Interview with Stephanie from The Rag Shop

One of the Modista brands this month is the fabulous Rag Shop. Based in the North of England (coincidentally where I hail from too), The Rag Shop is a new business that has made a BIG impact. Stephanie stocks the most amazing range of fabrics at a wide range of prices and they’re impossible to resist in my opinion. This month I asked Steph the key questions about her business….

How did you learn to sew?

I started sewing as a little kid, taught hand stitching by my Mum and learnt further at school and college. My understanding of garment construction really kicked in when I started studying Fashion Design at University- this was when I found my comfort zone sat at a sewing machine for hours on end!

What would you say is your sewing style?

I would say feminine wardrobe staples are my go- to. I’m a sucker for florals, takes only a quick glance at our stock to guess this, but I love loose and easy- fitting garments above all else! Things I can throw on and still feel stylish are my greatest love!

When, how and why did you start your business?

So the foundation for The Rag Shop started years ago! I worked in a Pattern Room for a high street brand and I fell in love with fabric.

A lot of the job there was similar to what I do now, deciding appropriate fabrics for the job, ordering stock, keeping track of what we had, and I loved the practical aspect of the job!

My business was developed slowly over time, I went back to University to study Fashion Promotion, this helped with branding, a few years later I started sourcing and then eventually found the bottle to set up the website and get going.

The Rag Shop is still a young business, we kicked off in March with the aim to bring contemporary dressmaking fabrics to the sewing community.

What is your favourite thing about running a small sewing business?

Every single order that is places bring an insane amount of joy to me! It’s absolutely fantastic seeing where these fabrics go and seeing what they get turned into. Along with this, the flexibility of working around my life and knowing the more I put in, the more I get out is extremely fulfilling!

What are the next steps for you and your business?

It has always been the plan to have a brick and mortar shop, I’m hoping this is on the cards very soon- this would mean my pooch can come to work with me! I’m also hoping I will be able to hire my first staff members to share the workload. It can be quite a stretch trying to keep on top of everything going on!

What inspires you in your sewing style?

I gain a lot of inspiration from vintage fashion and the catwalk. I absolutely love seeing something elsewhere and creating my own version!

Finally, what is your favourite thing you have made, and what’s next on your machine?

What a tricky question! I am super happy with my Made My Wardrobe Greta Dungaree’s that I made this Summer, they are super comfy and easy to wear as well as being a super flattering silhouette. I have probably 10 things cut out ready to hit the machine but I’m incredibly indecisive and get super distracted, so I have a half sewn Liberty Tea Dress that needs finishing and some super comfy Juno Pyjamas I’m desperate to wear!

Where can we find you on social media?


Sewing themed gift ideas – global edition

This blog post contains affiliate links that are clearly marked. I have worked with some of these brands previously but not on the basis of this blog post – if they’re on here, I really rate their products!

Normally, every month in the Modista newsletter I send an introduction to the sewing community in a different country. This month however with the festive season approaching I thought I’d share a round up of some fantastic sewing themed gift ideas from around the world – whether you’re buying for the sewist in your life and haven’t the faintest idea what to get them, or fancy treating yourself to something too! Hopefully these sewing gift ideas will inspire you and you’ll get a great crafty gift while supporting an independent.

All the brands below are independents and where possible I’ve listed their direct website.


An obvious choice; but fabric can actually be really personal and it’s sometimes difficult to decide. If you’re not sure what fabric they like, they’ll never be disappointed with a voucher! If you’ve never bought fabric before, 2m is usually a good amount for a shirt or simple dress.

The Rag Shop, UK (15% discount in December for Modista subscribers) – deadstock fabrics and wonderful prints at great prices

Blackbird Fabrics, Canada one of the biggest names, fantastic range

Karta Batik, Netherlandshigh quality Indonesian fabrics with percentage going to charity

Melanated Fabrics, USA Mimi G’s fabric store!

Selvedge and Bolts, UK top high end designer fabrics

Pretty Mercerie, France ditsy prints and quality wool

Cotton Poplin from The Rag Shop


Another guaranteed success present for a sewist, buttons are also really easy to post!

Pigeon Wishes, UKgorgeous multicoloured buttons to brighten a make

Tabitha Sewer, USA very popular sparkly buttons

Ethel and Joan,UKa new small business of handmade buttons

Arrow Mountain, Australia –wooden buttons with unique designs

Atelier Brunette, Francetheir buttons match their very popular fabric range

buttons by Pigeon Wishes


Of course, I had to include these! Labels are the finishing touch to any garment and again are really easy to post. They can be so fun!

La Petite Maison Couture, Francefrench phrases on lovely labels

Stitch Collective, USAminimalist designs

Pink Coat Club, UKfun designs with popular phrases. Also stocks fantastic stationery, pins and more

Modista Sewing (me!), Netherlandsfrench and plant themed

Pink Coat Club Labels


If you can’t post something to your sewing friend right now, or want a (very) easy last minute gift, a PDF sewing pattern is a great choice as all you need is their email address! Here’s just a couple of very popular sewing patterns that are guaranteed a happy recipient:

Wilder Gown, Friday Pattern Company, USA

Dawn Jeans, Megan Nielsen Patterns, Australia

Indigo Dress, Tilly and the Buttons, UK

Sculthorpe Pants, Muna and Broad, Canada/New Zealand

Jolene Dress, Ready to Sew, France30% off for Modista subscribers!

The Fold Line, UK – the biggest online PDF pattern store, buy them a voucher from here and they’ll be delighted!

Sewing themed gifts

You don’t have to buy someone specifically used for sewing, but they’ll really appreciate something that helps them shout their passion to the world! Jewellery, pin badges, bags, the list is endless.

Sew Dainty , UKsewing themed jewellery

Crafty Pinup, UKsewing labels, pin badges and more!

Love to Sew Podcast, Canadathe latest merch from our favourite podcast

Justine Gilbuena, USAbeautiful whimsical designs including sewing

This is for Makers, UK stocking labels and most recently ‘handmade’ gift wrapping options


Sewing books are a great edition to any sewist’s collection, whether a specific pattern book or a ‘how to’ guide

Stretch! Tilly and the Buttons, UK the Queen of Stretch shares her tips

Breaking the Pattern, Named Clothing, Finland contemporary Scandi designs

Nani Iro Sewing Studio, Japan –Classic minimalist silhouettes from this iconic Japanese designer

Sewing Basics for Every Body, UK: create a capsule wardrobe for every body, gender and shape


You might be surprised to know that stationery plays a big role in sewing and luckily there’s lots of gorgeous options out there to personalise your sewing notes.

Pattern Trace, UK (10% off for Modista subscribers)

Alice & Co, UK printable sewing planner

Rifle Paper Co, USA –beautiful prints popular in the sewing world

Dominique Major, UK –sewing themed posters and postcards

Sewing Kit

Especially wonderful during lockdown, a sewing kit comes with everything you need to make the garment and the fabric used by the brands below is top notch!

Made my Wardrobe, UK The Greta Dungarees and Josie bra are gorgeous!

Stitched in Wonderland, UK – Their latest pattern the Dunga dress comes as a pack

Thimble and Snip, USA – something a little different, a hand sewing kit of some favourite sewing patterns

Lotte Martens, Belgium: Top quality French terry sewing boxes

The Greta dungarees by Made My Wardrobe

Magazine Subscription

This is a GREAT present for any sewist – something they might not treat themselves to but will appreciate every month when a fabulous pattern comes out.

FibreMood, Belgium click here for patterns and subscriptions (affiliate link)

La Maison Victor, France/Belgium/Netherlands

Seamworkcurrently 50% off for unlimited membership!

FibreMood Honey

I hope this blog post has given you some ideas for gifts for the sewist in your life this year! What’s on your present list?

Fibremood Honey Blouse

This blog post contains affiliate links. I was given early access to the Honey pattern in exchange for making the pattern and posting it on launch day. All views are as usual my own!

Fibremood 12 is released today and it has some stunning patterns to choose from! I’ve always really liked Fibremood patterns and especially like that they have the hard copy of a magazine and such an active sewing community amongst subscribers and pattern customers.

For this edition I was given early access to the patterns as part of the Fibremood Link Party and chose the Honey blouse which serves seriously Big Collar Energy and works in a huge range of fabrics. I can picture it in everything from gingham to organza, viscose and lawn can’t you?

I used this beautiful lawn from A. Boeken which has a lovely handle and is exceptionally soft. It is 140 wide and I managed to squeeze a UK 12 Honey out of 1.5m.

Ok so the technical bits. This was not, in my opinion, an easy sew. As I’ve found with previous FM patterns, the instructions require some sewing experience as the very technical drawings aren’t crystal clear and you only have the main picture to go off. I found the sewing of the hem to be counter intuitive -I had to fold it up by about 7cm not the stipulated 5 to encase the button placket. I would also recommend skipping the interfacing on the collar if using a lawn or heavier. Despite using the most lightweight interfacing I found I had a lot of bulk in the collar.

The sleeves are a hidden gem of this sew and definitely a feature I’ll steal for future makes – the bias bound eyelet closure is so pretty and I love the gathered sleeve head. The armhole was just right for me on this blouse so I didn’t need to make any modifications at all.

I also really liked the back yoke on the blouse. The gentle gathering made for a lovely effect and adds extra detail to the blouse.

Overall I am delighted with this pattern! It definitely tested my sewing skills but having had to make no mods I am really pleased with the fit and can imagine this in a wide range of fabrics. I’ve already worn the top with black cord trousers but can see it under a pinafore too, and it worked a treat with this black ribbon I picked up at the market.

Honey, you’re a winner! If you’d like it pick up your copy of Fibremood you can use my referral link here to start on your own Honey (affiliate link)

Learning to sew stretch: French Terry co-ord set with Good Fabric

I was gifted this fabric in exchange for a blog post on my experience sewing with it. All views are my own.

I’m turning 30 this month – yikes, now it’s out there. Before Covid, I had a list of things I wanted to do before 30 and they mostly included travel ….well, things have changed and my goals with them. Now, before my fourth decade starts I have decided to face my fears and start getting to grips with knits…

I’ve had an overlocker (Janome 9200D) for nearly two years now but only recently have been brave enough to finish my edges with it, and still prefer zig zagging my viscose hems. But I know there’s so much more I can do and have been determined to branch out into the cosy, stretchy, fabulous world of jersey and knit fabrics.

Polina from Good Fabric stocks a beautiful range of knit fabrics and when we discussed collaborating on a blog post I was initially really cautious of sewing with stretch in case I messed it up. Polina was really encouraging and knowledgeable about her fabrics and suggested I start out with a simple pattern and a french terry, which has proven to be the perfect fabric for a stretch beginner like me!

Polina kindly gifted me this beautiful forest green beauty – the quality is stunning and as a mid weight fabric it has a great structure for all kinds of garments from tops to dresses and trousers. I had 2.5m and immediately got to planning.

For my first jersey make I wanted to use a TNT pattern that would be really versatile in my wardrobe and comfy for working from home as so many of us are doing. I really love the look of a jersey co-ord outfit which are so in style right now – they usually feature either trousers or a tube skirt with a loose top that grazes the hips. I think they’re gorgeous for both hanging out at home and nipping to the shops or on our socially distanced walks. However most of the versions I’ve seen are in a ribbed knit and super form fitting which does not fit with the chilled out, loose waistband WFH comfy vibe I am currently going for.

My inspo for this make – but I won’t be wearing heels!

To recreate this look, naturally I turned to the Queen of Stretch Tilly and the Buttons who has quite literally written the book on sewing with stretch fabrics. Her Nora pattern is super popular on Instagram and I love how many variations you can make with it; I went for the long sleeve polo neck version.

As always I wanted to toile before cutting into my special fabric so used a really cheap kids jersey from the local market. A cotton jersey, it has a similar weight to the french terry but wasn’t as soft and supple.

Before starting I did some research on sewing with knits to ensure I had all the right tools. I found this Love to Sew episode particularly useful as well as this Seamwork article and the Nora hack blog post on Tilly’s blog. All her patterns have a blog post on styling and fitting which is so useful! By the end of this research I had garnered the following essentials

Walking foot – this should come with most machines and helps feed the fabric steadily through your machine without stretching it. This made SUCH a difference and was so easy to use. Remember that you should use a zig zag stitch on your seams (mine was 2.5 long, 2.5 wide) and straight stitch for top stitching

Overlocker – not a necessity but really speeds up the process and makes for such a neat finish. I was today years old when I realised the small marks on the foot show where the stitch will start and by lining up with the seam allowance marks on my machine I could keep the stitches pretty straight. If you are still getting used to your overlocker, there are lots of videos on YouTube that are really helpful – it took me a few goes to get the threading and tension right but my machine seems happy at a 2.8 tension across all the threads.

Aligning my edge with the 5/8 marking on the overlocker

Jersey/stretch needles – I can thank Love to Sew for this one. I bought a set of jersey needles and used them in my machine and overlocker. Jersey needles are much finer and slide through the fabric more easily, meaning less pull and less skipped stitches.

Twin needle – I think this was my favourite discovery of the jersey journey. The twin needle makes for neat top stitching around the neckline and again was very simple to use. I even found a jersey twin needle which made the sewing even smoother! As the french terry is slightly thicker, it went through my machine and overlocker really nicely and I felt in full control, something I’d been worried about if working with a slippy viscose jersey for example.

Feeling very proud of my topstitching!

Note: I bought my needles online here in the Netherlands and at my local market but am linking to old faithful John Lewis here as they deliver all over!

The Nora top was surprisingly quick to sew up and I managed to get it out of just over a metre of fabric. My toile was a size 4 and although really comfy did feel a little big. The Nora is intended to be oversized and it’s suggested you size down or take out excess under the arms and at side seams if you prefer a closer fit.

My toile – comfy but a bit big for what I was after

For my co-ord outfit, I added 15cm to the length of the bodice pieces and sized down to a 3. I evened out the length of the pieces so that there was no ‘step’ but kept the split at the side. It is honestly the comfiest thing to wear! Having toiled the top and with new confidence under my belt, I sewed the Nora in an evening and the skirt in an afternoon, one of the quickest sews ever!

For the skirt I just wanted a simple elasticated waist tube skirt and was amazed how fast this was to make. You could even draft your own piece for this by taking a few measurements -check out this great tutorial here.

In my stash I had the Simply Sewing Leila dress which matched exactly my measurements and I’ve used plenty of their woven patterns before so trust their sizing. I cut two of the back piece which has no darts, just shaping at the waist from the hip. I then cut a waistband by cutting two pieces on the fold. They were the same width as the top of the skirt and just 1cm more than double the height of my flat, wide elastic. It was a quick matter of overlocking the side seams, sewing together the waistband (leaving a gap to thread the elastic through) then folding it WST and overlocking it to the top of the skirt (right side up). Then I hemmed the skirt with my twin needle and was good to go!

If you’ve been wanting to start sewing with jersey but feel too nervous to try, I would really recommend this fabric and pattern combination. The french terry was super soft but sturdy to sew with and washes really well retaining its shape. Polina has some gorgeous plains and patterns in stock which would look fabulous in a co-ord, or how about the new Tilly pattern the Billie dress? Here are some of my favourites from her store which would look fantastic in a WFH outfit (click the images to see more)

This challenge has taught me that with research, planning and confidence my sewing skills will keep growing and my confidence with it! With working from home looking like the status quo from now on, I’ll be prioritising more comfy secret pyjama makes for my thirties….

Have you sewn with stretch yet? What have been your best tips/what would you like to learn? Let me know either here or via instagram; I’d love to hear from you.

Interview with Jessica Novianti from Karta Batik

One of the brands featured in this month’s Modista newsletter is Karta Batik, run by the lovely Jess who started the business in 2020 and stocks the most incredible fabrics from her home country of Indonesia. Jess lives in Leiden in the Netherlands and we were able to meet up in Amsterdam for a socially distanced walk and had a great time!

Jessica is so passionate about what she does and her fabrics are stunning. To help you get to know her a bit better I asked her the lowdown on all things sewing…

How did you learn to sew?

I’m an autodidact sewist. I learned to sew about 3 years ago by solely relying on books and Youtube videos as I didn’t know anyone around me who sews. My determination to have clothes that would fit my petite body has motivated me to keep on learning.

I started making garment by free drafting or copying my existing clothes. Then, I learned to use commercial sewing patterns and also learned to draft pattern using draping method. It’s been a big discovery to find my sewing passion which has made me feel truly fulfilled.

What would you say is your sewing style?

Versatile, modern, and comfortable. I always try to sew items that I can wear for at least 2 seasons through the year (be it through layering or fabric choice), yet without sacrificing style nor comfort.

Tell us about the start of your business

Karta Batik started just around 3 months ago. The current pandemic has made me realize that life is precious and unpredictable. At the same time, I saw a lot of people who got affected by the pandemic. This situation has encouraged me to do something positive for myself and society.

For me, this meant following my passion while contributing back to the society. And that’s how Karta Batik Fabrics as a social business was born.

Karta’s philosophy is “fabrics with meanings”: On the one hand, it introduces you to the relatively unknown yet beautiful modern Indonesian batik fabrics and also the rich philosophical meaning behind it. On the other hand, every fabric you purchase is a direct contribution to education for underprivileged children in Indonesia. I’m committed to donate 20% of our profit to an organization that supports this cause.

Karta’s fabrics are 100% handmade in Indonesia (Central Java) and undergo double processes: the dobby process and the batik process. Therefore, Karta as a small business also directly helps the local crafters to sustain and preserve the art.

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'Kirana' Cotton Dobby Batik Flora Batik motif is one of the most popular batik motifs found across regions in Indonesia (e.g. flowers, leaves, trees motif, etc.). As a tropical country, life there is surrounded by lush nature.. Plants are the symbol of life and sustainability 🌱 Therefore according to ancient Javanese philosophy, batik with flora motif is a reminder that humans have to act ecologically responsible. A good advice to us all that also fits into the idea of slow fashion/ sewing itself 😊 Composition: Cotton Dobby Dobby is a subtle geometric texture on the cotton fabric, created by applying a special technique during the weaving process. This beautiful texture elevates the fabric by giving it a subtle shine and intricate look. The fabric is a light-medium weight cotton, has some 'body', and presses well. Perfect for sewing blouse/ dress with statement sleeves or other garment types that require some structures. Length: 190 cm Width: 113 cm Batik type: hand-stamp technique Origin: Central Java, Indonesia Link to online shop in profile 😊 . . . . . . . . . #kartabatikfabrics #imademyclothes #handmadewardrobe #sewcialists #memadewardrobe #naaien #naaienisleuk #naaieniship #amsterdamsews #imakemyclothes #nähen #nähenmachtglücklich #mooiestoffen #nähenisttoll #amsterdamsewers #netherlandssews #knipmode #zelfmaakmode #zelfkledingmaken #naaienvoormezelf #nähliebe #nähenistliebe #stoffenwinkel #stoffen #stof #stoffliebe #nähenistschön #fabricaddict #naaienvoordames #naaieniscool

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What is your favourite thing about running a small sewing business?

The joy it gave me to introduce people to the relatively unknown modern Indonesian batik fabrics and culture that I’m so passionate about. People’s interest and appreciation of it really means a lot to me.

What are the next steps for you and your business?

I’d love to stock and introduce other kind of Indonesian ethnic fabrics to the European sewing community. For example, beautiful Ikat fabric from Bali and Flores or Songket from Sumatra.

What inspires you in your sewing style?

The Instagram indie sewing community, which normally reflects the current trend in fashion.

Finally, what is your favourite thing you have made, and what’s next on your machine?

My two wedding dresses! I made one for my civil wedding in The Netherlands in 2018 and then made another one for my wedding party in Bali a year after. The amount of hard work and determination behind it made it a very special thing to make and remember.

Funny enough, as if it was not enough, what’s next on my machine now is another wedding dress! This time I make it for a good friend of mine. She asked me to make her a special dress using one of Karta Batik’s fabrics.

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It’s my wedding anniversary! Two years ago around this time my husband and I said ‘yes’ to each other after being almost 6 years together. How time flies! 😆 We actually had 2 weddings: first one in 2018 in The Netherlands for the civil and church wedding, and a second one in 2019 in Bali for the big celebration with family and friends. Not because we can’t get enough of having 1 wedding, but it is more for paperwork practicality purpose for us German- Indonesian couple living in NL. And who doesn’t like travelling Bali 😝 And yes I made two (!) wedding dresses, one for each occasion 😆 This dress is made for our wedding in NL in September 2018. When we decided to get married, I knew I wanted to make my own wedding dress although I had merely less than a year of sewing experience! Despite everyone’s doubt, I nevertheless believed in myself and my ability. And I think I proved it! I wanted to make a relatively simple fit and flare dress in white lace. So I learned how to draft a basic bodice using a dress form/ mannequin (meet Miss Molly!) and equipped with sewing books and tons of Youtube tutorials and patience 😂 It was very tough to achieve a great fit since my dress form is bigger than me (anyone can recommend me where to buy petite/ custom size dress form in the EU?) By making a trial dress first (in green lace) and with a lot of tweaking, unpicking, and redoing, I was finally happy with the result! Of course I also made some rookie mistakes, like making the lining waay too small I could not even sit 🙈🙈 and not to mention those mistakes made when making sleeves and inserting the not-so-invisible zip The point is: you’re the only person who can say and decide if something is achievable or not. So just believe in yourself! And just forget about perfection. Mistakes are inevitable and as long as it’s perfect (read: good enough) for you, nothing else matters 💪 . . . . . . . . . #imademyclothes #handmadewardrobe #sewcialists #sewistsofinstagram #memadeeveryday #memadewardrobe #naaien #naaienisleuk #naaieniship #millenialsewist #instasew #imakemyclothes #sewmuchfun #memade #handmadecloset #modernsewist #sewsewsew #nähen #diyweddingdress

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Where can we find you on social media?

On instagram at @karta.batik.fabrics and Etsy at

Modista newsletter subscribers get 20% off Karta Batik in November! Reading this and feeling like you’re missing out? Sign up here and send me a message on instagram and I’ll get the codes to you.

Homer and Howells Blair Jacket

I was given the Blair jacket pattern as a prize in the Homer & Howells giveaway. There was no obligation to sew or review the pattern.

Can you believe it is the end of October already? I feel like October Blairly just started! Ok, I’m sorry. Let’s get to sewing.

The Blair pattern is intended for lightweight fabrics such as cotton, viscose and linen yet ever since I first spotted it I couldn’t shake the idea of it in a tweed weight wool. When I found this wool blend for a bargain €2.50 per metre at the local fabric market I knew I had to give it a go.

The Blair features a wrap over front, back yoke, deep side dart and lovely in seam pockets. It can be made in two lengths- the shorter view looks cracking as a blouse whereas the longer can be worn as a dress or in my case, jacket.

The Blair has an oversized fit which I was worried in this wool might make me look like a Resistance extra in one of those post-apocalyptic movies. So I asked advice from Nic and Susan and ended up sizing down from a 12 to an 8. If you’re doing the same, be sure to check the arm circumference too.

I’ve used H&H patterns before when I pattern tested their Innes and know Nic and Susan pay really good attention to detail on their patterns. The steps were really clear although somehow I managed to sew the back pleat the wrong way round – it still looks fine to me though!

There were a couple of tricky parts to the construction thanks to my fabric choice. Firstly, the Blair uses the burrito method which gives a really neat finish. However with a mid weight wool like this the burrito became more of a tree trunk and it was a real battle to turn the garment the right side out! H&H have since written tips on how to sew the Blair in heavier fabrics here.

Secondly, H&H patterns use a 1cm seam allowance which I normally prefer not to use. A small seam allowance doesn’t give much room to play with if you need to let a pattern out and I find it quite fiddly. I would normally add more seam allowance but the Blair has some really small ‘steps’ in the seams and notches that need to align perfectly so I was reluctant to mess around with them. On a heavier wool the edges frayed so it was tricky to match the notches. I got there in the end, but would recommend a thinner wool or linen blend for this garment in future.

Some final construction tips – Sharlene from So Sew Dressmaking is Queen of the Blair and advised me to use a home made clapper in the form of a wooden chopping board which worked a charm!

I enjoyed the little details on this coat – I used a cotton poplin in the pockets and for the front buttons decided to add them in a straight line. Having chosen a smaller size the coat feels comfortable but doesn’t wrap over as originally intended. I used these gorgeous buttons from Pigeon Wishes that Meg sent me as a present. Seeing as the majority of the jacket was sewn while on a catchup Zoom with her, the buttons were appropriate and are just so stunning.

Overall I am really pleased with my Blair jacket and think it’s a great autumnal layer. I love wearing it with a scarf over a ditsy print dress but think it would be great with a pinafore or Dawn jeans too.

If you’re looking for inspiration you can check out the Blair hashtag – whether in a lightweight cotton lawn or heavier wool, it would be a great addition to any me-made wardrobe.

On the rise: Ready to Sew Pio

This week I finished one of the first pieces from my autumnal WFH capsule; the Ready to Sew Pio pants and have been really enjoying wearing them!

It’s no secret that I really like Ready to Sew patterns -available in French, Spanish and English their patterns always have simple silhouettes with an interesting deisgn feature, and most importantly for me several variation options or potential for hacking.

I’ve guarded a burning lust for elastic waist pants for a while now and when the Pio came along it felt like the perfect pairing of a full elastic waist and an interesting pocket feature so I couldn’t wait to give them a go. I had a little trouble with the fit at first, but think I’m well on my way to creating my dream pants!

I made a size 40 based on my measurements, using a lovely sanded tencel twill from Patterns and Plains in the UK. The fabric is very drapey, quite lightweight and feels lovely on the skin.

The pattern instructions were easy to follow and having the pockets constructed from different pieces rather than one long origami-esque piece made them easier to construct in my opinion. The waistband is folded width-ways then sewn on; the edge then finished and pressed down.

When I’d completed the garment and tried it on it before hemming it was clear I had some fitting to do. The front crotch was really baggy and when hoiking the trousers up to where they felt comfortable they were almost hitting my underboob!

Doing some research online and looking at the #pioreadytosew tag I could see some others had the same issue and I needed to shorten the rise of the pants. This means the area just below the waistband – by removing some of the height of this I’d hopefully amend the problem.

As I’d already made the pants from my good fabric (keen), I did this by removing the waistband and cutting down the pants by about 2inches, then reattaching the waistband. I was then really happy with the result – the pants sit in the right spot now and feel really comfy.

To do this adjustment next time I would need to remove the rise from the pattern piece using the lengthen/shorten line and adjust the pattern piece accordingly. This does bring up the pockets more than intended on the original pattern but I don’t mind them higher personally.

I’m really happy with the finish of the trousers and how they sit, however would like to work on the calves. As you can see the central seam bends slightly inwards when worn – not a massive deal in the big picture but it’s really irritating me so I want to investigate why this is and will report back what I find! It’s all part of the sewing process – slowly I’m learning to fit to my body, take my time with adjustments and find the perfect fit through research and speaking to our community.

All in all I really enjoyed this sew – there’s quite a few pieces but they come together really nicely and are very comfortable to wear. As a size 40 (40.5 inch hip) I got them out of about 1.4m 60” wide fabric.

If you’re making pants and need to make adjustments, the following resources are really useful and clear:

Closet Core Patterns pants fitting tutorial

Seamwork pants tutorial

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.


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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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


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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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


#jecoudsmagarderobe (I make my wardrobe)

#cousumain (hand sewn)



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!