Tutorial: Colour-blocked button-front Claudia dress

Just a quick one to share a tutorial for altering the Claudia dress to include asymmetric colour blocking, with an offset button band on the front. I used Lamazi’s viscose linen for this version of the pattern (my third) and it’s great to have a little variety of my print Claudias with the same summery wearing ease. I didn’t even bother with real buttonholes as it pulls on – just sewed the buttons through both layers.

Click the image to enlarge it
  1. Remove the side split/hem facings from the front and back pieces: you can keep them if you want, but they aren’t necessary for walking movement as the button band will provide a vent.
  2. Trace the front onto pattern paper (including dart and notch markings), flip it along the centre front and trace again so you have a full front piece.
  3. Draw a line where you want the button band. Mine was 3″ away from the centre line. Cut the pieces out.
  4. Cut a 2¾” wide strip of pattern paper and tape it flush along the length of both cut edges – this is the button band extension. Notch the original cut line as the button band centre mark (where you’ll place buttons), and next to this mark two more notches 0¾” and 2¼” away from this – these are the fold lines. (This makes a 1½” wide finished button band.)
  5. Trace both halves of the back as above and cut a new off-centre seam line – I aligned this to the strap marker notch. Add ½” seam allowances.
  6. Cut the wider front and narrower back pieces from one colour, and the narrower front and wider back pieces from the second colour. Don’t cut the facings as we’ll bias-face the edges instead. Cut a strap in each colour!
  7. Construction: after sewing the darts, sew the side and back seams. Then pin the back straps in place, make bias binding and finish the top and front armsyce edges, catching the straps in place.
  8. Finish the button band corners: press the button band to the wrong side along the notches at ½” and 1½”. Now fold the band back to the right side and stitch at ½” parallel to the top edge. Turn the corner out to the right side. Repeat this at the hem edges.
  9. Press the rest of the hem allowances under by ½”, tucking the raw edge under by a couple of mm too, and topstitch the hem, button band and top edge all in one pass, catching and securing the front end of the strap in place as you go. Finally add your buttons (real or faked!).

A pink marshmallow Blanca

In which, like a millennial cliche, I blend into my pale peachy pink wall, in my pale peachy pink jumpsuit – in my second Closet Core Blanca flight suit.

In my ongoing desire for a ‘put one garment on and be dressed’ lifestyle, I pretty much just want to sew and wear jumpsuits and dresses at the moment, so this luxuriously cosy baby pink onesie is really a very practical make. The buttery, powdery, peach fuzziest, babiest of baby cords is needlecord in rose from Stoff & Stil.

It was just a delightful project to sew! I completed it leisurely in little bursts over a couple of weeks, taking plenty of time over doing nice topstitching and finishing. I sourced the zip and buckle (actually a bikini clasp) from Jaycotts – I’d have preferred copper or rose gold but couldn’t find something suitable in a matching set.

I had a couple of minor fitting niggles with my first Blanca (although they were difficult to fully diagnose in the print I used), but I… didn’t bother to change anything for this one. The fit is passable but the shoulders are almost certainly a size or two too big (I think the pattern is supposed to have a slight drop shoulder, but it feels too baggy overall around the upper chest and back) and there’s a weird situation going on at the small of the back: it feels like there’s both not enough height/width to fit my butt and too much fabric that’s pooling above the butt like a swayback is needed. Strange one, not sure where I’d start to make that better. I also shortened the sleeves considerably and folded out the pintucks on the back panel.

I did however bother to rework the finishing of the zip that I mentioned annoyed me on my first Blanca. Essentially I folded back the generous 3/4″ seam allowance twice to enclose the zip tape edge and topstitched it in place; a sort of lazy Hong Kong style finish. I’ve saved the steps I took as a highlight on my Instagram. Also, every single seam is flat-felled (apart from the inseam, which is French) = zero overlocking anywhere, extremely pretty pink guts.

I don’t know why the collar looks darker btw? I was super careful to cut everything with the same nap, must just be how the light hits it. Anyway, very pleased with my marshmallow suit and new ability to blend into my wall should I need to.

DIYing the Elizabeth Suzann Clyde pants and jumpsuit

As I’m sure you’ll have heard if you’ve been remotely near Instagram, the much-revered slow fashion brand Elizabeth Suzann are sadly shuttering their business – but more happily made the generous decision to open-source the patterns for many of their garments. The patterns were temporarily made available by some enterprising sewists via Dropbox, but Elizabeth has now announced she intends to release the patterns herself at some point in the future, so they are no longer available until she does that. Edit to add: It was suggested that people who downloaded the patterns make a donation to a movement working to combat white supremacy. I picked StopwatchUK, the campaign for fair and accountable policing.

I’d never bought any ES clothing and while most of the styles veer towards too wafty/boxy for my tastes, I did get swept along in the excitement and tried a couple of the patterns out: namely, both the ‘work pant’ and jumpsuit versions of Clyde, which is largely and rightly famous for its delightfully scoopy pocket situation.

I first made a wearable toile in a horrid polyester, for which I did an Instagram story construction sewalong – there’s lots in my saved highlight about picking sizes and how I went about construction, so I won’t repeat it all here. Then I made a proper pair in this this light and crinkly (alright yes, wrinkly) ‘Flow’ viscose linen from Lamazi Fabrics – in the Cappuccino colour, although as you can see it’s actually significantly darker than the product photos – more of a Mocha imo.

I made my size according to the chart, an 8 in regular length, but my Clydes are fitting rather looser and baggier than the RTW version, probably because this fabric is loosely woven and drapey (my toile fitted more neatly). They veer a tiny bit hippy for my taste as a result, but I’m still wearing them a lot as they’re so comfortable. I have a thicker cream cotton to make one more pair as they sure are good for these stay-home times.

(My top is the discontinued Grainline Tiny Pocket Tank in leftovers from my Claudia dress! Love that I was able to eke something else out of that special fabric.)

I made the Clyde jumpsuit fairly rapidly afterwards, in an indigo enzyme washed linen from Ditto. I didn’t toile and this is the size medium regular.

The fit is generous and it isn’t sitting quite right on the top half where I’m more petite. I fudged removing some excess/gape from the princess seams but next time I’d cut a size or two down and pivot out some of that armsyce/neckline gaping.

I made a long, skinny tie belt as I didn’t think I’d like the shape without, but turns out I’ve been wearing it largely unbelted despite this perhaps being more ‘flattering’. See also: work at home lifestyle.

When I posted this on IG I grumbled a bit about my beef with linen fabric; namely that everyone else seems to love it yet I find it nothing but heavy, creasy and scratchy – even this supposedly enzyme-washed one. Common advice is that it softens up with washing and wear but to be honest I don’t wash my clothes very often – certainly not every wear – and I don’t really have the patience to wait for a fabric to get nice. I’ve been throwing it into the washer whenever I do a coloured load, which has helped a bit and it’s developing that nice worn-in effect along the topstitched seams. The comfort of the silhouette means I’ll tolerate the fabric, but I’m still far from a linen convert.

For two free patterns resulting in highly home-lifestyle-appropriate garments that I’ve worn a ton, I’m very happy with my pair of Clydes. I don’t know if it’s just because I know they’re RTW patterns but they definitely have the feel of well-drafted garments you’d buy in a store. I’ll be keeping an eye out for the official pattern releases to see if I can pick up more fabrication and construction tips.

Blanca in Lantana

An uncharacteristic ditzy-printed garment for me, doing a bit of stashbusting to make a wearable toile of the Closet Case Blanca flight suit that thankfully turned out very wearable indeed!

The Blanca is a hella stylish all-in-one zip-up number with a straight leg, tailored fit and tons of pockets. Most of Instagram has plumped for a solid colour, but I decided to use a long-stashed fabric that I thought might give a bit of a different look.

The fabric is Liberty Lantana in ‘Minako’ print from The Fabric Store originally. Lantana is a perhaps lesser-known Liberty substrate that’s composed of 80% cotton / 20% wool. It sort of feels like a lightweight, drapey cotton flannel suiting, soft but not overly warm – very nice to sew and wear! Shaukat has a few Lantana prints too. I was delighted to find I had the perfect length of zip in my stash with a pretty pewter-coloured pull and teeth.

Sewing it up was pretty fun and not as time-consuming as I was expecting, though I cut corners by leaving off the chest and back pockets as the detailing wouldn’t show up in this print. I followed the instructions for the zip and collar insertion which were straightforward, although I am not super keen on the zip tape and seam allowance showing when the neckline is unzipped and how there is asymmetry between the faced vs non-faced sides. Next time I would consider leaving off the facing side and finishing the zip tape / SA edges together with bias binding.

I cut a size 10 graded to 12 at the hip and found it pretty true to size – it’s designed to be looser in the bodice and slimmer in the hip. The back has some interesting details like pintuck-pleats down the bodice and a curved back waistband – all of which get completely buried in this print. The waistline is designed an inch lower than the natural waist; I think I might pull it up in my next version, although the fit overall is pretty good.

I’m enjoying wearing jumpsuits right now, the ideal blend of comfy enough for the mainly-housebound lifestyle but smart enough to nip out in too. I’ve got some baby pink needlecord to make another Blanca and I’m glad to finally have this fabric out of my stash and into my wardrobe.

Taking on Claudia

This is the face of someone who had a whale of a time getting the fit right on this dress but is in love it now it’s done. It’s a Tessuti Patterns Claudia dress in a dreamy printed rayon from Blackbird Fabrics.

If you follow me on Instagram you’ll have seen I went through a heck of a process to fit this pattern – which I found a little surprising as during my research/browsing of the pattern it looks so lovely and effortless on everyone, and no one especially mentioned fit issues. Luckily I toiled first as I knew I wanted to get this difficult-to-fit style right before cutting into my eventual fabric.

I cut a Small originally according to my exact current measurements, but this first toile was way too baggy all over. You can check out the entire fitting process I went through on my saved Instagram story, but to summarise, my eventual adjustments totalled: graded to smaller than the XXS size at the underarm (?!); cut as XS through the rest of the bodice grading back out to a Small below the waist; pivoted some gaping out of the neckline and armsyce into the dart; moved the dart point significantly inwards and upwards; reduced the strap length by about a third.

In short: I recommend that you toile this pattern and size down!

I tackled the adjustments over several sessions + three toiles and while it all sounds quite crazy I rather enjoyed the process, especially as the resulting fit through the upper chest and armsyce is really pretty perfect (however much it’s exposing my awkward armpit tan line).

Luckily the fitting of the bottom half was issue-free, I love the skimming fit and especially enjoy the clean-finished mitres of the bottom hem and side splits. The length is as patterned which comes to mid calf on me. I omitted the Useless Inseam Pockets which saved some additional stress: on a future one I might consider a more practical patch pocket or even a matching belt bag.

I constructed the top half my own way ie in the flat as much as possible, and redrafted the facings off my altered bodice pieces. I’ve got to say, I am not a fan in general of the usability of Tessuti’s patterns; I find the strange Vilene-shield-based instructions and extraneous pattern pieces hard to justify when so few people will be familiar with or able to get hold of it, and I find the print at home PDFs very wasteful – I printed 48 sheets and the pattern pieces themselves are quite small so this seemed excessive and down to an inefficient layout.

But anyway, I do loooove this dress. I wore it all evening after I finished it, and it was a match made in heaven for this fabric with its floaty Matisse-cutouts vibes. Nb. the pattern explicitly recommends structured over lightweight fabrics, but it seems totally fine in this very fluid voile.

I am already planning a second one in a solid dusky purple linen as this one is so glorious to wear in our lovely warm spring weather – even if it’s still mainly around the house for now – and I expect they will layer well with a T-shirt for slightly cooler weather too.

A pair of Adriennes

Lockdown-pyjama-wear, but attempt to make it a little bit fun and chic? Enter Adrienne.

The Adrienne by Friday Pattern Co is one of those superstar patterns that snaked its way around Instagram and provided lots of inspiration that led to me deciding to make it. It’s a bit out of my usual style zone as I don’t tend to go for statement-y details like those sleeves, but as it’s basically a souped-up tee I thought I’d be on fairly safe ground.

My first one is made in a lovely melange rib knit from Lamazi Fabrics. I made a Medium with no alterations and found that I just needed to tighten up the elastic by half an inch to sit right on my puny shoulders (I used bra strap elastic I had kicking around). As you can see it still slips down a little bit, so I altered the pattern afterwards to remove two inches of ease from the sleeves (there is an alterations line marked to do this). I was surprised by what a fast project it was: cutting was easy as the fronts and backs are the same and the sewing is really quick. I’ve been wearing this version a lot as it’s so comfortable and immediately made plans for a second one.

For my second one I was inspired by this Zara top and bought the fabrics to recreate it from Minerva – the body is bandage rib knit and the sleeves a simple lighter-weight rib.

I like how the reduced-width sleeves sit a lot; they’re still interesting but sit on my shoulders better and almost give a raglan tee effect, especially in my contrast colourway.

This version feels tighter on the body, both as the bandage knit is firmer and thicker, and I accidentally sewed the body together with one piece wrong side out first and cut off the serging and re-sewed rather than unpicking it.

I’m wearing these with my old Style Arc Joni joggers which are basically my indoor (and sometime outdoor) staples. I wore the colour-blocked one under my Robert dungarees last week which looked great, and I need to try them out with some of my other bottoms to figure out how to wear them in a slightly less pyjama context.