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!

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!

New Look6461 trousers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DIY Rouje Dorine dress

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

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

The Rouje Dorine dress costs a cool 165 euro

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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