A Review of The Pona Jacket Pdf Pattern by Helen's Closet.
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I wasn't looking to make a new coat - I'm really happy with my Opium Coat that I made last year - but I was browsing fabric on poundametre and their wool blend fabric was at a real bargain price. I bought a 3 metre bundle for £10 called 'Black Splash' and some Teal Polyester Lining which was only £1 a metre. I thought I might try another Duchess Jacket by Ellie & Mac.
The Duchess Jacket has a fitted bodice and high low skirt - I loved the look of the line drawing - but when I made this jacket/coat a few years ago I was never happy with it. The pockets never hung right and the lining bunched at the side seams. I thought that I would try this pattern again with my new fabric.
However, when I started looking at the pattern again I decided I really didn't like how it was drafted. The back hem line dips quite dramatically from the front (not like the line drawing) and can hang almost like a tail - you can see this on some of the tester photos. I also didn't like the way the lining was added. The lining is cut from the same pattern pieces as the main fabric. Once completed they are sewn together along all the raw edges and 'bagged out'. This makes The Duchess an easy sew without too many pattern pieces but I don't think the finish is that great. I had bunching at my side seams which I assumed meant I'd done something wrong but when you look at the tester photos you can see it there too. I knew I could redraft the shape of the hem but I didn't know how to improve lining construction.
I did some searching on the Internet and found a blog by Helen's Closet - "How to Add a Lining to the Pona Jacket". I really like Helen's patterns - they are always well drafted with excellent instructions. After reading the blog I decided to ditch the Duchess and make a Pona instead!
The Pona Jacket is a modern outer layer that is easy to make and style. An extra-wide facing allows this unlined jacket to drape open in the front, no closures necessary! Pona has an oversized blazer feel, complete with pockets and a statement lapel. Make a modern, cropped Pona in linen for warmer weather or a longer jacket in wool for fall and winter. Pona is a perfect beginner jacket pattern!
Source: Helen's Closet
The Pona Jacket has two Versions: Version A is longer length with long sleeves whilst Version B is shorter with 3/4 sleeves and smaller patch pockets. I chose to make Version A. Recommended fabric is light to medium weight with no stretch. The Pona has quite a large facing at the front so an unlined version still looks neat but I thought I would enjoy the extra challenge of drafting a lining - plus I do think it's easier to put a coat on when the sleeves are lined in a 'slinky' fabric.
The Pona Jacket is drafted for a height of 5'6" but I didn't shorten for my frame (5'4") as it's a straight up-and-down cut and I don't mind a bit of extra length. The pattern is oversized and not designed to close (although you'll see that I decided to add a button) so you choose your size using your high bust measurement and make that straight size. I made a size 14.
There are shorten/lengthen lines on the sleeve pattern pieces but no indication what the finished length will be. I know sleeves are always too long for me and that I'd have to make this adjustment correctly because I wouldn't be able to adjust it easily once constructed with lining. I found a very useful article on Threads Magazine - "How to Measure Drop Shoulder Length".
Here are the measurements I used:
My neckline to my wrist = 25.5"
Shoulder pattern piece (minus seam allowance) = 9.25"
Sleeve pattern piece (minus seam allowance) = 18"
Total length of pattern pieces (9.25" + 18") = 27.25"
Difference between lengths (27.25" - 25.5") = 1.75"
Therefore, I shortened the sleeve pattern pieces by 1.75" at the given line. I was nervous if I'd worked this out correctly but I'm really happy with the finished length.
The instructions on how to draft the lining pieces are given in Helen's Blog "How to Add a Lining to the Pona Jacket". There are clear diagrams to help and the instructions are easy to follow.
The Pona Jacket is described as suitable for an Advanced Beginner and construction is fairly straightforward and would be relatively quick if you were doing the original unlined version. It does make it a little confusing if you are working between two sets of instructions like I was but I just had to take my time and re-read through things to make sure nothing was missed. In the main instructions the pockets are added near the end of construction but I added them first, after staystitching the necklines, because I didn't want to sew through the lining fabric like Helen does in her blog.
Other minor changes I made included omitting the top stitching around the hem and sleeves - I did sew it but removed it as I didn't like how it looked. I also added a button about 13" up from the hem because it's windy here in Northumberland!!
The Wool Blend fabric from poundametre was really lovely to work with - I washed it on the wool setting in the washing machine before starting this project and it washed really nicely with no shrinkage - it's nice to know that I have a coat that's safe to wash! It does fray though so I serged a lot of the raw edges even though they'd be hidden by the lining. The lining fabric was a bit disappointing - it had a lot of static when I was handling it. It isn't as bad now it's sewn in but I wish I'd spent a bit more money on a better quality fabric.
According to The Pona Jacket instructions I'd need 3 metres of fabric but I only used 2 so I made a pair of Winslow Culottes (also by Helen's Closet) with my remaining fabric - also using the left over lining to make the pockets! I made a pair in the summer (see my REVIEW here) and just like the Pona Jacket, the instructions are excellent and easy to follow. I like a pair of 'Winter' shorts worn with opaque tights and chunky boots - much more practical than a skirt.
The Pona Jacket is a great pattern if you are making your first coat. There isn't a lot of intimidating pattern pieces and the instructions with diagrams are excellent. A lightweight version in a linen-type fabric would be a perfect in the warmer seasons too.