Park Bench Pattern Workshop


About two weeks ago, my local ASG Chapter had Mary Lou Rankin of Park Bench Patterns come for a workshop.  We had a whole day with her expertise, and she would help fit and adjust any of her patterns to us.  All we had to do was come to class prepared to sew, with the pattern already cut out.

17-WilliamsburgI chose the Williamsburg, mainly because it was alreayd in my pattern stash, and had aged a suitable amount of time.  Several years, at least!

Park Bench Patterns operate a little differently than most.  They are one size:  Your Size.  Mary Lou’s whole premise is that as women age, we get hung up on sizes, specifically size numbers, and this shouldn’t be the case.  She feels that women with real bodies shouldn’t be subjugated to muu-muus and saggy sacks; they should have stylish, comfortable garments that help them feel beautiful.  Enter Park Bench Patterns.

Included with each pattern is a permission slip, which in essence says “Break the Rules“, and we did.  Almost all the patterns are adjusted by taking in, or letting out at the side.  It’s up to us to decide how much ease we want.  Almost All.  Yup, this is the one pattern that isn’t adjusted at the side, so of course, it was the one I picked!

Williamsburg is adjusted by cutting down, or adding to the front and back plastron (bib, if you’d like a simpler phrase).  Similarly there are vents at the lower edge, where it joins the sides, that can be made deeper or shallower, to allow more sitting and walking room.


My Williamsburg is made from a combination tencel/linen (the black) and a rayon batik for the plastron.  I decreased the width of the batik by 1/2 inch front and back, for a total of 2 inches less ease (1/2 inch each side).

The sewing couldn’t have been simpler.  The sleeves / sides are cut on the bias, so there’s enough swing to sway about, and no heavy finishing needed on the seams, since bias doesn’t ravel.  I opted to play with the solid / pattern idea, and used the batik to face the linen, and vice versa on the batik.  You can see a bit of that showing through on the sleeve.

I shortened the length of the back plastron by 1/2 inch, at Mary Lou’s suggestion.  There was a bit of a duck tail going on, the result of the linen facing being slightly stiffer than the batik, causing it to kick out.  This is also one of those things that only another sewist would notice.

I hope to finish the jacket with some antique (or antique looking) black glass buttons.  Just as soon as I find them.  Ebay has not been cooperating!

Prince Charming gave the jacket a thumbs up, too!  I like the way it looks, and hope to make another one out of slightly softer fabric.


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