Ready to Sew Juliette Skirt

Hello all! I'm excited to show and tell you about the fab experience I had sewing up the new Juliette Skirt ahead of it's launch as a part of Ready to Sew's latest collection of patterns! I've pattern-tested for RaphaĆ«lle on a number of occasions and her patterns never disappoint. It's up against some stiff competition, but I think that Juliette, a high waisted, A-line mini skirt, perfectly suited to leather or faux leather/suede, might just be my favourite Ready to Sew make yet!
My finished Ready to Sew Juliette!
As with the previous Ready to Sew patterns I've made, the PDF pattern is layered, so you can select only your size or sizes before printing, and the instructions offer a playlist and click through tutorials to provide extra help for some of the trickier techniques. This pattern is marked as intermediate level, but if you're confident enough to try out a fair bit of topstitching then I'm sure it would be really manageable for an advanced beginner, particularly in a 'friendlier' fabric such as denim or cotton drill. 

Juliette line drawings
Snow/sew day-ing
A new and exciting option for Juliette is that the pattern offers half sizes! The half sizes go up in 2cm increments, making it so much easier to get the right fit. My waist measurement perfectly matched the size 39 (ordinarily I would've just sized up rather than have the confidence to make alterations) so I went with this.

Side shot
Check that pleather/boot match!
The pattern offers two suggested lay plans - one using only one fabric, and the other for a colour blocked version. I found this amazing deep red faux leather (that couldn't be a better match for my new ankle boots) in Samuel Taylors in Leeds. It's medium-heavy weight and has a really interesting texture and mottled finish that's quite hard to capture in anything but the close up photos. Best of all, the plain version of the skirt uses only 1 metre of fabric, making mine a total bargain (this was £9.50 p/m).
Close up of the pocket and topstitched detailing
I chose, and often choose faux leather or suede rather than the real deal for a few reasons:
  • Cost and ease: It's a lot cheaper than buying the perfect piece of leather for your project, and often easier to source.
  • Limiting consumption: Whilst I'm not veggie/vegan, I do err on the side of caution with when it comes to using real leather. I would feel much guiltier about a sewing fail or unworn garment if it was made using animal products.  
  • Best for the tests: Pleather is perfect for giving a pattern a first go to check that you're happy with the fit and style and confident in the pattern if you're up for progressing to the real deal.

Pleather hacks - sellotape seams!
I'm really pleased to report that the Juliette Skirt was a breeze to put together, despite a few difficulties with stubborn, bulky pleather. I used a walking foot and increased my stitch length as recommended for the topstitching. The crossing intersections of the skirt were a the hardest bits to stitch over, so I stuck a bit of tape over the seam allowances, which helped to reduce sticking. The topstitching is great for creating really crisp seams as pleather is so hard to press. I hand stitched the inside of my waistband as the bulk was too much for my machine - I really wanted to topstitch this seam too but unfortunately had to skip it. Overall though, I'm so pleased with the level of detail in the finish.

Back view
More back detail from an earlier snow storm-blighted picture taking attempt
I particularly like how the back has turned out. I'd never inserted a zip using this method before - grateful for the click-through tutorial in the pattern! - so it was cool to learn a new technique. It worked particularly well for creating a neat finish with a tricky fabric. I finished the top of my waistband with a Prym anorak fastening, rather than the recommended button and buttonhole - no way would that buttonhole/bulk be compatible with my machine! Also on the finish: the pattern is fully lined so no risk of sweaty pleather thighs (erghh) - I used a nice quality black crepe from my stash.

Thanks to my boyfriend for his patience in the 3 attempts it took to get these pictures!
The finished fit of the garment is perfect, especially the waistband thanks to those half sizes! I found that the pockets gaped when I tried it on before joining the waistband (I have a narrow waist and quite curvy hips which probably explains this) but they were really easy to adjust and baste back in place. This is something that I fed back to RaphaĆ«lle who has included a point in the instructions to check that the pockets lay flat at this point. Raph has also gone above and beyond to offer an extra option of the Juliette Skirt without pockets too - helpful if you know they might be tricky to fit for you!

I soooo can't wait to make another Juliette Skirt and can fast see it becoming a wardrobe staple (overtaking the much loved New Look 6418). In fact, I love my finished Juliette so much that I'm actually considering committing to a real leather or suede version, probably from any scraps that I can source. A totally patchwork version could look really great, don't you think? I would definitely recommend the pattern, and if you need any more convincing, just check out some of the other fab tester versions at #juliettereadytosew

The new Ready to Sew Collection: Jeanne, Jim, Jamie & Juliette
Thanks again to Ready to Sew for allowing me to test it!
Juliette is available now alongside the new Jeanne T-Shirt, Jamie Cardigan and Jim Dungarees.
See here to pick up a copy!

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New outfit ft. Nikko

I'm feeling bombarded with articles, books and methods on how to achieve the capsule wardrobe holy-grail. There's Colette's Wardrobe Architect and the Design Your Wardrobe series for Seamwork subscribers, the 10x10 Challenge and I'm currently reading The Curated Closet, which I must say, as enjoyable a read as it is, I'm finding totally overwhelming to actually put into practice (I only got as far as making the Pinterest board). Whilst these methods or elements of them might work for some of us, deep down, I think we can only work out our own way to achieve a 'dream wardrobe' (if it even exists!) - Katie did a great post on her personal approach recently which is worth checking out!

Nikko Top, New Look 6418 and Retro Rucksack
I guess partly in response to this, my recent sewing has been focused around creating new basics with a considered colour palette in mind. In making proper use of leftovers and excessive fabric lengths to do so, I've found that I'm actually starting to build a small but cohesive, more coordinated wardrobe. So here is a new outfit - accessories included - in matchy fabrics and simple silhouettes, made up of the New Look 6418 Skirt, a Radiant Home Studio Retro Rucksack and the new True Bias Nikko Top!

New coordinated outfit!
I've made both the New Look 6418 Skirt and Retro Rucksack before (blog posts here and here), so lets talk Nikko first of all. True Bias are making huge waves in sewing world with their latest releases (I'm still working on that Lander fit but it's getting there!) and Nikko is no exception to this. Perhaps one of the draws of the Nikko are the options to make it as a either a top or dress/sleeveless or with long sleeves.

There are a lot of turtleneck patterns out there, the Papercut Patterns Rise/Fall Turtleneck being the dominant one in my pattern collection and home sewn wardrobe, so I wasn't really sold by the Nikko top alone. I fell for the styling and dress version completely, but must admit, a part of me was thinking, 'could I hack that'? I decided to buy it so I could properly see how the patterns compared and I thought some of you might be interested in seeing this too!

I cut the size 6 Nikko Top, grading to a 4 at the waist and hips. The pictures below show the front and back pattern pieces laid on top of the Rise Turtleneck pattern cut at a Medium.

Rise Turtleneck/Nikko front comparison
Rise Turtleneck/Nikko back comparison
This isn't intended to discredit either pattern, but show that they really do differ in their drafting - I was quite surprised at how different they actually are! It's definite proof to never judge or compare patterns on first look, even if they appear quite similar in style. Nikko is drafted with negative ease and is noticeably longer in the body and sleeves. Also, interestingly, the neckband of the Nikko (not pictured) is drafted with a slight curve, meaning it sits closer to the neck than the Rise Turtleneck.

Oops, that wasn't the best zip colour choice...
Nikko is drafted for a C cup - arguably quite generous as far as sewing patterns go - and I'm a not so modest FF-G cup... So when it turned out way too big, even on the bust, I knew that it was a case of too-stretchy-fabric strikes again. I'd squeezed it out of the leftovers from my Nettie Dress - ribbed jersey from Stoff & Stil - which had to be taken in a fair amount, so maybe I should've known better. The Nikko pattern however, specifically lists ribbed jersey in it's recommended fabrics, but I still had to take it in from mid-arm and all the way down the side seams. Is it just me who can't seem to get the fabric stretch thing quite right?!

I bought 2m of the khaki faux suede to make another Retro Rucksack, inspired by the more minimal Whistles suede backpack below that was well out of my price range. I should have stabilised the body of the bag more as the fabric is a bit too flimsy and lacks in structure where the bag folds and clips shut. I added a couple of magnetic press stud fastenings inside the bag and under the flap, which helps, but doesn't entirely solve the problem. Still, I think it's quite cute, particularly when worn with the skirt to match, and it has the handy option of being worn as both a shoulder bag and backpack.

Whistles Verity Suede Backpack (£279)

And continuing on the theme of using leftovers, the skirt was squeezed out of the excess from the bag. It's another quick win New Look 6418 in view D. This is the fourth time I've made this pattern, with 2 other faux suede ones and a snakeskin pleather version already in my wardrobe. It's a good one for playing around with different fabrics and textures, fitting into the basics category whilst not looking too plain or boring. I downsized to a 12 for this one as my previous versions have had to be taken in, and the fit is perfect - I know I'll make more!

Thank you Chris going out in the cold with me to get these pictures
I'm really pleased with how well all of these pieces work together and will hopefully slot in with my other handmades! This was also a great trial run of the Nikko Top and I'm looking forward to trying both the top and dress in a fabric with hopefully more suitable stretch soon. (Another benefit of using leftovers is getting a garment made from lovely fabric that you don't feel quite as precious over)!

More scrap busting plans coming up - the New Look 6459
Continuing down the colour-coordinated, scrap-busting track, I'm going to give the New Look 6459 trousers a try in the remaining corduroy I have from making the Simplicity 8459 buckle skirt. I've seen some amazing versions of this pattern - check Sophie's (@adapragg), Kylie's (@kylieandthemachine) and Michelle's (@michelleofatime) for major inspiration - so I can't wait to try it!

Now to go back inside and warm up!
I'm interested to hear about other people's personal approaches to wardrobe planning. Do you have a method or are you more of an 'anything goes' kind of sewer?

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