Pattern Review: Stay Cozy Jacket

Cutting the jacket on sweatshirt fabric

When I first saw Carolena’s Elevation Jacket, I immediately went “WANT”. Of course, having limited funds, and being a non-standard size on the other side of the Atlantic didn’t help. However, I did have a few metres of black cotton sweatshirt fabric in my stash. So off I went to find something that would work for me. And as per usual, I ended with something that was nothing like the original inspiration.

I found Ellie and Mac’s Stay Cozy Jacket pattern and saw the potential straight away. No, I wasn’t too inspired by the photos on the website, I have to say, until I saw the monochrome versions. It had an asymmetric hemline I liked, and the hood I wanted. The pattern was inexpensive, printing the pdf and assembling it was a bit annoying but not terrible. Afterwards, I traced it while adding a bit of an extra shaping: slightly bigger armscythes, stronger waist, bigger skirt. The instructions that came with the pattern were incredibly detailed and easy to follow, long but worth reading in full before starting. The method of assembly was unusual for me: shoulder seams, then pockets, then sleeves with open sides, then sides, was a bit weird to me to begin with. But let me say this: it might take a bit to understand how it goes, but once you figure out the method, you’ll start using it everywhere because it makes setting sleeves so much easier!

Stay Cozy jacket in teal crushed velvet

What I liked the most about this pattern was the potential for customisation. The most obvious customisation you can make is the fabric. I made the first one in black sweatshirt fabric. It saw me through most of that first winter and is still heavily used today. The double layer of thick warm fabric for the hood and each of the front pieces means I have four layers of sweatshirt over my chest. If yours, like mine, reacts badly to the cold, you would appreciate this extra layering. I made a second one in light crushed velvet fabric in velour, with added pieces along the side seams to create an irregular hem. For that one, I lined the hood and front pieces with cottom & lycra jersey, leftover from some stretch pantaloons I made. It’s not something to wear if you want to go unnoticed, but I love it, and it’s fun for mid-season. I made a third one in cotton jersey, no lining, to take on summer holidays. It was brilliant as a light jacket or coverup. I added an internal pocket on the front pieces for extra safety for my wallet and phone on public transport, and the hood saved me having to drag along a hat.

Wide tie belt in teal brocade

You can also customise it by altering the loose shape, like I did. The pieces are straightfowards enough that it is easy to see where you can alter the shape for a tailored look. You can also add extra pieces for a hankie type hem. A third option would be to add items like trims or details along hood or sleeves. I’ve used the hood piece with a shrug pattern and added cotton twill and D-rings to get a more industrial look.The simplicity of the pattern makes it very easy to alter to your needs, and take it from post-apocalyptic couture to fairy summer festival with just a couple of changes and different fabric.

Finally, you can also change the styling. I have pretty much ignored the tie it comes with it and have opted for wide wrap around belts. I have a bought one in faux leather, and have made one in teal brocade. I’m pretty sure I’ll make at least a couple more with those small cuts of brocade I’ve got in my stash, to go with different “vibes”.

Stay Cozy Jacket in black cotton and lycra sweatshirt fabric

I said at the beginning I made this pattern because I had been inspired by the Elevation Jacket. So, what’s my overall evaluation? Is it worth getting this pattern or getting an Elevation? The answer, as usual, is, “it depends”. They are similar enough but very different. Is it “cheaper” than getting an Elevation Jacket? Not really, once you add up the fabric cost and the time they take to put together. There’s a reason Carolena is a professional and we aren’t. I’ve finished three of these so far, with different options, took about two afternoons to do each time. Good thing I make clothing to relax and not for sale! Is it “nicer”? That will be entirely up to you. These have a simpler cut but a statement hood. Elevation Jackets are much more complex with the waterfall front and more tailored back. Can it “replace” the Elevation Jacket? Probably, if what you’re after is light or medium jacket that can go from casual to somewhat dressy, or if, like me, you need a hood. But that’s not the point, is it? We don’t sew to replace anything. We sew because we like the process and enjoy making things that are unique to us. So if what you want is the capability to customise everything in your casual jacket to your own design, then maybe this *is* the way for you. I can heartily recommend the pattern and the method outlined in the instructions. I can also heartily recommend exploring how you can make it more interesting for you. The pattern is a solid foundation that will allow you to do that.

Would you make this? How would you modify it? Let me know in the comments!

Inspiration: Dahlia Tribal Troupe

Lovely piece from Dahlia Tribal Troupe in Mallorca, dancing with Tambourine. They’re using FCBD®Style, with the Möön Tambourine Dialect developed by Kalindy, one of the troupe members. If you like what you see, she’s offering pre-recorded classes teaching it. Head over to her Facebook page or Instagram.

They are dancing to Terra by Tanxugueiras. Enjoy!

Making of: zill pouches

Pouch made with teal assuit

These were afternoon projects (one for each I made) that ended taking a life of its own, and as usual generated a few variations along the way. I wanted a small pouch to hung on my belt and maybe keep a card or a small amount of cash with me. I noticed straight away that while the D-rings I’d sown on my belts were useful, they might make the zill bag bounce around a bit too much while dancing, so I decided on a version that would be more securely attached, with an elastic or a strap going all the way around the belt.

I realised early enough that it would need a firm backing, so I digged out some bookbinding card I had in my craft supplies. I also wanted the bags to be able to withstand the weight of the zills, so decided on a double layer of strength fabric.

So, having decided on overall construction details, I got to work. I made these in a few in different shapes and sizes, for zills, for my then big phone, and for carrying cards/cash. They were nice and relaxing to make, great for using leftover pieces of decorative fabrics, and at least two were made entirely by hand. I’d like to invite you to use mostly what you have around, leftover pieces of other projects that are too small for clothing, but maybe not small enough to throw away/recycle.

What you’ll need:

  • paper for the pattern, or download my pattern (A4 version)
  • some strength fabric (calico, non stretch denim, canvas)
  • some fashion fabric, I prefer brocade or even velvet; for the assuit one at the top I used velvet underneath the assuit
  • strong rigid cardboard for the back support; you could also use some small pieces of thin wood, or other rigid and thin material you have access to and can cut safely.
  • snap fasteners; you can use ribbons or ties but I prefer the snaps
  • elastic to slide through the belt; you can use a bought clip or even ribbon/ties to tie to the belt.
  • bias tape to finish it neatly (optional).
  • good strong sharp needle, upholstery thread, pins or ideally fabric clips
Zill Pouch: getting the pattern

Pattern: First, step was to obtain a pattern. This was simple: I used the zills, traced around one of them to get the general idea of how big it needed to be, then left a good amount of ease around it (about 1.5cm each side) . I cut a LONG piece of paper with this width, long enough to wrap around to create the lid, and then some more to allow adjustments. I placed the four zills onto the strip of paper, and marked where I wanted the lid to end. Rounded the corners, and that was my base. For the actual pouch, I did somewhat similar: marked the shape on paper, added enough ease and extra height, cut a bigger piece, and folded it over the pile of zills. Marked where the sides met the base, and where the pouch should end to keep the zills well contained. Cut a straight line across the top, and rounded the bottom after I folded the corners. Clips are brilliant for this step.

Zill Pouch Pieces

Pieces: These are the resulting pieces: two pieces for the back, two pieces for the pouch, cut in calico; I could have used thicker canvas and have just one piece, but I was using scraps of fabric I had lying around. The cardboard is smaller than the back, to leave space for sewing, but should be around the same height as the belt you want to use it with. This is to prevent the elastic from scrunching the belt at that point.

Calico pouch assembled

Assembling the pieces for a test, using clips, they looked a bit like you see on the right. I used the zills again to make sure they still fitted. You can also see the two small darts I used on each bottom corner to help build the height. After verifying that the intended pieces would fit, I cut the same pieces on fashion fabric, but this time leaving at least 1cm extra for folding in as needed. I then overlocked every single edge since I was working with brocade that frays a *lot*.

Assembling the back piece: since the elastic was going to go through all of these, I needed to create effectively a giant buttonhole to push it through. It was a great way to learn to use the buttonhole function on my sewing machine, although at least one of the pouches I made, I did the work by hand. If you look in the leftmost photo, the cardboard has holes to put the elastic through.

Alternatively: you can cut and finish the edges of the buttonholes. Once you have the cardboard and fabric sandwich fully assembled, use a bit of bias tape around the inside edge of the buttonholes for a neater finishing, just don’t try to sew through the cardboard!

After making the buttonholes on every pieces of fabric, I sandwiched the cardboard between the two pieces of calico, lining up the openings, and glued the cardboard in place to both pieces of fabric. When the glue dried, I added the fashion fabric, wrong side touching the calico, folded the seam allowance over and sewed it all together. Then I cut the elastic measuring it with the belt, and sewed the elastic ends. I did not sew the elastic to the calico as I want to be able to remove the elastic and change it easily if/when it stretches. I then cut a layer of lining and sewed over the calico, I used a small piece of black cotton jersey I had leftover from making some stretch pantaloons (more on that soon!) Set aside, we won’t be adding the snap fastener yet.

Assembling the back piece 1
Assembling the back piece part 2, measuring the elastic
Assembling the back piece for the zill pouch, part 3, glue and sew

Assembling the front of the pouch: I gathered the two layers of calico, and the fashion fabric. With the fashion fabric’s wrong side touching the calico, I folded over the seam allowance, used the clips, and sewed them all in place together. Then I cut a layer of lining and set aside. I marked the centre line of the pouch piece, and somewhere near the top, added the bottom part of the snap fastener (see below). After the snap fastener was attached securely, I sewed the lining in place.

Assembling the front pouch
Assembling the front pouch 2: snap fastener in place, and lining attached
Assembling the front pouch 3: lining
Assembling the front pouch alternative: indvidually sewn corners

Alternatively: sew and trim the darts for the corners in place for each layer of fabric. Assemble the whole (minus the lining) before adding the snap fastener. Once you have the snap fastener in place, sew the lining. Which method you use for this will depend a lot on how thick your fabric layers are individually and together. The thicker the layers, the more I would recommend going for this second option, as it will make the final assembly easier. Check out the image on the right to view a corner that was individually sewn and trimmed.

Zill pouch, completed

Final assembly: I assembled the two pieces as I did with the original, using clips. I then filled the pouch with the zills; you can use whatever content you want to use the pouch for. Folded over the lid, and marked where the snap fastener went, then I installed the fastener according to instructions.

Now that both pieces were lined and the snap fasteners in place, it was time to sew the front and back pieces together like I assembled them on the first steps. I used upholstery thread. For the ones I sewed by hand, I used backstich and then a second time around using overcast stitch. Remember these stitches will carry the strain of holding both pieces together as you dance and move around, plus the weight of whatever you put in the pouch, so they need to be strong.

Once the pieces were attached, I added bias tape along the edges, and sewed using invisible stitch. This added a nice finish to the piece. If you do this step, remember the bias tape should not be the main carrier of the weight. Depending on the thickness of your chosen materials and the weight of what you’ll carry, you could totally skip the previous assembly step and just sew everything together. You could also skip this altogether and go with the existing seams. But I prefer the finish I got doing this. I feel it looks cleaner and tidier, and also allows for exchange if it starts wearing out, without affecting the main fabric underneath.

Download the pdf pattern files here (A4 version).
Do you want to try making this? Let me know in the comments!

Inspiration: Illan Rivière – Rytmiconomy

This is an amazing performance. One of my all time favourites, not just because the movement is so clean and at different points fluid or wonderfully percussive. But because the musicality on display is just out of this world. Enjoy!

Not a Choli Dress

While I was doing General Skills, I got a second hand Choli Dress from a friend, and Carolena herself helped me into it for the first time. I like it, and I’ve used it often, but it’s very obviously patterned for a straight or hourglass figure. The cut is great for moving in, but with my very wide hips and a narrow ribcage, the shape has room for improvement if I’m going just on the looks. So after I did my own choli pattern back in 2020, I started thinking of expanding it into my own take on the choli dress.

I wasn’t dancing for nearly a year so it took a while for my brain to filter what I wanted. The construction of the choli dress I have is already complex with the inner bra and long ties, no point in reinventing the wheel and recreating it. I think the asking price is fair, and if I’m after another I would probably buy directly from Mama C herself. So I wanted to try a reimagining, not a remake.

What I knew I wanted:

  • a longer, A-line body to accommodate my wider hips in a more flattering manner
  • an underbust/waistline again, to help with the shaping
  • no inner bra: I know one of the big selling points of the original choli dress is the inner bra, but while ingenious, the support is not enough for my comfort; I might as well get rid of it
  • allowance to cover a standard supportive bra
  • a hankie or waterfall type of hem, to do double duty and remove the need of a shawl

I started with the original pattern, only to find it was now too big as I’d lost some body mass since drafting it. I decided to go with an adjustment version of my original pattern, I went with a thicker under bust band that would still extend on the back to be the main ties. I added another tie identical to the underbust tie. This would face the under bust tie as a kind of “lining”, reinforcing, and of course proper finishing on the visible are. All my cholis have a double-layered tie, so I know it adds stability; I normally just use a wide band and fold it. But as I was adding the bottom pieces, this time it was split. I finally took my measurements and drafted the “apron” to go sandwiched in between these two.

It’s not perfect, but it does the job. When doing this again I would probably refine the apron shape into something a bit more flowy, and probably use cotton jersey with some more lycra content to help with mobility.

So, how can you do one for yourself if you want to give it a try? I cannot share my own pattern as it would probably not fit you. I would suggest you start with a fitted tshirt pattern or tunic in the general lines you want the finished garment to have. Split the pattern under your bust line and add a dart under the middle bust or to help shape the bust line if needed. For the back, at the same point as the front piece, open up either as a V line or parallel lines. Add two long thin pieces as ties.

I know the instructions are rather vague but how you make these will depend a lot on what pattern you are using to start with. But it should be easy to figure out once you have the pieces laid out in front of you. If it helps, take a look at the rough outline below to help you figure it out. This is not made to scale, of course, but if you start with a pattern that fits you it should be relatively easy to modify as needed.

Another option of course is to start with Carolena’s own Choli pattern, and just add big rectangles or trapeziums at the bottom. I have said in the past that I am not a fan of the pattern, but if it works for you and you know it fits, there’s no reason to not use it.

Is this something you would want to try making for yourself? Let me know in the comments!

Previous Older Entries

%d bloggers like this: