Category Archives: Indie patterns

Bamboo Sahara

I’m a bit late for the Sewcialists’ Tribute Month, but this garment was very much inspired by Shauni of The Magnificent Thread! It’s a Ralph Pink Sahara shirt; Shauni has made two beautiful versions and slowly coached me into buying the PDF.

This was my first time sewing a Ralph Pink pattern, and it was a largely positive experience. The PDF layout is a little different to usual but once I figured out which markings to match it went together easily. The instructions are well illustrated but a little brief in places so a beginner may struggle, but this pattern is fairly standard shirt dress construction so I found it fine. 


The Sahara is obviously very oversized so I cut a size small without toiling and I’m pretty pleased with the fit. The only adjustment I did make was to take an inch off the hem length and slightly level off the dipped hem in the back. I did notice that my side seams are buckling a bit; I’m not sure if I got something a bit off-grain or the slightly bulky seams under the arms are causing it to drag a bit.

Collar open… I think I prefer it fully done up.

Having not sewn for a while I went to town with the finishing and used a mix of French and flat-felled seams throughout: no overlocking in sight. I also topstitched along the main seamlines to bring out the cool curved yokes on the front and back. Even so, I got the whole dress finished in a day of fairly leisurely sewing, buttonholes and all (I’m that weird sewist who actually enjoys sewing buttonholes…)

I especially adore the fabric I used which was a perfect match for the pattern: it’s an organic woven bamboo from Ray Stitch. I’ve never seen woven bamboo fabric before but it has the same silky smooth hand and soft drape of bamboo knits and was a dream to work with, taking a press beautifully and easy to manipulate around the curved hem yet still pretty stable so easy to handle. It has an almost sanded/peached finish and doesn’t seem to crease too badly. I used a size 60 microtex needle to make sure it didn’t snag. I might buy up some more of this fabric in white and try dyeing it as it’s basically dream dress fabric.

I feel rather like a fashionable bat wearing this, and I’m pretty into it! Needless to say, it’s insanely comfortable and being basic black it’s going to get a ton of wear. Much as it pains me to consider autumn weather, I feel like this’ll work great with tights and boots as the temperature dips. I feel like it’d work well worn open as an overshirt too. I’ve just got a new job after a summer contracting and having some delicious time off, so it’ll be great for work too.

More Saharas: Self-Assembly Required, Paprika Patterns, Frock and Sew, and of course thanks again to Shauni for the main inspiration!

P.S. If you’re reading in a reader, I gave my blog a bit of a fresh look – click on over to have a look!
P.P.S. If you’re not on Instagram, you may have missed that I was a guest on Helen and Caroline’s excellent new podcast, Love to Sew, talking about my sewing and blogging journey. You can find my episode here or on all podcast apps.

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.

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!