Cassiopée in Atelier Brunette

This is a double-French dress: both the pattern and fabric come from companies français! It’s also a little out of my normal style zone, but I think I love it.

It’s my second I AM Patterns Cassiopée dress – I made a winter version in a dark floral with long sleeves last December which I wear a lot, so another version was always in order. When I saw that I AM released a free short sleeve extension pack it was time to give it another go.

The sewing is really fast and easy: four raglan seams, bit of gathering and hemming and you’re done. The new short sleeve has a very deep self-cuff which you can either turn back or wear as-is, which comes to roughly elbow length on me. I like it both ways!

A few people have asked me and yes, the Cassiopée has a LOT of ease built in: this is actually the size below my measurements. A fluid, drapey fabric is essential so it doesn’t stick out like a circus tent. I don’t actually use the pattern pieces for the skirt as it’s just a big rectangle. I basically used up the rest of my fabric this time and made it really quite voluminous: the hem measures about 90 inches around. (I swear the hem isn’t puckered like it looks in the photos: I’m going to go back and press it again!)

The wonderful fabric that’s making me feel like a baby marshmallow is Moonstone pink viscose by Atelier Brunette, which I got from Maud’s Fabric Finds. As well as being a beautiful colour and print, this fabric is the perfect weight for dressmaking projects: floaty and light but with a little bit of body to make it more stable than some and pretty much opaque. I don’t think I can resist buying the blue colourway, as well as some of the other beautiful prints in this collection.

I French-seamed the entire thing and it’s one of those garments that I think is quite lovely as an object as well as clothing. It’s been hanging up in my sewing room for a while pretty much as decoration, though now it’s photographed it’s definitely going to make its way into my wardrobe.

Midi Fumeterre

Deer and Doe sent me the Fumeterre skirt pattern as a thanks for testing the Safran jeans last year, and I finally got around to sewing it up in some nice plain black viscose.

To be honest, I was majorly put off for so long by the thought of cutting all those biiiig pattern pieces in my smaaaall sewing room. But actually it wasn’t that painful at all: the front and back use the same pieces and each is in two panels, so there aren’t a lot of paper pieces to deal with. I used the button-down front of view A and added the nice slanted pockets from view B (which has a fly front).


As you’ll notice my skirt is shorter than the swishy maxi as designed. I cut it at the maxi length originally and while I was really into how it looked, I didn’t think it would be a very practical wardrobe addition, both when dragging through London’s frequently-rainy streets and on my cycle commute. I took about 12 inches off, and yes it was a nightmare evening up the slightly-circular hem and I don’t think I got it perfectly balanced. I think it’s swingy enough that the unevenness doesn’t show too badly.

Otherwise the sewing was straightforward and pretty fast. I cut a size 40 and it’s just a little snug across the stomach, but I hope that’s because I’ve been ill and basically sedentary for two weeks. I added an extra button so it doesn’t gape (and um, ran out of black bobbin thread by that point so lazily switched to blue…). Like my recent 7017s, it’s got a back-elasticated waistband so it will stay nice and fitted.

I just realised this is a 100% Deer and Doe outfit: the tee is a Plantain! I think I’ll get loads of wear out of this as an alternative to the crop culotte-type trousers I’ve been making a lot of and living in lately (1,2,3,4,5). I might make another one in a dark floral per some of this inspiration I’ve saved:

Burda 7017 in cupro silk

I’ve had this lovely fabric earmarked for trousers for ages, and I dug out an old pattern to make ’em happen. They are Burda 7017, which are amongst some of the earliest trouser projects I ever tackled a few years ago, and now unfortunately seems to be out of print. I wouldn’t exactly say it’s embarrassing to look back at those earlier garments, but it was nice to revisit this pattern with all I’ve learned about fit, technique and fabric choices since then and see the improvements.

Having said that though, I averted a near-disaster on this pair when, after executing a lovely fly front completely from memory, I sewed up the side seams and found that I could barely squeeze myself into them. I don’t think I’ve gained a great deal of weight in the intervening years but perhaps I previously traced the pattern with extra safety seam allowance that never made it back to the paper pattern. Whoops.

After sulking for a bit I unpicked and re-sewed every single seam – inner and outer leg, the centre back and centre front below the fly – with a tiny little seam allowance, basically right next to the overlocked edge. That provided just enough extra room to allow them to fit, albeit a little slimmer than I was shooting for. I still don’t think I’ll feel too confident cycling in them in case it puts too much strain on those tiny seam allowances and they split open, but at least they feel comfortable and I can move in them.

I think the fabric makes this pair quite special and is the main reason why I was so relieved to save the fit: it’s a cupro-silk from the famous stall outside Sainsbury’s in Walthamstow market. I bought it over a year ago on a shopping trip with some other sewers; Marilla made up her Bennett dress pattern in it. I’m not sure if ‘cupro silk’ means that it’s a fibre blend or a cupro designed to look like silk, but it’s the most beautiful terracotta colour with a sort of dimensional shimmer and a slightly slubby texture, feels deliciously cool and floppy to wear, and was a dream to work with. I don’t think I’ll find fabric of this nature easily again unfortunately though I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out.

I tried out a little tweak I wanted to test based on some ready-to-wear trousers that I love of inserting elastic into the back waistband to maintain a snug, flexible fit at the waistline. To do this I eliminated the darts from the pants back and added their takeup to the length of the waistband, then stitched in some 1″ non-roll elastic before sealing up the inner waistband. It worked out great so I’m going to retrospectively add elastic to my old black cotton 7017s that have stretched out and become too baggy at the waist, which will help ping them back to life.

Final guts shots to show the waistband, that lovely fly front, and those tiny seams…

A hacky Named outfit

A new little summery outfit of two simple separates, both of which are hacked from Named patterns that I’ve sewn before.

The trousers are the Ninni culottes, sewn up in a lush indigo crinkle rayon that the Fabric Store kindly sent to me. The only thing I changed from my first pair was to convert the pockets from side seam into front yoked. I just can’t stand the way side seam pockets add bulk and flap around, and these yoked ones are actually much easier to prep and sew so it’s win-win. Here’s a quick tute; you can prepare paper pieces or cut these straight onto your fabric.

1. Cut a rectangle for the pocket bag/facing, approximately 16″ wide by 11″ long. The width will be 2x the width of the final pocket bag and the length will be the final length of the pocket.
2. Lay the rectangle on top of your front trouser piece, right sides together and matching the side seam and waistline to the rectangle edges. Cut a curved or straight line through both pieces at the trouser side seam edge. This will be the pocket opening. Mine starts about 3″ in from the edge at the top and is 7″ long.
3. Sew this pocket opening seam using a small (5mm or so) seam allowance. Clip if necessary to release curves, press seam allowances to the pocket facing piece, and understitch.
4. Fold the pocket bag in half, lining up with the trouser waistline and side seam. Sew and finish the bottom edge of the pocket bag, then baste the top and sides to the front trouser leg. Construct the rest of the pattern as written.

The blouse is a rather more extreme hack of the Reeta shirt dress. I wonder when a pattern stops being a hack and becomes essentially a self-draft?! To make this kimono-sleeved blouse from the dress pattern I:

· Merged the back yoke onto the back body piece
· Altered the shoulder seam so it wasn’t forward-facing (took some off the back piece and added to the front)
· Extended the shoulder line to create grown-on cap sleeves
· Drafted a new back facing piece to finish the back neckline
· Left off the collar piece as I did with my previous dress
· Rotated/closed the front bust dart down into added ease, which I then trimmed away from the side seam
· Cut the body and facings off about 14″ below the underarm

I’m considering this a wearable toile, as this space-print fabric (from The Textile Centre) was an impulse buy that isn’t really in my usual style stratosphere but I just couldn’t resist it. Next time I’ll raise the kimono sleeve line an extra half-inch or so as they’re a little bit snug. Otherwise I think this hack came out rather cute, and it didn’t take very long despite the amount of steps. I was sort of more in the mood for drafting than sewing so it was a nice project to try out some advanced hacking.


Tropical NL 6493

Summer wedding season has opened, and this is a New Look 6493 jumpsuit I made for the first occasion. I really like this final garment, but I did have some difficulties getting there with the pattern!

I didn’t toile or make any prior adjustments because I thought the pattern’s princess seams would give a chance to fine-tune fit as I went. I cut a smaller size in the bodice than the trousers after checking out the finished garment measurements, but the bodice still turned out way too large and flashed an alarming amount of skin! Upon re-checking the line art on the back of the pattern envelope you can see the back is intentionally drafted very low, but it was also baggy under the arms and on the wrap front too. The ease and wrap is necessary to let you pull on the jumpsuit without fastenings, but personally I think it would have been very difficult to wear as drafted, so it seems a poor design decision. (Also what’s with the random knit crop-top pattern included? Are you supposed to wear that underneath?!)

I ended up fixing it by overlapping both the front and back a couple of inches more than patterned, hiking up the straps a considerable amount and taking in the side seams, then lightly gathering the trouser waistband in the newly-smaller bodice so they still lined up. I put a little safety pin through the front neckline to keep it in place and could also do the same in the back, however for the wedding I just left it loose and cowl-like (and went braless!).

At least the fabric was well-behaved, a lovely lightweight poly crepe from Minerva, and the print hides where I had to fudge around with the fit on the bodice, hah.

This was really nice to wear to a warm evening wedding: the elastic waist meant it was super comfortable and even braless I felt very secure in the top after all the tweaks. I’m not sure I’ll make this pattern up again as I don’t think the bodice design is worth tinkering with to fix and the very low back means it’d be difficult to wear in the daytime (I might try layering a tee under it though). However I do really like the fit in the trousers – especially the single-piece pockets which were deep enough to hold my phone and cards so no bag required, hurrah – so I might splice on a simpler cami bodice for more summery jumpsuit fun.

La Maison Victor: Dolores skirt

Today I’m the first stop-off on a blog tour for DutchBelgian sewing magazine La Maison Victor, to promote the launch of the magazine in an English edition – hurrah! Each blogger on the tour, covering Australia, the UK, USA and Canada, received a copy of the magazine and selected a project to make up.


Previously only printed in Dutch and French, I have actually bought a couple of copies of La Maison Victor from the continent before because it’s got such a nice fresh, modern aesthetic. This inaugural English edition is no exception; above is a list of all the patterns that come included in this issue.

If you’ve been put off sewing from pattern mags because of thoughts of the dreaded Burda tracing sheets of nightmares, La Maison Victor thankfully provides a much more user-friendly experience. Yes, you still need to trace off as the pieces overlap, but each pattern is extremely well-labelled with which pieces you need and which sheets to find them on, and the pieces are additionally colour-coded per pattern so it’s really foolproof.

I went over the lines for my size in black marker to make them show up better, then traced onto dot-and-cross paper; it didn’t take long at all. The sheets aren’t huge, which does mean some pattern pieces span two sheets and need to be taped together, but this size is much easier to manage when tracing in a small apartment.

Also unlike Burda, every pattern has comprehensive and nicely-illustrated instructions. I didn’t really follow them as the project I chose is pretty simple but they are there to fall back on if needed. All the usual fabric and sizing recommendations are here too.

I chose to make the Dolores skirt pattern, a midi-length button-through skirt with an A-line shape and gathers into a fixed waistband. It was a super speedy afternoon type of make! I did make a couple of tweaks to the pattern: I narrowed the waistband a little and added some curve to it, as straight-cut wider waistbands don’t sit well on my frame. I also took about 4 inches off the length, and left off the pockets as I thought they might add unwanted bulk, although the pattern does include a way to anchor them into the front waistband which always help stop side-seam pockets from flapping about.

The pattern pieces all matched up perfectly and the only real fitting to do here is at the waist. I always seem to overshoot and make fixed waistbands a bit too large; I shifted over the top button here to make it snugger, hence the slight twisting, but I will go back and do a better fix; perhaps adding some elastic into the back waistband to keep it snug.

I used The Fabric Store‘s Clover rayon crepe which they kindly sent me to try out a while ago. Poor-quality versions of this crinkly, springy sort of crepe can shift off-grain if you even look at them funny (or worse, be PRINTED off-grain so you’ve got no chance at all), but luckily this one was very well-behaved and I was able to keep the print pretty much aligned. I double-interfaced the waistband to keep it firm, along with the button band, and had to trim along the hem to even up where it dropped on the bias at the sides. Otherwise it was very easy to work with and perfect for this pattern: it’s so light and swishy!

The Maison Victor site and online shop will be launching in English soon; for now you can buy the magazine online here (along with individual patterns and fabric kits) and find in in selected supermarkets and WH Smiths. I look forward to seeing projects from the other makers on this tour – including fellow Brits Thrifty Stitcher, Handmade Jane and Petite Passions coming up this week – and seeing more patterns from this mag in the future!