|Pattern Description: |
Inspired by Balenciaga’s famous Paletot of the 1950’s, this design has a unique hidden ribbon which invisibly holds the pleats from the neck to the wrist. The pattern is half scale but can be enlarged to full scale and it is one size. The Paletot is best done in a drape-able fabric like silk or wool crepe (photo sample) or a rayon blend. Lining is optional. Appropriate for intermediate or advanced skills.
The Paletot was draped and developed for the MySize Barbie doll, the 36" articulated doll which we convert to a half scale dress form with a form cover.
Pattern Sizing: Medium only
Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? mostly!
Were the instructions easy to follow? Not much in the way of instructions in CPD patterns. As they say on their website, they are "educational" patterns, which have some particular special technique to play with, and are designed for advanced sewists who already know what they are doing. So the pattern says things like, decide how you are going to finish your seams before you start. So you'd better know how to finish seams if you are going to try to make this pattern! There was an error on the pattern as well--it said to cut one of the body, but it pretty quickly became clear that it was only half the jacket, so I contacted them, and Sandra wrote me back and apologized, initially they'd laid it out on the fold, then changed their minds (clearly, you'd need fabric the size of a king-sized sheet for that to work), and didn't change the printing on the pattern.
It's a half sized pattern, so you need to blow it up to full size. I took it up to my copy shop which refused to copy it because of the copyright statement. I got an email from CPD that said I had permission to blow it up, but then the shop said it had to be on letterhead, so if you decide to buy this pattern and have it done for you, ask them to include the letter. In the end, I used the large sized printer they had and did it myself with the staff member walking me through the process, which I guess they decided was ok because if it was illegal it was on me.
What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I totally adore the sleeves.
Fabric Used: Olive wool crepe, purchased at the Exquisite Fabrics moving sale.
Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: Since I'm small, I only went up to 180% (or 170%, I don't remember which, I went back and forth).
I made a half-muslin of the full sized one, didn't bother with the half-size. I then lengthened the arm about two inches.
Note: do not even try to make this pattern without a dress form.
The pleats are formed by running a ribbon up inside the sleeve, and sewing it to the underside of the top of the sleeves. There is a template for marking the ribbon, and you match the sewing points on the ribbon to the further apart marks on the sleeves, creating the gathers. I used the marks on the pattern for the sleeve but the shoulder width was just huge so I ignored them, and draped the shoulders on my dress form and sewed the ribbon on to hold the pleats.
Given the way it goes together, I constructed this thing completely backwards: finished the seams with china silk bias, sewed the sleeves in flat, sewed two halves of the jacket together at center back, sewed the ribbon to make the pleats, then sewed the side seams and seam sleave all at once.
Then you take the jacket, stick it on your dress form and pin the pleats in place to the dress form, steam it, weight the pleats with clothespins (I am not making this up) and let it sit for two weeks. Yeah--I did say you needed a dress form for this baby....
The crepe I used was a little spongy, so while the sleeves are spectacular, the pleats front and back are not as crisp as they could be--I knew this would be a problem but I didn't have enough of the heavier drapey-er wool I had, so I'm ok with it, and may go back later to see if I can convince them to sit better. The way the grain falls in the front, it really does need some serious persuading to get the cloth to lie the way you want--which they do warn you about in the pattern directions, such as they are.
CPD has photos of workshops they've done where they've taught this jacket and I found them very helpful as I was building it. And they were really helpful when I emailed them questions, responding right away with good advice.
Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? I might try again with a different fabric, I just love the sleeves. The original, which you can see on the web if you search "balenciaga Paletot" is in a cream colored wool, and I think it would be spectacular in a lighter color.
It was, at the same time, both easier and fussier than I expected. The ribbon business is a lot of hand sewing, which I don't mind, but it was easy. The getting the front and back pleats was a bear.
There was recently a discussion on one of the boards about punching above your weight, and sewing patterns that are rated more advanced than your sewing skills--I'm really an advanced beginner and this is a difficult pattern, but it was a real learning experience and I love the jacket.
Conclusion: I saw that there are a couple of other reviews for CPD's tops on PR now, and I can only encourage everyone to take a look and give their patterns a try if you want to check out something that goes together very differently from a typical pattern.