Sewing

Constructing the Sew Over it Libby collar

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What you’ll need

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

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

Constructing the collar

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Snip through the layers
Pin the pieces up inside the collar

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to DIY the new Rouje x Liberty collection

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pauline Shirt vs McCalls M7811

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

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

Maggie top vs Ariana dress from Style Arc

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

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

Jurgen shorts vs Arden pants by Helen’s Closet

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

Shirt dress vs Sew Over it Penny

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

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

Rouje blouse vs Fibremood Norma

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

Loulou scrunchie vs your own pattern

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

Match the fabric

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

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

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

Sewing a Kew dress hack

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The bodice

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

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

The skirt

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

The zip

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

of course…it has pockets!

The straps

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

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

Rocking the BCG

…and that’s all folks!

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

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

A perfect ‘simple sew’; the Grace Skirt

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

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

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

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

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

1. It’s a simple pattern with several variations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4. You learn several new skills in one make

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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An introduction to the world of French sewing

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

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

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

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

5 French fabric stores you should know

Atelier Brunette

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

Pretty Mercerie

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

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

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Cousette

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

Studio Walkie Talkie

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

Un Chat sur un fil

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

5 French patterns you will want to sew

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

Wedding dress by Atelier Charlotte Auzou

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

Etoile dress by French poetry

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

Iris dress/blouse by Le Camelia Rose

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

Azur dress by Atelier Scammit

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

Jazz jumpsuit by Ready to Sew

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

5 French sewers you will want to follow

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

Le French Closet

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

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

Roberta from Made by Robi

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

Carole from La Maison Six Chouettes

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

Benedicte from Louanje

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

Nadou from Nadou Creation

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

5 French hashtags to follow

#tissusaddict

#jecoudsmagarderobe (I make my wardrobe)

#cousumain (hand sewn)

#jecoudsdoncjesuis

#patroncouture

And finally….5 French phrases!

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

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

I love Kew; ode to my favourite pattern

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

Photo from the Nina Lee website

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

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

The classics

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Not my best photo, but you get the idea!

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

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

Kew expansion pack and hacks

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

Photo from the Nina Lee website

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

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

Isn’t this make fabulous!

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

My top tips for sewing a Kew dress

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

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

Lockdown loungewear – my favourite patterns

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Iris blouse by Le Camelia Rose

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Look6461 trousers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Over £1675 raised!

Wow, just wow! When I laid out my target of £1500 during #memademay2020 for the sewing labels, I really thought I was pushing the realms of possibility a bit.

But here we are just halfway through #memademay and we’ve not only hit the target, we’ve SMASHED IT!

When I released my French labels on Friday there was a sudden rush of orders (thank you!) not just for them, but for the charity labels as well so suddenly we reached just over £1675!

When I went online to make the donation, I realised that Natwest have updated their commitment to match customer’s donations to the National Emergencies Trust. In the beginning I could only see the way donate via Natwest Rewards which I don’t use – but now they match cash donations!

I was delighted and, as with the previous donations, added Gift Aid to the donation which adds an additional 25% to your contribution.

So all in all, we have raised a whopping £2768 for the fund!!! Zut alors!!!

I want to say a huge, huge thank you to everyone who has supported so far. Whether by making a purchase, sharing and promoting on your stories or by sending me a little motivational message, the momentum from the sewing community on this has been brilliant.

Hundreds of little envelopes have been sent all over the world in the last 5 weeks or so and it’s been brilliant to see how you’ve used them so please, keep sewing and don’t forget to tag @modistasewing in your makes and I’ll do a little happy dance here in Liverpool.

Thanks again, stay safe, and stay sewing!

Sally

Introducing Modista labels

Did you know that ‘Modista’ means ‘tailor’ in Spanish? I chose this name to combine two of my favourite things – travel and sewing!

I’ve been really lucky to travel frequently with my job and for several years lived in between France and Spain, mostly Paris where I spent most of the time desperately wishing I could be as chic as the French women and browsing the fabric stores beside Montmartre and up in La Butte d’Or. I became (sort of) fluent in French and to this day love reading French sewing blogs, using French fabrics and listening to French podcasts.

I miss the world. A lot. Right now we can’t get out into the world too easily, but we can bring it to us by means of our fabrics, patterns, and now labels!

Introducing my latest label designs! I’ve been working on these for a while now and am SO pleased with how they turned out! I have used muted colours that to me conjure up summer in Paris and the joy of living there – colours that would match so many garments and bring a chic finishing touch to them.

Want to brush up on your French sewing phrases? Bien sûr!

Et voila …… and there you go! (usually used when something is finished)

salut chouchou……hi sweetheart/darling – but I actually chose this because chouchou also translates as scrunchie – this label is crying out to be put on one!

fait à la main ….handmade

très chic….very chic

DIY couture……DIY couture!

The labels are OEKO-TEX quality and come 5 labels to a pack. It’s important to me to be as sustainable as possible and to continue to give something back, so I do relatively small orders at a time, have used glassine bags for packaging (fully biodegradable!) and 5% of my profits from this label design will be donated to charity.

The weekend of 15-18th May I am running a giveaway for 3 winners to get a free label pack on my instagram page – if you would like to win, you just need to like the post, follow me and comment what #wip you would use the labels on!

You can purchase the labels on my store here, and also through my NuMonday store at www.numonday.com/shop/modista-sewing

Packs of 5 are just £7.50 including worldwide standard delivery.

I hope you like these new labels – let me know what you think!

DIY Rouje Dorine dress

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

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

The Rouje Dorine dress costs a cool 165 euro

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Modista labels

FREE WORLDWIDE SHIPPING/LIVRAISON MONDIALE GRATUITE

Modista labels are influenced by my love of languages, travel and, of course, sewing.

I was lucky to live in Paris for a while and whilst there I loved exploring the fabric district nestled behind Montmartre, or the unusual craft shops in the Marais and the amazing textiles and tailors up in La Butte d’Or.

These labels will bring a little bit of French chic to your makes with 5 fun French phrases and beautiful colours to complement all styles. They are 6cm x 1.5cm with a folded edge to make sewing them in even neater. They are made from OEKO-Tex quality material that withstand whatever you put your garments through!

The labels are £7.50 per pack of 5 designs, including worldwide delivery!

5% of all profits from this range of Modista labels are donated to charity.

Purchase via Paypal here:

Pack of 5 Modista labels

5 woven labels, includes worldwide shipping. 5 étiquettes pour personnaliser vos cousettes. Livraison gratuite.

£7.50

Isewlation labels

These labels were designed to fundraise during the Covid-19 pandemic for the National Emergencies Coronavirus Fund which directly supports charities across the UK during the crisis. All profits are donated to this cause.

The labels are high quality woven using 50% recycled OEKO-tex materials. Each pack contains 5 labels

Dimensions: 6cm x 1.5cm (blue)

‘With love from a sewcial distance’ – UK orders

Pack of 5 woven labels - includes UK standard shipping

£7.00

‘With love from a sewcial distance’ – International orders

Pack of 5 woven labels - includes worldwide standard shipping

£8.50

Made in Self Isewlation – UK

Pack of 5, includes standard UK shipping.

£7.00

Made in Self Isewlation – International

Pack of 5, includes standard worldwide shipping.

£8.50

Sew Over it Eve Dress

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

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

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

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

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

View this post on Instagram

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My pledges for #MeMadeMay2020

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

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

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

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

1. Hit £1,500 fundraising target

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

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

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

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

Therefore in May I am focusing on:

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

Let’s see how that pans out!

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

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

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

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

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

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

5. Combine my two loves – languages and sewing!

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

True Bias Ogden Hack

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

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

The original idea courtesy of Urban Outfitters

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

Gathered ruffle added to the chopped piece

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

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

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

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

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

Burda Hepburn dress

It’s mad how the lockdown changes your perspective so quickly. Usually I travel around 12 weeks per year for my work and rarely spend a full month in the UK; my main hobby besides sewing is exploring the places I’m lucky enough to visit for work and researching what to see and do.

Last week the most exotic trip I took was to the Tesco on Park Road and it was exciting. I hadn’t been to this Tesco in ages as it’s a bit out the way for me but when looking for a new route to walk we decided to go via there to pick up the essentials. Walking in I was agog. In the big Tesco they have clothes! Pyjamas! Books, electronics and magazines! My boyfriend left me to browse the craft section for a bit where I found this month’s Burda magazine.

I’ve seen these before in charity shops but never really engaged having been put off by the huge pattern sheets; I usually print off my PDF’s or buy the pattern. However with no access to a printer at home and plenty of spare time for a challenge I figured why not, and the patterns this month look lovely!

The idea with Burda patterns is to trace over the lines on the pattern sheet, then add seam allowances. To do this I used normal baking paper (taped together in parts) and pencil to trace and cut out the pieces. For my toile I just cut around the pieces with a 1.5cm seam allowance but for the main garment I transferred the pattern pieces with allowance to card.

I chose the ‘Hepburn’ style dress fro this issue which is intended for a heavier material such as a jacquard, but I imagined it in a lighter fabric like this gingham I picked up in my panic-buy at Abakhan before they shut the store. I didn’t think it would work with a panelled skirt so just used the pattern pieces from my recent Liberty dress to create a gathered skirt.

Some people say that the Burda instructions are too vague, as they’re all jammed together with no pictures just the literal instructions. However for an intermediate sewer, especially on a relatively simple garment like this I think the instructions are fine provided you go slow and read them a couple of times before starting.

I’m really pleased with this dress and especially love the shoulder ties which I’ll borrow for another garment in future for sure. As usual I have issues with the neckline as I have SUCH a hollow upper chest, grr! As the finished dress is lighter than my toile fabric the gape is more noticeable so I will have to unpick the side seams and take them in by a cm or so to reduce the gape. I am always looking for easy, plain talking explanations of how to solve my eternal chest fitting issue so any recommendations are welcome!

I enjoyed this make and look forward to trying more from this Burda issue. Thanks for reading and happy sewing!

Liberty Dress by Simply Sewing

For a long time I’ve fantasized about being as effortlessly chic as the French, who seem to have the knack for making a sack look classy. As far as I can tell from careful study and Instagram stalking, the common denominator between the French women who look so cool on their way to buy the morning patisseries is linen. That gorgeous woman with the big sunglasses and great hair? Wearing linen trousers. The cute elfin teenager flouncing past you with a big handbag? Wearing an equally enormous linen ruffled dress.

With this in mind I am embarking during lockdown on a quest to Make More Stuff Out Of Linen with the hope French chic-ness will follow.

I bought this gorgeous mustard fabric in March 2019 in Dubai on a layover back from Melbourne. Whereas other people might beeline for the Burj on a 12 hour stopoff, I stayed in the Creek area with the express mission to take the public boat over the said creek to Dubai’s fabric souk, where I was in heaven. The fabrics there are gorgeous and if you can find a store not selling wholesale, you can banter down a real bargain. I got this particular linen blend for £3 a metre originally with a ruffle jumpsuit in mind like one I’d spotted in Sydney. Of course, it then languished in my stash while I deliberated over it.

However when issue 65 of Simply Sewing came out my French linen dreams were rejuvenated and I decided to give it a go. This is a simple pattern that only takes up about 1.5m for the short, short sleeved version (one of my big pet hates about magazine patterns is how outlandish their fabric recommendations are; this dress said 3m!)

I’d had my eye on a ‘going to market to buy cheese and look great doing it’ dress for a while and a loose linen dress had long been a staple on my ‘one day’ Pinterest boards, so I felt like this was the time to crack out the Dubai material!

This was a pretty simple pattern but I really took my time with it, enjoying the process of trying to keep it as neat as possible. I cut a size 12 as luckily the magazine’s patterns usually fit me well with no adjustments.

This was my first time trying princess seams and I was worried they’d look a bit weird on a plain fabric when I’m going for Effortlessly Cool. However by ironing them really carefully they lay really flat and still achieve the loose look I was going for.

It was also the first time I have overlocked my gathered edges and MY WHAT A DIFFERENCE IT MAKES. It completely smoothed out the gathers and I hand stitched them to the princess and side seams to hold them up, avoiding the maternity dress look that so often seems to happen to me with gathered skirts and prompt strangers to ask when I’m due (4 occasions and counting, rude).

My only adjustment was to add two large pockets because, let’s face it, pockets improve everything. I cut two rectangles and folded down one short edge and sewed down from the fold to the edge. I then turned out the corners and pressed, then folded up and pressed the button. I then edge stitched the pockets onto the dress so that they’re tidy on the inside but not too bulky.

At first I wasn’t super chuffed with the outcome of this dress. I’m quite self conscious of my tum so would normally avoid anything flaring out from the waist area as much as this. However, after flouncing around Liverpool’s Georgian Quarter on our daily walk in it and wearing it around the house, this dress is Comfy AF and I love it. I’m already planning a couple of others in perhaps a ditsy floral print and the 3/4 sleeve view as well. For someone like me at the intermediate stage of sewing and still building confidence, magazine patterns are still a good way to receive new ideas every month and challenge your skills alongside the more refined indie patterns.

#getyerfaceout because I’m using lockdown as a great excuse to not wear makeup!

Beginner-friendly sewing ideas during lockdown

With the Great British Sewing Bee starting on the 22nd April and the majority of people in the world now living under some sort of lockdown, it makes sense that a lot of people will want to start sewing as a new way to pass the time.

A lot of people who have bought the isewlation labels have told me they’re starting out sewing or buying them as a gift for someone who is.

I’ve loved seeing how people are using them and wanted to share some fabulous examples and ideas here for anyone thinking of doing some sewing during lockdown. Whether you’re new to sewing or experienced hopefully you’ll find some fun ideas here!

1. Mask hairbands by Juliet Ozor

These are a genius idea and super quick and easy for all levels of sewers. I am making them for my friends who are health workers who tell me they are ok to use provided they withstand the hot wash needed to clean PPE. The labels being OEKO-tex quality, they are hardy and will also stand up to it.

You can follow Juliet’s example pattern here.

2. Eye mask by Tilly and the Buttons

Another quick and easy make and best of all, it’s free! These are another great gift idea for any key worker friends who work nights, or simply someone you want to let know you’re thinking of them.

The drawstring bag is another easy free pattern from the set by Simply Sewing. I’ve made a few of these sets using gorgeous Masai cotton I bought in Kenya earlier this year.

3. Scrub Bag

Emma aka The Zipper Foot used her labels to make a gorgeous scrub bag for her friend who is a nurse. There are lots of free patterns online for these bags as well as a Facebook group for people making PPE and related items during the pandemic. They’re really simple to do, but at the moment so useful.

4. Zipper purse

This is often one of the first patterns attempted by beginner sewers and I personally never tire of making them as there are so many ways to adapt them and make every one different! On this one I’ve just used a simple rectangle shape to make a lined purse but there is an excellent round up of all the patterns you can imagine here by the Sewing Loft Blog.

5. Toys and teddies for little ones

I recently made this Luna Lapin for a new baby. She’s wearing the t-shirt bow dress from the first book and a cardigan I drafted (read more about it here). Why not add a label to a teddy or knitted item you’re making?

6. Pin badge display

I’m a recent convert to pin badges and although there are so many fun ways to display them, on fabric is one of my favourites. I love this DIY pin badge banner tutorial from Polka Dot Chair – it’s simple, effective and a great project for beginners and a label would look great on it!

7. Teabag holder

This is such a cute idea and a great way to use fabric scraps. It also folds flat so would be easy to send to someone in an envelope if you wanted to add a label to them as an adorable gift! Free pattern here by The Sewing Directory.

8. Jam jar topper

My auntie’s friends have been making jam and dropping the jars off at each other’s doors which I think is a lovely way of telling someone you’re thinking of them. A jam jar topper is super easy and doesn’t even require machine sewing – just a bit of material, some ribbon, a label and a hairband and you’re set! Free pattern available here from Hobbycraft.

9. Sunglasses case

It’s pretty sunny out there and even though we can’t spend too long outside it’s still nice to have a sunglasses case to take with you out and about. A free pattern for this easy make is available here on Sew DIY and would make a lovely gift for someone, especially in a Liberty style fabric like this one.

10. On your own clothes!

I can’t believe how gorgeous the pieces are that people have been using the labels on. Sewing as we know is a calming, mindful hobby (except when holding a seam ripper) and making a garment or item from scratch is so rewarding in normal circumstances, never mind now. I especially love this Wiksten shift top from @rosieo. It’s a cult pattern with straightforward assembly and such an effective design.

I hope that this list has given you some ideas! I could go on (and on) but know at the moment everyone has a limited bandwidth for how many items they can sew right now (myself included) so these easy makes are a good way to practise your sewing skills and make something lovely.