Well. This was exhausting. I made the Kelly Anorak by Closet Case Patterns, and I’m not happy I did. I do have a wearable piece of clothing, but I’m also angry at the universe and have mixed feelings about the finished product. I’m not in the mood for sugar coating my sewing process, ok?
Before we start, here are my jacket specs for reference:
- I made a straight size 4 based on my measurements.
- I’m 153 cm tall (or there abouts), so based on the pattern being drafted for 5’6″ (167 cm) I shortened fronts and backs by 5 cm and sleeves by 2,5 cm. I did this for the bodice pieces by taking out 2,5 cm at the shortening line and another 2,5 cm above the drawstring casing to keep the dimensions more even, and to keep some room for the pockets.
- I didn’t make changes to the zipper placket or facings, but instead added 5 cm more depth to the hem curve in front and back pieces. This was because stylewise the dipped hem looks nicer to me. I also congratulated myself about avoiding having to re-space the snaps and re-measure for the zipper. Later on you’ll see I got a little ahead of things here.
- Due to the more curved hem I drew facing pieces for it after checking the hem of my rtw jacket. Had to wing it a little with the zipper facings, but nothing major.
- I kept the cuffed sleeves, cut the sleeve lining as is and left attaching cuffs last. Then adjusted the lining to fit the cuffed sleeve.
- I used a fairly light cotton poplin (black) for the shell and super annoying rayon lining (army green). Seriously, you could just cut whatever from that lining and shape it to any piece you like. Back lining in my finished jacket is doing something funny because of this.
- I worked from the lining extension instructions except for the sleeve cuffs.
- I don’t usually use the cutting diagrams to place pattern pieces on fabric, and didn’t do it here either. I haven’t checked those too closely, but read somewhere that there were errors.
- I’ve been sewing since the 80’s but don’t have a professional training, so I won’t be nitpicking things like should the understitching go this or that way. I’ll focus on nitpicking everything else, though.
Errors in pattern pieces and instructions:
- Instructions say 12x 12 mm snaps, but counting from pattern pieces you’ll need either 13 (cuffed sleeves) or 11 (no cuffs).
- Instructions specify 26″ (65 cm) zipper, but this won’t fit to the smaller sizes. The zipper facing in size 4 measures 26 1/8″, so what you need to make room for seam allowances is a 24″ (60 cm) zipper. I’m guessing this is a problem at least in sizes 0-8, but haven’t measured. Update on this one: I discussed this issue further with Heather, compared pattern piece measurements to what she had, and it looks like there could be a problem with scaling. My placket piece was also 2,7 mm too narrow. I have a vague memory of checking that the square on the pattern was in the right ballpark, but since this happened in May I’m not going to claim that I absolutely did it. However, I also took measurements on two other patterns I’ve printed with the exact same settings before and after Kelly (Named Isla Trench and Grainline Linden Sweatshirt, so not just one other pattern company), and both of them were spot on. If the pattern has some kind of locked internal printing settings this would also explain why the jacket looks somehow smallish on many people, and why the armhole/shoulder area feels a little tight. But so far I’m only guessing here, so take this with a grain of salt. (I’m under the impression that CCP pattern files are at least protected so that you can’t for example email them, but didn’t get a confirmation to this when I suggested that it might be related. I’ve once tried to print Sophie at the library, and wasn’t able to email the file to their mobile printing system.)
- Pattern pieces R2, V and W say “cut 1 fabric”, but you also need to cut them from interfacing. (Hood facing piece R2’s text has been fixed lately half way, it used to say “cut 2 lining” in the original lining extension.) You need to look at the interfacing diagram to get these right.
- Optional 3 yards of biastape to finish the hem is excessive for the lined jacket. The instructions have no indication of finishing the neckline with biastape, but it still says “to finish neckline and coat hem” in Additional Supplies.
- There’s no mention of materials for the optional coat hook in the supply list, it just appears in the instructions.
- I got confused about pattern pieces O and O2 (front drawstring casing) which are basically the same thing, mirrored, with different label. Both seemed to come from the original pattern package, since in (most) lining extension pieces it says “Kelly Anorak Lining”, but these are both labelled “Kelly Anorak”. As it turns out, O2 belongs to the lining extension, but I could have just cut O and leave it at that.
- The instructions say to attach the zipper with 1/2″ SA, and this contradicts the tutorial. In tutorial comments Heather has promised to correct the instructions -eight months ago. I bought the pattern in May 2017, and the wrong measurement is still there. It should be 5/8″.
- When you attach the zipper the instructions tell you to switch to zipper foot, and then again to switch to zipper foot in the next step, but you never switch back to any other foot in between.
- I had to relocate the cuff snaps. They were centered on the pattern with the seam allowance included, and similar to placket, just a hair away from the edge. Looking at the sample photos they should be centered on the cuff, not the pattern piece.
- Pocket or pocket facing pieces don’t have snap placement marked. I’m listing this in errors because all other snaps have an X in the pattern piece.
Small things that annoyed me:
- The information about what height the pattern is drafted for is on page 10. The size chart -the place where I looked for this information- is on page 3. I eventually found this from the blog while adjusting the pattern, and only came across the mention later on when I had already cut the fabric.
- The outlines on the pattern pieces are unnecessarily thick, and I had to guess a lot to clip the right notch in places where they overlap into a solid black block.
- Some inconsistencies in language. The instructions sound a little chatty to my ear at times, and as a non-native English speaker I appreciate a clear and simple way of saying things. I had a head scratching moment with shoulder seams being stitched at “scant 5/8″ seam allowance”, and realized only at the next step that it ment stitching just inside the SA. Later in the instruction the same thing is stated this way.
- There are a couple of seams that could be stitched in one go if you just pin and pay attention to what you’re doing. Instead you’re instructed to stitch one layer first, then stitch the second on top.
- Pocket bottom corner is left unfinished inside the pocket.
- I had to extend the right zipper placket by 6 mm, because otherwise snaps would end up hanging right on the edge, and it looks like a mistake in all the photos I’ve seen.
- No cuffs on sleeves with lining, even though this should not be impossible to do.
- The concept of extension package for something as basic as a lining in a jacket.
Big things that annoyed me:
- I spent 23,50€ on a pattern I had to test and correct myself.
- The fact that most blog posts -also by pattern testers- I read before buying say practically nothing but “OMG love this sew much” when there were clear errors in the pattern. The original pattern instructions without the lining have the exact same snap and zipper errors in the supply list.
- Knowing that someone is making money by selling an obviously unfinished product -while not fixing errors that have been publicly pointed out to them.
That said, I like my finished jacket. As others have said, the sleeves are a bit tight, but I still like it. I chose this pattern because I liked the design best out of similar options, and I had a positive experience with Sophie swimsuit last year. The details give the finished jacket a very professional look, and it doesn’t look homemade by any standards. I’m pretty excited about it now that it’s finished, and I can see how easy it would have been to write a glowing review saying that I love my new jacket and wouldn’t change a thing.
The fit is mostly ok, the jacket just feels a little small when I pull it on over my shoulders. Might relate to the sleeves. Below you can also see where the original straight hem would have hit me. I’ve basically kept all of the length, just changed the dimensions and the shape. (It’s good to have your butt covered in this climate.)
The thing is, I’m used to being able to trust the patterns I use, and hadn’t experinced anything like this since buying Colette Anise PDF that had pieces of Beignet skirt in it and a missing sleeve. Sure, sometimes a single notch might be missing, but that’s only human compared to this. To me this looks like the lining extension hasn’t been proofread at all.
I was looking forward to working on a relaxing and more complex lengthy project for a change, but in reality this just made me both sad and angry. Sewing a jacket is always an investment, and I don’t want to worry and go back and forth buying new zippers on the way. (For reference, at that point I had spent about 150€ on very basic supplies, pattern not included.)
I don’t even feel like I’d be exaggerating when I say that this project bugged me from beginning to end. I started cutting the fabrics last Wednesday, had worked for an hour, a friend came over and I was already hissing at the pattern. And when I was attaching the cuffs (the last thing I did on the sewing machine) I thought “at least it can’t get worse anymore”, turned the cuff and saw that the snap mark wasn’t centered at all. On the following Monday I was about to attach the last two snaps, went to get the pocket pieces to mark the placement and saw that there were no marks on them. That’s six days spent on something that annoyed me. See where I’m coming from?
I read a couple of not so favorable blog posts about Kelly Anorak, but then basically went with the gut feeling that most of the reviws had been positive. And while googling I noticed that this pattern has 4,8/5 stars on Pattern Review. And so on.
Trust me, I’m not trying to be the mean girl here. I wish someone had told these things to me before I bought the pattern, but it seemed to be all rainbows and happy unicorns, and then this happened. So this wall of text is merely to say that if you insist on making this jacket, know what you’re getting into. And if you’re considering buying the pattern, it might make more sense to buy something that has been professionally tested by people who get paid to test patterns.*
I’ve at least tried to send my error list to Closet Case Patterns, but got two error notifications (sic!) when hitting “submit”.
*Disclaimer: I don’t have inside knowledge on the testing process, other than that it seems to be done by blogger testers who get the pattern for free. This could be in the list of big annoying things: I don’t like businesses that make people work for “visibility”, and I avoided CCP for a long time because of this. Then I slipped, because I’m only human. I’ve also bought things from IKEA and H&M at times even though I try not to.