Category Archives: Indie patterns

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:

summer-collection-twitter-share

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.

Testing testing: Arielle and Southport

Southport dress

I’m not asked to pattern test that often, but I have happily done so for a couple of my indie designer buddies. Two recent patterns which I tested have just been released – the True Bias Southport dress and the Tilly Arielle skirt – so I thought I’d share my takes on the results. I find pattern testing a really interesting process, which is why I’m happy to give my time to do it. Firstly it often lets me try out patterns that I wouldn’t necessarily choose or buy for myself, and secondly I’m quite interested in the whole process of pattern development and how best to optimise instructions for maximum usability. I love submitting my feedback and seeing it applied to the final product.

Arielle skirt

First up Tilly’s Arielle skirt, which comes in mini or knee lengths and offers a wiggle fit with lovely offset buttons – no zip, hoorah!

Arielle skirt
Arielle skirt

I used a brown twill for my skirt and it’s lined in black silk. Slight changes were made to the hip ease due to the testing feedback, but I actually graded up at the hip anyway because I’m between sizes – it’s an easy one to blend sizes and get a good fit. Pencil skirts aren’t a typical choice for me, but I’m pretty fond of this and it’s so easy to wear with tights and a little tee and feel a bit dressed up.

Arielle skirt

I really enjoyed testing this because it was quite a challenging sew for me – I think it’s the first faced-and-lined skirt I’ve ever put together so I really relished trying a new skill. For an easier sew the lining is totally optional and wouldn’t really be necessary in many fabrics.

Southport dress
Southport dress

Next up – I’m a big fan of Kelli of True Bias’s pattern line, so was really pleased to be asked to test her latest. The Southport is a casual summer tank dress with a half-buttoned front (YASSS, sew all the buttons) and drawstring waist. It’s got above-knee and maxi length options and is recommended for any breezy, drapey fabric. I used a fairly nutty archive Liberty print called Clara – Roisin has used it in another colourway and I scooped this 1.3m piece on eBay for pretty cheap.

Southport dress
Southport dress

Welp, this dress is pretty adorable, right? I love the overall shape and style. Tank dresses are super hard to fit on my body due to my narrow shoulders and hollow chest, but this is pretty darn close. I graded from 4 at the top to 8 at the hips, and Kelli has altered the armsyce/bodice fit a bit based on feedback (so don’t use this as a final fit guide). If we get more of a sniff of summer weather or I book a nice warm holiday I’ll definitely be making a couple more of these.

You can get hold of Arielle here and Southport here. Obvious disclaimer than I sewed up test versions so my review doesn’t apply to the finished fit or instructions, and I got the patterns for free in exchange for testing. Will you be adding either to your S/S sew plans?

Saturday Silk Sewathon

Polly-Anna top
True Bias Sutton blouse

I had a fun Saturday, getting reacquainted with my machine after two weeks away (a long time in my books!). Josh was away too, so I stuck some catch-up TV on and had a little silk sewalong. I’ve just started a new work contract which is vaguely in the fashion industry, so my mission was make some slightly smarter yet still comfy tops. Enter some lush fabrics and two brilliant little patterns: a BHL Polly-Anna lovechild, and True Bias’s brand new Sutton Blouse.

Polly-Anna top

I was inspired by the current BHL #Patternhackathon contest to have a go at mashing together the the Polly top and the Anna dress to make an autumn-appropriate top. It’s a Pollyanna! – that name reminds me of that horrendous film that’s regurgitated every Christmas, but I suppose it’s too good not to use.

Polly-Anna top

Hacking the patterns together was very straightforward. I simply laid the Anna over the Polly, lining up at the neck edge and along the shoulder line, and drew Anna’s extended kimono sleeve and underarm curve straight onto the Polly. I also copied over Anna’s lovely neckline.

Polly-Anna top

The main fabric is a black sandwashed silk from Goldhawk Road, with the dull side facing out. I love how it looks and feels, but it was kind of a pain to work with because the rough surface doesn’t feed through the machine that easily – I had a few skipped stitches and ripply seams to deal with. The front panel is a beautiful printed lightweight silk that I actually bought the same day at a local Peter Jensen sample sale which Kathryn and I popped along to in the morning. The Polly pattern piece just fitted onto the little scrappy remnant, so it was clearly meant to be.

Polly-Anna top

I can’t get over how well it fits: I suppose it makes sense since I’d already tweaked both patterns to fit me, but I absolutely love them together. The guts are just as pretty: you gotta do french seams, narrow double-turned hems and self-bias necklines when working with a sumptuous silk. Only the curved panel seam is overlocked, but I bet you could french seam that too if you were feeling brave. Fingers crossed for the competition – there’s a heck of a prize hamper at stake, I hear.

True Bias Sutton blouse

My second make of the day was the True Bias Sutton blouse. Kelli asked me to test the pattern but the dates fell over when I was away in Mexico. I was so disappointed because I loved the design at first sight, so Kelli very kindly sent me over the finished pattern anyway. Yeah, I’m wearing it with my Hudsons, not that they really go together but I couldn’t resist.

True Bias Sutton blouse

I used the last scraps of the sandwashed silk for the all-in-one shoulder yoke, and another silk that I got from a House of Hackney sample sale for the main. Again it was a small remnant that the pieces only just fitted onto, and then only if I cut on the crossgrain hence the sideways leopard print. I do get an odd sense of achievement from fitting a pattern onto the scrappiest of scraps.

True Bias Sutton blouse

The pattern came together really easily. The instructions are great and I made no fit adjustments, just grading from a 6 at the top to an 8 at the hip. I love the technique for finishing the front V-neck nice and precisely, and you’re instructed to use French seams throughout for a swish finish. The only design tweak I made was to leave off the side splits and level off the hem so that I could French the side seams too. I’m pretty sure I’ll make both of these tops again – just keep me rolling in fancy silk!

Camisole crazy

Hallo! Thanks so much for the kind comments on my swimsuit. In a happy twist of fate, I am unexpectedly taking a pattern-cutting crash course this week (more on that soon – it is blowing my tiny mind) so if you fancied the pattern do watch this space. Now for something silly…

cami gif

Sooo, these projects are all so quick and kinda throwaway that they don’t seem worth a post of their own. But I’ve been rigorously testing out seemingly every cami/tank/singlet pattern under the sun lately (and wearing them almost daily – London is HOT, by the way) so I thought I’d jot down my thoughts on each of them.

(What do you think of my new photo setup by the way? I actually finally found a wall in my flat that’s plain white and gets decent light. Can’t decide if it’s a bit boring, though…)

Camisoles

You probably recognise this first cami from its background role in some other posts – I barely took it off for like two weeks straight when I made it. It’s a Salme double-layer cami made from a slinky viscose remnant from Abakhan. Unfortunately, a quick learning for me was that the seemingly simple camisole proves tricky to fit on my body. I have a very small high chest / overbust measurement compared to full bust and overall frame. That means I get mad gaping through necklines (fixed here with a crafty front box pleat) but then get tightness through the bust and underarms if I size down too much. I’m working to perfect the fit with each cami I make, but luckily I actually rather like the pleat detail here. From what I’ve already learned in pattern class this week, I could/should have pivoted out that excess into the bust dart.

Camisoles

Another Salme one using the offcut from my Anna dress. This time I folded the excess fabric out of the neckline, but forgot that the pattern doesn’t include seam/hem allowance and merrily cut my fabric without it. Luckily it does still fit as I sized up anyway as I always do for woven tops, but it’s a wee bit snugger than I generally like. I like the Salme pattern because the underlayer is attached RS together all around the neckline, meaning you don’t need to finish the raw edges with anything fiddly like bias or facings. I’ve been using my seemingly endless stash of stretch mesh as linings to avoid adding much weight or bulk.

Camisoles

Lucky number three, a plain black self-lined slinky viscose version of the Salme – perfect fit!

Camisoles

Ummmm, this one has tiny tumbling cats on and I have run out of things to say. Cats.

Camisoles

Here’s a different pattern, the free Diana cami from Sewloft, made up in a beautiful Liberty tana lawn that I bought as a pre-cut 1m from Liberty’s sale. (Anyone know the name of this design? I love it so much!) I had exactly the same gaping issue, and pinched it out with a front tuck this time. It doesn’t hang quite as nicely as the Salme one as it has no bust darts – notice the ripples down the sides – but that could also be a side effect of the crisp lawn.

Camisoles

I love the back detailing on this one, even if it’s not so bra-friendly. I lined it in white cotton voile to make the print ‘pop’ a bit more and get the same clean neckline finish as the Salme one (the pattern as written is unlined with self bias to finish the neckline). I treated the lining and main as one when sewing the side seams, but I think I prefer the lining hanging loose inside like the Salme one for an easier drape.

Camisoles

Finally the free By Hand London Polly top. I don’t know why I held off making this so long – it’s so sweet, fast to make, and a really good scrapbuster. This is made in a Ghanaian wax cotton that I scooped up from a lovely lady at Spitalfields market for just £2. It was already half-sewn into a skirt so I had to cut carefully to make it fit; the awkward seam right up the front is an unfortunate effect of that. The fabric has two ‘good’ sides with a nice colour contrast; I think the centre panel is supposed to be the wrong side.

Camisoles

I cut a 10 at the top, grading to a 14 at the hips – next time I will pinch more a bit still out of the front and back necklines and perhaps attempt a sway-back adjustment. I only had enough fabric left to cut self bias binding for the neck; the armsyces are just turned and topstitched which luckily worked fine in this easy-press fabric. I really love this top and can see it becoming a TNT as the potential for colour/print blocking is high and it’s so fast and fun to sew. A Polly dress might be on the horizon too…

Fabric cat

So there you go, a veritable bevy of camis. Be rewarded by my cat lounging inconsiderately on my pile of to-be-photographed tops, the adorable little jerk.

Fabric cat

Which is your favourite, Yoni? No surprises there.