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It has been wonderfully hot and sunny in London for the last few weeks. Perfect timing as I had just finished this dream of a summer dress. This is the Kew Dress from Nina Lee London and I've been planning to make it since it was released last year. Finishing this is actually another garment ticked off my #2018makenine! I bought the pattern at the Great British Sewing Bee Live from Nina herself but it has taken me six months and the promise of some true summer weather to prompt me to find the time to make it!


Part of what took me so long was down to sheer indecisiveness. Firstly about which view to make; sleeves, straps or cold shoulder? The lovely little fluttery sleeve on the cold shoulder version is what first drew me to the pattern (as well as the beautiful feature button front) but I was concerned that the shoulder would date quickly. In the end the fabric made this choice for me as the breezy drape of it was the perfect match for this style.


The fabric was actually the second thing that held me up. It is this stunning Dahlia viscose crepe from Til The Sun Goes Down which I have been lusting after for probably no less than two years. To be honest I lust after most of their beautifully curated fabric range which mainly consists of reproduction vintage prints on fabrics perfect for dressmaking. This particular design is inspired by a 1930s print and is unfortunately currently out of stock on the website. A vintage inspired floral isn't what I usually tend to gravitate towards but I think it was the organic feel, vibrant colours and fairly large scale that drew me to this. Andree made my dreams come true when she generously gifted me a length of it at the Knitting & Stitching show in the Spring. I had 1.5m following the requirements on the back of the pattern but only just squeezed the dress out of that as I failed to note that it's 138cm wide not 150cm!


I did have this pattern in mind when I picked it from her stand but once I had it pre-washed and ready to go I started doubting myself. I liked the fabric so much, and had it on my wish list for so long that I quite desperately didn't want to waste it on the wrong project! I went on a summer dress pattern hunt, even enlisting the help of my Instagram viewers with a poll. I wondered if this dramatic print would be better showcased paired with a simple garment and both the Papercut Patterns Sway and Adrift Dresses were close contenders but I fell back on my initial gut instinct and stuck with the Kew.


Viscose is probably my favourite fibre to make dresses out of. It has such great movement, drapes beautifully without clinging or sticking and keeps you so cool, even in the stuffiness of a London heatwave. This particular viscose has a lovely matte, crepey texture that adds to the vintage vibe. It is great to sew with too, once you know how to handle it! It is a delicate fibre that is best laundered on a cool and delicate cycle and left to line dry. I always use a fairly cool iron. It is made from wood pulp and has a lot of the same properties as silk but generally with a less hefty price tag! As with fine silks it can be quite shifty so I'd recommend lots of fine pins and if you're new to this kind of fabric perhaps cutting in a single layer. My favourite trick for slippery fabrics is cutting on carpet so there's a bit of grip.


I also find viscose has the potential to stretch out as you sew so make sure to stay-stitch the edges that are cut on the bias. I'm wondering if my pattern pieces did get a bit stretched out throughout the construction process as the fit isn't quite what I hoped. It's not terrible by any means and I feel very comfortable in it but it is slightly loose, especially around the waist and doesn't have as much shape as I feel like it should because of that. I feel like I want it to nip in a little more at my narrowest point and then flare out into the skirt. it doesn't help that the softness of the viscose means that the skirt hangs a little limp whereas a fabric with more body would emphasise the slightly flared shape. The drape of the viscose does however give the dress quite amazing movement as you walk or in the wind which is a great combination with the front split created by the buttons that finish just above the knee.


It is my first time making a Nina Lee design so I'm not 100% sure if the fit is due to my handling of the fabric or the pattern. It could be that my proportions don't quite suit her block so I need to make a couple of small adjustments next time. I cut size 8 at the bust and graded out to a 10 at the waist and hips. I would have been able to get away with the straight 8 despite the measurements being an inch smaller at the waist and two at the hip but will make a quick toile before making in anything stiffer. I made no other adjustments, even to the length. I love the way the hem dips down towards the back and the straps are a good width and position to cover bra straps.


For a first time with a new pattern company I was super impressed with both the pattern and instructions. Everything came together really smoothly, the finishing techniques are great and I loved making it. I would recommend not giving yourself a tight deadline on this one though so you can take your time and enjoy the process. There's a lot of pattern pieces to contend with and even more buttons and buttonholes to sew! That does take some time and is quite frustrating as you are so close to the end but well worth it for the finished look. My buttons are from The Cloth House on Berwick Street. I loved the slightly worn vintage feel of them against the fabric. I could have picked out any colour in the print with the buttons but felt black balanced it best after trying a few. I did the button holes in white thread and sewed the buttons on with white too so it didn't get too solid black.


I wondered if the cold shoulder sleeves would be a but restrictive to arm movement but they have been drafted perfectly to hold their shape but still give you a bit of room. Its not a dress to be particularly physical in but I can comfortably lift a gin/pint/glass of wine in a pub garden so that suits me fine! I shortened the shoulder straps by about an inch and they could probably do with a little more as they slip off the shoulder. But the dress stays up without them which speaks to a good fit across the bust! The darts are spot on for me. The only thing I'm not happy with in the bust area is that the centre of the neckline where it buttons doesn't sit quite flat. Again a slightly more structured fabric would support this better. I did use a fusible, lightweight interfacing on the facings and wouldn't want to use anything heavier combined with this fabric but the viscose doesn't keep quite as crisp an edge as I would like around that neckline, despite under-stitching.


Whilst I love this dress and have been really enjoying wearing it I'd really like to make it again in a cotton lawn or something slightly crispier. A crisp fabric is really not my usual choice for a dress so I've kind of surprised myself by saying that but I think I'd love a strappy version with a little more structure. Perhaps a seersucker would be a good choice as it has some body but still a bit of softness.

It looks set to be another scorcher this weekend so I'm sure this dress will be getting another outing! Thank you Andree for the stunning fabric and Nina for the gorgeous pattern. Her new Mayfair Dress is next on my list! 
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June has been an incredibly busy month for me which has left me incredibly frustrated as I had so little time to spend on my sewing machine! I can't wait to get some quality sewing time in and my teeth stuck into the next big project, especially after seeing some of the inspiring new pattern releases this month! I don't think I've been so good at keeping up with the indie sewing new and pattern launches this month so please do add in anything you'd like to share in the comments and make sure to check out each-other's recommendations.


New Pattern Companies!
  • The ever so talented Claire-Louise A.K.A the Thrifty Stitcher has launched a new line of patterns available through the Sewing Quarter and her website in paper format. Her first pattern is the Fiona Hobo Bag (I particularly like the name of course!) and the second is soon to follow.


New Patterns
  • So this list is usually in no particular order but when the pattern is your namesake I think it deserves to be top of the queue right?! The Fiona Sundress is the latest release from Closet Case Patterns and is a true stunner. I was their pattern muse this time around and Heather Lou has basically created my dream dress! I am so stunned and touched. Both views have a button up front and princess seamed bodice. View A has wide straps and a midi-length column skirt with side vents and View B has a gorgeous low back with cross straps and the option for a mini or below knee length skirt. Be prepared for this blog to be filled with them.
  • Style Arc released the Annabelle Woven Dress which is a sleek and sophisticated wrap style. The pattern features an optional small double edged ruffle along the bodice wrap edge and cuffs for the cap sleeves. They also launched the Catalina Designer Dress which has statement balloon sleeves which are pleated into a raglan shoulder seam.
  • The new collection from Trend Patterns is formed of three stunning new designs. The TPC20 Shirt & Shirtdress and TPC19 Slip Dress are both classic styles with their unique twist but my favourite of the bunch is the TPC18 Twist Dress which has a flattering relaxed cut and twist feature in the front which can be made at the centre or off to one side.
  • The two new patterns released with Seamwork Magazine this month work well together when made in the same fabric as a kind of faux romper. The Kristin Top is a boxy cropped style which wraps around the body and has three armholes and no fastening. The Heidi Shorts also have a relaxed fit with high pleated waist and the member exclusive pattern bonus this month turned these into a skort. 
  • I mentioned that Merchant & Mills released the Gyo Top & Dress last month but completely missed that they also released the Francine Top, Clementine Skirt, Ottoline Shirt and Heroine Jeans. I thought I'd include them this month as these gorgeous workwear inspired designs are all definitely worth attention!
  • Sarah Kirsten sent out the Walnut Wrap Skirt as a free download for newsletter subscribers. The download includes instructions to draft and sew your own cute streamlined wrap design.
  • New from Tessuti is the Hazelwood Top. This is going high on my sewing list for autumn. I love the relaxed funnel neck and swinging a-line shape which is emphasised in sturdier knits. They also released the Felicia Pinafore Dress. A simple shape for any season with sleeveless bodice, slightly dropped waist and gathered skirt.
  • The Emma Racer Back Slip and Bralette is new from Measure Twice Cut Once. The pattern is designed for knits and features a slim racer back and cups shaped with gentle gathering. I love the simple sophistication of this and the binding finish.
  • Making Patterns Fly released the Top Halter which is a gorgeous simple lined design which would look best in really lightweight, floaty fabrics like the sample. The halter neck is gathered front and back with a tie.
  • Itch to Stitch released the Crystal Cove Cami which has a relaxed fit and spaghetti straps. It features an overlapping back with curved hem which would be lovely and cool in the heat of summer. The pattern comes with pieces for A-DD cup.
  • The Libby Shirt was Sew Over It's PDF pattern release of the month. It is a cropped style with a relaxed fit, open notched collar and short grown on sleeves with cuffs. This would look great made up in a fun rayon print and paired with jeans.
  • The new Ulysses Trench from Victory Patterns has caused quite the stir on social media and it is easy to see why! Despite my brain being filled with summer sewing ideas this has made me think about sewing for next season; definitely one for the wish-list. It is a contemporary draped take on the classic trench with beautiful and clever details such as the belt loops being part of the rear storm flap.
  • Nina Lee released what is basically my dream dress pattern in the form of the Mayfair Dress. I've got one RTW summer maxi dress which is so old and well worn that it has holes in but I've been too lazy to try and recreate. This jersey design is pretty much a dead ringer and I'm so excited to make multiple versions! The dress features a gathered front with grown on collar and waist ties and you have the option to make maxi or knee length as well as three sleeve lengths to chose from.
  • The new releases from Mood Fabrics this month included the Rowan Dress and Rosa Blouse the glamorous cut out sleeve of which I love. They also released the Rosemary Blazer, Sage Shorts and Solandra Gown which features a silk chiffon cape.
  • The Clare Dress is new from DG Patterns; a knit faux wrap dress with gathered skirt and gorgeous open flared sleeves. They also released the Silvia Top & Dress which is a knit design with flared sleeves and shape provided by the shirring across the front waist.
  • Louis Antoinette Swing in PDF format
  • The new Roksi Trio from Amy Nicole Studio is a clever design including a swing style crop top, tank and dress. All three elements can be layered over one another for a tiered look plus each element is reversible so you can mix and match to your hearts content.
  • Tessuti Felicia Pinafore Dress
  • Issue 3 of Lisa Comfort magazine is out now and includes the Lottie Dress pattern; a simple, strappy summer classic with a button-up front. She has also added a couple of summer designs to her new Poppy and Jazz line, both of which make for a very co-ordinated little look. They are the Raspberry Romper & Hat and Daffodil Dress & Pants.
  • Wearologie released the Aestiva Sleeveless Vest. It can be made either short at waist length with a waistband and mandarin collar or in a longer length which I love the drama of! I think this would look great made up in linen and layered over a breezy linen dress of a different shade. 
  • New from Hot Patterns this month are the HP 1235 Riviera Deauville Pull-On Pants and HP1234 Wong-Singh-Jones Kimono Shirt-Jacket which a a truly beautiful elegant pyjama style top with kimono sleeves. I'd love to make this up in a dramatic silk satin print.
  • Simple Sew released the Tara Button-Back Dress. It has an empire line bodice, short sleeves and detail in the back which buttons all the way down.
  • Greenstyle Creations have released some real gems of late. The Havana Dress is the latest and the Bohemian maxi vibe is right up my street. There are three lovely back options including a racer shape, low scoop and the unique lace up style which is my personal favourite.
  • The Perkins Shirt Dress is new from Ensemble Patterns. It has a relaxed fit, grown on cuffed short sleeves and either a gathered or flat yoke. All four lengths of this look really contemporary and wearable and my personal favourite is the dress with side slits.
  • Goheen Designs released the Huxley Backpack. I've been thinking about making myself a practical bag and this could be just the ticket. The larger size is big enough for my laptop and it can convert from backpack to crossbody bag to bike bag. You can also make it with or without the lid flap.
  • The Brome Dress & Top is new from Fancy Tiger Crafts and is available in both paper and PDF format. It offers three sleeve options and three lengths with lots of lovely details to sew including a front placket, narrow band collar and cuff bands.
  • The new Carmen Flounce Skirt from Designer Stitch has all the appeal of an on trend ruffled wrap skirt with non of the wind issues as it is a clever mock wrap style. I think they've got the proportions of the frill just right.
  • Wardrobe by Me released a new men's pattern in the form of Cargo Shorts. They have been well thought out with deep pleated side pockets and back reinforcement. A really great practical and wearable project to make for you men or the men in your life. 
  • The Pixie Tee is the latest release from Chalk & Notch and has a relaxed fit with two sleeve options and either a hem band or gathered hem ties. 
  • PM Patterns have just released Suùn; a dress or top for women with a v-neck line created by gathering fabric into the shoulder yoke and which has three depths to choose from. I love the sample that has piping along the gathered shoulder yoke seam, what a lovely detail.
  • The Kirei Camisole pattern is new from Blank Slate Patterns. The knit design includes the option for a built in shelf bra and the choice between a fitted or swinging body skimming fit.
  • The ladies from Smyly Magazine have launched the Abi Jumpsuit. Designed for knits the sleek style has the option for wide or tailored and cropped, long or short length legs. It makes use of the bodice from their Samantha Dress so if you already own this you can purchase an add on of just the trouser pieces.
  • Now available on freesewing.org is the Penelope Pencil Skirt which is a classic fitted design. This heralds the beginning of a number of new womenswear patterns on the site, the next being for a circle skirt.
  • Madalynne released a new pattern in collaboration with Simplicity. The 8711 pattern includes an underwired bralette, with a floating bridge to hold a continuous monowire for support and also a pair of undies with a ruffle feature at the back.
  • Released just yesterday are two new designs from Tilly & The Buttons. The Stevie Top or Tunic Dress has a modern boxy fit with the choice of ties or button loop closure at the back. The Seren Dress is a classic button up strappy summer dress with the option to add a neckline flounce.


Pattern updates and expansions



Sew-alongs, Tutorials and Online Courses

  • Megan Nielsen has been running a detailed sew-along for her recently released River Dress & Top. The tutorials include two methods of sleeve insertion and tips and tricks for making this design in both wovens and knits.
  • The True Bias Yari Jumpsuit sew-along posts are now all up including a hack to make yours with a long tie around the waist instead of the short straps and d-rings to cinch it in.
  • To celebrate the Suki Kimono being June's #sewmystyle Helen from Helen's Closet has been running a sew-along for the pattern over on her blog. It has been super in depth with a few alternative construction methods and hack ideas thrown in so worth a look.
  • Love Notions have been running a sew-along for their Cadence Dress & Top including some really useful posts on fitting and adjustments you can make.
  • Gertie is hosting a sew-along for her B6556 dress pattern on her blog and facebook. If you join the facebook group you can have a good chat about your project, post photos and share/ask for fitting tips and advice.
  • Fancy Tiger Crafts have been posting a series of instructional videos for sewing their latest pattern, the Brome Dress & Top. There area number of fiddly details involved in this dress including cuff bands and partial plackets so I think this is a great resource.
  • A complete guide and sew-along for sewing Madalynne's new underwired bralette and ruffle undie pattern with Simplicity can be downloaded here.


Upcoming!

  • Gabby let us in on the news that she is going to be launching Gabberdashery Patterns soon! Gabby is working with the very talented Barbara A.K.A Rocking Stitch and they are recording their progress on Gabby's Youtube channel.
  • Jennifer Lauren Handmade will soon be releasing the Raine Dress; a summer dress with a vintage vibe, two views and pockets!
  • There is a new website launching soon which will be purely dedicated to maternity sewing! The site will be THE place to find maternity specific and 'maternity friendly' sewing patterns.
  • Halfmoon Atelier have not one but two patterns coming in the next few days. I already love the look of the summer jumpsuit and the Wells Bay Bikini is reversible!
  • Afternoon Patterns will be launching their latest design, the Sparrow Wrap Dress on Monday!


Other Exciting News



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Sometimes a simple design is all you need to showcase a spectacular fabric and that is certainly the case for this skirt. The Cloth Shop has to be one of my favourite fabric shops in London and is well worth the trip over to Ladbroke Grove if you haven't been there already. Its not particularly cheap but the fabrics are all beautiful; natural fibres, gorgeous colours and block prints and top quality. They also stock a particularly wonderful selection of Indian trimmings which are very reasonably priced and a selection of handcrafted household items. Its a delightful shopping experience and a treat for the eyes! This is their washed linen in 'Seville'; an irresistible shade of burnt orange. It is soft, weighty, with a gorgeous drape and slubby texture. It's £26 a metre in the plain colours and I only needed a metre for this skirt so not bad considering the quality. It does wrinkle up considerably over the course of a day but I like that look and it presses, washes and sews well.


I had been thinking about using this linen for a summer version of the Berlin Skirt but as my previous version wasn't quite the success I hoped for I re-thought the plan. This is the Erin Skirt from the Sew Over It My Capsule Wardrobe: City Break ebook, a simple, fitted, button-up style. I cut between the size 8 and 10 as I usually do for Sew Over It patterns and it fits a treat. I was concerned about how practical this shape would be for my day to day life as I need to move around a lot but this actually has a much straighter cut than a pencil skirt and the perfect amount of ease to be comfortable. Initially the skirt was hitting at a midi length which is a bit longer than intended by the pattern. It didn't look bad but I had in mind a few helpful comments left on my Berlin Skirt post and was wary of it hitting at the widest part of my calf which can have a less than desirable effect proportionally. I kept pinning the hem up higher and higher and assessing the look, pinning each side at a different height so I could compare the difference. Eventually I decided that just above the knee like this felt most 'me'. For reference, I'm 5ft3" and I took 4.5" off the length and used 1/2" then 1" inch for the hem. The pattern suggests 5/8" but I liked the look of the wider hem.


The skirt was so quick to sew; after cutting it probably took me a couple of hours. It came together beautifully and as a result was so much fun to sew. The linen is a dream to work with and the pattern is well drafted with clear instructions as usual. This is the third pattern I have made from the My Capsule Wardrobe: City Break ebook (see my Mia Jeans and Molly Top) and it really is a cracker and great value for money. I wasn't blown away by any of the patterns when it was first released but am so pleased I remembered my copy as all five designs are true classic wardrobe staples. None of the designs scream 'ooo this is just so you!' but each one has been worn much more often than I expected. Good fit, good drafting and simple but well thought out designs and construction.


I came across one odd wooden button in my stash which I thought looked great with the fabric and had a feeling I bought it in Cloth Houseas  a sample for a show I was working on but unfortunately I either got the source wrong or they've long since sold out! I luckily happened across something very similar in Liberty of all places. I wouldn't usually shop for buttons in there but was on the hunt for a present for a friend and was pleasantly surprised to discover that these were only 40p a button, much cheaper than the original I was hunting for. There's a slightly coppery tone in the wood which I think works really well with the orange. The pattern requests 25mm buttons but these are in fact 20mm. I always err on the side of slightly smaller than recommended with buttons as there's something about a really big button that makes a garment shout 'I'm homemade!' to me.


I did find that the buttonhole markings given on the pattern pieces weren't particularly useful once the skirt was assembled. They didn't seem to be central on the placket so I used them as guidance for spacing but marked my own. I also lost track of the marking on the waistband which I think ended up on the centre front edge rather than in a useful button position so again marked my own. I think a beginner would benefit from more guidance for this step as the instructions say to simply 'mark your buttonholes using the guide on the pattern' and notes that the top one should be horizontal and the rest vertical. You want that top buttonhole to be slightly off centre to keep the waistband closed at the right position. On a close fitting style like this the button will naturally pull to the far end of the hole so you want that position to be in line with the centre front and other buttonholes. If the centre of the buttonhole is on the centre line things will end up askew when the skirt is worn.


The pattern suggests you only need interfacing if you are using a lightweight fabric but as my linen is pretty soft compared to the denim which I think the pattern is designed for I opted to use a lightweight woven fusible on the waistband and centre front edges where the buttons are. I did a little sample on a scrap first to check that it wouldn't ruin the drape and movement of the fabric and think I made a good decision. It adds a little crispness and strength to those edges.


I really like the topstitching detail on this pattern, there are double lines along the pocket opening and placket edges and then a single line around the waistband and along the hem. I think a little bit of topstitching can really help a garment look professional and less home made don't you? I picked the colour of the thread from memory as I forgot to take a sample with me and I'm ironically kicking myself for making such a good guess as you can hardly see the lovely topstitching which I am really pleased with, even around those tricky corners on the waistband!


The top in these photos is also a new addition to my handmade wardrobe and I'm sure many of you recognise it as the Ogden Cami by True Bias. I don't have a huge amount to say about the pattern as I now have no less than six (yes six, see a couple here) versions of this beautiful little basic in my wardrobe, some of which I have hacked the pattern around a bit for. I've made it up in a wide variety of fabrics, all of which have turned out great but given very different results. This is sewn up in Blush Viscose Satin Twill from The Fabric Store, which is stocked in a variety of colours. The viscose is slinky and slippery yet the twill weave provides a slightly crispier finish with a little more body than you'd expect from a silk satin. It certainly makes a great summer top that is cool and comfortable against the skin. I think these fabrics would be absolutely fantastic used as linings for coats, skirts or dresses. It feels a bit more robust than silk so would probably withstand a good bit of wear and tear. I'll report back after this one has had a good number of goes through the wash!


I cut the size 4 and shortened the straps by 2" as with every other previous version of the pattern and am happy with the fit and ease. The slippery satin was indeed very tricky to cut and sew, particularly around where the straps meet the neckline. This is a fiddly bit of sewing in any case that requires some patience and in this instance I used extra pins and a short stitch length to ensure accuracy and strength. I french seamed the side seams (the satin does fray quite badly but presses well) and as usual used pinking shears to finish the neckline seam as it also does the job of notching those curved edges for you!


I absolutely love this combination of blush pink and burnt orange. It was a bit of a happy accident as both projects ended up on my sewing table at the same time and I just adored the combination of warm tones and differing tactile textures together. It has become a favourite summer outfit and despite not being much of a pink wearer I've since ordered some soft pink merino jersey for a cardigan so I can integrate a bit more of this delicious colour combo into my wardrobe. 
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This little number has jumped the blogging queue as I wore it a few times during Me-Made-May and got a lot of questions on Instagram about pattern and fabric details and what alterations I made. I thought it was worth answering them in a proper blog post. Plus any garment which gets worn three times in the two weeks after you finish it (despite the fact that I was trying to mix things up for May!) deserves sharing and documenting promptly!


The Inari Tee Dress from Named Clothing has been a big hit within the online sewing community and it has been on my wish-list for a long time despite me having some reservations about how the style would suit me. I dipped my toe in the water last year with a woven version of the cropped tee which I never actually blogged as despite still wearing it on the odd occasion I didn't count it as a huge success and haven't yet figured out the best way to style it. The fit isn't fantastic on me and it looks very square, sticking out below the chest in an odd way. Perhaps I chose a fabric with too much body? I was disappointed as Named patterns generally seem to fit me well and some of my favourite handmade garments are their designs (see here and here!).


Anyway, that experience slightly put me off and apart from the odd reminder when a beautiful version popped up in my blog feed I had almost forgotten about my plans to try the dress. Boy am I glad I remembered though! This project actually started with the fabric as unusually for me I made a fabric purchase without a specific project in mind. I'd popped in to Sew Over It to buy another piece of fabric I had spotted on their website and fell in love with the texture and subtle pattern of this unusual ponte knit (unfortunately no longer available). Quite a light weight for a ponte knit, it has a nice drape and movement too it along with the stability and structure you would expect. The diamond pattern is woven through the fabric and as well as variation in the colour there is a slight variation in the thickness and texture of the weave which is really lovely. It is a polyester so gets a little sticky when it is really hot but not unreasonably so and apart from that has been comfortable to wear and delightful to work with.


I've never been much of a pink wearer so this spontaneous fabric choice rather surprised me but I'm actually loving it. I've found myself quite drawn to dusky and blush shades recently and have just ordered some soft pink merino for a cardigan too; I think it must be that subconscious absorption of the current trends! It took me a while to decide what to make with it as I was worried the colour was a bit too close to my skin tone to use for a dress and might wash me out. After mulling it over I took the plunge anyway and raided my pattern stash for knit dress patterns. I emerged with the Inari and after a quick google of other makes decided it was the ideal candidate.

The fabric is a great match for this design. It has a decent amount of stretch combined with a lovely drape but still maintains a bit of structure which is useful to hold the split hem feature of this design. The hem vents and hem itself do have the potential to get stretched out and wavy in a knit. Luckily the stability of this particularly knit gave me no problems but if you're having trouble with yours I recommend stabilising the area first by using a fusible stay tape or 'Steam-a-Seam' along the stitching line.


As for the pattern now I've figured out how to alter it to suit my body shape and proportions I'm completely in love! It is incredibly comfortable but feels really chic and looks as good at the end of the day as the start. The design is elevated above being a basic t-shirt dress by some simple, carefully chosen design elements. The hem vents are a really contemporary simple touch and that neckline sits beautifully. The shape and size is spot on for my personal preferences. The side seams of the dress gently curve towards the front which is really clever. As well as giving shape to the dress they bring those side seam slits around towards the front making them more pronounced.


I think what has put me off of making this before is that I wasn't sure how the oversized, slightly cocoon shape would suit me and unfortunately I definitely didn't love this when I first tried it on after sewing the side seams. I increased the seam allowance (right the way up under the arm) to 1" instead of the requested 1cm but it didn't make much of a difference to how I felt in it. I don't know why this design looks so great on everyone but on my body shape it just feels like a tent! Was it my fabric choice? Or just that I'm not used to seeing myself in this shape? Luckily I had a flash of inspiration and the current trend for tie belts saved the day! I wanted to go with quite a chunky dramatic belt but the leftover fabric determined a fairly slim and long one instead which I now love. It has totally transformed how I feel about the dress and I think the combo of longer length plus belt really works.


I added 5 inches to the length as when I did a Google/Instagram search of the pattern I tended to prefer those that were a little longer. I guessed at 5" by holding the pattern piece up against me and going a bit longer than I thought I needed figuring I could always take a bit off when hemming. In the end it turned out perfect. I'm 5ft 3" in case you're thinking of doing the same. I extended the side slits by 2" as I felt that would better suit the proportions of the longer length and I really like this. I love how the dress moves as I walk as a result. I'm really glad I went with the midi length as I think above the knee with those slits would feel a lot less practical. You also need a little extra length to accommodate what is taken up when you tie a belt around it. Make sure to tie the belt around the dress when putting it on to decide hem length as it affects how it hangs quite dramatically.


I definitely prefer this design in a knit and am now kicking myself that I didn't get around to making it sooner. There's something about the drafting of the sleeve/armhole that feels a bit restrictive in a woven. Everything sits a bit better in a knit and allows for comfortable movement. I cut the size 38 as always. Usually with Named patterns this is pretty much spot on with no alterations. This didn't work for me in the woven but is great in the knit, particularly now I've taken it in under the arm an extra bit. For reference my measurements are roughly 34" bust, 27" waist and 38" hip. I had 1.5m of the fabric and had just enough to squeeze out my tie belt once I'd cut the dress with the extra length.

I veered off the instructions and resorted to my normal order of construction for tees. I attached the neckband as the second step after assembling the shoulder seams and after this inserted the sleeves flat, sewing the side seams and under arm as one before attaching the cuff bands in the round as the final step. This pattern is designed for both woven fabrics and knits and I think the instructions slightly favour construction for wovens. I used a short and narrow zig zag stitch on my regular machine for accurate construction with a size 90 stretch needle. I finished all my seams on the overlocker and used twin needle topstitching to secure the neckband in place. You don't need to worry too much about the stretch of your stitches with this design as it doesn't have any negative ease.


This was such a great project for me right now as I've got hardly any time to sew but am feeling really inspired to do so and have quite an overwhelming sewing queue and pile of fabric in front of me! This is really speedy to sew, about 3 hours including cutting, so felt great to have actually finished and achieved something. The only problem is I've now just increased my sewing queue because I want to make more of the same dress! Every fabric shop I go in now I've got my eyes peeled for interesting knits of a good mid weight!
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The pattern releases have been coming thick and fast throughout May, I've been struggling to keep up! There are some absolutely gorgeous new releases plus sneaky peeks of upcoming patterns to tempt you. I must admit I've already bought and sewn a couple of the new patterns in this list, they were so irresistible! Taking part in Me-Made-May has really fired up my sew-jo as I've identified gaps in my handmade wardrobe. Plus the change of seasons always makes me more motivated and excited about sewing new and different things. I just wish I had more time to sew them all! I'll crack on with the good stuff you came here for...


New Pattern Companies!


New Patterns
  • Jennifer Lauren Handmade released the Pippi Pinafore which is a more feminine take on the popular overall dress. The dress is partially lined with an a-line skirt and patch pockets but the best feature is the fitted bib which comes with multiple cup size options making this style more accessible to curvier ladies!
  • New from Closet Case Patterns are the Jenny Overalls and Trousers! These are a modern take on the vintage workwear trend with a wide cropped leg and ultra high rise. I'm particularly taken by the shorts variation and may be changing my summer sewing plans yet again!
  • The two new patterns released with this month's edition of Seamwork Magazine by Colette Patterns were dresses! I must admit I'm incredibly tempted to sew up the Lane Dress which is a figure flattering column dress for knits with waist ties. I might just have the perfect fabric in my stash! The Amber Dress is a contemporary take on a peasant style sundress with gathered tiered skirt.
  • Style Arc kicked off the month with two new oversized shirt patterns. The Phoebe Overshirt is a classic mens style with a statement double cuff but I particularly like the seam lines and swing shape of the Martha Overshirt. The way the short sleeves and pointed side panels grow out of the yoke is a really interesting feature. Mid-month they released the Fifi Woven Pant and Flick Knit Top.
  • I'm not usually one to impulse buy a pattern on release but thats exactly what I did with the new Myosotis Dress which is part of the new collection from Deer & Doe. Here's my version; that swinging boho style is what I want to wear all summer long! The other two designs are pretty stellar too; the Narcisse Pants have a classic high-waisted wide leg cut and the Nénuphar Jacket is a kimono style which I would absolutely wear both variations of.
  • This month started with a big flurry of beautiful, well designed new patterns. The Decades of Style TLC 107 Kaftan is no exception. Its a dramatic pullover design with pockets and waist ties that thread through inside to give definition at the waist.
  • The joy continued with the new Hilo Dress from Friday Pattern Company who continue to produce some really unique and wearable designs. This is a flowing bohemian knit dress with a layered bodice and the option to make with a super low scooped back.
  • Mood's first free pattern download release of the month was to celebrate Star Wars day! The Delta Cosplay is a mens style based on Hans' jacket. Their second cosplay release was Enif inspired by Deadpool. They also released the Nolana Jeans, Oak Jacket, Piper Shorts, Orchid DressPhoenix Swimsuit (with on trend off shoulder ruffle) and their first maternity pattern, The Olea Shirt. The top portion of the Petunia Romper has caught my eye; love that wrap front and cut out combo.
  • New from Designer Stitch is the Eden Jumpsuit which offers a lot of style choices with a cropped or short leg, sleeveless or cold shoulder sleeve and the option to make as a simple wide leg trouser with elasticated waist.
  • Schnittchen released the Anoush Pants and Shorts. The main feature of these are the unique large curved pocket openings which curve around the hips to the back. They also released the Carmen Shirt and Dress which is either hip or maxi length with double ended darts for shaping through the back. The on trend cold shoulder look is created by the wide ruffle running across the chest and continuing into sleeves.
  • The new releases from DG Patterns this month included the Dana Top, Chelsea Top and Micaela Top and Dress. Micaela is a sporty knit tee with hem vents, Chelsea a tiered pussy bow style and I think I might give Dana a whirl, I love the boxy wrap style and the way it ties at the hip.
  • The Danube Jean Skirt is the lastest design from Itch to Stitch and is a beautiful fitted denim skirt with all the classic jeans style features and side slits. Kennis always creates such classy timeless designs and this is a true wardrobe staple for all ages. She also released the Nottingham Top which is a satisfying, speedy to sew t-shirt with knot detail at the centre front hem.
  • Dessine Moi Un Patron released the Ivy Skirt which is a tiered maxi skirt. I really like the proportions of this and the way it skims the hips then flares out dramatically. Got my eye on that for summer! 
  • The Phoenix Blouse is the latest release from Hey June Handmade. I love this, particularly with the 3/4 length bell sleeves. It appeals to the part of me that loves a bit of bohemian summer style and it could be a real winner with the jeans in my wardrobe.
  • Colette Patterns released the Gwen Dress and Camisole. Its a simple slip style with french finished princess seams and side vents along with the option to add a flounce to the straps. As with all their patterns going forward this is a PDF only release.
  • Thread Theory released their next menswear pattern; the Sayward Raglan. A classic mens raglan tee that promises to be a speedy sew...might this encourage some of us to do a bit more sewing for the men in our lives?! This is the first in a number of new designs coming from them
  • Daughters of Style launched two new designs this month; the Winona Shirt is an oversize style with overlapping back and shirttail hem and the Liv T-Shirt and Dress is a sweatshirt style with long sleeves gathered on to a dropped shoulder.
  • The Sew Over It PDF pattern release of the month was the Lucia Top. It features an off the shoulder frill around the neckline and has long sleeves which is a great pairing I've never thought of. This would look great made in different fabrics for a casual or dressed up look.
  • The new James Knit Pant from Fresh Press Patterns promises the look of a trouser but the comfort of a legging! The design features a tailored straight cut, centre front invisible zip fastening and contoured waistband. 
  • The Hérens Bathrobe and Robe is new from Opian Patterns and is a really cute and practical design. The robe features a curved hem, inseam pockets and (my favourite feature) little pleats at the shoulders. I love the neat yet relaxed fit of this, Chloé has hit on a great balance.
  • The latest release from CocoWawa Crafts could be just the dress my summer wardrobe needs! The Honeycomb Shirt & Dress features a centre front button placket and small stand collar but my favourite design element are the little bow ties which pull the waist in at either side.
  • Merchant & Mills released the Gyo Top & Dress which is a Japanese inspired asymmetrical design which would look gorgeous made up in a linen, double gauze or seersucker for summer.
  • New from Pier and Palace is the Pico Wrap Dress. Jumping onboard with the wrap dress trend they take inspiration for theirs from the Japanese kimono which shows clearly in that beautiful wide obi belt. I also really like the angled armholes and centre front hem.
  • Cashmerette launched the Ipswich Swimsuit which like all of Jenny's patterns is designed with plus-sized ladies in mind. The suit features supportive straps and the option to add a pretty incredible looking underwired foam swim bra and boning along with the choice of one piece or bikini.
  • Wardrobe By Me released two new patterns this month. The first is the Summer Skirt which is a wrap style and features two ruffle options plus a contoured waistband, elasticated at the back for comfort. They also released the Classic T-Shirt which would be perfect for that nineties crew neck and jeans look.
  • Made by Rae released Jade which is a knit top with multiple mix and match sleeve and neckline options. There's either a boat neck or ballet neckline to choose from and elements of this can be mixed with her Isla pattern for even more mileage.
  • New from Waffle Patterns is the Pine Yoke Blouse. The design is semi-fitted with a front a back yoke with box pleat beneath. I like the button back fastening and option to make with a high collar or round neck.
  • How To Do Fashion launched their No.13 Paris pattern which is an absolutely gorgeous 1960s wiggle dress design with asymmetrical features. So chic!
  • The York Pinafore is the latest release from Helen's Closet. It has a lovely cocoon shape and scooped sides and offers two choices of length, neckline and pockets which you can mix and match to create your perfect style.
  • There is a new free pattern available from In The Folds for Peppermint Magazine. This time it is a gorgeous pair of Wide-Leg Pants which feature a fly front, pockets and a shaped waistband.
  • DP Studio released their fourth collection of patterns. The Spring/Summer 2018 Collection is of their usual unique style and includes this fab workwear inspired jumpsuit, a beautiful strapless dress, versatile shirtdress and fashion forward jeans amongst many others. Make sure to check out the line drawings to really appreciate these. I'm about to cut out a pattern from one of their earlier collections so will let you know how I get on!
  • The Tabor V-Neck is the latest release from Sew House Seven and it is a t-shirt, crop top and sweater for all seasons! It has a few different hem styles, sleeve styles and necklines to choose from. My favourite is the combination of deep v-neck with wide band an a dropped shoulder.
  • True Bias launched the Yari Jumpsuit which has a relaxed fit with cute little straps with d-rings at the sides to cinch it in at the waist. It has four views including sleeveless and small extended sleeves plus shorts or a tapered leg. I think it could be a great match for some soft chambray I have in my stash!
  • Ploen Patterns released the Astrid Skirt which is a really cute little button up flared style. It looks great in the crisp striped fabric they picked for the sample. Available in 12 sizes in PDF format.
  • New from Green Style Creations is the North Shore Swimsuit. The pattern includes a one piece cutaway swimsuit and a bikini option with an incredible amount of variations to choose from. There are six front styles and sizes back styles to mix and match for the top and four bottom options with different levels of coverage. A great purchase if you need a lot of swimwear.
  • 5 out of 4 Patterns released the Stella Romper (which also comes in a girls version for those of you who sew for the little ones in your life!). This relaxed little number with off the shoulder ruffle neckline can be made as a one piece or separate tank and shorts.
  • Last but by no means least The Maker's Atelier released The Sun Dress just this morning! This is a relaxed, breezy style for super hot days and features a curved drawstring hem with scooped back neckline.


Pattern updates and expansions

  • The Tailoress has been working on updating a few of her patterns over the last month. Her dog clothing patterns (Jasra Tee and Toby Jumper) have an improved, less bulky fit and the Sabrina Swimsuit now features slimmer ties with a slightly different placement and fit.


Sew-alongs, Tutorials and Online Courses

  • Megan Nielsen has been running a thorough sew-along for her new Ash Jeans. So useful for all those little construction elements of jeans sewing that will be new to many, including the dreaded fly front! Her samples are beautifully made so I have been keeping my eyes peeled for new tips.
  • Thread Theory have posted a speedy sew-along for their new mens Sayward Raglan. A great one for beginners looking to pick up tips on sewing with knits, especially those looking to branch out with their first menswear project! 
  • Helen from Helen's Closet will be running a sew-along in June for her Suki Kimono pattern to coincide with being the chosen pattern for the month for project #sewmystyle.
  • Alongside the release of her new Ipswich Swimsuit, Jenny from Cashmerette has launched 'Swimsuit Making for Curves'; an online course formed of video tutorials guiding you through the process of sewing your own supportive swimsuit.


Upcoming!

  • I am SO excited to say that a new pattern is on the way from Closet Case Patterns...and its going to be named after me! I couldn't believe it when Heather Lou told me and am a bit blown away that she'd think of me for one of her patterns. She gave away on Instagram that the Fiona will be a fitted dress and from what I've seen it looks like it will be a beauty! 
  • The Basic Bikini Wells Bay is being tested by Halfmoon Atelier. It looks lovely and simple in a chic scandi way from what we can see so far!
  • Ensemble Patterns are testing the Perkins Shirt, Tunic and Dress which makes a feature out of the raglan sleeves with a tie back and open yoke details.
  • The next issue of Smyly Magazine will come with a free jumpsuit pattern including three different versions. You can find some preview pictures on Instagram; I love the combination of tapered leg and relaxed wrap bodice.
  • Soon to come from Making Patterns Fly will be a halter neck top design. It features really cute gathering and ties at the neckline and would look gorgeous in a breezy muslin or lawn for summer.
  • Pilot Patterns are a new British independent pattern company launching soon. Their first pattern looks like it will be the Lily Lucy Dress which features flutter sleeves
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Today I'm sharing with you a dress which shot straight to the top of my sewing queue and then straight to the top of my blogging queue too. It is the new Myosotis Dress from Deer & Doe. I (along with many other people by the look of my Instagram!) fell immediately in love with this design, in particular view A and it's effortless breezy boho style. I haven't been 100% sold on the ruffle trend that has hit the high street this season but for me this is the perfect amount and placement of ruffle. I've got a Kew Dress cut out and waiting which I'm pretty excited about but have been hunting for the perfect 'right for any occasion' summer dress pattern that I could wear day in, day out. Despite being tempted by both the Papercut Sway and Adrift Dresses I knew when I saw the Myosotis release that it ticked all the boxes.


Although I haven't yet tried a Deer & Doe paper pattern and this beauty was worth pushing the boat out for I just couldn't wait and ordered the PDF the day after release. It is actually the very first Deer & Doe pattern I've made and I was really impressed with their PDF. I almost printed it at a copy shop as the large fabric requirements led me to believe there would be a huge number of pages but it is just 29 for View A & B and it you only want View B without the ruffles there is a separate file of 23 pages. If you're printing at the copy shop and just want view B you just need to print the first page. I love this thoughtful attention to user friendliness and I didn't feel like I was wasting much paper as with some companies. There is a detailed separate file on printing and assembling your PDF and I like that it comes with a layers option so you can print just the size(s) you need if you like. Part of the surrounding pages are printed in the borders of each sheet which gives you the option to stick your sheets together overlapping the edges of the pages rather than standard trim the stick method. You just have to draw in the ends of the lines where they don't print right to the very edge of the page.


I didn't intend to make a white one just like the Deer & Doe sample and was in fact looking for a viscose print but then I stumbled across the perfect fabric on Maggie's market stall in Lewisham. She sells bolt ends from high street stores at bargain prices. A tick in the sustainability box for using up excess yardage from the fashion industry which would otherwise go to waste! This double layer crinkle viscose was just £2.50 per metre. I bought 3 metres and surprisingly have nearly 3/4 of a metre left. This pattern looks like a fabric eater according to the envelope but I know a few of you will be relieved to hear it doesn't have to be with some careful pattern piece placement! I've got 2m of 127cm wide rayon that I really want to use for a this dress and in particular this ruffled view which uses more fabric so didn't think I'd have enough. But I've laid out the pattern pieces and realised I can just about squeeze it out! Woohoo! I'm cutting the size 38 so if you're making a larger size you might need more, although a 150cm wide fabric gives you a bit more to play with. That is for the size 38, larger sizes probably will need a bit more, especially in the narrower width.


This fabric is absolutely ideal for the design. You want breezy, lightweight fabrics with beautiful drape and movement. This is actually surprisingly weighty for a viscose because of the double layer and is the heaviest I'd use for this style as you don't want anything that will be too bulky when gathered up. There's a lot of gathering going on in this design and gathering is really not my favourite sewing thing to do but it proves how much I love the design that I am prepared to go through it all again! The gathering probably took quite a large proportion of the construction time, I had to excursive a lot of patience painstakingly ensuring that the gathers were evenly spread. I just used the old fashioned technique of two rows of basting length stitches on the machine which you then pull up. I might try the zig-zagging over dental floss trick next time to see if it works out quicker. I've never seen the point of investing in a gathering foot when its not something I do very often.


The real beauty of this fabric is that despite being near enough white and super airy the double layer means it is opaque even in direct sunlight! Its very similar to double gauze in the way it it put together but has even better swish in the movement. Two layers of the crinkled viscose (which is a bit like a slightly dense cheesecloth) are caught together every half inch or so by a little stitch. This grid of stitches does show slightly when you press the fabric really flat but disappears when it softens up again. The fabric made for a slightly challenging sewing experience as the crinkle kind of gives it some stretch as it moves through the machine and flattens out and one layer also shifts slightly against the other. Nothing that had a detrimental effect on the finished dress though!


I haven't yet needed to wash the dress (as its pretty much fresh off the machine!) and I'm a bit concerned that the crinkled nature might prove problematic when I do. When I pre-washed it it really wrinkled up and the width of the fabric reduced by almost half! This presses out again with a bit of effort and the dress feels pretty oversized so I don't think a bit of shrinkage width ways will necessarily be a bad thing, but I think its going to be tricky to get it looking good again along all those ruffled seams and hard to press areas. I hope not as I want to wear it all the time but lets be honest.. that white is going to need some regular washing! I'l report back.


After all the fairly quick and satisfying projects I've been sewing recently to enable me to get squeeze some sewing in around a pretty hectic spell at work this felt like quite the lengthy sew. I tackled it over the bank holiday weekend and it took the majority of it. It was enjoyable to get my teeth stuck into something a bit more meaty again but I did wonder if it would ever end at one point! The instructions are good but don't hold your hand so you need a bit of sewing under your belt to get good results with this. The collar is the trickiest part and does require some skill and the ability to be accurate with your seam allowances around tight corners. I found that aspect particularly difficult as the double layer of fabric was quite bulky for such a delicate detail. It would have been much easier in a crisp lawn! I trimmed as much bulk away as I could but but didn't want to go too far as it makes it difficult to tuck the seam allowances away inside neatly.


Next time I might try my favoured Four Square Walls method for the collar. Whilst I liked that when you topstitched around the collar you were securing down the right side facing you rather than trying to secure the side you couldn't see with your stitching I found it really difficult to get a clean finish where the point of the collar met the facing at the front. I did my best but it looks bulky and is definitely not the best collar I've sewn.


I deliberated over buttons for quite some time as I had a few options in my stash which were possibilities. I'm not sure I'm 100% in love with these although I like keeping it clean and simple. I might keep my eyes peeled for some little vintage beauties. I'll let you in to a secret and say that I didn't actually open up my buttonholes and make them functional! As the dress is so oversized it easily slips on over the head without opening so I just sewed the buttons on on top of the holes through both layers. If any of you eagle eyed readers can detect a slight green tinge around the buttonholes and darts its because I'm having real trouble getting the chalk from my pencil out of the fabric! Fingers crossed it will fade with a bit of wear and the first wash!


The double layer of fabric made a hem quite bulky when I wanted to keep it soft like the rest of the dress so I hemmed both my cuffs and skirt by overlocking the raw edge (trimming off some of the length which was to be used in the hem) and then turning that up once and stitching. It still has quite a bit of body but is a finer finish. I used a size 80 microtex needle in my machine and opted to finish nearly all the raw edges on my overlocker before construction as the fabric frayed quite badly.


There is a lot to like about this design and I feel so happy in it. I love that there are side seam pockets concealed within the folds of that swishy skirt and the length and width of the sleeve feels great. I love a big cuff but like that these aren't full length which works in combination with the fairly short skirt to balance the overall volume of the style. I'm used to a more fitted waist than this and don't tend to wear much in a oversized style so this has taken a bit of getting used to. I actually felt too overwhelmed in this weighty viscose when I finished it and went back in to add waist ties. I sewed two long skinny tubes, turned them right side out and inserted them into the side seams just above the waistline. Being able to pull the waist in at the back with these makes me feel a lot more comfortable with the silhouette and has made the world of difference. I think in a lighter fabric I wouldn't necessarily need them as it would hang on the body differently but I am considering sizing down next time anyway for a neater fit on the shoulder.


All in all a huge summer sewing success and I'm keeping my fingers crossed for a long hot summer so I can make the most of this. I think for the next while every viscose print I fall in love with will instantly be made into a Myosotis in my head! I can't wait to make another. 
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I've got two finished projects to share with you today, both from the same pattern which has fast become my go to for a quick and satisfying knit project that is a really handy addition to my wardrobe. I'm a big fan of the True Bias pattern range; Kelli's style really resonates with me and many of her patterns suit my lifestyle. They're really practical wardrobe staples which still feel 'designed' and on trend. I've made five Ogden Camis to date! When the Nikko Dress & Top was released earlier this year it grabbed my attention as being comfortable and easy to wear but also great fun to style. The pattern comes with variations for either a top or maxi-length dress with side slits and either option can be made with or without sleeves.


In a similar way that the Ogden is a great stash-buster for woven fabrics, view A of this pattern is a great way to use up those 'less than a metre' pieces of knits. I wasn't sure how this style would suit me so I started off with this sleeveless top variation so I could test the style and fit without wasting too much time or fabric. I managed to squeeze this out of the fuschia merino jersey I had left over from my winter Kielo Dress. Just today I made a second merino version in a gorgeous teal as I managed to squeeze the pieces out around a long Blackwood Cardigan I was cutting earlier in the week. As well as not taking much fabric it is a super speedy sew; I think I got the teal one sewn in less than two hours this afternoon. The merino is a great match for the top despite being a little on the lightweight wide compared to the pattern recommendations. It has great recovery and presses well so is easy to manipulate into all those lovely shapes.


As I wasn't sure how this would turn out I sort of whizzed through the construction without thinking too much and now I'm kicking myself for not doing a better sewing job as it has turned into one of my favourite tops - especially to wear with high waisted trousers like the Flints I have on here! I've since gone back and reinforced the neck stitching and twin needled hem by using some Maderia Aeroflock thread in the bobbin which has a little stretch in and is super strong. The neck is the one area that you really want to make sure your stitching has plenty of give in as that neat little neckline has to stretch quite a lot to get over the head. I sewed both the top and dress up using my regular knit construction method of short and narrow zigzag stitch on the machine and finishing with the overlocker. I twin-needled the hem on the top so it would stretch but just straight-stitched the dress hem as it doesn't need to stretch and was and meant I could simply pivot around the corners when finishing the side splits.


Despite appearing to be a simple design there are lots of carefully considered elements to it which I love. Both the slightly cut away shape of the armhole and the knee length side slits are so on trend right now but so easy to wear. One thing to note is that the shape of the armholes do require a careful bra choice; it doesn't need to be strapless but a couple of mine won't stay hidden. My favourite design element is the mock turtleneck and the way it is cut. It is slim and elegantly shaped and the perfect height. Its cut so it sits close to the neck but you don't feel constricted or irritated by it.


For the dress I used this Arctic Blue Marle Rib Knit from The Fabric Store. It is a cotton modal blend with a quite surprising weight and drape to it as well as PLENTY of stretch across the grain. I haven't had much chance to work with ribbed knits as yet but have been really drawn to them recently. It gave me a bit of trouble which I'll get into in a moment, so I'd really appreciate any rib knit sewing advice you might have! Despite the sewing challenges it presented it does wash and press really beautifully thanks to the cotton content. Plus the rich blue colour is stunning, especially in the marle effect.


I cut the size 6 at the bust and waist and graded out to an 8 at the hip for both garments which is larger on top than my measurements but I was wary of it looking snug. This has worked out great for the top in the fine merino jersey but not so well for the ribbed dress. The pattern does state that the top is more fitted and the dress cut straighter and I do like that the dress doesn't cling around the hips of stomach. I don't feel self conscious at all in this as I do in some other knit designs. However I do feel like fairly heavy weight of this ribbed knit is causing it to hang in a strange way away from the body and not skim the figure as it does in Kelli's samples. I'm not sure if this is to do with too much ease in the design or the less than springy recovery of this knit. Whilst you don't want a 'clingy' knit for this style you want a fabric which will hold a form. It perhaps feels like I should have gone down a size to compensate for the stretch of the rib and I think the size I make next time will depend on the elasticity and weight of the fabric I choose.


I've used this ribbed knit before to make a Renfrew Tee and found it quite challenging to work with. The ribbed nature of the knit makes it quite easy to stretch out as you sew so I ended up with wavy hems on my tee. To combat this with the dress I used strips of 'Steam A Seam' to fix the hem in place before topstitching. You stick the hem in place with this tape and then press it with a warm iron to secure and this stopped this area stretching out as it ran through the machine beautifully. A stretched and wavy hem would have ruined the feature of those lovely side splits! I was also worried about stretching out the armholes so lowered the pressure of my presser foot and took it nice and slowly, being careful not to tug the fabric and allow the machine to pull it through evenly.


I was worried about the rib knit being very bulky around the armholes so used some leftover merino scraps for the armhole binding. The method given for this in the instructions is straightforward to achieve and gives a lovely neat finish but is not particularly delicate as you wind up with three seam allowances enclosed within the 'binding'. Be sure to grade them down generously and give them a good press. This is the most time consuming part of the construction as the visible stitching requires accuracy but a beginner could easily manage with a bit of patience.


That's about all there is to say about these two; lovely to make and lovely to wear! You can definitely expect to see more of these particularly a sleeved version or two later in the year. If you'd like a peek at my teal version of the top I'm sure I'll be wearing it for Me-Made-May at some point in the coming week so keep an eye on my Instagram Stories!


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Me-Made-May has arrived! For those of you who haven't come across it before Me-Made-May is a challenge dreamt up by Zoe of 'So Zo...' designed to encourage home garment makers to appreciate and wear their handmade wardrobes more. You set your own pledge for the month which generally focuses on how many handmade items of clothing you want to wear a day/week/during the month and usually document your progress with photos. The biggest challenge for me as always will be finding ways to take the photos every day! I'll be sharing mine on my Instagram Stories if you'd like to follow along. I like to use the month to check on the success of my handmade wardrobe and identify any wardrobe gaps that need filling so I can focus my sewing plans on them. Like last year I'm aiming to wear something handmade every day, and as many completely handmade outfits throughout the month as possible. I could have challenged myself to wear entirely handmade but there are a few things like RTW jeans that I really rely on to wear to work and just didn't have the time to make handmade equivalents for. I actually did a bit of forward thinking this year and identified that my wardrobe was missing a handful of staple everyday items to get me through the month and put in a big old order with The Fabric Store to get me started.


First up were some basic tees. I already own the Sewaholic Renfrew Top pattern which is great and I've made quite a few of but I was after something with a slightly more relaxed style and higher neckline for layering this time around. I looked at probably every t-shirt pattern going (using The Foldline Sewing Pattern Database) before settling on the Pattern Fantastique Equinox Tee as the one with the ideal combination of elements. I was drawn to the slightly sixties vibe of this design particularly the little cap sleeve and flattering 'slightly wider than a crew' neck. You can bet I'll be trying that bell sleeve out at some point too.


Fabric-wise although it was tempting to order something fun I opted for classic white and grey marl options that will work with multiple items in my wardrobe throughout the summer. I went with this white Lightweight Cotton Jersey and the grey Lightweight Jersey Knit. As they were both described as lightweight I imagined they'd be very similar but I failed to note that the grey is 100% viscose so is fine and semi sheer with some drape and the white cotton jersey is actually fairly robust with some body to it. The cotton jersey is actually very opaque and you could get away with making a summer dress out of it. The differences in them has made for two contrasting tees and a varied construction process as the white was nice and stable and the grey super shifty and curly at the edges! The required patience was worth it for that one though! I cut the straight size ten and both of these are sewn up as intended with no adjustments or length taken off, with the exception of a slight tweak at the neckline which I'll get on to in a moment. I used a metre of each fabric with some fairly large scraps left over.


The pattern is available in both PDF and printed format and I went with the PDF for speed and also because a tee shouldn't mean too many pages to assemble. I found the PDF format a little frustrating. The pattern pieces are whole rather than a half to be cut on the fold so it feels like you are wasting quite a bit of paper and printing. There is no layout provided in the instructions to see which sheet contains what but I've got into the habit of looking through the PDF to check if there are any pages I won't need to print for my size or the view I have chosen. As I was doing the short sleeves I discovered I could get away without pages 13-14 and 17-18 but that's still 27 pages to print for a t-shirt pattern! I also thought there was a page missing from the PDF and presumed it was because there is nothing on it as it is one of the central pieces of the back piece. But no! It turns out page 1, which looks like an explanation page is actually that missing piece as it has the grainline running down the side! I presumed it was just an explanation but there is in fact a code on each page with symbols in grid to show you where that page fits in to the pattern as you assemble it. There are three different symbols, one for each part of the pattern. Page one has the symbol for the back piece on it. I was very confused and if it was my first PDF pattern I would have been really stumped as I was looking everywhere for a note in the instructions explaining this. I'm all for not wasting that first page with the scale square on but I think numbered pages would be a lot more straightforward!


The instructions for the pattern are on the website rather than as part of the download; the file that comes with the pattern is just a few pages with a cutting layout, size chart (which I loved as it is so thorough and means you can really see the adjustments you might need to make) and basic information about the design, fabric and notions required. The online instructions are generic for pretty much any t-shirt pattern and cover set in and raglan sleeves and various hemming options. I liked that options are presented for a more experienced sewer to choose their preference depending on fabric as we all know knits can behave so differently but I must admit I found this method of presenting pattern instructions a little odd. I'm used to having specific instructions and illustrations for the pattern I'm working on. It made them feel a little vague and I didn't feel like I achieved the best result I could; I certainly wouldn't have done if I was a knit/tee sewing newbie!


The tees still came together pretty quickly as I have made so many knit garments now and go on autopilot with my own construction method so I didn't rely on the instructions much. I sewed twill tape to the shoulder seam allowances for stability rather than the iron on tape they recommend. The one stumbling block I came across was the neckband which I didn't get a very good result on first time around. This is the Pattern Fantastique online tutorial to follow. A fairly wide neckband comes with the pattern which I think adds to the retro feel and I love the grey contrast used on this in the sample. The pattern doesn't come with a specific length of band for each size but rather suggests cutting a strip and assessing how much you should stretch it out as you pin it on. Whilst I understand that this is to do with the fact that different knits have varying amounts of stretch and recovery I've always achieved better results with patterns that do specify a length on the pattern pieces and generally find 10% less than the length of the neckline works well. Both of these knits are fairly stable and don't have that 'ping back' that you get in a lycra blend so I was wary of stretching them out too far but because of this that wide neckband really didn't want to lay flat around the inner edge, particularly at the tight corners of the slight boat neck. I was working on the white tee first and to solve the problem on this one I simply resewed the neckline with a large seam allowance, making the band skinnier and the neckline wider. This worked out quite well but I wonder if the wider neckline is what makes me prefer the grey over this one. When I came to make the grey tee I cut down the width of the band before construction so I've ended up with a skinny band which lays flat but the intended width of neckline.


Anyway, once I'd battled through those little frustrations and have started wearing the tees they've become very valuable additions to my wardrobe and I plan on making more! Despite having reservations about how the fine lightweight jersey would work for this pattern as I had envisioned something a little more stable I've actually been getting a lot more wear out of the grey tee! It sits a little better on the body and looks neater tucked in to high waisted trousers and skirts. There's something about the white one that I'm not quite sure on and I'm wondering if I should go down a size for a neater fit on the shoulder (although it is designed to be slightly dropped) and do a bit of an FBA as I'm seeing some drag lines around the bust.


When I was ordering the tee fabric I decided a long sleeve warmer version would definitely be useful too, especially to wear under my ever-growing collection of dungarees so I got a metre and a half of this Mushroom Merino Jersey Stripe too although I didn't have a pattern in mind at the time. Once it arrived I commenced another great big sewing pattern search but started with the PDF pattern stash on my computer first and found the perfect thing. Its too easy to overlook those digital files we have hidden away and get carried away with something new and shiny isn't it?!


That pattern was the Molly Top & Dress from the Sew Over It My Capsule Wardrobe: City Break ebook and is this is the surprise star of this post! The fit is bang on and the striped merino is amazing, I just feel super comfortable and great in this top. I tested the Mia Jeans pattern way back when this was released and can't believe I overlooked so many of the other patterns in the ebook. It really is a great little wardrobe to sew up and I've got the Erin Skirt lined up next although perhaps I could do with a Molly Dress first!


This pattern ticks so many boxes for me. Firstly the slim fitted sleeves. This is always my personal preference as I have very small wrists and forearms and don't like to feel like I'm swimming in fabric. It makes it feel like the top fits right when the sleeves are nice and snug. But the design of these sleeves is an added bonus as the top portion is 'grown on' to the body pattern piece and the shoulder seam is actually down above the elbow. Kind of similar to a dropped shoulder but the top portion of the sleeve is still fitted. This detail really lifts an otherwise fairly basic design. Plus I LOVE how this feature works in stripes. The top sleeve has the grain running one way and the lower the other so the stripes change direction and you get a lovely v-shaped intersection of stripes along the shoulder seam running down the arm. I'm particularly happy that I managed to nail the stripe matching for this!


As well as the sleeves I really like the relaxed but flattering fit through the body which has just the right amount of ease. The size and shape of the neckline is also spot on for my preferences. The width and depth shows off a bit of collar bone without being so wide that it shifts about and slips off the shoulder and it works both layered under other tops/dungarees or on its own.


I'm used to Sew Over It instructions so this came together incredibly smoothly and was such an enjoyable sew because the merino jersey behaves so well. I wash it in the machine on a 30 degree gentle cycle and use a cool to medium setting on the iron which it responds to really well. I absolutely love this stuff and can't get enough. I've not yet used much merino jersey in paler shades and I was concerned with this one that it would be a little see through as it is on the lighter end of the weight scale but it is nice and dense, the perfect thickness for a warm tee. I love the subtlety and scale of the mushroom stripe although it was a tough choice as The Fabric Store have got a great range of stripes in at the moment. I considered using the stripes in the opposite direction on the neckband as Lisa has in one of her Breton samples but thought it might look a little odd in a stripe of this width and am glad I kept it clean and simple cutting down the centre of one of the wide cream stripes.


As I did with the Equinox Tees I used my usual construction method with knits and assembled the seams with a narrow and short zig zag stitch on my machine for accuracy and then finished them off on the overlocker. Hems I used a twin needle in my regular machine for. A stretch needle rather than ballpoint worked best on all of these fabrics. I have recently repaired some of the zig zag stitching on my well worn activewear and twin needled hems on other garments using this Maderia Aeroflock thread in the bobbin but didn't use it on these as I still only have black and was impatient! I picked up a cone from Barnyarns to try at the Knitting & Stitching Show and have been so impressed with the resilience it has given my stretch seams and hems! Similar to woolly nylon thread this slightly fluffy thread has some elasticity in it and also has a soft finish so is great for activewear seams in particular which may rub. I'll be purchasing a white/cream and grey cone for use on other projects for sure.

So there we have it. Three incredibly useful knit garments to have in the wardrobe, in quality fabrics, all whipped up in an afternoon! I have a feeling you'll be seeing a lot of all three of these as part of my ensembles during May!
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Does anyone else feel a little bit overwhelmed by their sewing queue at the moment? I think it happens with this change of season every year as there are so many things I want to sew for the warmer weather. No that there is any sign of that here in London this morning! The influx of beautiful new pattern releases this month sure hasn't helped. There's a lot to look through as many indie companies launched whole new collections! I'm wishing someone could give me an extra week in my life and put everything else on pause so I can just sew all the lovely new things!


New Pattern Companies!
  • There was a new digital sewing magazine launched this month and along with it a new pattern! Smyly Magazine has been created by Athina and Hattie after the success of the 'Sewing Makes You Love Yourself' challenge earlier this year and the first issue focuses on women who have turned their passion for sewing into a career. Each issue will include a downloadable pattern and the first is the Samantha Dress which is a faux wrap style. 


New Patterns
  • The two new patterns released with the April edition of Seamwork Magazine by Colette were the Natalie Blouse and Jenna Skirt. Both great wardrobe basics, my favourite is the boxy fit and notched collar of the classic blouse.
  • DG Patterns released the Marla Jumpsuit, Top & Dress which is a semi fitted style with lovely pleated bodice detail with v-neckline and dolman sleeves.
  • I love the new Ariana Woven Dress from Style Arc. It has everything I'm after in a feminine strappy summer dress with a flattering classic fitted bodice and full midi skirt. The addition of shirring at the back of the bodice for a comfortable close fit plus pockets on the skirt make this a real winner in my book. I also really like the tie detail on the sleeves of the new Miley Woven Top which was one of their freebies with any purchase in April. They also released the Meghan Jacket which would be perfect made up in a ponte knit. The design features a waterfall front and ties on the cuffs.
  • The new free downloadable releases from Mood Sewciety this month included the Lotus Leggings, Morina Jumpsuit (super glamorous secret pyjamas!) and Lilium Pant. I love how the details of a classic button up shirt are exaggerated in the design of the Melia Blouse and now we've had a brief spell of summer weather in London the new Magnolia and Nyssa Dresses are catching my eye.
  • Hey June Handmade released the Amalfi Dress, the carefree style of which would indeed be perfect for wafting around the Amalfi coast on a hot summer's day! It has flutter or gathered short sleeves combined with a relaxed fit and elasticated waist. 
  • Ohhh Lulu released a free pattern for the Hyacinth Bralette. Constructed from just two small pieces and the perfect simple style to jazz up with a bit of trim this design could be a great stash buster for any knit scraps. Could this finally be the thing that tempts me to dip my toe into the world of sewing lingerie?!
  • One of my favourite releases of the month (and one which I'll probably own by the time you read this, I have no will power!) is the Vernazza Two Piece Swimsuit from Friday Pattern Company. I love the style of the top with tie front and the high rise bottoms really appeal to me right now.
  • The Sew Over It PDF pattern release of the month is the Emmeline Skirt. I love this style for spring and summer and think it would be great in a variety of fabrics. The full, high-waisted style features box pleats, a button front and big bow belt.
  • New from Designer Stitch is the Kate Vintage Tea Dress. A classic, flattering fit-and-flare style with vintage inspired bodice and circular skirt. The pattern also includes a variety of cup sizes for easy fitting. 
  • Love Notions released the Harmony Blouse. An effortlessly stylish design which would be best sewn up in a beautiful silk or viscose woven. The pattern includes four sleeve styles and a keyhole feature at the back of the neckline.
  • Ann Normandy launched a new PDF Pant Pattern. I love that the on trend flared leg of these is created by long godets inserted in the side seam. The design also features a high waist with side zip fastening and a deep welt pocket on the hip.
  • The Spring/Summer collection from Republique du Chiffon has arrived! It consists of six patterns in the form of the Yolanda Dress, Yvonne Playsuit, Jacqueline Jacket, Petula Shirt, Jeanne Blouse and Prune Dress. My favourite has surprised me as its not my usual style but I think I'd get a lot of wear out of Petula; I love the volume and that gathered back yoke.
  • SBCC Patterns have been working on perfecting their latest pattern for the last two years! The Rickey Jacket is a classic blazer with either a notched or contemporary shawl collar and the proportions of the pattern are designed to suit petite ladies.
  • The Billie Jacket is new from PM Patterns. It has a shoulder yoke and princess seamed cut for a slim fit and can be made in a classic single breasted style or double breasted for a moto look.
  • Dessine Moi Un Patron released a new collection of three patterns. The scallop detail at the armhole and across the back of the Bloom button up Dress and Blouse is lovely and I like it as a tie front top. Cherry is a relaxed blouson jacket packed with details and Leaf is a chic dress or top that wraps or buttons at the back.
  • Wardrobe by Me launched two new shirt patterns; one for women and one for men! The Jensen Mens Shirt is a classic with button front, tower plackets, stand and optional collar as well as the option to make with short or long sleeves. The Anna Shirt is very similar in style with the same variations but has slits at the cuffs on the long sleeves and is cut for female proportions.
  • The fifth pattern from Afternoon is the Cosmos Bralette which they have created in collaboration with Create Hobby to celebrate the opening of their Cape Town store. The ideal beginner lingerie pattern.
  • Muse is the new summer collection of patterns from Louis Antoinette, which are all available in both paper and their newly launched PDF format! I love the draped front of the Betty Dress, the waist tie of the Amanda Skirt but am most drawn to the asymmetrical style of the Elvire Top.
  • Also with a new collection out is Laela Jeyne Patterns. La Femme Collection consists of four designs; the Cosette Blouse, Léa Swimsuit and the Josephine and Victoire Dresses. I particularly like the criss cross back and plunging front of the Léa which uniquely can be filled in with lace.
  • New from Street Style Patterns is the 026 Bodysuit. Ideal for wearing with denim, this close fitting style can be made with short or long sleeves and has elasticated leg openings and snap fastenings.
  • Rochad Studio are offering the new Madeline Cardi pattern for free to their newsletter subscribers! It is a great beginner cardigan pattern that would work in a variety of drapey knits with a waterfall front and longer lower hip length.
  • The Robinson Trousers are new from Ensemble Patterns and give you two patterns in one! With six different hem variations and patterns for both stretch and woven fabrics included you'll get a very different result each time. 
  • Rosy Peña Patterns released their first collection which consists of six designs that work beautifully together. The Carolina Jumpsuit is a stunner but I'm most drawn to the Bella Wrap Top; I can't resist a bell sleeve! Also included are the Luisa Trousers, Sophia Flares, Ana Top and Mila Bag
  • Nikki from Beauté J'Adore released her second pattern download for women which is a gorgeous fashion forward Gathered Tunic design. It has a boat neck, gathered waist and high slit. I love it worn over jeans.
  • Closet Case Patterns released a free pattern download to sew your own sewing machine cover! My machine has a hard cover but I was excited to see that the download also includes a pattern for a serger/coverstitch machine. Definitely going to be making one of those to jazz up my sewing space and keep the dust off.
  • The Giverny Dress is the latest pattern from Itch to Stitch and wow is it a beauty! There are many elegant features to this which balance each other perfectly including a pin tucked bodice with slit neckline, wide curved waistband with optional sash and the choice of short or 3/4 length pleated cuffed sleeves.
  • Megan Nielsen released two new patterns this month, one of which is an absolute cracker of a jeans pattern! The Ash Jeans include four different leg styles and I love the proportions and classic style of that back yoke and pockets. The River Dress & Top is a reversible raglan style which can be sewn in knits of wovens and has optional side seam pockets and sash belt. A really versatile wardrobe staple.
  • New from Schnittchen is the Holly Jacket which is accompanied by a video sewing tutorial. Its a cropped college style jacket with ribbed hem, cuffs and neckline and also includes the option to sew with a pointed collar. I'm particularly love with the striped ribbing they've used on the teal sample, so retro!
  • The Maya Linen Pants are new and FREE from Designer Stitch! Just in time for the approaching summer these have a relaxed wide leg with rear patch pockets and a knit yoga waistband for maximum comfort!
  • The last pattern company this month with a new Spring/Summer collection release is Anne Kerdilès Couture. The collection consists of three patterns; the Andria Dress, Côme Trousers and Syracuse Blouse. A few of you were after my recommendations for tapered trousers with a pleated waist when I posted my tartan ones a couple of weeks ago; the Côme Trousers could be a great choice.
  • Wear Lemonade have released the Andy Dungarees which are more of a classic workwear style than their Fionas. The design features a low back, straight legs and five roomy topstitched pockets. Who needs a handbag when dungarees are in fashion hey?!


Pattern updates and expansions

  • Grainline Studio launched the Scout Sleeve Variation Pack to accompany one of their first and still very popular patterns, the Scout Tee. The four new sleeve styles included (cuffed sleeve, petal sleeve, short and long sleeves) mean you can really get the most out of your pattern.
  • As the full bicep pattern option for the recently released Montrose Top was so successful Cashmerette have just released a free downloadable full bicep sleeve pattern piece for their Harrison Shirt. Their patterns really are taking all the work out of pattern alterations for you!
  • OhhhLulu released a downloadable expansion pack for the Hyacinth Bralette pattern. A total bargain for all the variety that is included! Th pack enables you to customise your bralette with lace overlays, back variations including a keyhole cut out and strapping and instructions on how to finish with fold over elastic.


Sew-alongs

  • The sew-along for Cashmerette's most recent pattern, the Montrose Top, has begun over on their blog. The posts include sewing up three different versions of the top using very different fabrics with tips and tricks along the way.
  • Indie Sew are running a sew-along for the Moto Sweatshirt recently released by Seamly. Its just finished up over on the Indie Sew blog so all the posts are there if you need tips with a particular stage. 
  • The ladies behind Smyly Magazine will be posting a sew-along for their first pattern, the Samantha Dress on their blog. There will be a video tutorial for version 1 and a step-by-step how-to post for version 2.
  • Grainline Studio are running a Make-Along in collaboration with Madder to go with their newly released Uniform - Knit & Sew book and e-book. Posts on the Grainline blog will be packed with advice and guidance for sewing up the tunic pattern. For all the knitting tips for the accompanying cardigan design check out the posts on the Making blog.
  • There is a sew-along currently running on the Wardrobe By Me blog for their recently released Jensen and Anna Shirt patterns. If you've been hesitant to tackle menswear or tower plackets this could be a great excuse!
  • Sew News have been running a sew-along for the Emerson Crop Pants and Shorts from True Bias. It has been a three part series with super clear step by step photos to follow.


Upcoming!

  • Coming next from Fresh Press Patterns is the Leon Spring Coat. The weather in London can't seem to make up it's mind at the moment so a spring weight coat might be just what I need! They also shared a peep on Instagram at the James Pants which are designed for knit fabrics.
  • I'm very excited to see what the next Closet Case Patterns design will be. They were shooting the samples a couple of weeks ago so the release must be imminent! 
  • Gertie is working on the next patterns for her fairly new Charm Patterns line. From sneaky peeks on Instagram one looks to be a gorgeous 1950s inspired dress with square collar. 
  • Sew Liberated are currently testing their next pattern; the Gypsum Skirt. Its going to feature two variations and deep pockets!
  • It looks like the next pattern from Victory Patterns will be some form of trench coat. They are busy sewing up samples for the Ulysses Trench right now!
  • Thread Theory are about to start testing their next pattern, which they describe as a quick wardrobe staple. 
  • Decades of Style have a new pattern coming out on 2nd May which will be part of their Decades Everyday range. The pattern will be the first in their newly expanded size range of 32"-52" bust.
  • The sneaky peak of the new Pippi Pinafore from Jennifer Lauren Handmade promises side button fastening and lots of yummy topstitching! Looking forward to the release of this later in the week.
  • The next design from Ensemble Patterns will be the Perkins Shirt. They gave us a sneak peak on Instagram of a lovely keyhole and tie detail at the back of a classic collar.


Other Exciting News

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After the surprise success of the trousers I shared last week I've now got a project to show you which hasn't quite lived up to the high expectations I had for it. I can't quite put my finger on what my problem with this skirt is...the fabric, the pattern, the fit. I think probably a combination of all three just being a little off. Its not a complete disaster and I've still been getting some wear out of it but I was hoping for my new favourite skirt and a wardrobe hero and didn't get it. I've got plans to tackle this pattern again though, I haven't given up on the dream and have learnt a lot from making this one.


The pattern is the Berlin Skirt from French pattern company Orageuse which I have had my eye on for some time and was actually one of my choices for the #2018makenine challenge on Instagram. A lot of the Orageuse designs appeal to me as they strike a good balance between stylish, contemporary and wearable and include some unique features. It is the first pattern I have used from this company and whilst I was impressed with the drafting and the complexity of the pattern I found myself a bit adrift with the instructions. You know sometimes when you try a new pattern company the instructions feel fairly instinctive to follow and other times they feel a bit unfamiliar and the construction doesn't seem to flow as smoothly; it was definitely the latter experience for me. I think this is often down to personal preference and their methods don't gel with my usual construction techniques. Its good to push yourself out of your comfort zone once in a while!


The fabric is one of the purchases I made in Paris and is an exquisite brushed cotton from Sacrés Coupons which was my favourite shop. Its almost like a fine moleskin but a little crispier and I imagine is a bolt end from a designer line as is most of the fabric in that particular store. I thought the crisp hand would be great to show off the 'paper-bag' shape of this skirt and really make the most of those feature pockets but after making it I think something softer with more drape would be better suited. This is a little too pokey so the skirt doesn't hang well when I start moving around. In particular the pleats open up when I walk and then stay poking out rather than folding back in on themselves which is frustrating. The nap of the exterior of the fabric also catches against itself a bit so nothing wants to fall into a natural place. It also picks up fluff like crazy! Not so great when you work in costume...I go home covered in thread! I had a 3 metre coupon and still have well over half left so perhaps I can find a project better suited to it for the rest.

One really great thing about the fabric is that it presses beautifully. That's really essential in a fabric choice for this design as you want crisp pleats and crisp edges on those pockets and the centre front split. Its all about sharp corners! I took the advice of a commenter on my post about the Sirius Sweater and tried heat-setting in my pleats with a spritz of vinegar and water mix before pressing. This certainly improved the crispness of my pleats and they are holding up well but still don't fare so well in the wash. Thanks very much to whoever provided me with that great tip!


I cut the size 38 at the waist and graded out to a 40 at the lower hip as I wanted it nice and snug at the waist and slim but not clingy around the bum. I'm fairly happy with the fit and although I had been considering sizing up next time for a more relaxed summer look I think I'll stick with this as I wouldn't want it to keep shifting about. It sits beautiful around the waist and high hip at the moment which is mainly due to the curved waistband, what a dream those things are! Definitely my favourite part of this pattern.


Looking at the pictures I'm thinking that part of my dissatisfaction with the finished article may be to do with the style not suiting my petite proportions. Midi lengths can be really tricky to pull off and I'm not quite sure I've got the balance of this one right. I took 9cm off the length and am pretty happy with where the hem hits but next time I will take this out from higher up the skirt, possibly in two parts which will mean redrawing the pleat line in. Taking the length of the hem meant I lost some of the shape. I'm 5ft3" so I expected to have to shorten it a but but 9cm does seem a lot.


Some of the phrasing of the instructions seemed a little odd and I'm wondering if something is lost in the translation from French. Only tiny things which aren't a huge problem as referring to the illustrations clarifies things; for example it says to 'pink the pocket bag' so you can turn it to the wrong side when it actually means to snip the seam allowance into the corner. I'd read through the instructions before starting so spotted the areas I was wary of and made a few changes for personal preference.

I was going to attach my belt loops once the invisible zip was attached but before the lining was turned to the inside so they were just sewn to the shell and not right through the lining too. I didn't love the idea of that stitching showing on the inside when you've gone to the effort of lining. But then I realised that wouldn't be possible because the waistband is topstitched along the lower edge to seal up the insides. When it came to it I ended up unpicking my topstitching and leaving the shell and lining hanging free from each other as it was nigh on impossible to get seams at the bottom of the waistband and waistband facing lined up so the topstitching looked really terribly uneven from the inside. I'd like to give this a go on another version though, perhaps stitching in the ditch rather than topstitching as it would be a lovely secure finish.


Speaking of belt loops my inclination is either to make the belt loops longer or the belt itself narrower as the belt at the moment can't lay flat though the loops and looks really scruffy once tied. Its worth noting that the steps to create the belt and assemble the lining aren't illustrated and there is the potential to go wrong there. Make sure you are sewing the two pieces of the belt together by the short ends so you end up with a long, narrow strip rather than short and fat! Also watch out when you are cutting your pattern pieces that you are marking the right pleat lines for the length of skirt you are making. Both the short skirt and midi length are on the same pattern pieces and the pleat lines are easy to confuse. I triple checked!

I added a couple of my own tricks to the instructions such as adding twill tape to the pocket opening seam allowances for extra strength, this style of pocket is very tempting to keep your hands in which means could potentially quite easily get stretched out. I also under-stitched along the top edge of the waistband to encourage the facing to roll to the inside.


When assembling the front lining the instructions say to sew the centre front seam to 1cm above the slit but the slit isn't actually marked on the pattern piece. By looking ahead in the instructions to see how the slit was later finished I decided to sew it to the same point as I did the front piece but this was a little low. I unpicked about 2cm to get the finishing to work. There's quite a bit of hand stitching involved in finishing the hem and centre front split but I really enjoyed this part!



The roomy pockets appealed to me but in reality and despite appearances they are not all that deep! My phone only just about gets in there and I want to be able to plunge my hands down further into them. I might add a bit of length to the pocket bag pieces next time. My real bug bear with this skirt is that the lining wants to peek out of the front slit despite it being hand-stitched down around that edge. I certainly haven't helped that with my choice of contrasting print and the drapey viscose (from my stash) is probably exacerbating the problem as it shifts about so much. A crisper choice might stay put. As a bit of a fix I might catch the lining to the shell at the hem in a few places with thread chains so it still has some movement but keeps to the shape of the shell a little better. I'm considering doing without the lining next time and I'd simply hand stitch the bottom edge of the waistband facing down.

You can still see where my topstitching was!

I'd say you want to have a little bit of confidence in your sewing skills to make this as some aspects are slightly fiddly. In general I prefer illustrated instructions like these to those with photographs; theres something about line drawings that I find easier to follow. However there are a couple of points in this where a photograph would have reassured me I'd done it right as the illustrations are all a 'wide angle' view of the whole garment rather than a close up of where you should be stitching. In particular how to finish the front slit cleanly and sew those corners at the top of the pockets. Its a little tricky to get the lining completely tucked away in this area (although you have under-stitched along the opening which helps). I was actually really chuffed with how the corners turned out...then realised they are concealed behind the front pleat anyway!


I'm in two minds about this project and think I still love the idea more than the reality. Its one of those garments that I want to wear but whenever I put it on just doesn't feel quite right. I've got a beautiful piece of paprika weighty yet soft slubbed linen in my stash which I think might better suit this style than the crisp cotton, especially unlined so I might give the pattern another whirl with some tweaks. There's plenty to think about before the next version!
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