Introducing the October featured brands

Autumn sewing planning is well underway and I’m really excited for this new season. I’ve written a post here all about my me-made wardrobe planning for autumn and a personal challenge is to try and face my fear of knits and coats; if I can get to Christmas having made at least one jersey garment or a coat, I’ll be happy!

Luckily this month’s Modista brands have got plenty of inspiration for autumnal makes. I’m delighted that Homer and Howells and Good Fabric are this month’s featured brands in the Modista newsletter and will be giving an EXCLUSIVE discount to Modista subscribers. If you haven’t signed up yet you can do so here; it’s free and every month you’ll get a lovely spool of sewing news, ideas and inspiration from the sewing world as well as exclusive discounts from some of our favourite indie sewing brands.

I’m especially excited about this month’s businesses as they are both exemplary at what they do and are getting a lot of well deserved recognition right now! In this post I introduce the two brands and then have done some dreamy pattern/fabric matches at the bottom…..

Good Fabric

Launched earlier this year; Good Fabric are exactly what it says on the tin; beautiful quality fabrics that don’t cost the earth (literally). Polina has worked in fashion production for a long time and was inspired to start Good Fabric during lockdown after starting making her own clothes in January (I know, I can’t believe it either!)

Polina’s fabric collection is, firstly, stunning. Unsurprisingly when you look at her career she has gorgeous taste and has a range of jerseys, viscoses and tencels (and more) in luscious prints and textures.

Beyond this, every fabric Polina stocks is sustainably sourced and produced, carrying standards such as OEKO-TEX, GOTS or ECOVERO. More information can be found on the description of each fabric.

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We have reached a little milestone today of having 600 followers, so i thought it is time i introduce myself properly I am Polina and as you have seen on my page, i have a 3 year old daughter Emily. I have worked in fashion industry as production manager for the last 12 years. I decided to open Good Fabric during lockdown after having been furloughed for 2 months. It has been a massive learning curve, full of stresful but mostly exciting moments. The support from sewing community has been incredible so i cant thank you all enough. I have recently done an interview with Ruby @raccoontail , head over to her blog to learn more about my reasons and motivations for starting this business I am also very excited to share with you that next week we will be stocking this Florence pattern by @merchantandmills This is hands down my favourite pattern, i already made 2 of these tops. I have lengthened the pattern by 4cm and no other changes. I would love to know if anyone has embraced the lockdown, furlough, redundancy and made a career change? This is so exciting, but at the same time terrifying, so if anyone is in similar situation or thinking about their next move, do reach out. The advise and guidance from this community is so amazing, so thank you all xx #good_fabric_store #meetmilk #merchantandmills #mmflorence #ecovero #sustainablefabric #sustainablesewing #slowsewing #sewing #handmadewardrobe #memade #memadeeveryday #indiepatterns #indiesewing #sewingpatterns #modernsewist #millennialsewing #isewmyownclothes

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Homer & Howells

As well as lovely fabrics to choose from this month you can shop with a discount at Homer and Howells, one of my favourite independent pattern brands right now. Nicola and Susan have extensive experience in the fashion industry (as a garment technologist and creative pattern cutter respectively) and have teamed up after a career working for brands such as Topshop and Christopher Kane to make their own staple designs. LOVE!

H&H instructions are really detailed and I found them to be very mindful. I felt like a couturier when testing their Innes pattern for them (read more about the experience here) and love the well thought out details on their other patterns too.

This brand also has a commitment to sustainability and ethical production – 5% of their profits are donated to charity.

A match made in dressmaking heaven

It was only after the brands signed up to join the newsletter that I realised Good Fabric actually stocks Homer & Howells patterns! This got me thinking what a good pairing they are so here I have matched some Good Fabric picks with gorgeous H&H patterns…..

Cissy dress & Cotton Poplin

I think the Cissy dress would look so stunning and autumnal in this Kokodoko Organic GOTS poplin from Good Fabric!

Blair Jacket & Viscose Crepe

Firmly on my ‘to sew’ list the Blair jacket works really well in a range of fabrics and I’ve seen it look lovely and drapey in viscose crepe as well as firmer fabrics. Good Fabric is one of the few indie stores where you can get Eglantine et Zoe fabrics in the UK and this viscose crepe is a winner!

Jenny Skirt & Denim

Pitched as the ‘not so basic basic’ the Jenny deserves some really fancy denim and Good Fabric have this lusty Meet the Maker denim perfect for an autumnal midi.

Maud trousers and Pinstripe tencel twill

I have been fawning over this tencel twill for AGES at Good Fabric. It’s just such a delicious autumnal colour and I think the comfy Maud trousers would look lovely in it.

Innes and Linen

The Innes was a summer hit but it’s not just for the warmer months – imagine it in this nutmeg Merchant and Mills linen from Good Fabric layered over a cream turtleneck with a nice wool jacket….sign me up.

I hope this post has given you some shopping inspiration! Don’t forget that these two indie sewing brands will be giving exclusive discount codes in the newsletter out Friday 25 September – you can sign up here for free so you don’t miss out!

Me-made autumn capsule plans

Welcome to my wardrobe planning mind! If you follow me on Amsterdam you’ll know I recently moved to Amsterdam where I am soon starting a new job I’m really excited about (YAY!). As is the case worldwide, I’ll be working from home for the forseeable. Of course, I saw this as an opportunity to plan a few me-mades, reflecting on what I want from my WFH clothes and of course do some Amsterdam fabric shopping…and then the My Body Model challenge came along!

The challenge is to pick 9 pieces – 3 tops, 3 bottoms and 3 layers – to create a capsule wardrobe that creates 36 outfits!

When planning the capsule there were some key requirements from the pieces I wanted to bear in mind:

  1. Versatility – in my new job I will be working from home but will eventually return to travelling regularly. As a student recruiter you need an outfit that will take you straight off a train/flight to a meeting or event, then to after work drinks and in a taxi home/back to the airport. Smart-casual clothes that are comfortable (and don’t crease too much!) will be important.
  2. Working within my colour palette – Recently I’ve been working with a ‘soft autumn’ palette as I find the colours really suit me and I feel great in them. In the capsule I’ll be using some more autumnal tones.
  3. A wardrobe that translates to Dutch office life– Of course I researched Dutch workwear and was surprised to read that Dutch business wear is for the most part very casual by UK standards. It’s common to see jeans and t-shirts in the office and there’s an emphasis on high quality basics rather than the smart shirts and suits we’re used to in the UK. This is great for my WFH wardrobe too so I’m looking forward to trying it!

Ok, ok, tell me what you’re making!

Ready? Here’s what I’ve been working on….

Three top layers

  1. Sudley Blouse by Megan Nielsen

The Sudley blouse is a lovely versatile blouse that I think will be ideal for work. This camel/navy animal print georgette is one of my finds in Amsterdam, I really like it and think it will make for a striking Sudley.

2. FibreMood Norma

I’ve made the Norma before and think I have nailed the fit. I’m planning to make it in a broderie anglaise though may end up switching to the fabric I’ve currently got planned for the final top….

The Norma blouse is currently FREE from Fibre Mood as they have a hack competition running until October! So I may have a hack up my sleeve…

3. Friday Pattern Company Sagebrush Top

I’ve loved the look of this for ages and can’t wait to try it. This top is so feminine and pretty and I think it will be really versatile for those days where I might be working from home, popping to the office then out for a drink in the same day. I’m currently planning it in this gingham I found in Amsterdam, though may switch to the broderie anglaise. I’ll also hack the sleeves to be longer for autumn.

Three bottom layers

  1. Ready to Sew Pio Pants

The Pio pants are such a lovely style and the elasticated waist is very WFH friendly! I’m planning them in this light navy tencel from Patterns and Plains, the quality is lovely.

2. Ready to Sew Justine Skirt

Another Ready to Sew pattern, the Justine is a free pattern and has a lovely pocket detail. I have an olive tencel twill from Fabric Godmother in my stash I’ll be using and think the weight is a nice one for autumn.

3. Ready to Sew Jazz – dungarees

Can you sense a theme with my bottom layer choices?? Another RTS pattern, this time my favourite Jazz in the view of dungarees. You might think this strange for a work capsule, but I think layered with one of the tops and made from a brown viscose linen it will be really comfortable and lovely.

Three Outer Layers

1 Friday Pattern Company Ilford Jacket

Another pattern I’ve been looking forward to trying, the Ilford works well in so many fabrics and is a very common style here in the Netherlands. I’ll be making a navy needlecord lined version for which I just need to find the fabric. I love the selection of cords at Felicity Fabrics!

2. Homer & Howells Blair Jacket

The Blair jacket had caught my eye a while ago and I was very lucky to win the Homer & Howells giveaway this month for the pattern of my choice, so I picked the Blair! I’d love to make it in a rust coloured wool blend so will be keeping an eye out at the Amsterdam markets for this.

3. Papercut Patterns Sapporo coat

I’ve had this pattern in my stash for AGES and somehow never gotten around to making it – perhaps I was a bit intimidated, but now is the time! I’m going to treat myself to some wool to make this and line it with a cotton lawn. I’m now really excited to make my first coats!

That’s a wrap!

So that brings us to the end of my 3×3 wardrobe! Whether or not I will stick to this and not be distracted remains to be seen, but I have really enjoyed planning my makes in this way. It’s helped me to focus on what I really want from a me-made work wardrobe in these times and during a time when I haven’t been sewing as much, I’ve loved thinking about it!

However, I also already miss making dresses just thinking about these so have planned 3 dresses alongside these that will complement the palette and style; a Honeycomb Dress in a blush pink dobby, Darling Ranges dress in double gauze or viscoseand a Ready to Sew Jazz in a navy cotton.

If you’re thinking of planning your own capsule, I recommend the following resources;

– The My Body Model free downloadable template and blog, which is so useful! This competition really motivated me to get planning and is open until 23 September.

-The episode on Capsule Wardrobes from Love to Sew Podcast

-This blog post by Classy Yet Trendy sparked some ideas for me in planning

Happy wardrobe planning! I can’t wait to see everyone else’s plans on Instagram/the blogs this month.

‘Sia dress’ by Marsha Style

This blog post contains gifted products – all opinions are honest and my own!

This week I finally finished my Sia dress and couldn’t wait to show it off! This is my first make from our new home in Amsterdam (!) where we moved just over a week ago. In between flat hunting and exploring we took a day to chill in our airbnb so I took the chance to finish off this gorgeous dress.

Felicity Fabrics very kindly offered me choice from their amazing fabric selection to work with and I was really taken with this Lady McElroy ‘Vintage Harvest’ print. I love the detail and the tones of the little flowers on the fabric.

If you haven’t tried Felicity Fabrics yet, I’d really recommend them. Caroline and Fliss put so much thought into their business and their eco-friendly packaging is a dream!

When the fabric arrived it was surprisingly soft and swooshy. It’s smooth to the touch and washed really well, the colours remaining vibrant. The drape is incredible and it’s quite lightweight – I knew it would be perfect for a dress with gathers or pleats and a voluminous sleeve.

I spotted the Sia dress as made by Sharlene at So Sew Dressmaking and fell in love with the pattern at first sight. I really like the waistband and unusual pleats at the bust and waistline as well as the sleeve variations. If you have a look at the hashtag on instagram you can see how versatile this pattern is; it works well in a variety of fabrics from cotton to linen and I can now confirm, crepe! I chose the unlined midi variation with long sleeves.

Taree Marsh, the pattern designer is from Australia and the Sia dress unbelievably was her first pattern! The details on this pattern are really what made this for me. You know that weirdly satisfying feeling when you’re piecing together a pattern and the notches line up really easily? Yep, that. Because of the pleats there’s no fiddly tweaking with easing the pattern pieces together or finding that one edge nudges over the other by about 4 mm no matter what you do. The Sia dress works up really smoothly and although it looks quite complicated, it would be really friendly to intermediate sewists.

My completed Sia dress

I made a toile of the dress in a poly satin and initially had some issues with the fit. The neckline gaped quite heavily and it was far too tight at the waist. To fix this was relatively simple. Taree herself got in touch to recommend her blog post on adjusting the bodice fit and all I had to do was take 1cm out of the bodice front and back pieces, which made a huge difference! Taree explains it much better than me here in a great video. 

To adjust the fit at the waist I graded out slightly. I added 0.5cm to the bottom width of the side seams of the waistband pieces, and graded out from the top of the pattern piece. I also added 0.5cm to the top of the skirt side seams. The dress now fits really well and I think it’s one of the nicest fits I’ve achieved so far – it feels comfortable and I had just eaten a huge burrito before these pictures (it was delicious by the way).

The pattern calls for an invisible zip which I stitched in by hand. It’s time consuming and there was a lot of swearing/accidental stabbing, but still less painless than trying to use my invisible zipper foot which for some reason I can never crack. Adding it by hand was quite mindful and I was able to get right up to the teeth for a really invisible insertion!

Overall I am really pleased with the pattern and fabric pairing used here. The Lady McElroy crepe sewed like a dream and was so lovely to work with, suiting the drapey fit of the pattern really well. It’s the perfect autumnal print and goes with a lot of my existing and planned pieces. I’ve been wearing it with this cream cardigan from M&S for day time and think with a little cami under the dress it would be even better as daywear (the girls were OUT for this photo shoot as you can see).

I’ll definitely make this dress again – I’d like to make a summer version with shorter sleeves in a viscose linen, or try this brilliant hack by Sew Lala who has made some stunning Sias! I’d also try it without the button placket to see how that feels – I do really like the slit up the front of the dress and will be adding buttons to my faux placket, but it didn’t feel essential to the dress.

I hope this post has inspired you to try your own Sia dress! Modista newsletter subscribers can get 15% off Felicity Fabrics using their exclusive discount code in September – if you’ve missed yours, let me know and I’ll ping you the code!

To get you inspired here’s some of my favourite picks from their fabric collection, for the Sia and other autumnal makes too….

Choco cord

I recently bought some of this in the green colourway and am OBSESSED. The quality is beautiful! It would be perfect as a Pippi pinafore or Ilford Jacket.

Floral jersey

How gorgeous is this jersey?? I can really see it as a Simple Sew Lena or the new Tilly and the Buttons Sewing Lotta.

Spice Foil Leaf

This one is just CRYING out to be a Sia dress!

Autumnal picks from this month’s brands!

Is it just me or has this year gone by in the flash of an eye? With lockdown the spring/summer of 2020 felt like they went by so quickly and already we are into planning our autumn makes.!

In this month’s Modista newsletter we have two cracking independent fabric brands offering exclusive discounts to subscribers so I thought now would be a good time to share my top autumnal picks from their online stores. I’ve also shared what pattern I’d use them for as I’m currently planning an autumnal capsule and really enjoying it. Let me know what you think of my picks and don’t forget to enter the giveaway open on my instagram page until midnight BST on Thursday 27 August, where you can win vouchers for both these brands!!

Felicity Fabrics

Felicity Fabrics is a UK based independent fabric and haberdashery supplier, run by a mother and daughter team with a passion for top quality fabrics. Caroline and Fliss have fantastic customer service and their beautiful packaging is one of my favourite finishing touches to their brand. They house a really lovely curated collection of Lady McElroy prints as well as quality viscoses and butter soft cords. Here’s my top picks for your autumn makes:

Fabric: Lady McElroy Dotty About Dots

Perfect for: True Bias Shelby Dress

Fabric: Lady McElroy Vintage Harvest

Perfect for: I was gifted this fabric for a blog post by FF and am currently making a Marsha Style Sia dress. I can genuinely say the quality is beautiful and I already know I’ll get a lot of wear from this dress!

Fabric: Bella Black Cotton

Perfect for: Gilbert Top by Helen’s Closet

Fabric: Newbury Hall cord

Perfect for: Pippi Pinafore by Jennifer Lauren Handmade

Fabric: Waffle Ochre

Perfect for: Megan Nielsen Jarrah Sweater

Selvedge and Bolts

Selvedge and Bolts is run by Dibs in the UK and is synonymous with sumptuous silks, dramatic prints and the most unique names for designs!! Dibs specializes in ex-designer fabrics and her hauls from big brands such as Escada and top Italian names sell like hot cakes. Here’s some of my favourite picks for autumn from her gorgeous collection:

Fabric: Window Panes are Perfect for Mustardy Affairs

Perfect for: BHL Tamzin dress

Fabric: As Abstract as You Can Get

Perfect for: Nina Lee Park Lane Dress

Fabric: Winter Does Not Have To Be Boring

Perfect For: Simple Sew Cocoon Coat

Fabric: I Really Just Want Autumn To Come

Perfect for: Dayo Dress by Sewing Masin

Fabric: My Inner Wild Cat is On the Prowl

Perfect For: Megan Nielsen Sudley Blouse

I hope you found these suggestions inspiring for your autumn wardrobe! Don’t forget that Modista subcribers will receive discount codes for both Felicity Fabrics and Selvedge and Bolts in the Modista Newsletter on Friday 28 August. If you’re reading in September, simply sign up and drop me a DM and I’ll gladly share the code/s.

What have you got planned for autumn makes?

Homer and Howells Innes

Over the last month I’ve made my first foray into the world of pattern testing. When pattern companies are designing a new pattern, they need to ensure the pattern pieces and instructions make up how they planned them to, and are user friendly for the sewing community. Often, indie pattern companies especially will put out a ‘call for pattern testers’ to do just that – in return for the drafted pattern, you make it using your stash and send over the pics and your feedback.

This was something I’ve always been interested in but a bit intimidated by – surely you have to be Super Experienced and Very Good at Sewing, right? Not the case! Designers need to ensure their instructions make sense to all levels of sewists and after a little encouragement from Sharlene at So Sew Dressmaking I decided to go for it when Homer and Howell’s called for pattern testers for their new Innes pattern.

The H&H founders have a wealth of experience in ready to wear fashion including Christopher Kane and Topshop, and have now moved into slow fashion in their business based in Scotland. They love a boxy fit which isn’t usually my style so it was nice to try something new!

The Innes top/dress has a couple of features I really loved: a princess neckline, wider straps to cover your bra, and a lovely deep side split. It also has darts and if like me you’ve struggled with the fit on hyped patterns such as the Ogden, you’ll really like the fit of this.

I made the top version and really appreciated the thought that has clearly gone into the pattern instructions; you can really get a sense of Nic and Susan’s combined fashion experience and the finish is lovely.

As we know I love a pattern with variations and it’s nice that within this pattern there’s not just variations on the style but finish; you can choose between hand sewn or machine sewn straps and bias or facing.

I used an Atelier Brunette viscose for this make and honestly? Kind of wish I hadn’t. The pattern recommends a variety of fabrics including linen, which I would choose for my next one. The viscose was just a little too lightweight and I think a bit of the magic of the pattern is lost on it. However, I still love the shape!

Instead here’s some fabrics I would recommend for making your Innes:

This linen from Dragonfly fabrics is currently fulfilling all my lilac summer fantasies. This would be lovely as a maxi Innes dress and look great over a white t-shirt. Dragonfly are offering free delivery to Modista subscribers this month – if you’d like the code, just let me know!

This MeetMilk check tencel is available at Sew Me Sunshine and again would be lovely in the dress view maybe to knee length. Can you tell I’m having a purple moment?

This Liberty cotton lawn from Guthrie and Ghani would make a lovely Innes top – cotton lawn would be a lovely weight for a summer garment.

Overall I’d really recommend the pattern; its beautifully written and designed, and is a versatile basic that will give you floaty sundresses, classy linen shifts, casual cotton tops or a slinky satin evening top. Definitely head over and check it out!

Bienvenido to the world of Spanish sewing!

Welcome to this month’s stop on the global sewing tour – Spain! One of my favourite countries, Spain in my opinion has it all. Gorgeous landscapes, delicious food, amazing culture and of course the FASHION.

@maria_bernad

Dressmaking in Spain, in my opinion, is perhaps not as mainstream as it is in the UK or France for example. Spain is a very crafty country and artisan crafts play a huge role in not only the culture but tourism as well – when I was a tour guide there, lace makers, jewellers and potteries were regular pitstops for us. There are also regular markets across most towns and cities in Spain – for example the Mercado de Motores in Madrid is a monthly craft market that features antiques as well as arts and crafts and of course El Rastro, one of the largest flea markets in Europe, is full of crafts and handmade items.

However when shopping for fabric and sewing patterns in Spain, you still tend to come across more traditional patterns and upholstery than perhaps the indie patterns and online stores we find in the UK. Crochet, on the other hand, is big business with lots of little yarn stores across the country, especially in Barcelona where yarn bombing is a regular occurence.

With that said, the sewing community in Spain is extremely active and producing some of the most gorgeous patterns and makes out there. A lot of Spanish styles feature classic silhouettes with a twist – maybe a dramatic sleeve or asymmetric hem, with bold colour blocking and the biggest sunglasses you can wear. On the other side of the style spectrum you’ll find a lot of ‘cute’ designs – ditsy florals, neon colours and fun prints.

In this blog post I’ve tried to summarise an introduction to the world of sewing in Spain with 5 pattern makers, 5 sewers, 5 fabric stores and 5 hashtags to follow. If you know other makers in Spain – particularly BIPOC

5 patterns to sew

  1. Honeycomb dress by CocoWawa Crafts

Ana is from Spain and writes bilingual English/Spanish sewing patterns over at CocoWawa crafts, which have become extremely popular thanks to their gorgeous styles and really helpful instructions.

One of my favourites is the Honeycomb dress which features ties at the waist and a lovely neck. Ana is offering an exclusive discount code on her patterns in this month’s Modista newsletter, so sign up before the 31st to get your discounted pattern!

2. Jean Paul jumpsuit by Ready to Sew

Remember Ready to Sew from the French roundup? Their patterns are also available in Spanish! This is another of my favourite patterns of theirs, the Jean Paul Jumpsuit. This also has an optional add-on pattern you can purchase to add even more variations, one of my favourite things about Ready to Sew patterns.

3. Abrigo brunch by Nairamkitty

Marian offers sewalongs, sewing classes, packs and PDF patterns on her website. Her Youtube channel has over 200,000 followers and I really like this coat which can be made with scuba/neoprene material!

4. Lliria dress by Pauline Alice

The Lliria dress is one of my favourites at the moment and the only thing stopping me buying it is a self imposed ban on button down dresses which has gotten out of hand. Pauline is French but lives in Spain and her patterns are influenced by her life there.

5. Midi Ribbon Skirt by Making Patterns Fly

How gorgeous is this Midi ribbon skirt by Making Patterns Fly? I love the tie back detail and elasticated waist – I think it’s a really unusual skirt. Another bilingual pattern, this is available in Spanish and English.

5 sewists to follow

  1. Saralias Sew

Sara makes beautiful garments but one make that caught my eye was this recent sanitary set – how can reusable sanitary towels be so cute? I never thought I’d plan these as gifts but these will be getting made up at Christmas…

2. Thirteen Buttons

Sara lives in Spain and is sharing her sewing journey on instagram. She is not only a great sewist but a really lovely person – case in point, she recently made Tessuti aprons for her in-laws’ florist business, how blooming nice of her!

3. BiHarixto

Much like the rest of the sewing world, DIY underwear and lingerie is really popular at the moment in Spain and BiHarixto has a real talent for it. Check her page for more.

4. Lazos y apertas

I really like Ana’s style, both in sewing and on her feed. She recently tested the Megan Nielsen Opal pants and did a great job!

5. Lisakisch

Lisa is Canadian sewing in Spain and her photos often feature beautiful Spanish landscapes and accessories….swoon!

5 Spanish fabric stores

  1. Lovely telas
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Monaditas www.lovelytelas.com

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Hard for me to choose just one from their grid – think unusual prints and soft cottons and a very satisfying insta feed

2. Tida Colores del Mundo

Based in El Escorial just outside Madrid, Tida Coly sells African fabrics, jewellery and more. I especially like the look of their Manjac fabrics which I haven’t seen in the UK so far…

3. Stracciatelas

This fabric store ships from their base in Barcelona and has a mix of really beautiful florals and fun prints like this marine print – can you spot the tiny seahorses??

4. Slow Taller

Slow Taller means ‘slow workshop’ and intends to offer all supplies you need for slow fashion. Again you’ll find really bright and colourful prints here like this gorgeous french terry! They have also recently written a fab blog post on free kids wear patterns (a lot of them in English)

5. Nunoya

I lived in Spain on and off for 3 years, 6 months of it in Barcelona and I am kicking myself for not being into sewing when I was there so I could have visited Nunoya! This gorgeous store stocks a speciality range of Japanese fabrics including Nani Iro

5 hashtags to follow

#megustacoser – translates as ‘I like to sew’

#costuraDIY = DIY fashion

#costuracreativa = creative sewing

#yocosomiropa = I make my clothes

#coseresmisuperpoder = sewing is my superpower

Gracias!

I hope you found this round up useful! Let me know – have you found any other Spanish sewists, patterns or more you’d like to see in Part 2 of this round up?

In the meantime if you want another glimpse into Spanish fashion, I found this blog post really interesting (and accurate). Hasta pronto!

Growing inspiration….plant themed sewing projects and more

Since launching the latest plant themed label designs this week I have been so pleased with the positive response to them! Thank you to everyone who has ordered this far and I hope you enjoy sewing them into your makes.

Like many of us I became far too emotionally attached to my plant babies during lockdown which inspired these summery plant themed labels.

Seeing how many of you are also into plants it got me thinking about some fun summer projects around sewing and plants! So here is a round up of some of my favourite leafy finds, from projects to fabrics and some plant themed inspiration outside of the dressmaking community too! Let’s grow!

5 plant themed sewing projects

York Pinafore by Helen’s Closet

Credit for this one goes to @hagardashery on instagram who suggested a gardening apron!

The York Pinafore is a really popular pattern by Helen’s Closet and is great for beginners. Helen has even included an apron expansion pack to turn this into a gardener’s apron making it the ideal gift for a green thumbed friend or yourself!

This would look great in a heavier weight canvas such as the canvas twill from Merchant and Mills.

‘Plant Lady’ embroidery kit by Slow Evenings Embroidery

Miriam designs the most beautiful embroidery scenes that conjure up the love only known by a grower of plants! I have always enjoyed hand embroidery but am still working on my satin stitch – Miriam sells these beautiful kits that come with really clear instructions so even if you’re not very experienced you can still sew your own beautiful plant lady (and wouldn’t a label look lovely on this as a title??)

Fabric plantpot

A fabric plantpot is SUCH a good stash buster and is a great excuse to recycle – this pattern I drafted fits a standard metal can which you can turn into a plantpot. I’ll be adding my pattern for this soon but in the meantime here is another free pattern from Sew Retro!

Gardening too bag by So Sew Easy

How cute is this pattern from So Sew Easy? And even better, it’s free! This is such a great stash buster again and I think it would look great in some of the fabrics I’ve listed later in this blog post or in a utility style canvas.

Sew yourself a Tiki Libby Shirt

As I wrote recently, I am a big fan of the Sew Over it Libby shirt. My boyfriend is very fond of all things ‘tiki’ – be it drinks, shirts…so I’m currently working on one for him from a men’s pattern but it got me thinking about the shape of the Libby – is the boxy fit and collar not perfect for a tropical holiday shirt? I already want to make this in a palm print or maybe the new Atelier Brunette palm viscose which is available at Sew Me Sunshine

5 plant themed fabrics

Here are some lovely leafy print fabrics to get you inspired!

This tropical print from Material Girl Laura

Material Girl Laura is one of the indie brands featured in the upcoming August Modista Newsletter – you’ll get an exclusive discount for her shop whic features beautiful prints and a stunning jersey selection in particular! I’ve actually bought this poplin in the green colourway and can confirm the quality is stunning.

Retro fruit bowl print from Fabric Godmother

Ok so not necessarily a plant but a fruit – but look at the gorgeous colours in this retro print from Fabric Godmother! Like many of their fabrics this is an ex-designer fabric and I think would be lovely as a dress or top.

‘I have green fingers you know’ print from Selvedge and Bolts

This is a beautiful flowery print from Selvedge and Bolts. Dibs has an eye for really bold and vibrant prints as well as some stunning designer finds such as her Escada fabrics!

Bamboo jersey from Dragonfly Fabrics

Dragonfly are another indie sewing brand that will be featured in the August newsletter and are one of my favourite online fabric stores. They have a gorgeous collection but I especially like their ‘eco-friendly’ fabric selection which now includes….bamboo! So if you want to be literal with your plant based project, try this plant based fabric!

Lady McElroy canopy lawn

This is exactly the type of fabric I had in mind for a tropical themed Libby shirt! You can purchase the lawn over at M is for Make which has a really lovely curated collection of fabrics.

5 plant themed makers to follow!

In a rare venture outside of sewing – here’s 5 plant themed makers and educators to inspire your plant theme!

Plant Kween

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GURL, we all have that plant or plants that are suppose to be “easy” to care for but as soon as we bring that kween into our homes she struggles … even though we’ve done our research 👩🏽‍💻 … it happens, dahling … it the territory that comes with being a plant parent! 🌿🌱🌵 ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Ms. Peperomia Argyreia (AKA Watermelon Peperomia) is a kween that I have struggled with in the past, but has sometimes been labeled as a easy kween to care for⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ☀️ These kweens are native to northern South America, including Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, and Venezuela, hunty. In their natural habitat these green gurls thrive in undercover within forests with some sun and shade so it’s best to try and replicate this … bright room, with indirect ambient light seems to be werking well for my 🍉 green gurl ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ 💦 These kweens also enjoy humidity and their soil moist, but not soggy to the point that root rot becomes an issue. I’ve started using a peat based soil mix and she seems to be enjoying that ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ 🍃 Leaf propagation is also a fun lil planty projects you can try with this kween. Start by choosing one of the healthier lewking leaves, as dying leaves are less likely to root. Snap off the red stem and with a sterilized tool make a horizontal cut through the leaf. A lil 3-4” pot should do nicely, place some damp soil in the pot and make a lil slit in the soil. Place the leaves into the slits, about 2 cm into soil, with the cut side down. Then, gently pack the soil around the leaves it so that they’re sturdily in place, hunty. Bright indirect light and placed in a dome or plastic bag to keep the humidity high, should werk well for this kween … keep the soil damp but you don’t have to water this kween until you see lil sproutlings coming out of the soil. It may take up to a month before you see any new growth, so be patient with her as she grows her roots 💚

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If you’re not following Christopher already….where have you been? Positive plant vibes abound in Christopher’s black queer femme kween world and I live for it. They share not only gorgeous content to spruce up your feed but lots of handy plant care tips, too.

Plants A-Z by Flora Dorian

I know Flora in person but would be recommending her book in any case which is a beautifully illustrated guide to plant care! This has been a labour of love for her and she is a really talented artist selling plant prints too (my boyfriend commissioned one of her drawings for me and I treasure it).

Root Houseplants

My local Liverpool plant store, Root have a lovely corner of the BlueCoat art gallery complex where they sell leafy houseplants and do classes as well! They have an online store with delivery so you can order from all over.

Hemleva crafts keychains and more

Apologies in advance to anyone who falls down a DEEP instagram hole looking at Samantha’s products. Actually I’m not sorry; they’re beautiful. Shipped from Singapore, her keychains in particular are such gorgeous quality and I love her Instagram.#

And of course….

….my new Plant labels are looking for a home on your me-mades! Each pack contains 3 x ‘plant lady labels’ and 3 x ‘you grow, girl!’ labels. And did I mention shipping is included?

I hope you have found inspiration in this blog post! Anything I missed? Let me know here or on instagram!

Constructing the Sew Over it Libby collar

This blog post contains gifted fabric. I chose the fabric to be able to blog about a garment and topic of my choosing;

One of my favourite recent makes is the Sew Over It Libby blouse. I’m entering the sewing stage that follows the immediate intense obsession of initially discovering sewing; now I’m realising I do actually need some versatile good quality separates in my wardrobe and first up was a classic blouse, for which the Libby seemed the ideal choice with a back yoke and standing collar. The pattern is intended for a viscose or georgette weight fabric.

I wanted a twist on the classic white silk shirt so chose this gorgeous silky Dune Off White viscose crepe from Atelier Brunette, which was kindly gifted by Dragonfly Fabrics for this project. Dragonfly are genuinely one of my favourite online fabric suppliers; Dorte and Simon run Dragonfly as a family business down in Brighton and their service, from ordering to fast delivery is second to none!

The Libby shirt is really popular and I’ve noticed a lot of people are making it right now but having trouble with the collar; something I also experienced.

After a lot of fiddling I got there and was really happy with my collar, mostly because I took the time to do a toile first. A toile, or muslin, is essentially a practice go of a garment to avoid ruining any beautiful fabric and with this viscose I wasn’t taking any chances. Toiling the garment first also meant I was sewing much faster and more confidently the second time, and enjoying it!

So here are my tips for sewing the Libby collar. I refer here to the numerical steps as listed in the Libby instructions and how my collar looked at each of those stages. The official instructions use a pale fabric which can be a bit tricky to follow so I made a ‘mini’ collar for this walkthrough!

Note: I didn’t interface the facing pieces to make it a bit easier to see what we’re doing. Also, I am lazy.

What you’ll need

L-R ice cream spoon, unpicker, pins, corner stabby thing, chalk pen, erasable marker

Key to the success of the Libby collar is accurately transferring the pattern markings to your pattern pieces. My secret weapon for this is….an ice cream spatula! Place the spatula on the paper lining up with the marking. Fold back the paper against the spatula then mark the fabric with a pen or chalk. I then take a needle and thread to add a hand stitch as a marker- there’s nothing worse than your chalk rubbing off or marker fading and you can easily remove these threads later.

Constructing the collar

We start at Step 14 in the instructions. You should have attached the collar stand to the collar and have the two pieces RST (right sides together)

Snip the corners and turn the collar so the right side is facing out. Machine tack along the slanted edge of the collar up to and not beyond the thread marker/mark. This tacking should be within the seam allowance so ideally about 0.5-1cm from the edge.

The machine tacking will go along the slanted edge but not further down than the thread marker

Now we’re up to Steps 16 – 19. Snip into the seam allowance at the markings closest to the shoulder seam on your shirt. TOP TIP: I found it really helpful to make a snip in the centre back neckline (fold your back piece in half using the shoulder seams to then snip in the exact centre).

Roll up and pin out the way the non-interfaced part of the collar. Align the interfaced piece RST together with the neckline. The centre notches will help you match up the pieces. The interfaced edges of the collar stand will align with the notches in the neckline. Pin and stitch with a 1.5cm seam allowance, using the mark (or in our thread marker) as your starting point, as shown below. Don’t catch the non interfaced collar piece!

I recommend snipping into the centre back neckline and matching up the notches
On the left here you can see how the interfaced edge aligns with the neckline notch and where the stitching begins

Phew, they’re attached and we’re at Step 20. At this point, unpin your non-interfaced fabric. Give the slanted, machine tacked edge of the collar a wiggle and align it with the front neckline. The notch in the neckline will help you to do this, and the far edge of the collar will align with the neckline notch further along.

Collar(pale green) will be moved upwards to align with neckline (darker green)
The collar edge will align up with the notch

Stitch. In the instructions it is assumed to stitch with a 1.5cm allowance but I would actually use a 1cm seam allowance. Later you’ll be attaching the facing over this stitching so you want this stitching line to be hidden.

Now we’re up to Step 21 of attaching the facings. This is actually super straightforward once you’ve done it but doesn’t really make sense during the process (if you’ve watched Dark on Netflix you know what I mean).

Here you overlock the outer edges of your facings and staystitch the neckline piece. Snip into the seam allowance (but not past the staystitching) at the points of your markings/thread markers.

I haven’t overlocked or interfaced my pieces but you can see the thread markers, stay stitching and snips here which will come in handy!

At Step 23, we attach the facings in a lovely collar-sandwich. With RST, align the edges of the facing and neckline together. Use your thread markers/markings to match the facing to the neckline, sandwiching the collar.

Shown here the notches in the facing and neckline will align. Sandwich the collar in between the neckline and facing.

The notches will align and give you room to wiggle slightly so that the pieces align, continuing to match the thread markers together.

Look how the thread markings on the collar, neckline and facing align – VERY satisfying
Facing is now sewn onto the shirt (the left hand side shown here). Top line of stitching is my staystitching, lower one is the main stitching with 1.5cm seam allowance.

Go slow here when stitching the facing on, and if you can, hand tack the pieces together first which will keep them flat while you stitch. The notch will help you to wiggle but just watch you don’t catch any of the facing in the stitching – pivoting slightly at the notch will help as well.

Trim the seam allowances (I layered the seams, trimming the top layer by 1cm and the second by 0.5cm) and turn the facings in. Press.

Now it’s time to finish off the collar stand nicely, at Step 26. Exactly at the facing edge, snip into the non-interfaced collar stand piece and the seam allowance of the interfaced piece and neckline.

Snip through the layers
Pin the pieces up inside the collar

Turn up the raw edges inside the collar and pin. I haven’t overlocked the edges of my facing here as it was just for a demo.

Here you can either handstitch or top stitch the collar. I have topstitched here and ironically it’s the neatest I’ve ever managed it, I wish it looked that this on my final shirt!

This would also be the point to add a label if you would like – my ‘made in self isewlation’ are great for sewing into seams as they have a 1cm seam allowance.

And your collar is done! At this point you can remove the thread markers and any staystitching at is visible, and finish the rest of your shirt.

I hope you found this tutorial useful! Have you got any tips for the Libby collar? Let me know in the comments or on instagram.

Thanks again to Dragonfly for providing the fabric for my finished garment – I love it! Dragonfly are one of the lovely indie businesses providing an exclusive discount code in this month’s newsletter – sign up for free to get monthly sewing updates and discount codes from our favourite indie crafty brands!

How to DIY the new Rouje x Liberty collection

I think one of the common misconceptions around sewing is that making your own clothes will always be cheaper than buying RTW. This is categorically not the case! Yes, you can often pick up bargain fabric at the thrift store, rag markets or ebay and find a fab pattern in a charity shop. But if you have a specific print or good quality fabric in mind (£30+), invest in a decent sewing machine (£200+) and go to buy an indie sewing pattern (£8+) then remember it needs a zip (£1.80+) you realise that a dress that is £20 in New Look could cost you £40+ to begin with and that’s without the machine!

When sewing is much cheaper than RTW, and in my opinion the most satisfying, is when you can look at a really expensive garment and think, I can make that!

The new Rouje x Liberty collaboration made me think just that. As I’ve written before I love Rouje’s designs and have even had a go at making my own DIY versions. The latest Rouje collection is a collab with fabric powerhouse Liberty in their flagship tana lawn, a high quality cotton lawn. In the collection are summery pieces that scream French summer picnic, from sun dresses to shorts and cute shirts.

The collection is new – in fact, so new that the majority of pieces aren’t on their website yet but instead are being hinted at by influencers on Instagram in what will likely be a social media takeover!

However, they are spenny. Like, 115 euro for a pair of shorts expensive. Whilst I believe in getting what you pay for in haute couture for example or small designer collections that are produced in house and individual tailoring; Rouje is one of the companies that does not disclose where their garments are made and, from what I read the majority are made in large production in China so I would assume a lot of the markup goes into marketing and retail.

Knowing that Liberty tana lawn retails at £25pm, someone handy with a sewing machine could easily make a pair of short for £40 rather than the retailed £140+. Here are some of Rouje’s latest collection and patterns to sew them yourself!

Pauline Shirt vs McCalls M7811

The Rouje Pauline shirt features a close fit, princess seams, button close and back yoke with a waist tie.

There’s not too many princess seam shirts around but I think view A from the McCalls M7811 fits the bill, with a princess seam, button placket and if you were to shorten the sleeves and add a waist tie you’d be very close!

Maggie top vs Ariana dress from Style Arc

The Rouje Maggie top is a button down close fit top with a shirred back and wide straps.

The Ariana dress by Style Arc would be a great match for this top. To hack the pattern to match you’d just need to widen the straps and use larger buttons!

Jurgen shorts vs Arden pants by Helen’s Closet

The Jurgen shorts appear to be a very simple elasticated waist cotton lawn shorts. The Arden Pants are one of my favourite new patterns and Helen recently hacked them into shorts which I think look great and would work so well in a cotton lawn!

Shirt dress vs Sew Over it Penny

I don’t know what this dress is called yet, but it looks like a shirt dress with a tie around the middle

The Penny dress by Sew Over it is one of their most popular patterns, it is such a gorgeous vintage style and would be beautiful in a cotton lawn. Add a waist tie to complete the Rouje look.

Rouje blouse vs Fibremood Norma

Another as yet unnamed blouse I can’t find on their website BUT this blouse just screams Norma, doesn’t it? With a relatively high neck and voluminous sleeves these are a great match.

Loulou scrunchie vs your own pattern

This is the piece that made me want to write this blog post. A scrunchie is 17 euro. SEVENTEEN. To make this, you need a 40cm x 15cm strip of fabric. Liberty is £25 a metre. This is a pattern accessible to even the most beginner of beginner sewists. Do the math.

Match the fabric

Liberty lawn is not a cheap fabric by any means but can be purchased very easily especially in the UK and around the world. Liberty are of course a huge stockist and in general you will find it retails at £25 per metre both with them and in their stockists. However some places such as Abkahan and Fabric Chicks have sales (I recently found lawn in Abakhan at £10pm) and you can also find a HUGE selection, the biggest in the UK in fact, at Shaukat fabrics. I’ve had a look and found the following similar prints to the Liberty x Rouje collection (click the image to go through)

I hope you found this blog post useful! By writing this, I am not saying people shouldn’t buy Rouje or that their pieces are overpriced. But as someone who loves to take inspiration from RTW fashion into home dressmaking, I couldn’t look at a 17 euro scrunchie and not know I could make it for about a £1!

If you have any ideas or inspiration off the back of this please let me know and if you like DIY designer roundups, Alice May from @thestitchedit does a weekly round up on a Sunday helping you to recreate your favourite brand looks!

Sewing a Kew dress hack

Happy hump day everyone! I was off on Monday and it’s strange how easily that throws me completely out of kilter – it’s felt like Tuesday all day and the last 3 months have basically been the longest Monday ever.

A couple of weeks ago I worked on this project while taking part in the Sewing Weekender. If you haven’t heard of the Sewing Weekender, it’s an annual event where 100 sewists get together and sew up projects while enjoying workshops and talks from figures in the sewing world.

Of course, this year the event couldn’t take place in person so the Fold Line instead took it virtual and it was a HUGE success. All the profits were donated to charity and they raised a whopping £23,000+ which is just incredible! Included in your ‘ticket’ were exclusive discounts and video interviews and tutorials from of the most successful sewists out there.

I really loved it and kind of hope that a. The Fold Line keep a virtual element next year as it was so fun and b. that they can bring that sort of in-person event further north in the future. It often feels like the majority of large scale creative events take place in London and Cambridge, although beautiful, is a real pain in the bobbin to get to from the North West if you don’t drive, and quite pricey too. If there was a Northern edition I think it would be really popular but for now I was so pleased to take part virtually.

Whilst enjoying the videos I worked on my Kew Dress hack, which brings me back to the main point of this post! As you may know I have an unhealthy love of this pattern (read more here) and having recently bought the expansion pack I wanted to try something new.

The Gingerthread Girl has sewn a wonderful hack of the Kew Dress on the fold which was my inspiration. I wanted a summery, floaty look so decided to cut on the fold, use the gathered skirt view and make tie straps.

For the dress I chose this lovely viscose which I purchased from Dragonfly fabrics. It is so soft and lovely! At first I wasn’t too sure as I thought it might actually look better on a blouse with such a small print, but once it was made up I loved the dress. They have it in a green colour way too I think which would be great in a FibreMood Norma for example.

The bodice

To make the bodice, I removed 1.5cm from the centre of the dress bodice front and cut it and the facings on the fold. THIS WAS A TERRIBLE MISTAKE. In doing so I didn’t take into account that normally the pieces would overlap in the middle with buttons. As such, my bodice front was too big. Making it again, I would take an extra 1cm off as well. To rectify it, I’ll admit I was lazy and just opened up the facing and stitched right down from the top of the facing down into the bodice, then trimmed the seam allowance.

I then cut the back piece, usually on the fold, as two pieces and added 1.5cm seam allowance for the zip.

The skirt

I cut the front skirt pieces on the fold and the back as two separate pieces, adding 1.5cm seam allowance for the zip. And that’s it!

The zip

The zip was a basic insertion of an invisible zip – I had added seam allowance for this but actually ended up taking a bit of it off as the dress made up quite big in this viscose which although beautiful, was slippy AF and has a slight stretch to it.

of course…it has pockets!

The straps

To make the tie straps, I cut 8 of the strap pattern pieces and made them into 4 straps. This handy tip from Tilly and the Buttons has been a game changer!

I then stitched the straps in place using the pattern markings. However as I am mortified to see, I clearly forgot to sew in the ends before taking some photos! Shall we call this the intentionally unfinished look??

Rocking the BCG

…and that’s all folks!

I’m quite new the pattern hacking so although tame, this dress was a bit of an adventure for me and I really enjoyed trying something new with a T&T pattern.

I hope it’s given some inspiration for you to do some pattern hacking and do let me know what you hack next!

A perfect ‘simple sew’; the Grace Skirt

This blog post contains gifted products that I received in exchange for a blog entry

Have you heard of Simple Sew? If you haven’t already, theirs are a collection of staple wardrobe pieces that are a great option for both experienced and beginner sewers. From their patterns you could easily build a lovely capsule wardrobe with vintage inspired silhouettes that often go easily from day – night. I’ve liked their patterns for a while; in fact, the Grace dress/skirt was the first sewing pattern I ever bought and tried! In retrospect I was very lucky and needed few alterations so I was convinced I was a master sewer already – future patterns and fabrics would teach me otherwise!

So imagine how happy I am to be joining the Simple Sew blog team a few years later! I may have a few more makes under my belt but I still kept my original Grace dress in the wardrobe as a memento of my first ever make, dodgy zip placement and all.

For my first Simple Sew blog post I decided to come full circle and use my original Grace pattern for the skirt; although I’ve made the dress a few times now I’ve not made a skirt on its own and wanted to see how I would tackle this beginner friendly sew with more experience under my belt.

What I learned is that the pattern is indeed ideal for someone starting out in sewing but also would be a great ‘simple sew’ for someone with more experience. Here’s why I love the pattern…

1. It’s a simple pattern with several variations

With a full skirt and choice between midi and short length, the Grace skirt has in my opinion a lot of possibilities! When making the dress, you can opt for a scoop or v neck and short or no sleeves. You could also hack the sleeves to be longer or hack the skirt to be button-down. The who pattern feels very ‘French’ to me which as we know is something I’m aspiring to in my me-made wardrobe and I love a pattern with lots of variations. For my make I chose the midi skirt length.

2. A simple pattern gives you freedom to take your time planning

To plan the make I used my Pattern Trace garment pad and planner which were kindly gifted to me by the Pattern Trace team. It’s a really handy tool and makes sure you don’t forget any of those little notions that make a garment feel truly complete.

Before choosing a fabric I wanted to be sure it would blend with the rest of my wardrobe and the ‘Cool Autumn’ palette I’m working on (more on that in my blog soon!!). I’m also keen for as many of my makes as possible to be wearable in multiple seasons so decided on an ideally blue, lightweight fabric that would work with a light blouse in summer and a jumper/tights in winter.

This Lady McElroy Skylar Elegance lawn from Bobbins and Buttons is beautiful and they kindly gave it to me to use for this post. Isn’t it fabulous! The pattern makes me think of brushstrokes, graffiti and blue china tea sets all at the same time…

Knowing this is quite a straightforward pattern gave me more freedom to take my time choosing the fabric and it works well with such a bold print.

3. (For the skirt) you only need to take one measurement

Based on my waist measurement I cut a straight size 12 from the pattern. The only adjustment I made was to add an extra 5cm to one of the back waistband pieces in order to have an overlapping piece with a button (I always think they look lovely on skirts). If you’re not too experienced in measuring yourself just yet, this is a great pattern to start with and just take the one measurement. Make sure the tape measure lies flat and you are not holding it too tight or loosely on your waist.

4. You learn several new skills in one make

Despite being a ‘simple sew’ you will learn several skills in this make, including pockets, applying a waistband, gathering and inserting a zip. If you’re making the dress you’ll learn how to add a lining, which I promise is not as hard as it looks!

The most important thing with pockets is to match the notch marks between the pattern pieces and to ‘notch’ your pocket curves which helps them sit neatly. Personally I find this a really relaxing task, but maybe that’s just me!

I chose the gathered skirt and my not-so-secret top tip for gathers is this magical waxed thread I was given a while ago. It’s a thicker thread that still works on the machine and, when used in a long stitch, is ideal for pulling up gathers neatly and you never have to worry about the thread breaking.

Finally the zip is another skill to learn, or rather practise. You might not nail zips on your first go, and that’s ok. Ensure you have the correct zipper foot, practise if you can, and always tack your zip in place and check it’s right before sewing! I used an invisible zip and foot, then a 1cm seam allowance on the remainder of the skirt length and hand stitched the bottom of the zip in place.

5. It’s a wardrobe staple you can be proud of!

As soon as I finished this skirt I didn’t want to take it off! Especially in this gorgeous quality fabric, it feels so luxurious yet lightweight and so swishy. I love that it could be worn in summer or winter and feels like it can be dressed up or down.

I of course had to add some Modista labels to the make to finish it off – I’ve been wearing a lot of blue lately so have been using the blue ‘et voilà‘ label on a few makes as well as of course the isewlation label to remember this lockdown make.

Overall I would really recommend the Grace pattern for any sewer whether beginner or experiences. I love the variations which are always a priority for me when pattern shopping and taking my time with a relatively simple make was a lovely reminder of how much I enjoy sewing, especially with a lovely lawn like this.

Thank you for reading and I hope this post has inspired you to try your own Simple Sew pattern! Simple Sew are offering an exclusive discount to Modista subscribers in the July newsletter – what will you use your discount on?

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An introduction to the world of French sewing

Salut! As I’ve written before on here, I love all things French and have enjoyed French culture, language and fashion ever since I started learning the language when I was little (the cool kids went to dance class, I went to French Saturday school…) and lived in Paris on and off between 2014-17. Years later these have inspired my Modista French label designs!

The world of French sewing is HUGE and la couture is seriously popular over there. From my experience, French culture really values anything home made and it’s expected that high quality, effort and care be put into anything fait à la main. Just think of their main cultural exports, food and fashion. French food is characterized by rich flavours, home cooked meals and a certain aesthetic that makes it quintessentially French. French fashion is also known for its classic and elegant silhouettes that we know to be iconic today. A lot of the French sewing style is no different – using gorgeous fabrics on patterns that have a classic style – with a twist, and always with a good story behind the make.

If you like sewing, you most likely have heard the success story of Atelier Brunette who sell cult favourite designs from their boutique in Paris, but do you know the other French fabrics, sewists and patterns that could be inspiring you?

In this post I’ve included a round up of my 5 favourite fabric stores, pattern designers, bloggers, and hashtags for you to explore! Many of them offer patterns or descriptions in English but even if you don’t speak French, they will still inspire you to add a little je ne sais quoi to your makes.

5 French fabric stores you should know

Atelier Brunette

No list would be incomplete without Atelier Brunette. Designed in Paris and manufactured in India, these fabrics have gained cult status and captured the imagination of hundreds (thousands?) of sewists. Their latest collection is inspired by Rajasthan and I love the ochre and sage tones especially. Check out their tagged photos or #atelierbrunette for inspo. AB is sold in several stores in the UK – check their stockist info.

Pretty Mercerie

I LOVE THIS STORE and am pretty devastated their shipping costs are so high to the UK. Their designs in stock are so pretty however, I think it may be worth it. Mercerie in French means haberdashery and this online store has everything from patterns to buttons but my favourite section is definitely the tissus (fabrics), including the pretty floral viscoses that I see a lot on French hashtags!

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| Réassorts❤️ Bonjour à tous ! • Comme promis ce week-end de nombreux tissus que vous attendiez avec impatience ont été remis en ligne hier 🎉 • Dont cette superbe viscose rouge à fleur qui vous a inspiré de nombreuses créations estivales ❤️ • 👉🏻 Faites défiler les photos pour découvrir toutes vos merveilleuses créations, bravo à vous ❤️👏🏻 • 1️⃣2️⃣ Patron maison de @isaloma_creations 👏🏻 3️⃣4️⃣ @juju_kro 👏🏻 5️⃣ @l_atelier_couture_d_anthea 👏🏻 6️⃣ @jurk_und_buex 👏🏻 • 💌 ils sont de retour : ✔️Viscose rouge incandescente Ref : 02190100357 ✔️Viscose rouge Scarlet fleurie Ref : 02190100425 ✔️Viscose Lipstick red Ref : 02190100407 ✔️ Tissu coton & lin burnt orange à pois blanc Ref : 02140100053 ✔️ Coton brodé blanc cassé à motif exotique vintage Ref : 02090100956 ✔️Coton blanc brodé fleur ajourée et paillettes argentées Ref : 02090100972 ✔️Coton blanc brodé et ajouré marguerite Ref : 02090100909 ✔️Jacquard bleu nuit grosse fleur rose, corail, gris et lurex argent Ref : 02040100197 • • 🔝Retrouvez tous ces tissus + liens dans notre Story à la une‼️ • • Nous vous souhaitons une excellente journée 😘 • #prettymercerie #prettycliente #prettycolis #spring #printemps #couture #jecouds #coudre #mercerie #sew #sewing #jeportecequejecouds #jecoudsmagarderobe #jecoudscequejeporte #jecoudspourmoi #fabric #fabricshop #fabriclove

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Cousette

Another online haberdashery with a gorgeous collection, Cousette stocks really beautiful fabrics as well as their own and independent makers’ patterns. They have some beautiful viscose twills which I think we don’t have enough of in the UK…

Studio Walkie Talkie

I’ve recently discovered this fabric maker and am blown away by these designs, made in France. They make the most beautiful jacquards I think I’ve ever seen and they would be stunning as a jacket.

Un Chat sur un fil

These original French designs are so quirky and fun! They have the most lovely viscoses in particular and have recently started selling buttons as well. They also stock beautiful broderie anglaise which is really on trend in France at the moment.

5 French patterns you will want to sew

I have had these patterns in my basket for a while but am currently trying to wean off a serious pattern addiction (just this weekend I sold a fractional 20 of them to make room)….

Wedding dress by Atelier Charlotte Auzou

This designer has several out there but perhaps her most famous is the robe atelier aka wedding dress, from her book on how to sew your own wedding gown.

Etoile dress by French poetry

I adore this dress – it’s so pretty with a lovely sleeve detail and button down tea dress style front. I can see it in so many fabrics!

Iris dress/blouse by Le Camelia Rose

You might recognise this dress – I made the blouse edition recently in a dobby cotton and loved it. Next up is the dress, I’m planning in a cotton lawn for an autumnal day to night dress

Azur dress by Atelier Scammit

Johanna’s designs are great for smart-casual day wear with some fun details like the ruffle neck on this dress!

Jazz jumpsuit by Ready to Sew

The Jazz e-book has been ridiculously popular in France and beyond and I can see why – there are EIGHTY variations of the pattern using the skirt, jumpsuit, shirt and sleeve variations so you really can make it your own or even build a full wardrobe from it I imagine!

5 French sewers you will want to follow

This is where the rabbit hole gets really fun. I have lost count of how many French sewers I follow so it’s hard to choose but these are some of my favourite who have managed to do what I long for – really mark out their own individual style with a DIY wardrobe. These 5 and so many more really inspire me!

Le French Closet

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➖ j a z z ➖ . Je n’en avais entendu que du bien de ce patron #jazzreadytosew et de sa trentaine de versions possibles et je ne peux que confirmer l’enthousiasme qu’il a suscité à sa sortie l’été dernier . Ce patron ou plutôt cet ebook est un must-have. Déjà parce qu’il permet de faire un nombre hallucinant de vêtements différents et parce qu’avec @ready_to_sew on est pris par la main du début à la fin. Une couture plaisir qui fini par un vêtement bien coupé, pratique au quotidien ( oui on parle bien d’un jumpsuit) et qui a de l’allure, voilà ce que Jazz a fait pour moi 🙂 . J’ai coupé une taille 42 pour être sure d’être à l’aise mais au final j’ai repris un peu les côtés, le 40 aurait suffit . . Et pour ajouter une touche un peu fun à un vêtement noir , rien de mieux que ces boutons que j’adore de @la_droguerie ( merci @prescription4a 😘) Le tissu est une Viscose texturée avec suffisamment de tenue de chez @cousette . Alors vous préférez quelle version ? Jazz plutôt chic et ceinturé ou Jazz version cool-baskets-relax? . 🇬🇧 🇬🇧 THis jumpsuit is everything ! I don’t know why I waited so long to make it. This pattern is from the multiple ebook Jazz by @ready_to_sew and has thirty more versions possible, can you believe it ? I had never sewn a jumpsuit before and I’m so glad I did because the fit is perfect 👌🏻. I have already worn and styled it many different ways . Yeah for this statement piece 🎉 . #blackjumpsuit #sustainablestyle #sustainablefashion #imakemyclothes #sewersofinstagram #mindfulsewing #handmadecloset #indiesewing #indiepatterns

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Emmanuelle has a really minimalist style which I admire and works a lot with linens and tencel. Her makes always have a lovely drape to them and she’s a lovely person to top it off.

Roberta from Made by Robi

THIS. DRESS. I am blown away by Roberta’s creations from the South of France and her pattern/fabric combinations are utterly sublime. Every make is different but somehow all recognisable in her own style. She is such a talented sewer.

Carole from La Maison Six Chouettes

Carole is queen of the pattern hack and I love how she used the Norma blouse here as a dress. She has a really distinct style and always styles her makes really beautifully as well!

Benedicte from Louanje

Bénédicte is building the capsule wardrobe of my dreams and I especially like her autumnal looks in which she uses a lot of suede and leather in skirts. And again, she is really friendly and patient when I asked a million questions about her dreamy quilted jacket!

Nadou from Nadou Creation

Nadou has a gorgeous sewing style and I particularly love the colour palette she uses as it’s similar to the one I aspire to – pastel hues interspersed with coral and navy. I love this self drafted dress she has made recently which epitomizes summer!

5 French hashtags to follow

#tissusaddict

#jecoudsmagarderobe (I make my wardrobe)

#cousumain (hand sewn)

#jecoudsdoncjesuis

#patroncouture

And finally….5 French phrases!

Now that you’re inspired to try some French patterns and fabrics, why not top your make off with the perfect French label? My French label designs are £7.50 for the 5 designs including worldwide shipping and are a fun way to add the chic to your design.

And so that concludes my introduction to the world of French home sewing! Have you got any favourite French sewers, bloggers or patterns? Let me know here or on instagram 🙂 thank you for reading et bonsoir!

I love Kew; ode to my favourite pattern

The Kew dress is one of my all time favourite patterns. When I first became interested in dressmaking I was living away and didn’t have a sewing machine so set myself to planning (read: spending too much time on Pinterest) and the Kew was one I heavily pinned and bookmarked.

Photo from the Nina Lee website

I think the reason I like it so much is, like the rest of Nina Lee’s patterns, there are so many possibilities and variations from a really simple and classic silhouette.

With the original that had 3 sleeve variations to the expansion pack that includes 2 different skirt options, there are SO many ways you could interpret this pattern and make it your own. I’m not one to repeat patterns very often but realised recently I am now on my 6th make (won’t be the last) so I should definitely write about the different ways to sew this pattern!

The classics

The first time I made the Kew was for a wedding in Scotland in 2019. Despite wanting to try it for ages I hadn’t felt confident enough in my sewing so finally took the plunge – and put the sleeves in upside down. However I actually quite liked the effect as it forms a little lip on the sleeve – I left it that way and the dress went down a storm!

For this first Kew I used a cotton lawn from Abakhan that was outrageously cheap and my life’s regret is not buying more.

For my first Kew I chose the original design with the off shoulder sleeves, stylishly placed upside down…

The dress was a roaring success with my friends, so much so that my best friend requested her own version for Christmas to fulfil her dreams of her perfect ‘red dress’

For this one I chose a red stretch jacquard from Abakhan again, which was a heavier weight and features raised embroidery. In a heavier weight fabric the pattern looks really lovely and holds its shape. Sadly I didn’t get a good photo of her in it so here is me trying it on; I think it’s a testament to my willpower I didn’t keep it myself! (Excuse the mess…)

Next I had a go at the more traditional ‘tea dress’ view with full sleeve and the front yoke, using a viscose I picked up at the Create & Craft Show in Manchester in 2018. This was one of those pretty fabrics I’d had in my stash for ages and I thought it would make up into a lovely tea dress.

In retrospect this being my first time sewing with viscose I’m not actually too thrilled with this make. I managed to stretch out the fabric on the yoke, meaning it didn’t fit properly to the facing and has several wrinkles. It’s worth noting that this view of the Kew has quite a high neckline, so if I make this view again I would lower the V for my personal taste and use a cotton lawn (wouldn’t it look DIVINE in a Liberty lawn…

Not my best photo, but you get the idea!

I now style this Kew with a denim shirt or cardigan which feels more ‘me’

I’ve also made the strappy version without the off-shoulder sleeves. This was made in a cotton linen from Abakhan for a holiday in Thailand. At the time it was slightly too big for me around the middle – thankfully lockdown solved that problem so it now fits perfectly! I used vintage buttons for this one, from an Austrian blouse my auntie bought in the 90’s.

Kew expansion pack and hacks

Nina has since brought out the Kew expansion pack which I couldn’t resist after seeing some lovely iterations on instagram. The expansion features two new skirt views, a sleeker pencil view and full skirt, both levelled at the bottom which I prefer to the drop back skirt.

Photo from the Nina Lee website

As if these weren’t enough views, lots of clever sewers have hacked the pattern which gives endless ideas. One of my favourite hacks is the Kew crop which I had a go at in this viscose linen blend I bought at a souk in Dubai. This is such a handy little crop top; knowing the pattern hits my waist spot on, it fits great and matches so many different outfits, it’s also a great stash-buster pattern needing only maybe half a metre.

Another hack I had bookmarked for a while was the hack to remove the buttons on the Kew from Gingerthread Girl who did such a fabulous job of it. I think this really changes the look of the dress so I am currently working on a version of my own, with the gathered skirt and I have also lengthened the straps to have them tie at my shoulders. I’m using a gorgeous soft viscose from Dragonfly and, of COURSE, have added pockets.

Isn’t this make fabulous!

The next view I’m aspiring to is the pencil skirt, in a cord or denim for an autumn wear. I think it would look great with a chunky jumper for autumn/winter – I might shorten it slightly, but otherwise no alterations (see pinterest inspo from And Other Stories)

My top tips for sewing a Kew dress

  1. Get to know (and love) your button hole foot. I cannot stress this enough – always practise your button hole stitch several times before starting, and take your time measuring out the button placement! There’s nothing worse than ruining your work with a buttonhole disaster on the last leg. I’d recommend interfacing your facing pieces too as this will stabilise your buttonholes.
  2. Toile first and use as your block. I’m lucky that the Kew fits me spot on and I don’t need to adjust the pattern but it’s always important to toile and I will be doing this for the pencil skirt to check it on my hips.
  3. If in doubt, use a heavier weight fabric. I’ve had the most success sewing the Kew with linen or cotton; for me viscose is a little slippy and I’ve also noticed it gets pulled down by the skirt so even understitching can mean the neckline can gape. Using a linen or cotton blend will help hold its shape.
  4. Have fun! The Kew dress has so many variations it’s a really fun pattern to play with once you have made it once, there’s almost endless possibilities. Check out the #kewdress hashtag for more inspo! My current obsession is the Kew jumpsuit hack…

So, happy sewing and I’ll see Kew on the #kewdress hashtag!

Lockdown loungewear – my favourite patterns

Who else can count on one hand the number of days they’ve worn a bra since lockdown? Strangely, for me jewellery was the first thing to leave my daily routine in lockdown – normally I wear a necklace, earrings and a minimum of two rings but stripped them all off in March and have barely worn any since. I was in denial for a while, wearing bra and jeans regularly to work from home (ha!) but that quickly wore off and I’ve settled into a uniform of M&S jogging bottoms ever since.

Sewing for me has been an escape during lockdown and for that reason I’ve been going for summer dresses, smart blouses and lots of swishy linen. It hadn’t actually occurred to me to make my own loungewear until I saw some of the incredible makes out there, brought to my attention from the lovely people using Modista labels!

Here are just a few of the loungewear sets inspiring me right now:

Kate over at Kate Eva designs made these lovely Pipit loungewear shorts in a cotton lawn to match her Suki robe which looks so comfy and glamourous. Kate used a cotton lawn which would be ideal for pyjamas – the best fabrics for loungwear or pyjamas are those containing 100% cotton.

She also made the full loungewear set which is adorable – I might not have considered Pipit originally with the wide sleeves (I’m a dropper so those sleeves would inevitably end up covered in breakfast) but seeing Kate’s makes me want to give it a go!

Cath made these stunning Carolyn Pyjamas from Closet Case patterns in a perfect Rifle Co fabric. I think these are one of my favourite pyjama sets out there – so elegant and comfy, they remind me of the kids’ pyjamas in old films like Mary Poppins!

Another Pipit set from Jess and I love this print from Textile Express, it’s so cute! She used the ‘et voila!’ label which I think worked perfectly.

Finally, Victoria made this lovely Cocowawa pyjama top that is most definitely a secret pyjama! I love the fabric that’s a perfect blend of comfy and day-wear, and she used a ‘made in self-isewlation’ label too!

So that’s what’s inspiring me to try loungwear at the moment – I would love the Carolyn pyjamas but am trying to restrain my pattern addiction this month and use from my existing stash. To that end, I’ll be making a FibreMood Mira as a top in a brushed cotton, New Look 6461 trousers and the Sew Over it Libby shirt in a pale green cotton. Watch this space!

Iris blouse by Le Camelia Rose

As you may know I recently launched my Modista French labels, as a little homage to both the time I cherished living in France and my love of all things French fashion.

Hopefully you have discovered it by now, but the French DIY fashion scene is HUGE. And fabuleuse. As you might expect, French pattern designers are chic and there are many pattern and fabric designers in France who I’ve loved for ages for their gorgeous designs that have classic shapes with a really modern twist.

Amongst them is Le Camelia Rose aka Florence Fernandez who is a pattern designer based in Paris. Her designs are posted on Wissew, which is a very clever site that helps people to develop their own sewing patterns and host them on the platform.

Le Camelia Rose patterns are characterised by flowing shapes, a loose fitting silhouette and really fun details that make the outfit step out. I really like their Rose dress especially:

However Florence recently released a new pattern and it was one of those moments of see pattern – follow link – add to cart. I loved the shape of the Iris dress and those sleeves:

So basically I had to have it and within about 30 seconds had purchased and sent it off to be printed.

However when the pattern arrived I decided to go with the blouse option after seeing a few versions online. My me-made wardrobe is pretty dress-heavy at the moment so I’m trying to make a conscious effort to get more separates in there that I can combine. I chose a swiss dot cotton that has been in my stash for ages – I bought it at the Manchester Create and Craft show, unfortunately I’ve forgotten from whom!

Here is my completed blouse. I’ll be honest; during the making of this I was dubious at first. The pattern offers either a binding option or to line it completely, neither of which I wanted to do on such a delicate fabric so I drafted facings instead. To do this I traced over the pattern pieces, keeping them short and allowing for seams. The pattern does not have any darts and I was worried it would come out really baggy and shapeless.

However as I got into the making I realised how well put together the pattern is. There are 4 (FOUR!) neckline options ranging from square to a deep plunge, as well as varying sleeve lengths. I went for the second to deepest plunge and the medium sized sleeve.

The pieces fit together really well and, although there is a slight drag on my UK D cup chest, it is a really casual yet eye catching blouse. As there’s no darts it was an easy make too ; I speak French but even if you don’t, as long as you have some experience in construction you wouldn’t find it hard and there are picture instructions.

I’ve also seen that Wissew are adding English instructions to many of their patterns now, which is a bonus!

I was pleased with how the blouse turned out and the fabric was actually the ideal weight. I would recommend using a lawn, rayon or viscose blend for this as heavier fabrics might not work and make the drag lines bigger, although you could add rouleau ties from the sides to tie at the back if you liked.

I like this pattern and can see it coming in handy for winter as well as summer -I would love to make it in a lightweight black velvet with huge sleeves for a dramatic effect, or a square neck long sleeve number in an autumnal floral fabric. There are loads of possibilities to be creative with the details too; on Instagram I’ve seen people adding lace trims to the sleeve or seams, having fun with the binding or the pattern direction too.

I hope you like the blouse too and it’s given you the inspiration to try a French pattern!

New Look6461 trousers

Even before lockdown, I was dreaming of comfy linen trousers to lounge in. Linen makes me dream of warm summer evenings, romantic European city breaks and categorically not being sweaty. Aka, the ideal garment.

I wanted a simple, wide leg shape and elasticated waist to be friendly to the extra tummy rolls I’ve gained during lockdown. I considered the Ninni culottes and Bob pants, and still love them but wasn’t sure the volume of the former or shape of the latter would be right for me.

I saw the New Look 6461 pattern on instagram and decided to give it a go. New Look patterns have fitted me well in the past and their instructions tend to be easy to follow. The pattern was available quite cheap on eBay too (where I look for a lot of patterns) so it was ideal!

I also used eBay for fabric, buying 3m of enzyme washed linen from Higgs and Higgs. They’ve since temporarily closed the store but hopefully will be open again soon, as I would definitely buy their linen again. It’s a medium weight so really opaque and holds a shape, but light enough to drape nicely and feel super soft.

I enjoyed making these trousers; I toiled them first in a lightweight polyster to see how the hips fitted and didn’t need to make any adjustments – based on the body and finished garment measurements, I cut a size 16.

Not having to worry about adjustments, I instead concentrated on the details and making them as neat as possible – as I improve make by make, I’m more confident that I’ll be wearing my me made garments a lot so want to get the details right!

Previously on trousers and skirts I’ve been disappointed with the pockets not lying flat so wanted to use a lighter lining for the pocket piece. I’ve had about half a metre of this gorgeous Atelier Brunette viscose since making my Rouje copycat dress and the colours went together beautifully! I opted to cut just the upper pocket pieces from the viscose, as I didn’t want it to be visible from the front, more just a cheeky peek of it.

At first I wasn’t sure if the linen and viscose would sew well together but it was absolutely fine and the pocket lies really flat, I’m thrilled with how it turned out! Pockets and facings are a great way to use scrap or remnants and bring a little flair to the make.

I also had about 2m of matching binding left over as well so decided to use it on the waistband. The pattern calls for you to finish one edge of the waistband the, after stitching the other edge to the top of the trousers, fold the waistband over to about 1.5cm below the seam and affix by stitching in the ditch on the other side. This felt a bit messy to me; didn’t want my dodgy overlocker stitching stealing the show so bias binding was a much neater finish.

And of course, having used French fabric I had to use one of my Modista labels! I actually used Bondaweb to fix the label – as the waist is elasticated, hand stitching the label would cause it to bunch up. Bondaweb helps it lie flat and with additional stitching to provide extra stability, the label isn’t going anywhere.

Overall I feel like a linen goddess in these trousers and will definitely plan another pair – for the next ones I’m thinking a sage green double gauze or a denim chambray!

DIY Rouje Dorine dress

Earlier this month I used the Sew Over It Eve dress to recreate one of my favourite designer brands, Rouje. I really enjoyed the process of this, and not just because I love a bargain (and man, DO I) but because it helped to really focus my pattern and fabric planning. I don’t know about you, but I get really overwhelmed in a fabric shop, let alone the internet where the options are limitless and you flit from denim to georgette to poplin and back again within a few tabs, forgetting what you actually logged on for.

The DIY Rouje Gabin experiment worked so well for me that I decided to try again, this time with their popular Dorine dress. Initially I would never have tried this on in a store; as a curvy lass I would have seen what looks like a scrap of fabric on the hanger and immediately written it off as a hanky.

The Rouje Dorine dress costs a cool 165 euro

However by doing my research, looking at their website closely at the cut and fit of the dress and checking the #roujegirls hashtag as well as their tagged photos, I saw women of all shapes and sizes absolutely rocking this dress and thought if I could get the sizing right, it might just work.

After having a quick look through my usual resources (The Fold Line pattern directory, googling DIY hacks, browsing John Lewis pattern section), I found it. McCalls M7116. And even better, it was on Facebook marketplace! I’m a member of a few buy and sell and swap fabric and pattern groups on Facebook and always have a glance to see what’s available. This pattern looked to have the same shape in view A – bias cut skirt, spaghetti straps and round neckline – and was available uncut for £3.50. Bargain!

Whereas with the Gabin dress I’d gone straight in with an Atelier Brunette viscose crepe from Dragonfly fabrics, this time I wanted to make a wearable toile before buying expensive fabric to try and match the original. I was THRILLED with this cheap as chips georgette from Pound Fabrics at just £2.50 per metre. It is much more opaque than expected and lovely quality.

Even in a toile, I wanted to try and get a flowery pattern as so often used by Rouje

I found this pattern really pleasing and quite simple to sew. The skirt is cut on the bias with the bodice and straps cut straight. You cut bias binding from the same fabric for the arm holes and the casing for the elastic is just folded down from the neckline.

I cut straight from the pattern for my measurements based on the body measurements but this was a rookie error. The bodice on the finished garment measurements was listed as huge in comparison to the waist – and that’s exactly how it ended up! I ended up having to tack the excess fabric whilst trying it on, shimmy out of the dress and overlock the side seams, cutting away the excess fabric in the process. This actually worked really well although when I next make this, I’ll size the pattern down.

The other issue I had was with the hem. I haven’t sewn on the bias before and in the process of overlocking, managed to stretch it so that one side of my dress drops lower than the other. This is a common mistake I make that I’m still working on so will watch in the next attempt, however I actually quite like the accidental asymmetric hem on this toile! It makes it feel really Spanish for some reason.

Trying to be sexy -forgot my ironing board is in the backgrond

I also didn’t use a zip as I’d read in other reviews of this pattern it wasn’t necessary, which for me was true. It slips on really easily so I won’t use a zip for the next make either. Finally, I made a rouleau tie and popped it on the front as a bow to match the original dress.

Overall I am really pleased with my second DIY Rouje dress! At a grand total of £10 including fabric, pattern and delivery it is a total bargain compared to the original price tag of 165 euro. I’ve found myself wearing it a lot since making it – whether to nip to the shops with a denim jacket over the top or sunbathing in the garden. Next I need a soft cardigan to complete the Rouje look – true to form, I’m currently top bidder on a cashmere cardigan on eBay….

Sew Over it Eve Dress

So. We all know of my borderline creepy francophile obsession with French style and its place in my #MeMadeMay2020 objectives.

Having studied French since I was tiny and after living in France for a few years, I love their style and have come to really enjoy incorporating my adoration for la vie française into my sewing life too – whether by using French patterns, following French sewists or slobbering after French brands I can’t afford.

One of them is Rouje, headed up by la reine de effortless chic, Jeanne Demas. Their designs are vintage inspired and Parisian to the core. One of my favourite dresses is the Gabin, which comes in at a cool 170€.

Staring at it (repeatedly) I realised that it’s quite a simple construction – a wrap dress with gathered sleeves, buttons down the side and a strappy tie belt. The website tells me it’s 100% viscose, oh and also it’s “the very essence of Rouje in a dress: Jeanne’s favourite, the essential of any wardrobe, a timeless iconic piece.” Bien.

With perfect timing, Sew Over It were doing a live sewalong with the Eve Dress. This is one of the first dresses I’d ever made and I’d flouncily announced I wouldn’t make it again after the torso sewed up too short, I used too tight a zig zag on the raw edges and my hem was uneven.

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Today I’m starting the Sew Over It Eve dress and revisiting this one I made a couple of years ago when I first started sewing, to see if I need to make adjustments. The answer is yes, yes I do 🤦‍♀️ First issue is that the sleeves are VERY tight so I’ll need to make them a bit wider for this one. I’m using the long sleeve but cutting it down to have a tea dress style sleeve and match the spenny Rouje dress I’m using as inspo. Secondly the torso is a little short on me so I’ll need to lengthen it as standard. There is some armhole gaping which is a common issue for me but to be honest the Rouje dress is very floaty and loose so I think a looser armhole won’t look bad when using my drapey viscose from @atelierbrunette. This viscose crepe was from @abakhan_liverpool but at the time I didn’t have an overlocker so zig zagged the edges, this caused the fabric to bunch up and affect the neckline so I’m hoping this is resolved in this make with my Scary Yet Useful overlocker. Stay tuned for progress! Wearing my @palmairasandals here which arrived this morning and have made my day – taking me back to when I lived in Spain and could walk for hours and hours in the comfiest avarca sandals. Can’t wait to be able to visit Spain again soon ❤️ • • • • #sewoverit #soievedress #evedress #handmade #handmadewardrobe #lovesewing #happiestwhensewing #lovetosew #memade #memadewardrobe #diywardrobe #slowfashion #stylefrançais #diycouture #jecoudsdoncjesuis #faitalamain

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Two years later with more sewing experience behind me, I gave it a go and am really happy with the results!

Of course to maintain loyalty to the original I had to use French fabric so I used Atelier Brunette Dune viscose in ‘Chestnut’, from Dragonfly Fabric who gave a really great service. This was my second time using Atelier Brunette fabric after my comfy WFH blouse.

To achieve the Rouje look, I shortened the length of the hem by about 8 cm. In retrospect, I also wish I had taken some of the swing out of the skirt by making the piece a rectangle rather than it’s original circular shape, but shoulda woulda coulda.

I also shortened the long sleeved version sleeves, meticulously and mathematically by folding the pattern piece in half and saying ‘that’ll do’.

As we’re in lockdown I didn’t have enough time to get enough stay tape so just had enough for the chest pieces and yoke. However I also had ordered matching bias tape so used that all the way around the bodice, folding it in and topstitching so it’s not visible from the outside. This really stabilised my fabric and I would recommend this to anyone making an Eve in addition to the stay tape.

Next up was the buttons and I used interfacing on the back to stabilize the buttonholes. I’m often guilty of not doing this but it really helps with the shape and you can tear away the excess after completing the button hole. These large wooden buttons are cute and from Calico Laine, i’m happy with them though wish I’d gone a little smaller!

Finally I added a press stud to the inside to keep the dress in place, and a rouleau tie around the middle. I used the handy tip from Tilly and the Buttons to do this, wow what a difference it made and you can call me Rouleau Sally from now on, I’ll be making ties from everything in sight!

The only other issue I had with this was the bottom of my hem line warped terribly after sewing the sides. This has only ever happened to me with Atelier Brunette fabric and I imagine it’s because it’s so soft. I left the dress to hang for two days hoping it would even out but sadly it didn’t so I took shears to lop off the uneven bits before hemming. It worked out fine, but I’d like to avoid this in future. I’m sure it’s my sewing pulling the viscose too much and making the fabric stretch, so if anyone has tips I’d love to hear them!

So what do you think of my DIY Rouje dress? Overall I’m really happy with how it turned out, it’s ridiculously comfortable and makes me feel sassy at the same time which is a great feature of any outfit. I’ve enjoyed the process of making a copycat of RTW so will try another Rouje or even Vampire’s Dress in the future!

My pledges for #MeMadeMay2020

The time is flying by this year and for some reason, the routine of lockdown is meaning for me the days pass even more quickly than usual, and suddenly May is here again!

I am not a creature of routine. I have mentioned in previous posts that I usually travel 12 weeks of the year for work, and when I am in the UK I’m seeing friends, salsa dancing, spending time with my partner friends and family and squeezing sewing in here and there. Up now I’ve very much been at the beginner/intermediate stage and certainly wouldn’t have the wardrobe for a #memademay.

However I was inspired listening to the Love to Sew podcast episode about MeMadeMay that encouraged us to interpret it in our own individual ways and not to feel pressured about it – really, it’s a chance to reflect on your sewing journey and focus on some key goals. Right now none of us need the extra pressure and if anything, at least we have a LOT of time to reflect and sew!

So that’s what I’m outlining today – here are my pledges for my first full #memademay….

1. Hit £1,500 fundraising target

Those who follow me on instagram will know we hit an amazing £1000 total donation to the National Emergencies Trust in April thanks to the proceeds of these little labels. You guys are amazing and I am so thrilled they’ve had a positive response and been used so creatively.

My number 1 priority in May is to reach £1500 if we can. There are plenty of labels in stock, and some other exciting news coming in May too so keep an eye on here and my page!

2. Set a making schedule – and stick to it!

Last month I set myself the goal of a few garments I wanted to make and it really helped structure my sewing. I invested time in going through my pattern collection, matching them to the correct fabric type which in turn focussed my buying which if unchecked can get seriously out of hand.

Therefore in May I am focusing on:

  1. Sew Over it Eve in Atelier Brunette viscose
  2. New Look 6461 top in black linen
  3. New Look 6461 in navy tencel twill
  4. Nina Lee Kew in cotton poplin
  5. (maybe) FibreMood Norma in white linen

Let’s see how that pans out!

3. Wear me-made whenever I can, and not beat myself up if I don’t

I’ve got a pretty bad tendency to be really hard on myself if I don’t meet goals – and half the time, they’re goals I’ve set myself with no one judging me, but me! Lockdown has made me really anxious and sewing right now is an escape and a fun outlet for creativity during this crazy time. Whenever I can, I’ll wear me-made, but I won’t be making myself upset if I wear my Primark pjs from time to time.

4. Continue to build on my personal style and colour palette

I fell down a pretty deep internet hole a while ago looking at colour analysis in fashion and the right palette for you. My auntie did this about 20 years ago and has sworn by it ever since, claiming it helps focus your shopping (or in my case making), identify what suits you and cut out the riff raff from your wardrobe.

Pair this with my deep rooted desire to look like Jeanne Demas popping to the patisserie on the daily and a LOT of Pinterest boards are born. I have worked out that I am a ‘soft autumn’ and it has truly helped me so far whittle down what to look for when overwhelmed by choice online fabric shopping. This month I’m going to continue down this path and see where it leads me and hopefully finish the month with a clearer idea of my style.

If this looks intense, it’s because it is. And addictive.

5. Combine my two loves – languages and sewing!

Fun fact – did you know I can speak French and Spanish? What feels like a lifetime ago I was an educational tour leader and lived between France and Spain for around 3 years. I lived in 6 different cities between the two and absolutely love these two countries. There is a big maker community in both, especially France, and I’ve recently found myself connecting with French makers, pattern and fabric brands and stores on Instagram a lot more as the style really appeals to me. This month I’d like to try using more French hashtags, patterns and fabrics and listen to French maker podcasts as well, to keep up my connection with France and learn some new sewing skills, too.

True Bias Ogden Hack

Sometimes you successfully hack a pattern, and sometimes you make a complete hack of it. Such was my experience of playing with the Ogden cami pattern this weekend.

I had the insta-perfect idea of making a cute ruffle bottom Ogden hack in the half a metre of gingham I had left from my Burda Hepburn dress. I could visualize it perfectly which often is the problem; if you have too clear an idea of exactly how a make will turn out, you’re often completely frozen when it goes off piste.

The original idea courtesy of Urban Outfitters

To make the top I cut the top half at the shorten/lengthen line on the pattern. For the ruffle I measured the rest of the length of the original piece, added seam allowance then cut it to double the width of the top. After gathering the ruffles and joining them to the pattern pieces, I finished the rest of the pattern as normal.

Gathered ruffle added to the chopped piece

One of the great things about this make was discovering the use of a thicker, sort of waxed thread that I have in my stash. A friend’s grandmother passed away a few years ago, she was an embroidery teacher and with no one else in the family into sewing a lot of her gorgeous collection was very kindly given to me including this Mystery Super Tough Thread, that I imagine would be useful in jewellery or even thread crochet. I have always struggled with gathering as the top thread seems to break too easily so I had the brainwave to test this on my machine – it’s brilliant. The thread being so strong it doesn’t break and holds a really lovely, even gather. I’m sure this isn’t its original intention but if you can get your hands on some strong cord like thread, you’ll see the world through a lens of potential ruffles.

Unfortunately the rest of the make wasn’t as successful. My chronicles of a hollow chest continue to haunt me – the top fits around the waist, hips and shoulders but is too tight and therefore gapey around the chest. I also had to chop off about a third of the sides initially as it was far too floaty and even my partner had to admit I looked like I was wearing a mini moo moo.

the horrendous side view complete with gapey bodice (the enemy)

I’ve made one Ogden before, excited about the hype around this pattern but it’s stayed in my stash since the toile. For me it felt too tight around the chest, something I conveniently forgot when making this one.

There was therefore the dreaded gape at, as usual, just the one right side of my chest. To be honest at first I was really disappointed as I felt like I’d failed but then remembered; the whole point of sewing is to practise and find your shape and therefore style, and also, I have never suited babydolls in my life so have no idea why I thought I would now. However someone out there will; so if you benefit from this hack idea, go forth and prosper!