Shout out to New Zealand-based label RUBY for selling the patterns for their Liam collection. I really struggle to find on-trend pattern designs. Indie pattern brands tend to go for boxy shapes, while everything else can feel a bit frumpy. So it was very cool to see such a stylish brand making their collection available in paper pattern format.
I must admit, though, I was a little nervous to jump in.
I usually check out how patterns have worked for other sewists on Instagram before purchasing. Normally you see a theme – the neck line is too low/high, or the instructions are almost impossible to follow. It gives me a good indication as to whether it’s worth buying and what alterations I’ll need to make. With the Liam collection being new and having a limited (NZ) market, I couldn’t find a single example of someone making the pattern that had caught my eye: the Liz midi dress and blouse.
Another reason I was nervous was the price: $50. Usually I get a PDF pattern online for around $12-$15. Having said that, I do then get it printed onto A0 paper, at $7 per page, which adds on another $14-28, depending on the total pattern size. I reasoned that as this pattern contains three designs (although I could only see myself making two of them) it was actually not bad value.
I bought the paper pattern in store, and I think this is the first time I’ve ever done that! It was actually pretty exciting to have the pattern straight away, as usually I have to send it off to the printers and wait a while. A note on the patterns from the brand:
All fibre used to make the pattern paper, and the card for the envelopes they come in, is waste from (or the by-product of) sawn timber production from radiata pine forests in the north island of New Zealand. the finished product is FSC certified and 100% recyclable.Emily Miller-Sharma, Liam designer
It also gave me a little thrill to get five ‘Liam’ labels with the pattern, although my husband does find it a little strange for me to be walking round in clothes with his name inside.
The pattern and instructions
Sizing: I used the measurements given and made up a straight size 8. It feels true to size. The wrap version gives you lots of wriggle room on sizing. As a bonus, the design is reversible, so you can wear the wrap at the back or front.
Instructions: easy to follow for an intermediate sewist. It felt a bit strange to read the wrap section as the ‘back’ and the plain section as the ‘front’, especially as the front of the pattern envelope seems to suggest the wrap is the front. But on their website the model wears the wrap at the back (see photo below), so once I’d got my head around that it was all good. No fastenings means no worrying about buttons or zips, etc. – phew.
Time: I didn’t time myself, but I’d say it took around 2/3 of a day. The longest part is all the pressing and hemming of the long wrap waist ties. Press play on an audiobook and strap in.
Adjustments: As we’re in summer here in NZ I wanted a shorter sleeve, so I lopped a few inches off the sleeves. I also shortened the body from more of a tunic length to a t-shirt length. Just personal preference, neither was needed.
Customisation: Once I’d made the wrap version I decided to make a plain tee version. Given the top is reversible I figured I could just use two ‘fronts’ and it would work out. It did! I will do a full bust adjustment next time, as my arm movement is slightly restricted, but that’s just my body. This was a super quick one. Cutting to final press took around 3 and 1/2 hours. (Including a lot of unpicking once I realised I’d sewn the hem in 2.5 instead of 3.5 length stitch!)
Use a reversible fabric, as the wrap ties show both sides (it’s not a fully self-enclosed one like many belt ties I’ve made recently). Otherwise I’d recommend making up a couple of extra waist tie pattern pieces and making it double-sided. (Hope that all makes sense, I’m not 100% sure of the right terminology!).
Careful if using a directional print. If you look carefully you’ll see in the photo below that the pattern suddenly changes direction as the main body turns into the wrap tie. I don’t mind, but if you had a more directional pattern it would probably look strange.
Above: (left) with the wrap at the front, (right) a version without the wrap ties, using two ‘fronts’, creating a bateau neckline.
Overall I love this pattern and will be making it again and again, for sure. Now I know the fit is right I’m looking forward to making the midi dress. I’m also hoping Santa will think about giving me the ‘pack o’ sleeves’ – five different sleeve types that can be mixed and matched with a few different Liam patterns. Awesome work to the Ruby/Liam crew for selling this collection as patterns – I just hope more brands start doing the same.