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!

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!

View this post on Instagram

| 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

A post shared by P R E T T Y M E R C E R I E (@pretty_mercerie) on

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

View this post on Instagram

➖ 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

A post shared by E m m a n u e l l e (@lefrenchcloset) on

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!

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

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.