DP Studio Le003 - Knit Asymmetric Dress

Want to know a secret? I'm not wearing any knickers... no this isn't the start of something seedy and weird, just the sewing story of the tightest and sexiest dress I've ever owned - featuring zero VPL. Here's my first DP Studio make, the Le003 Knit Asymmetric Dress:

Giving serious goth girl stares in the DP Studio Le003
I came across DP Studio online a couple of months back and have noticed a growing buzz around the French pattern company on social media. I was amazed by the patterns, which shoot well beyond the realms of Vogue-designer in terms of 'fashion forward' and 'on trend'. I'd say some of the designs are even a bit too trendy, but it's so refreshing to see such edgy and current looks available in sewing pattern form! I took the plunge and ordered the Knit Asymmetric Dress, which was quite possibly the most expensive pattern (including shipping from France) that I've ever bought.

I knew it was worth it the minute it landed on my door step, if only for the beautiful packaging and presentation alone! The envelope is deep and A4 in size, and contains both French and English language instructions; a huge relief as I thought I'd be using a translator the whole way through!

Based on the pattern's recommendations, I picked a 2-way stretch, scuba-like fabric from the grab bins in Abakhan Manchester. The fabric weighed in at less than £10, so a pretty cheap way to test run the pattern. It's a decent weight for holding the shape of the dress and giving body to the drapey asymmetric design.

Side view
I fell across sizes 40-44 with the measurements given, but eventually went with the 42 as I thought the stretch would give me a bit more wiggle room (I'd usually go with a size 40/UK 14 with big 4 patterns). I spent quite a lot of time worrying that the dress would come up too small - it looks tiny to make up, but then I guess it's meant to be pretty fitted when finished. I made a few fit adjustments along the way:

- 0.5cm side seams for a bit of extra room through the hip, which was surprisingly narrow (my hip measurement actually fell into the size 40, which would definitely have been too small)! Sonja also found the hips ran quite small in her DP make so maybe something to watch out for.
- 1.5cm arm hole seams - the shoulders were just a bit too wide, hence the adjustment after the first try on.
- Re-cutting the neck band with an extra 1" added to the width - although the neckband would look better flush to my neck in it's original size, there was absolutely NO WAY I was getting it over my head.

Despite some crazy looking pattern pieces, the dress was a breeze to put together and I managed most of the construction in an evening. It felt a bit like making a jigsaw using random fabric shapes.

Mid-questioning the camera angles. Thanks Chris for taking pictures.
The instructions are somewhat minimal text-wise, but the illustrations are some of the best I've ever seen. The pattern requires the maker to apply a bit of pre-knowledge/sewing sense to press out the seams and finished raw edges - it doesn't tell you to do these things at each step along the way - but I followed the each step with total ease. My only small gripe is that the pattern suggests using a coverstitch machine to finish all the hems, which I'm not really sure that many people will have access to (I've barely got to grips with my overlocker yet, never mind introducing another new machine)! I hemmed my garment on a regular machine which worked out just fine.

Milk bottle legs are out to distract from weird ruching in the back

The fit - with the slight adjustments - has turned out pretty well, but the style of the dress is definitely a bit tighter than I'd normally go. When I first tried it on, I wasn't sure whether I felt incredibly sexy, or the immediate need to go for a run. I'm definitely getting more used to it with wear, but still having to forgo the knickers, as it's not the most forgiving of fabric/fit combos - I've never had a desire to own 'shapewear' until now... It probably looks better under dimmer lighting, which is a weird thing to say about a dress that I actually really like, but it's obviously quite dressed up and just more suited to evening-lighting that won't highlight my lumps and bumps. 

The 'can you see what I ate for dinner last night?!' pose

In all, I'm hugely impressed with the pattern, the instructions and the cool and unusual design of the dress. I'd definitely make it again or purchase another DP Studio pattern in future.

DP Studio website
Have you made or got your eye on any DP Studio patterns?

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3 years in, 3 things I never thought I'd be making!

Yesterday was my blog's 3rd birthday! I was always quite shy about putting my makes out there online, but now I see it as a fun part of the 'full circle' of sewing and a great opportunity to make a fairly solitary pastime into a really sociable hobby. So thanks a million for reading, and a special thanks if you've stuck with me from the early days (see my awkward introduction to the world of blogging way back here)! I really love reading other people's blogs and it's nice to know that some of you might take the time to read mine :)

3 years in and getting adventurous!
As the three year mark has been approaching, I've been thinking about how much my sewing and style have changed and (hopefully) improved over the years. I've made things that I never dreamed I'd be able to make and I've pretty much given up my bad high street shopping habits, spare a few sets of underwear and the odd garment here and there. So to mark (just over) 3 years in making, here's a look at 3 things I never thought I'd swap buying for sewing, and how they're shaping my future sewing plans:

1. Shirts (or to be more precise, anything with a button placket)
I've avoided button holes for the majority of my sewing 'career' for no good reason - it was probably a dodgy one early on that put me right off. As a result, I never thought I'd make a shirt or shirt dress of any kind and the last of my very rare high street purchases was in fact a button up yellow shirt from &OtherStories - my excuse for buying it being 'I couldn't possibly make this myself'. All that changed in my desperation to own another &OtherStories garment, an oversized shirt dress, which I took the plunge and replicated with the Ralph Pink Sahara pattern at the beginning of the year.

Shirt and shirt dress sewing!
Since making the Sahara Shirt, I've twice casually treated myself to some amazing buttons from Textile Garden, sewn up the Ready to Sew Jane Shirt, made the Vogue 9186 dress with its concealed button placket, and have a couple more button-holed projects in the pipeline...

Latest shirt, with Textile Garden buttons
And coming up, a Named Reeta Dress for #sewtogetherforsummer

2. Fitted knits
I always swore I'd never move into sewing with knits. I didn't wear them very much anyway and on the rare occasion I did, I thought I could save myself the hassle by buying something from the high street. But the further I got down the sewing line, the more natural it felt to transition into sewing with stretch fabrics. My introduction to closer fitting knit garments was the Papercut Pattern Rise Turtleneck, a firm favourite that you'll probably see me wearing with or under most of my other makes. I even tried a hacking it to rip off a top from Finery. A bunch of basic t-shirts is on the cards once I stop getting carried away with more exciting projects.

Many iterations of the Rise Turtleneck
I've recently made, but not yet had chance to photograph, the DP Studio Knit Asymmetric Dress and wow, I never could've guessed I'd be making or wearing something so 'stretch/body-con' a few years ago. It's probably one of the most interesting garments I've ever made and I can't wait to share it! Here's a sneak peak:

DP Studio Le003 first try on - excuse the messy room!

3. Outerwear
Again, I was sure that I'd never make a coat or jacket of any kind and used this as an excuse to spend a small fortune on the French Connection one, with a lining that shredded at the blink of an eye. I forced myself to step out of my comfort zone and try outerwear last year with the Papercut Patterns Waver Jacket, and so another garment dropped off my 'acceptable to buy' list. Making the Waver was one of my most enjoyable sewing challenges, so I followed it up with the made the Named Yona Coat as last year's winter jacket.

Waver and Yona coats
I'm just about to start making what I think might be my biggest outerwear and sewing challenge so far, and one from my #2017makenine - the Named Isla Trench Coat in denim. Watch this space!
Named Isla Trench

A few things that still haven't made the jump from my 'acceptable to buy' list to the 'I can make this' pool are lingerie and jeans - now it's down in writing, I should probably give them both a go. Judging on how far I've come in the last few years, it's a definite never say never...

I'd love to hear other people's thoughts on this! What's the handmade garment that has surprised you the most? The thing you never thought you'd be making in your wildest dreams?

Thanks again for sticking with me through the last three years - here's to many more to come!

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Trousers 2.0

I've had trouser making on my mind since finishing my first fly-fronted pair a couple of weeks ago. So much so, that I interrupted all other making plans in the quest to make a new and improved second version of these vintage pattern trousers, and I'm pretty glad I did!

Vintage pattern trousers with a twist
Again, I used the Palazzo Pants Pattern from a 1993 Me Magazine, but this pair have undergone a fair bit of hacking and the finish is pretty different from my first version. I love the fact that one pattern can be the starting point for so many different-looking versions if you're brave enough to hack it and as a bonus, I feel like I've given a vintage pattern a new lease of life!

Worn with Docs, fancy socks from COS, and RTW top on a day out in Hebden Bridge
I picked up this fine houndstooth/almost-gingham poly cotton from Fletchers in Leeds Market. It's the perfect weight for giving the trousers a little bit of body around the tucks on the front, whilst still having a nice drape around the hips/legs. I down-sized after having to take the first pair in, and the fit is spot on this time!
Ankle tie testing
The idea of adding ankle ties just came to me after making the first pair - probably subconsciously inspired by all of the street style pics that come up when browsing Pinterest and Instagram. I made a couple of belt loops and stitched one over the side seam of each leg, then threaded through a narrow tie, with D ring fastenings.

Ankle ties in action
Of course, it wasn't all straightforward. When I first pinned the belt loops in place to test out the idea, the volume of the 'palazzo' leg was more MC Hammer than chic and quirky-cool. I ended up doing some serious leg tapering from the hip down.

Interview wear - worn with the Ready to Sew Jane Shirt
Once the legs were slimmed down, the ties seemed to work a bit better. They don't look quite as perfect as I'd imagined they would, but I think they add an extra bit of edge to the trousers, and make them pretty fun to wear! My boyfriend said that I looked 'powerful' in them - I'll take that - so I felt fairly confident wearing them with my Jane Shirt to a (successful) job interview last week. The belt loops are also discreet enough that I can easily take the ties out and wear them as straight legs if I feel like a change - win-win!

Detail close up
And now, my only dislike about the finished trousers. I really thought I'd tackled the problem of forever-crumpling-waistbands this time, by using a 'firm' iron on interfacing, specifically recommended for waistbands... but then I wore them. You might notice that I'm wearing a belt in all the pictures, and that's because the waistband still squashes up and pulls where the hook and bar fastening sits, despite a good fit on the waist and the right amount of ease. So sewing friends, an appeal for help! I really want to keep making trousers and I'm determined achieve a pair with a crisp waistband, so please tell me, how do you do it?!

Thanks Alex for taking the snaps!
Despite the not-so-sturdy waistband, I love the finished trousers. They have a sort of weird and wonderful feel to them, and when I wear them, they make me feel a million times cooler than I actually am. I wore them to the opening of JW Anderson's Disobedient Bodies at The Hepworth, and felt like they were a good choice considering the trendy crowd and high fashion garments on display. The exhibition is wonderful by the way and I would definitely recommend visiting if you get the chance! Here's a little peak at some of my favourites:

Power dressing with Comme des Garçons
Clockwise from top: JW Anderson 28 Jumpers installation, clear macs by Loewe, harness by Helmut Lang, Issey Miyake pleat dresses
So pretty please throw your best sturdy waistband structuring tips my way! I'm sure I'll be making another pair of these fabulous trousers again (in one form or another) very soon! :)

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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

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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!

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