Sew Loux

You may have seen some sneak snippets and semi-cryptic captions on my Instagram recently, so I'm really excited to finally share what for me has been a project of epic proportions: making clothes for the screen! Please meet Loux, and their beautifully shot and colour-schemed video for the song Darling:
Loux shot at Victoria Baths, Manchester

More specifically meet front woman Jordan, who I first met up with last summer to begin the process of making her Wes Anderson inspired colour palette come to life (in clothing form). The vision and styling were pretty clear from the start - an cool, slightly androgynous and exaggerated silhouette, offset by a selection of well paired and carefully considered colours.

Jordan - Loux
I drew from my already existing pattern collection (vintage and present day) plus a couple of charity shop patterns that Jordan sourced. By the time the shoot came round in early February, I'd managed to sew up a capsule wardrobe of two tops, two pairs of culottes, a pair of trousers (my very first fly front ever - talk about nerve wracking!) and a vintage shirt - phew!

The specifics:

Papercut Patterns Fall Turtleneck x2
Forever a favourite pattern of mine, we made this up twice to get the exact colour spot on. The fabrics are from Minerva and Fabworks.
Papercut Patterns Rise Turtleneck x2 and culottes (just seen)
B6178 Culottes x2
I've blogged my love for this Butterick pattern previously here. We made these up twice to get a better fit around the hips and waist, and the 2nd pair turned out just perfect! The fabrics were both super cheap, draping, emerald greens from Bombay Stores.

Vintage New Look 6316 blouse
This was one of Jordan's pattern picks, sourced in a charity shop; a boxy, retro blouse (minus the shoulder pads) with some neat tucks and detailing. It's made up in a salmon pink cotton from Fabworks, which makes quite a bold statement in the video.

Vintage New Look 6316

Vintage Me Magazine Palazzo Pants in deep blue/green cotton drill (Fabworks)
This was my first attempt at this 90s magazine pattern and I loved the results so much that I went and made my own pair! They're made up in the perfect weight deep blue/green cotton drill from Fabworks.

My first ever fly front fastening!

Behind the scenes:
I went along to see the video being shot at the beautiful Victoria Baths in Manchester. Here are a few behind the scenes shots that were too lovely not to share:

I hope you all enjoy the video/song/clothes as much as I've enjoyed being a part of it!
For updates from Loux, find them on Facebook
and Instagram

Stay in touch!

Ready to Sew Jane

Here is the next installment in what is turning into a bit of a shirt making saga (and a very enjoyable one): the Jane blouse by French pattern company Ready to Sew. It's not quite traditional in style, but then neither am I... I was drawn to the cool and unusual crossover front, which as a bonus, was deceivingly simple to make!

Jane by Ready to Sew
This is my first experience with Ready to Sew patterns, and I have to say, I'm really impressed. The PDF is layered so you can select the sizes you'd like to print - one of the things I really love with about most Named patterns. Something that I haven't come across before but really liked, were the click-through links in the PDF, leading to further instructions and tutorials - I didn't need to use them, but it does make the pattern feel that extra bit user friendly.

Jane by Ready to Sew
Inspecting that amazing crossover front!
The sizing threw me a little as I found that my measurements fell across 3 different sizes, which is a bit unusual for me. I recently bought my first pattern from another French pattern house, DP Studio, and similarly fell across a few sizes, but upon comparing them both with standard European sizing, I found little difference. Maybe it's just me (or maybe I've fallen into a habit of using patterns that fit me pretty well straight from the off)? Anyway the Jane blouse is loose fitting in design and I was feeling too lazy for grading, so I went for the a straight size 42.

The pattern piece for the main body of the blouse (which forms the front and back) is very large and unusually shaped, but it was at least a bit kinder to my limited floor space than cutting the V9186. The cutting layout indicates which edges need overlocking before you begin sewing, which I quite liked. Although it felt like extra prep at the time, it meant I could speed along with the making without having to shift between 2 different machines.

Worn with a shortened version of this skirt from wayyyy back, and of course, Docs.
I found the simplicity of constructing the draped crossover from one big pattern piece totally mind blowing! Essentially, you just make very long button plackets down the two curved edges, and these form both the plackets and the hem of the blouse once you've twisted it and the centre back seam is sewn. The instructions are easy to follow, which is lucky as I would've been totally clueless otherwise.

Back view
I used a textured, light-ish crepe with a slight stretch from Samuel Taylors in Leeds, originally bought for a second Ralph Pink Sahara Shirt. I realised it would be the perfect weight to get an amazing drape through the crossover front of the Jane, so it got bumped to the top of the pile. (Note: the fabric has to be the same on the right and wrong side, as the twist means you see both on the outside of the garment.)

Close up of fabric and amazing Textile Garden buttons
My only critique of the pattern is that it doesn't explicitly say to apply the interfacing (although on looking back, the illustrations do show to do it). I accidentally bypassed interfacing my button placket, which made my button hole sewing a little trickier than it should have been. Once I'd managed them though, I couldn't help but use these amazing contrast buttons from Textile Garden, (who cares if they're actually a little too big for the narrow placket?!). I'd go as far as saying they totally make the blouse.

Just finished Jane hanging at home
Had to get a sleeves down shot - they're a decent length if anyone was wondering!
In all, the Jane blouse was a really enjoyable project to work on, and I still can't quite believe how quickly it all came together! It's a little looser and boxier than I imagined, and I had worried whether the lightly gathered in sleeves stuck out a bit as the shoulder is slightly dropped, but some careful pressing sorted this out.

Thank you Sara, as ever, for the fab pictures
I'm looking forward to seeing how I can fit the finished Jane in with the rest of my wardrobe, and I'd like to try a second version in a mid weight plain crepe (I'm thinking khaki)... I'd definitely recommend!

Stay in touch!

She wears (and makes) the trousers

I've barely worn trousers in years. Other than a few pairs of elastic-waisted casual trousers, and my beloved culottes, I've generally favoured skirts and dresses for my me-made wardrobe. But as a considered part of stepping up my sewing game, I'm finally wearing the very first pair of 'proper' trousers I've ever made for myself - including the formerly feared fly-front fastening - and I'm pretty pleased with the results!

My first 'proper' trousers
This is only my second attempt at a pair of 'proper trousers', the first being for someone else using the same pattern - for a project I can't wait to tell you about, hopefully soon! After the initial fear of the fly-front, I'd been surprised at how easily they came together, and loved the finished pair so much that I wanted my own version. The pattern is a pretty retro magazine pull out from June 1993's Me Magazine, and is a part of a wider collection that I was very lucky to inherit from my former school textiles teacher when she moved schools last year!

Me Magazine June 1993
Me Magazine June 1993
And here's a bit of Pinterest trouser inspiration which also spurred me on to make up the pattern!

Pinterest trouser inspiration
I used a soft, grey, poly/cotton mix from Lucky Fashions in Dewsbury, purchased at last week's fab #sewdowndewsbury meet up. If you're ever in the area, I'd recommend checking it out - they had a great selection of fabrics, loads of crepes (my favourite!), and the prices were really good too. This fabric was only £4.40p/m and has the feel of a lighter-weight wool - perfect for a pair of trousers to take me into spring!

Roomy legs! A different silhouette for me
Just like my until-recent-aversion to shirt making techniques (tackled with the Ralph Pink Sahara Shirt and the V9186), I'm finding that some techniques definitely aren't as hard as I've built them up to be! The slanted pockets were fun and simple to construct, and along with the front tucks, they create a great shape. And the fly-front was pretty straight forward, even with project instructions minimal enough to fit on one side of A4!

Fly fastening, and front detail
The sizing charts were definitely on the smaller end of the scale - I put this down to the pattern being 'vintage' - so I made a size 16, which should have been a little small on the waist if anything judging by the measurements given. The finished trousers actually came up with a ridiculous amount of ease. I took a 2cm side seam and adjusted the waistband to match before stitching it in place, but I can still pinch a good inch of excess. They're quite relaxed in fit anyway, so totally wearable, and I'm encouraged by the results to make another pair, but I'll probably size down next time. 

Showing off my Docs and socks
You may notice on some of these pictures that the waistband looks a little creased at the front, something which seems to happen often to my handmades with wear. I know that I've caused this in part by stitching the bar of my hook and bar fastening a bit further over than it should naturally sit (to try and get the waist to fit a little closer) but I wondered if it could be the interfacing? I used a mid-weight interfacing, but would something a bit heavier prevent this? Advice welcome!

Back view - excuse the funny bum rumples - the result of a windy day!
I skipped my original plan of turn-up legs after an unsuccessful attempt, and cropped them at (what I consider to be) a more fashionable, awkward-ankle-flashing length. I even bought myself some fancy socks now that I have the opportunity to show them off! The trousers seem to pair well with my fairly sizeable collection of Rise/Fall Turtlenecks, and the length sits nicely with my black pointed ankle boots too - a whole new world of wardrobe possibilities has been opened!

...and I can do a whole new range of poses!
Thank you Sara for braving the wind with me to take pictures (again!)
It might be unlikely, but if you ever come across the pattern I'd definitely recommend it! I know I'll be using it many times more now I'm a fully fledged trouser maker! This might just be the start of something...Can anyone else recommend their favourite trouser pattern?

Stay in touch!

A very ambitious V9186

Just when I was beginning to feel a bit deflated sewing-wise (see last post) the perfect project to pick me up landed in a nice parcel on the doorstep. When Lucy from Sew Essential got in touch last month to see if I'd like to make something using their supplies, I was on a shirt-making high post-Ralph Pink Sahara Shirt, so this heavily influenced my pattern and fabric choice. I'm feeling very much back in the game thanks to the Vogue 9186 (and Lucy!):

The finished V9186  
I sometimes struggle to see past the cover versions with the big 4 pattern companies, and although I'm not 100% on the two options here, the details of the dress intrigued me. The mandarin collar I already know I love (see again, my Sahara Shirt edit), but it's the cool silhouette that the elasticized waist provides that really sold it. I've also never felt confident enough to brave plackets, button holes and general shirty techniques in the past, so I feel like picking this pattern is a HUGE marker of just how far my sewing's come in the last few years.
Vogue 9186
The pattern lists cotton and linen among its suggested fabrics, but I erred against this and went for a beautiful John Kaldor Prestige mid-weight crepe, in gun metal grey. Drape is pretty key to most of my makes, and particularly with this dress, I wanted to achieve the cool shape but with more movement than a cotton could give. It really was the perfect choice to compliment both the pattern, and flatter my shape with an easy, flowing fit.

Drowning in fabric!
I opted for view B (with long sleeves), but stalled a bit when it came to cutting the fabric. There are some totally crazy pattern pieces, both in size and shape, and nearly all pieces require cutting out on a single layer of fabric, rather than on the fold. This is fine when you have a large sewing space or cutting table, but the pieces barely fitted across the living room floor! I waited till I had the flat to myself, and took the plunge. Beware there are lots of tailor tacks and markings to transfer too, so it's pretty time consuming - I thought I'd never see the carpet again!

It was a fairly meaty project right from the start - slashing the front pattern piece and sewing a covered button placket is the first bit of the make - and the sewing took me a whole weekend (when I say whole I mean WHOLE)! I hadn't made a regular button placket till last month, never mind a covered one, but I really enjoyed the precision required to make it come together. And from the outset, I'd been expecting the elasticized casing to be really difficult, but it was actually one of the easiest bits!

End of day 1 progress
To say I had initially been intimidated by the number of steps from start to finish, I managed to follow the instructions with ease and at a decent pace. I'd completed everything apart from the sleeves and hem at the end of day 1. Making the sleeves the next day took agessssss. Whilst some of my top stitching isn't as neat as it could be, it was a fun challenge and I'd still rate them as a decent first attempt - I'm hopeful for future sleeves!

First sleeve placket!
Finished sleeve detail, featuring AMAZING buttons from Textile Garden
My only niggle with the pattern is that the sleeves seemed way too big for the armhole, and were really difficult to ease in. In hindsight, I don't think there should have been much ease at all as they bubble up from the drop-shouldered seam, where they should lied flat. I guess it sort of looks intentional when you take into account the rest of the dress, so lets just say its a design feature...

Side detail
At that point I had to take a break - does anyone else start to dislike projects for no rational reason other than you're tired from spending so much time on them? I came back to it with fresh eyes, quite literally when it came to adding the buttons (ho ho, sorry terrible pun). The amazing eye buttons are from Textile Garden - thanks Marilla Walker for the recommendation! - and I think they're perfect for the quirky feel of the dress. I skipped the decorative button at the collar and just opted for a snap fastening instead. Finally, I finished the dress with a narrow hem on the advice of the pattern, and I really thought I'd struggle with the curved edge, but it turned out great. More narrow hemming in future!

Back view
The asymmetric side of the dress has turned out a little longer on me than how it looks on the pattern (I'm 5ft 6") but I'm really happy with it. It also has a pocket on the shorter side, which feels a bit pointless so I'd probably skip it in future. Otherwise I'd change very little if I made it again, apart from putting a bit more work into setting the sleeve in smoothly.

In short, I LOVE the finished dress! The fabric was easy to work with and I'd definitely use it again for any project that requires a good drape - luckily there are plenty of colours to choose from! The pattern requires a lot of attention to detail (there's a fair bit of topstitching), so it's maybe not for the impatient or those looking for a quick win, but it's a great sew for slowing down and investing time in practicing some more challenging techniques. I can totally see how people get hooked on shirt making now! For some other cool versions see Alex's and Eli's.

Thanks Sara for taking pictures (it was pretty windy if you couldn't already tell)!
Thank you to Sew Essential for spurring me on and picking me up out of my sewing lull with some fab supplies. I have 3 more shirt/shirt dresses in the queue, so no stopping me now! Check out the Sew Essential blog for inspiration, tips and tricks, and the website for all of your sewing needs. 

Stay in touch!

Talvikki two meets Nita three (and it wasn't quite meant to be)

Do you ever feel completely underwhelmed by your makes? The sort that don't turn out too bad, but should have turned out amazing. The ones that had all the ingredients to be the very best versions of themselves - you've tried and tested the pattern and found amazing fabric - but the the finished results just leave you feeling a bit 'meh'? Well that's how I feel about my second attempt at the Talvikki Sweater and my third Nita Wrap Skirt...

Talvikki meets Nita: my underwhelmed face
I bought this amazing wool mix fabric from Barry's way back at Sew Brum, with the Talvikki in mind. My first Talvikki was hot off the machine at the time and I was desperate to make another in quick succession. It has the feel of a light weight boiled wool with a slight stretch. The print drew me in and I thought it would be perfect. 

The beautiful print up close
When I finally got around to the make, I sewed it in record time; even making a bit more effort with stabilising the shoulders as this one really was all about showing off the lovely fabric. I didn't have any clear elastic as the pattern suggests, so I used strips of jersey to support both the shoulder seams and turtleneck.

Stabilising the shoulders with jersey
On the whole, the finished thing leaves me feeling a bit deflated. I'm not sure that the Talvikki works in such a loud print, or maybe the print doesn't work on me - it's now I remember why I usually steer clear of most prints. (My boyfriend suggested it made me look like a wotsit not long after taking these pictures - not exactly the look I was going for)! The lack of stretch and difference in drape of the fabric means it doesn't sit quite as well as I'd hoped. I've rolled the sleeves up as they look too wide and hollow otherwise, and the dropped shoulders look less smooth and more boxy than they would in a jersey.

Back view

And then there's the Nita Wrap Skirt. I pattern tested this one using polka dot crepe and used pleather for my second version, and they're both amongst the most worn items in my wardrobe. I was really interested in a mid length denim version, and was totally convinced that it would be perfect in combination with the Talvikki based on my Pinterest inspo: 

Pinterest perfection
In reality, I think the pairing makes me look a bit bloated and frumpy. Perhaps I'm being overly critical as the skirt isn't so bad at all and definitely a wearable garment, but it's just not quite lived up to my styling expectations (see image below compared to image above)!

Not quite a Pinterest fail, but not my favourite
I left the hem raw as I thought this might add a bit of an 'edge'. I'm hoping it will distress a bit more naturally after a run through the wash (and hopefully the denim will lighten a bit too), but if I'm still not convinced, I'll chop it off and hem it properly. One thing I'm really proud of is the contrast topstitching down the front. I would've loved to topstitch along the whole waistband, but after giving it a go on the underside wrap, I found that the bulk made it too difficult to do neatly.

Although both garments definitely don't go together hand in hand, the Nita is the first tick off my #2017makenine, and the Talvikki marks the final make from my winter sewing list - which I can't quite believe I actually finished! I hate the thought of any make languishing in the back of the wardrobe, particularly ones like these that are perfectly wearable, but I just have a few niggles over. I'm sure the Nita will get the wear it deserves come spring and summer. The denim actually gives it a bit more structure and prevents it flying open when walking, unlike my first version which is flash central without tights! And while I want to love the Talvikki more, I think it might be relegated to a house-only jumper for now (particularly after the wotsits comparison...). Styling suggestions to help me get the most out of the two are very welcome!

At least it was sunny for pictures - thanks Chris!
I'm always a little tentative about posting my 'meh' makes, but I guess it's good for providing a bit of balance. Not everything works out, even the ones that should - in this case, it's probably a combination of lofty ambitions and wrong fabric choices. How do other people feel about sharing the makes that leave them feeling a bit deflated? And what do you do with yours? Do you try to salvage them, pretend they never happened or grin, bear and wear?

Some special makes for someone else...
In other news, most of my personal sewing time has been eaten up by a special project I'm working on for someone else (see above). I'm excited to share it as soon as I can, but also looking forward to getting a bit more making time back for me. I have the loveliest fabric and pattern from Sew Essential queued up, which I'm hoping will give me just the boost I need!

Stay in touch!

Thanks for visiting!

Thanks for visiting!