Named Clothing Isla Trench Coat

I'm going to be bold and say that if I only have one masterpiece in me, this is probably it. After months of planning - and many more months of procrastinating - I'm so pleased to finally be able to share my finished Named Clothing Isla Trench Coat.

Named Clothing Isla Trench Coat
Do you think ankle length denim will catch on?
Approaching this project is not for the faint-hearted. I technically started it in spring, but got no further than sticking the MASSIVE PDF together. As you can see, the finished thing is pretty long, so some of the pieces are huge, and the jacket is made up of more individual pattern pieces than I've ever seen - 24 in total, many of which you have to cut out multiple times in the outer fabric, lining and interfacing. Some of the pieces are overlapped too, so you still have to do some tracing, and I really hate tracing. One positive though, and a bit of myth busting here for some of you who asked: seam allowances are included in the PDF version of the Isla (phew)!

Pinterest inspiration, particularly the middle image!
Inspired by some amazing denim trenches I came across on Pinterest, I bought this mid-weight blue denim (sorry I don't know the exact weight!) from my local haberdashery, Samuel Taylors in Leeds. It's not the cheapest project to embark upon; requiring 3.5m for the outer alone, plus lining fabric (I bought cheap khaki lining to try and even out the expenditure!), over 2m of interfacing and notions. Having seen some great versions online (I love this one by Le fil à la gratte) I knew that it would be well worth the cost.

Flash of khaki lining
Cutting and marking up the pattern pieces took me a day, and then there was prepping the pieces with interfacing, but once I was sewing the whole jacket came together surprisingly fast! The instructions are very clear and methodical. I felt like could approach the make one element at a time, the first being the welt pockets. I've never done a welt pocket before, but they weren't nearly as difficult as I'd imagined. It's crazy to think how much effort went into them for them to sort of blend into the background, but it's the little details that seem to count with this jacket and that definitely appeals to my inner perfectionist.

Welt pocket!
Speaking of details, nearly every edge is double topstitched. I wasn't brave enough to try a contrasting thread, but if you cared to inspect my Isla up close, I'd say the matching topstitching still makes for a really professional finish. The lined cape was a particularly fun element to make and topstitch, and it's probably my favourite thing about the finished jacket. 

Coming together quickly with the cape
Side view/silhouette
The collar/collar belt was a nice chunk to construct in one go and the details make it look so professional in finish. It's a shame the collar belt and loops are mostly hidden away under the collar itself, but I made sure to get some pictures below to show you all!

Collar belt detail (buttons from Textile Garden)
Under-collar details
I was on a bit of a roll and made just one mistake: sewing the sleeve bands on at the wrong notch, meaning they sat way too close to the sleeve edge. I'd almost finished the jacket before realising and although it didn't look too bad, I had to go in through the lining and correct it or be forever annoyed.

Corrected sleeve bands!
Other than that, the whole sew was smooth, even the lining/bagging out stage, which I had expected to be difficult based on previous bagging out confusions with the Waver Jacket and Yona Coat. Joining the inside of the vent to the lining was probably the hardest bit to sew neatly, but luckily is hidden away on the inside. It's also worth mentioning that I skipped the shoulder pads, which hasn't made much of a difference to the finished jacket. With or without shoulder pads, the style is very much 'power dressing'.

Lining flash!
I found the most beautiful imitation tortoise shell buttons from Textile Garden that work perfectly with the denim, with matching small ones for the collar and sleeves. If I made the Isla in future, I'd consider doing bound button holes for a better finish as the regular ones don't quite cut it, particularly as the rest of the jacket is finished to such a high standard.

I'm absolutely thrilled with the finished jacket, and I'm so glad I stuck with it. If you've stuck with the saga on here/Instagram and read this far, thank you! I've sewn a couple of jackets/coats in the past, and more recently the Linda Wrap Dress which has a lot more technical elements to it, but I'd built this up to be something else entirely. It's actually turned out to be my favourite jacket sewing experience ever, and I credit a lot of that to the fab instructions - thanks Named! Don't be put off by the 5-scissor difficulty rating, just give it a go. When I eventually got started, it took me a little under 2 weeks of evening/weekend sewing to finish.

Back view
Should have smoothed out that squiffy cape!
I don't think I'll be sewing another trench any time soon, but if anyone else wants to, here are some other great trench coat patterns:

Londres Trench Coat and Jacket by Orageuse
Luzerne Trench Coat by Deer and Doe
Tracy Trench Coat by Style Arc
Robson Coat by Sewaholic
Vogue 8884 (great one here by Diane at Dream.Cut.Sew)

Hi mum if you're reading! Thanks for the pictures :)
I'm just getting over a bit of sewing fatigue and then I'll be returning to my backlog of sewing plans. I have a few skirts (including another New Look 6418 in more faux suede I picked up at Sew Brum), a Kyoto Sweater and the Lander Pants in the pipeline. But in the meantime, I'm very much enjoying wearing my finished Isla Trench.

Is anyone else feeling like braving a trench or coat this winter? Which pattern will you be sewing?

Stay in touch!

New season staples: New Look 6418

I am massively guilty of overlooking good patterns based on the cover. The New Look 6418 is a prime example of one of these little gems that's hiding behind a passable picture on the envelope in the back of my collection for a while - I think it was free in return for entering a competition, so it's likely that lots of you will have it in your stash too! As it turns out, view D is actually a fab make and now two of my new favourite skirts - dig your copies out!

New Look 6418 in faux suede
The overlooked cover
As well as the standard this-time-of-year-panic to make season-appropriate clothes, my priority has been to make fitted clothes that actually fit - I've been unwell over the summer and changed my diet, which has messed with my measurements. A fitted mini was top of the list - something to wear with thick tights and pair with jumpers/Fall Turtlenecks and looser tops like the Frilled Hem Top. I was quite surprised that my mini pattern research didn't pull up anything new that excited me - woven minis seem few and far in between, but let me know if you know otherwise!

Before: an unworn Inari Tee Dress
...salvaged for fabric
So that's what led me to turning to the New Look 6418 in my stash. View D looked ok to try and if it didn't require too much commitment time wise (it took a couple of hours) and fabric wise (only 0.8m). I managed to squeeze mine out of this old Inari Tee Dress that just wasn't working for me. I loved my first version, but this amazing orange faux suede was just a bit too heavy and the resulting look was a bit 'bubble-like'.

After: a finished and very wearable New Look 6418
The skirt is SO simple to make. It has a bit of topstitching on the fake pockets and an invisible zip in the back so it would be a good one for beginners to practice skills or experienced sewers who want a quick win make (or perhaps a pattern to experiment with). The finished garment is designed to sit 1" below the waist, which feels a bit weird at first, but it's actually a really flattering cut. I made a size 14, which is spot on when worn at the right point on the hip, though I can't help but thinking a 12 might work a bit better depending on the stiffness of fabric used.

Worn with a Kyoto Tee minus the frills. Excuse the creases from sitting!
After wearing it nearly all week, I decided to follow it up with a second. I bought 1m of this incredible snakeskin faux leather in Abakhan over a year ago and was so pleased to finally have the right project for it! The only changes I made to accommodate the fabric were skipping the pockets and installing an exposed zipper rather than a concealed one - my very first exposed zip and it doesn't look half bad! I used a 90/14 leather needle for sewing and overlocked the raw bottom edge and turned it up just once to avoid a bulky hem.

Version 2 in snakeskin faux leather
Back view - my first exposed zipper!
I LOVE both skirts and expect them to be staples throughout the winter (though I'm not sure I can get away with pleather snake skin at work). It's definitely a good pattern for trying with unusual/unconventional fabric and now it's a TNT, I'm hoping to brave using the stripy Liberty cord I bought at GBSB Live to make a lined version.

Worn with a Fall Turtleneck

I also managed to get a printed copy of the Named Clothing Nascha Mini Skirt at GBSB Live, which seems to have been discontinued. I'd never seen it before so was quite excited (I've read reviews saying that it really is the miniest of minis, so lets hope it hasn't been discontinued for a reason...). I'm going to try it out in denim whilst I labour over the Named Isla Trench Coat (also in denim) in the background.

Having been an exclusively midi-length maker/wearer for quite some time, this is exciting new territory for me! Please send your short skirt recommendations my way :)

Stay in touch!

Trend Patterns Frilled Hem Top

I took a bit of a 'sewcation' recently, with quite grand plans for making. I sewed up a Lily Sage & Co Wonderland Skirt first (more on that soon!) and then moved onto my very first Trend Patterns make. All I can say is that there were many more patterns on my sewing list, but as soon as I'd finished the TPC5 Frilled Hem Top, all of my sewing needs felt satisfied. Talk about love for a garment!
Trend Patterns Frilled Hem Top
I bought the Frilled Hem Top and Asymetric Hem Dress patterns in a Trend Patterns sale quite a while ago, and ordered the Trench Jacket in the most recent bank holiday sale. I'm not in the habit of collecting patterns in such a way, but the packaging is so aesthetically pleasing that they've been doubling up as sewing space decoration while they sit in the queue. They're pricier than the brands I usually go for, but the styles are (what I'd consider to be) super fashionable and the drafting is adventurous and unusual - I'd liken them most closely to DP Studio after making their Knit Asymmetric Dress.
Just look at the beautiful packaging!
I've been waiting for the perfect fabric to inspire me to make the Frilled Hem Top and was thrilled to finally come across these contrasting checks on a recent trip to Fabworks. I'm not really sure what sort of fabric is is - probably polyester - but they're really light and drapey and very nearly a little see-through.
Worn with this pleather Sew DIY Nita Wrap Skirt
The pattern requires 1.9m of fabric (140cm wide) in total. I bought 1.5m of my main fabric and 1m of the white contrast check for the frill. The frill panel was much longer than I realised, so I had to cut it on the cross grain (my fabric was 150cm wide), but if you want a contrasting frill and don't mind doing this, then you could actually get away with buying just 0.5m. I traced a size 12 and started the semi-painful process of trying to keep the checked fabric straight while pinning and cutting.

Monochrome on monochrome (on monochrome)
The making process was hugely enjoyable and just the right amount of challenging,  I love interesting construction methods and piecing together unusual pattern pieces, and the Frilled Hem Top had plenty of this. I particularly liked adding the frill to the bottom panel. It's absolutely huge and must have took me about an hour alone to gather and pin it in place.
After joining the front to the lower back panel and frill
The instructions are good and the photographs are especially helpful, but it's not your typical top with a front, back and side seams, so naturally there were a few points where I got a little confused. All I can say is that the notches/pattern markings are absolutely essential, so if you're confused about which pieces you're joining where, use these as a guide because they're spot on.

Back view - slightly squiffy zip/checks
Update: full back view of top
I completed the Frilled Hem Top in one intense day of sewing, though future versions would probably be quicker now I'm familiar with the pattern. My only disappointment is with the zip insertion, or more accurately, my slightly dodgy fabric cutting which has made my zip look a bit off. Apart from this, I'm really happy with how professional the finish is.

Side view!
I'm so pleased that this pattern turned out well and I couldn't recommend it more! It's well drafted, unusual in style (without being too 'out-there') and interesting to wear. I've been wearing mine both loose and tucked in at the back to emphasize the diagonal fall of the frill from back to front. I'm still on the hunt for the perfect bottoms to wear it with - I'm thinking a shorter skirt or maybe it's time to make the leap into jeans sewing...?

Snaps taken by my mum outside the ExCeL @ GBSB Live!
I'm sure I'll be making another version, but again it will be a case of waiting for the perfect fabric to come along - I think anything heavier would result in too much bulk, so I'll be on the look out for lightweight drapey fabrics. I'd like to try one with short sleeves as I've been wearing mine rolled up anyway. In the meantime, the pattern will be decorating my sewing space in pride of place.

Now sticking with Trend Patterns, should I make the TPC8 Trench Jacket or TPC2 Asymmetric Hem Dress next?

Stay in touch!

Just Patterns Linda Wrap Dress (turned jacket)!

I went to the wedding of one of my oldest friends this weekend and naturally, I cut it fine finishing my handmade outfit. With just a week to go, I set my heart on wearing the beautiful Linda Wrap Dress by Just Patterns, which I was testing for their Pattern Development Group. I turned it into one of those 'all or nothing' situations, so when the dress didn't quite turn out as I'd planned, I performed the ultimate sewing salvage and transformed it from wrap dress to dress-coat!
Just Patterns Linda Wrap Dress worn as a jacket
I've had my eye on Just Patterns for a while and the Linda Wrap Dress was the main reason I put myself forward to be in the Pattern Development Group. I particularly loved the angled collar and wrap-style/belt fastening and was really keen to make it. It's worth noting that whilst I was sent a copy for free to test, the feedback I provided and this blog post are both pretty honest about some of the difficulties I had!
Linda Wrap Dress line drawings
I used a mid-weight khaki peachskin-type which was only £4p/m from Lucky Fashions in Dewsbury. It has a really nice drape but is still weighty enough for the quite 'tailored' details of the dress. I cut a size 42 based on my bust and waist measurements in the size chart. The dress is intended to be fairly loose fitting and as it has a wrap fastening, I thought I'd have a bit of flexibility with sizing, but in hindsight, I should've probably worked more from the finished garment measurements.

My Linda Wrap COAT
When it came to making, I was initially intimidated by how minimal the instructions are - there are no illustrations, just an order of construction - but this turned out to be good in a way and really pushed me to think for myself and put my skills into practice. Luckily there's a resource page on the Just Patterns website, which signposts useful tutorials for parts of the construction. I relied heavily on some of these tutorials, particularly for instructions like 'construct the sleeve plackets' (which I would've found absolutely terrifying otherwise)! It was actually a really good way to learn new techniques and discover new blogs and tutorials in the process!

Super proud of these sleeve plackets!
I loved adding the little details to my Linda Dress. There is A LOT of topstitching to do and I used some bright buttons from Textile Garden (the same as the ones on my Ready to Sew Jane) to add a pop of colour and draw the eye to the sleeve detailing too - I'm so unbelievably proud of those sleeve plackets! The overall finish is really professional, particularly if you follow the instructions to French seam pretty much any visible seam - I skipped this as an overlocked edge is fine by me.

A flash of the bias bound inside bodice edge
Attaching the skirt and bodice to the belt requires a little bit of concentration to make sure you match the right notches, but everything else was fairly straight forward. By the time it came to adding the belt fastening I'd tried it on and realised that it wouldn't be wearable as a dress (I had planned to add a D ring fastening). Unfortunately the dress turned out pretty huge all over, but particularly in the bodice and I could pinch a good 4-5" out of the waist. It's worth noting that a few of the testers had problems with sizing and this is something that Just Patterns are addressing.

Worn as a dress...
It's a little hard to tell from pictures alone (sorry for the clutter!) but the shoulders are off and the front gapes with any movement. There's a limit to how far over you can tie the belt because of the gathered detail around the waistband and the pocket on the side, so the fit wasn't as flexible as I had first thought. It was just starting to look like a real shame to waste all the hard work I'd put into the make, when my boyfriend commented that he thought it was meant to be a coat all along.

Ready to Sew Jazz Jumpsuit
When worn open it totally worked in an over-sized, COS-like, over-coat fashion. With 2 more days until the wedding, I didn't have many options other than to run with it anyway! So what to wear it with?! I made this Ready to Sew Jazz Jumpsuit in black crepe straight after making my first version and it has yet to appear on the blog. I have nothing but praise for this pattern and it works so perfectly in a slightly heavier, drapey fabric. I probably wouldn't have worn either garment without the other as they're both quite plain, but paired together I totally felt like it was leaning towards the minimal/cool look. I also wore my go-to snakeskin heels from M&S with a Whistles clutch for a bit of colour.

Jazz Jumpsuit
I didn't have to make any changes to the dress-turned-jacket other than omitting the fastening. I kept the belt tie, though I'm wondering whether I should cut it off and stitch the edge up so it's level or add another sort of fastening. I'm still undecided so suggestions are very much welcome!

Back view
Behind the scenes assistance from my friend Alex!
So all in all everything turned out great! And the whole thing (jacket and jumpsuit) cost no more than £25. I have to say that I'm soooo so pleased with the Linda Wrap Dress (jacket), even if my testing did go slightly off piste. I'll absolutely be making up another version in the future, but will be sure to double check the finished garment measurements and down size first. If you're feeling like a fun challenge and maybe learning some new techniques along the way then I'd definitely recommend giving it a go! You can get a copy of the pattern here.

Thank you Chris for taking pictures xx
A lot of the testers made some perfect Linda Wrap Dresses (that they actually wore as dresses) so be sure to check out #lindawrapdress for the real deal!

Wedding gang!
I still can't quite believe I pulled it off (well I think I just about did...). It really does feel like the ultimate sewing save. Has anyone else got a great sewing salvage story?

Stay in touch!

Afternoon Fern Shorts

Have you come across Afternoon yet? They're an indie pattern label based in Cape Town, offering patterns in both PDF and printed formats. I had the lovely task of testing their latest release, the Fern Shorts, and I'm pretty pleased with the finished garment:

My Afternoon Fern Shorts
The PDF version of the pattern is only 18 pages long when printing in A4, so there's really not much cutting and sticking to do - though if PDFs really aren't your bag, you can order a printed version. The instruction booklet is beautifully designed which is great if, like me, you're the sort of person who likes to display your favourite printed patterns! The fab level of design extends beyond the cover too - the instructions are well laid out and the illustrations are some of the clearest I've seen.

Afternoon Fern Shorts
I cut a size D from the A-F size chart (UK 6 - 16/US 2 - 12 equivilent) which was an exact match for my waist measurement. I could have sized down by 2 sizes on the hips, but chose not to as I wanted them to be loose and retain a bit of volume in the legs to balance out from my waist measurement. I used a mid-weight cotton - the closest thing I can liken it to is a sort of brushed cotton - as I had plenty left over from making these B6178 culottes. The culottes would probably work better in something lighter with more movement, but it holds the shape of the Fern Shorts really well.

Directing take a picture from 'here to here', not doing a 'taa-daah'
It was a really straightforward sew that would suit anyone from an advanced/adventurous beginner to someone who has been sewing for years. I personally found the pockets the hardest to set in, but this might just be because it was my first sew for a month and I was feeling a little rusty. It would have been nice to have a few more pattern markings to help with this step and this is something that I fed back (*note: as a tester, the pattern I worked from wasn't the final version, so it will be the new and improved version that's released for sale). I topstitched my pocket opening for a neater finish - a bit like the pocket openings on the Joanne Culottes - just because I really love topstitching.

Pocket and side zip details
The shorts fasten with a concealed zip at the right side. I'm the sort of person who would usually avoid garments with a side zip for fear of it being more difficult, when the method is actually exactly the same as normal - does anyone else make up unnecessary sewing fears? It makes for a much neater finish to have the zip tucked away and concealed by a side seam and it was actually really easy to do!

As a note, I needed to use a loop turner for the belt loops and the tie. The tie is really long and I'm not sure I would've had the patience for the safety pin method. It's actually a bit skinnier than I thought it would be, so in future, I'll probably take a smaller seam allowance to make it a bit wider.

Back view
One big thing I learnt from making the Fern Shorts is how to do proper turn ups - finally! I can't tell you how long I laboured away on unsuccessful turn ups for these vintage pattern trousers before giving up. The only thing I need to do with my Fern turn ups is to pop a couple of stitches in the centre back to hold them in place, as you might be able to see from the back image.

Finished Ferns!
I'm not a usual shorts wearer an I haven't worn them since my 'vintage kilo sale' phase at uni - ill fitting cut-off Wranglers and tights anyone? - but the style of the Fern Shorts has totally changed my mind. There's something about the wide legs and turn ups that make them seem cooler and a bit more 'grown up'. I love Fern's shaping, particularly around the waistband through to the pockets, and I'll definitely be using them as the base for a culotte/wide leg trouser hack in the near future. 

Thanks Jen for letting me test the Fern Shorts. I can definitely recommend the pattern and I wore mine all bank holiday weekend as we actually got some sun! I'd love to say that I'll be making many more pairs straight away, but unfortunately the UK weather probably won't be up to it - next summer though! 

One of the outtakes - thanks Chris for taking pictures and making me laugh
The Fern Shorts are available to buy now here. Also keep your eye on the Afternoon blog for the Fern sew-along - previous sew-alongs have been super thorough, so it's definitely something to look out for if you need a bit of help along the way or are learning new sewing skills!

Now what fabric should I choose for my Fern-culotte hack?

Stay in touch!

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