just catching that seam allowance with the zig-zag/twin needle and that will keep it flat while reducing bulk a second fold would create.” Pretty clear instructions, right? Well, I read that very simple command as fold up the inside hem of the ribbing, literally the opposite of what it said. So I have a slightly bulkier neckline ribbing that intended, but it’s fine. We live and learn, and laugh at our silly mistakes.
My leg binding had to be significantly narrowed, I don’t know what it’ll have ended up as – xxxs, perhaps? Clearly long spindly limbs are my trademark. Also highlighted by my tentacle-like arms as the two inch lengthening of my arms should have been at least three. Again, an adjustment to make for next time.
However, the worst issue was still to come. Believe it or not, applying the poppers was the most difficult part of this make. It led to a (calming) phone call with my sister, who makes baby clothes for a living (and applies a lot of poppers during the course of her working day). She reassured me it probably wasn’t me, and recommended Kam snaps rather than Prym (untagged as I do not recommend). For both the issue I was having (them falling apart) and because she’s found the Prym ones really difficult to separate once attached, which can lead to pulling of the fabric and damage being wrought on your hand made item. When taking off the romper after taking these photos another two of the poppers broke, and I now have Kam ones on order.
That issue apart, which is nothing to do with the pattern or it’s creation, I love my Shona. Utterly adore it. The fabric is just sublime, and the ribbing is too. It was satisfyingly lovely to make, and the same to wear. You will see I have taken some photos with me wearing it underneath clothes (namely my Ness skirt, my culottes, and my Peppermint jumpsuit) as well. I like this as a top enough that I imagine I will be adapting the pattern to make a t-shirt. For, either as nightwear or daywear, there are more Shona’s waiting in the wings. It’s too good a pattern to make just once, and everything (the neckline, the armsyce, the body shape) just seems to be absolutely perfect on me, and so it will, hopefully, on you too.