Homer and Howells Blair Jacket

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Sia dress’ by Marsha Style

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My completed Sia dress

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Choco cord

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

Floral jersey

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

Spice Foil Leaf

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

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!