Category Archives: Indie patterns

Je suis Cassiopée

cassiopee1

I’ve found a cure for low winter sewjo: buy a shiny new instant-gratification frock pattern, pick your prettiest stash fabric, and bash out a cute and comfy dress!

cassiopee6

This is the I Am Patterns Cassiopée dress. They’re a fairly new French pattern company and I’ve been admiring their catalogue of girlish babydoll silhouettes with unique detailing (and really nice styling for the sample photos!). Yes, it’s quite a simple shape, but I don’t have a woven raglan bodice so thought it was worth a purchase.

It’s a neat 25-page PDF, very easy to assemble, with 3/8″ seam allowances included. Instructions, supplied in French and English, are brief but concise. I didn’t use them on such a simple pattern. I would have liked a few more notches included on the raglan sleeve pieces to help me join them to the bodice, but they’re easy enough to add myself.

cassiopee2

I cut a size 40, a bit below my measurements as I figured there’d be plenty of ease and I didn’t want the neckline falling off my shoulders. The only fit alterations I made were to take a little wedge out of the centre back (a typical small-shoulder/narrow-back adjustment for me) and 3″ off the skirt length – oh, and the skirt is less full because I ran out of fabric!

cassiopee5

I love how deep the kimono raglan sleeves fall – almost down to the waistline, batwing-style – however I was expecting them to be 3/4 length like the pattern sample but they are practically full length. Next time I’ll take a few inches off these too as I’m wearing them rolled up anyway.

cassiopee4

The fabric is a woven viscose I scooped a while ago from the UK Stof and Stil website. I’m not usually the florals type but fell for this unusually sparse graphic take on them, and the jewel colours are super pretty. It creases like all viscoses do, but it’s really lovely quality and was great to work with. I’ll be buying more from them! (nb, Stof and Stil also have some really nice-looking and cheap sewing patterns…)

I have visions of a snuggly sweatshirt knit version of the Cassiopée dress next – maybe one of Stof and Stil‘s again!

Trompe-l’oeil

Adele dress

Meet my newest little black number…

Adele dress

Surprise! It looks like a cropped top and skirt but it’s actually a one-piece dress.

adele

It’s my take on the Adèle pattern by Anne Durrieu, an impulse purchase as soon as I saw it on Julie’s Instagram feed. I’ve been wanting to self-draft this sort of dress for ages but never got round to it, so for a £6.50 PDF I thought I’d take a punt on an unknown-to-me French company. Anne Durrieu seems to make and sell rtw clothing as well as selling the patterns to DIY them, and this is their second dress pattern release.

Adele dress

For a dress that looks quite clean and simple there’s a lot going on. The skirt attaches to the bodice lining only, leaving the swingy outer bodice loose over the top. The outer bodice is joined to the lining at the neck and both are attached together at the armsyce. The back of the outer bodice has a slightly curved hem and buttons up the back. There’s bust darts in the lining, pleats and darts in the skirt, and there’s an invisible zip in the underlayers to fasten it. If that sounds pretty complex… it was, ha ha. Now factor in that the instructions only come in French!

Adele dress

The diagrams weren’t that helpful and Google translate did not prove insightful, so I was on my own with the construction really. I tried as much as possible to reverse-engineer it ahead of time but my unpicker still took quite the workout: I think the waist seam came out four times before I got it right. The lining acts as a semi-lining and semi-underlining, leading to even more ‘which is the right side?!’ confusion and unpicking.

Adele dress
Adele dress

The good news is it fitted nicely off the bat. I can typically tell now if I’m going to have to alter the fit just from looking at the bodice pattern piece, which is handy. The neckline and sleeves in particular are a nice shape and very comfortable. I cut size 40 graded to 42 but ended up taking it in a bit at the waist and hip so might go for a 38-40 next time.

Adele dress

The main fabric is a fairly thick and spongy seersucker from Ditto with a woven-in stripe, and the lining is a black cotton sheeting. I picked easy to work with fabrics to mitigate the tricky construction, but I do think something a touch lighter and drapier would work better. It’s a bit heavy for spring.

Adele dress

I should add that even though the basic fit and style were good, I did make quite a few major and minor alterations as I went along sewing this, which include:
– shortening the sleeves and leaving off the pleat at the hem;
– shortening the back of the overlay by about 1″
– doing a normal placket/buttons on the back overlay instead of the suggested elastic loops and facing
– moving the invisible zip to the side seam instead of centre back…
– …which involved redrafting the skirt, because the side seams of the skirt and lining are designed to not match up. I made the front skirt narrower and redrafted the pleats and darts to suit.
– took about 3″ length off the skirt

Adele dress

If I were to make this again it’d go much faster now I’ve wrapped my head round the construction! Despite what seemed like a lot of fiddling to make it work, I’d still recommend the Adèle pattern if you like the style and feel like a challenge because it’s a neat little 25-page PDF and seems to be well-drafted. I fancy one in a jersey knit with an elasticated waist, and I can see it in a more spring-appropriate colourful rayon print too.

Marilla’s Roberts set

Roberts dungarees

Really excited to share these! They’re probably my favourite thing I’ve made recently and an admittedly rather surprising wardrobe hit. They are my tester version of the dungarees from Marilla Walker’s amazing new capsule pattern collection, the Roberts Set, which you can buy here.

Roberts set

I should say off the bat that these were made from the tester pattern and Marilla made quite a few changes to the pattern based on our feedback, so don’t count on these pics for the final fit or styling details. Although actually a few of the tweaks I suggested and implemented into my test version (such as adding buttons to the straps) made it into the final pattern, so it’s actually not that far off! The final pattern has additional side waist buttons and a slightly slimmer fit all over.

Roberts dungarees

You can always expect a good blend of interesting-yet-accessible construction techniques from Marilla’s patterns that leads to a satisfying clean finish inside and out. The front and back bodice are both faced (I’m enjoying having Liberty lawn tiny dancers inside my top) and the outer leg seam is French seamed, leaving just a few other seams to finish by overlocking or zigzagging.

Roberts dungarees

I used a soft black cotton poplin to make these up and I absolutely love the result. To be honest, before I made dungarees I was not at all convinced that I would actually wear them day to day. But I think by making them in basic black in such a comfortable fabric they have become a surprise wardrobe staple. I’ve worn them several times both to work and at weekends, and they’ve earned more unprompted compliments than anything else I’ve made. Even Josh thinks they’re cute which I wasn’t expecting. I’m definitely going to make up a second pair from the final pattern, perhaps in a yarn-dyed check from my stash for Ace & Jig vibes.

Roberts top

I also tested the standalone top from the set, which is designed to be worn under the dungarees (though I prefer a knit t-shirt under it) and echoes the back shaping with seam detailing. You can see the true test version in mustard yellow rayon on my jeans post, but I made this one up soon after using the button-up view and some dreamy rayon silk from Miss Matatabi.

Roberts top

I left the seam detailing off this one and cut the back as a single piece. The fit is amazing; it’s totally my favourite top at the moment and this is definitely now my go-to woven top pattern. I can see a zillion variations in my future. And if that wasn’t enough, remember there’s a dungaree dress and a jumpsuit included in the bundle too! For me at least, it could well be the foundation for a capsule wardrobe all in one tidy package. I’m looking forward to printing out the final copy of the entire pattern, and the jumpsuit is definitely next on the sewing table.

Cézembre Clouds

Cézembre

It’s nice when a random little PDF punt purchase and a few hours with a stash fabric gives you a new favourite top. This is the Cézembre Blouse by Anne Ka Couture, who blogs at Anne Cousette. This was her first pattern release back in June and I’m definitely smitten. It’s a lovely top with short or 3/4 length sleeve options, the main design detail being the wrap-forward side seams and curved hemlines.

Cézembre
Cézembre

I made a wearable toile in this stash viscose (also used for my Ilsley skirt) – it’s the straight size 40 but I pre-emptively nipped a wedge out of the back neckline as it looked too wide for me. Before I make it again I’ll fiddle a little more with the neckline as the wide boat type neck is not my favourite, otherwise I’m very happy with the fit.

Cézembre

It’s a neat 19 page PDF with instructions in French and English and each step clearly photographed, so it’s a breeze to sew. The sleeves set in easily, and I really love the princess seam detail (which is actually also the side seam) leading into the hem curve. The bottom edges are finished with facings which makes sense with the design – you can topstitch them in place all around like I did or just tack them at the princess seam points.

Cézembre

I’m pretty sure that once I’ve tweaked the neckline to my liking I’ll use this pattern multiple times – it would be so good for colourblocking in solid colours, or with a printed front panel and plain back… I’m even tempted to try it in French terry for a cosy sweatshirt. There are some pretty versions out there in the French blogosphere, showing that it looks great in any sort of light, drapey fabric. Nice to add another TNT to the stash!

Three Ilsley skirts

One thing that Me-made May is showing me is that I’m pretty good for dresses and tops in my wardrobe, but I still don’t have many options for spring-appropriate lower half separates. I’m not a particularly cold-blooded person, so when the weather gets anywhere above 20 degrees I’m much more comfortable in floaty clothes with a bit of skin out. Over the last bank holiday weekend I bashed out these three skirts using stash fabrics… they’re all the same pattern but I got a lot of different looks for no money at all.

Ilsley skirt

The Ilsley skirt is a free (freeeee!) pattern from the lovely Marilla Walker. It’s one of those magic patterns to me that’s basic but a bit special too – the yoked pocket and curved hem detail definitely takes it away from ‘gathered rectangle’ status. I’ve found Marilla’s drafting to be really excellent and perfect for my body shape, and the final bonus is this skirt only takes 1 metre of 54″ wide fabric. Winner? Winner.

Ilsley mod

For my first version, using a leftover scrap from my Style Arc Fern top, I was a bit worried that the straight shape was too far out of my comfort zone so I slashed and spread the pattern a bit to add more volume at the hem like so.

Ilsley skirt
Ilsley skirt

I added a couple of inches to the length and left off the pockets too just to test the shape. I really liked how it came out – swishy and swingy! Though I didn’t really need the extra length or volume at all; I went back and removed about half of it for the next version.

Ilsley skirt

This one uses a yummy ex-Vero Moda (isn’t it fun to find brand cast-off fabrics?) viscose found in Walthamstow. I LOVE the Ilsley in a drapey fabric – I was inspired by this Madewell skirt – and this is an utter dream to wear. It feels pyjama-comfortable and weightless and the fairly straight shape means it doesn’t fly about in the wind. Dream skirt.

Ilsley skirt

I took a tip from Meg and topstitched the pocket facings directly onto the skirt front to make it as light and floaty as possible.

Ilsley hem

I found it tricky to hem the curves on my first one, so I used bias tape on the hems for this one. The only other small tweak was to make the waistband pieces about an inch narrower to suit the width of elastic I had to hand.

Ilsley skirt
Ilsley skirt

Finally, I used up some special fabric: if you remember the hand-printed fabric swap that Marilla herself organised a while back, I received this beautiful hand-dyed and printed cotton linen from Lucy. I’ve been hoarding it ever since, unsure how to make the most of it, and ended up using nearly every last scrap, including some self-bias to face the hem. A trio of lovely skirts for MMM and beyond!

Indiesew: Noodlehead Poolside tote

Poolside tote

I was really pleased to be asked to join the Indiesew summer collection blog tour, and today’s the day to share my make. If haven’t seen it yet, Indiesew is like an indie pattern brand megastore, perfect for browsing tons of labels in one place, and all easily filtered by category. For my review of the collection I was allowed to pick three patterns, and I’ve actually made two of them already. This is the first, which is Noodlehead’s Poolside Tote.

poolside tote

What I especially like about Indiesew is they make up the garments in their own fabrics, so you get a different view than the photos released by the designer. They also have a great community so you can see how lots of other people have made up the patterns – it’s always really handy to see a pattern on lots of people and in a variety of fabrics to help visualise if you’d like it! Noodlehead’s blog has a lot of other fabric options for this tote too – I think the pattern works great for a city bag as well as ‘poolside’.

Poolside tote

I made the tote as a wee gift for my mum as she’s been after a roomy shopping tote and this fabric I found (Art Gallery Vines grey canvas) reminded me of her favourite Orla Kiely designs. 

Poolside tote

I used Minerva’s tan canvas for the handles and edge facing which is slightly thicker so seemed suitable to add some sturdiness. Nearly all of the pieces are interfaced per the instructions for more stability too. I like how the end result is structured yet squashy too – it’s comfortable to wear and incredibly roomy.

Poolside tote

So I really like how the bag turned out, but I realised early on that the process of sewing bags isn’t really my bag (ho). All the measuring, cutting and ironing takes twice as long as the actual stitching and was such a snoozefest. But the Poolside instructions were clear and easy to follow which did make it as painless as possible.

Poolside tote

It’s constructed a bit differently to how I’ve made lined bags before: usually I’d leave a lining corner open to turn it all right side out, but here it’s all assembled with the right sides out, and the little facing strip finishes the upper edge nicely.

Poolside tote

The only thing I changed was to leave off the keyring loop and to add a magnetic snap closure – the edge facing is a natural place to add a fastening. I just made sure to get the snaps in place before topstitching the facing down so the prongs are hidden inside. I also added a practical phone-sized interior slip pocket before constructing the lining.

Poolside tote

I used a jeans needle for all the construction to negotiate the thick fabric. I’m not mad pleased with my topstitching; it’s pretty wobbly and obvious looking even though I used my 1/4″ foot. I found it hard to keep it straight when dealing with multiple layers and manoeuvring the rather large bag under my machine.

Poolside tote
Poolside tote

It’s a bit of a prancing pony* situation though and I suspect it’d have looked worse if I ripped it out and tried to redo it. And my mum loves it and started using it immediately, which is the main thing!

*If you can’t see your mistakes from the back of a prancing pony, they don’t really matter. I think I took this from knitting legend Elizabeth Zimmermann.

The other stops on the Indiesew Blog Tour Schedule:

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Thanks again to Indiesew for sending me along the pattern! Be sure to go check out the whole summer collection, I think you could build a pretty sweet capsule wardrobe from it.