My Named Lourdes Jacket

This jacket was quite long in the making, I started it in May as I really needed a little light jacket. It was nearly finished, just needing the lining putting in, but the weather suddenly warmed up and I went on a summer dress sewing spree instead. I finally got around to finishing it a few weeks ago and as the weather has dipped into Autumn I’m rather glad I have it. It’s the Lourdes jacket from Named:

• Cropped A-line jacket
• Inverted pleat at the back
• Boat neck with rounded front corners
• ¾ sleeve with a dolphin hem
• Fake pockets, sewn in the waist darts at front
• Closure with five buttons
• The jacket is fully lined
• Choose a medium weight fabric, for example tweed, light boucle or other wool or cotton blend.

I chose the pattern mainly because of my past experience with Named (my Kielo, Talvikki and Tuuli) I really enjoyed sewing these, each one being completely stress free. I pondered on what fabric to use, initially I was going to use it as an excuse to fabric shop but decided to see what I already had in the stash. I’d bought 3 metres of this floral medium weight Linen last summer, a bargain at £2 a metre (From Economy Fabrics, just off junction 29 of the M1) I decided to take a gamble with it, the other half wasn’t convinced as he thought it looked like curtain fabric. I chose to ignore him and went ahead regardless.

The size range starts at a EU 32 which is a US 0 and UK 4 and goes up to a EU 46 Us 14 UK 18. Interestingly the size chart only contains the actual garment measurement (the bust range is 35 ¼ – 46 ¼ and the waist 36 – 46 ¾) I really wish all pattern companies did this, it makes it so much easier to pick a size rather than going on arbitrary body measurements and trying to figure out how much ease has been added.
I cut the largest size a UK 18. Helpfully the chart includes the finished bicep measurements, I’ve had problems in the past with sleeves being too tight, I have quite chunky biceps due to work and the right one is a full inch bigger than the left (it took me two years to realise this)


It came together very quickly; the only tricky part was the dolphin hem of the sleeve. I sewed as far as I could on my machine and hand stitched the rest. I really went to town with the pressing as I went along and used the tailors’ clapper my father in law made for me. This has made a significant difference to the finished jacket, particularly the sleeve hem. For the lining, I decided to go for some plain navy rayon, anything else would likely have clashed horribly. I made covered buttons with some navy cotton poplin from the scrap bag (justification there for saving all those little leftovers!)

I really enjoyed sewing this, the drafting is good and everything fits together perfectly. It was quick and easy to make, an ideal project for an advanced beginner wanting to dip their toe into outerwear. The fake pockets have got a bit lost in the print and I would have preferred them to be functional but I think it would be easy to convert them to a proper welt pocket. Although it’s a very simple jacket the dolphin sleeves and inverted pleat at the back really elevate it. I’m pleased I went with the navy buttons and lining as it is nicely understated and works perfectly with the print. The husband’s admitted that it doesn’t look like it’s made from a curtain after all!



My Cross-Back Japanese Apron

I’ve often admired the style of Japanese pattern books; the clothes look so stylish and understated. I’ve resisted buying any as the size range is usually tiny and would need some serious grading up (plus the instructions are in Japanese!) One thing I’ve really wanted however is a cross back apron.

Simplicity 5201 and 7481 are the only commercial pattern I’ve found but both are out of print and fetching over £35 online. There are many tutorials of how to draft your own but after a little browsing of Pinterest I came across a free PDF pattern from Patterns are available for both adults and children and there’s a very good video tutorial of how to put it together.

I couldn’t see any measurements for the adult pattern but knew I would have to size it up a bit (I’m a UK 14-16) I added 2 inches to the centre front and an inch to each side seam.

I used two meters of medium weight denim from the stash (I’d made the mistake of pre-washing it when it was folded and subsequently had a faded fold line down the front) It was very quick and easy to sew, there are only two pattern pieces (and one of those is the facing)

The edges are finished with bias binding which can be exposed or faced under. I used possibly six metres (just guessing but it was a lot) I’d made around 25 meters of single fold binding using remnants of Liberty Lawn a couple of months ago, it’s proved to be time well spent. I added the pockets myself as they are none included in the pattern.

(I’ve just realised one of the straps is folded in this picture)

I’m incredibly happy with how it’s turned out, the denim makes it perfect for gardening (I have a habit of getting my hands covered in compost and wiping them on whatever I’m wearing) I’d like to make a Linen version to wear around the house for cooking and housework (although this would likely get a lot less use than the denim one as far as housework’s concerned!) All in all, it’s incredibly practical and far more stylish than a flowery apron!


My Sew Over It Heather Dress

I’d had my eye on the Sew Over It Heather dress since it was released.  Knit dresses are definitely the most worn things in my wardrobe and the Heather was quite different from the ones I already had.  It also had enormous pockets which is a big plus in my book.

Here’s the blurb:

If you live in knits, the Heather Dress sewing pattern is for you!

Versatile and super comfy, the Heather Dress is sure to be a wardrobe staple. A gorgeously chic jersey dress, Heather can be smart as well as casual and will keep you looking put-together and fab wherever you are; at work, for dinner out or just at home.

The Heather Dress has cleverly concealed in-seam pockets (always a winner!) and a panelled bodice which makes fitting a dream. With opportunities for colour blocking you can really make Heather your own. Stay subtle in a solid fabric, go jazzy in a print, or go bold and mix the two to make a feature of the lines. There are three sleeve options to suit the seasons – choose from a short capped sleeve, 3/4 length or full length.

I made a concerted effort to get out of my blue comfort zone and opted for a green and black floral Ponte from the Textile Centre’s eBay store.

The pattern has a good range of sizes from an 8 (33-26-36) to a 20 (45-38-48)

I cut a size 16 (41-34-44) which was the closest to my own measurements.  The finished measurements for a size 16 are 41-40-46.5.

The dress came together quickly and easily, I used my overlocker throughout but it would be equally easy to use a standard machine.  I had a bit of a problem with the fabric stretching out on the side seam near the pocket and along the hem.  I overlocked the hem before turning up and finishing with a twin needle, I think it was the overlocking which stretched it out and caused the subsequent rippling.

Although the dress fitted well through the shoulders and bust it came up very large through the waist and hips.  I took a good inch off each side which slimmed it down a bit.  Next time I’ll grade down at least two sizes through the waist and hips.

Overall I’m pleased with the finished dress, it’s perfect for pottering about the house and garden and I love the big pockets.  I’ve already bought more fabric to make another one, it’s a heather Ponte so it will be a heather Heather dress!

My day out at Love Sewing Magazine wearing Butterick 5488

A couple of months ago Amy, the editor of Love Sewing Magazine, got in touch to see if I’d like to review one of the upcoming free patterns.  I was happy to give it a go as I’d been in the sewing doldrums and hoped a bit of a challenge would bring me out of it.  I was a little concerned about getting a half decent picture when Amy asked if I would like to go and do a proper photo shoot; hair, make up and everything!  They wanted to showcase readers makes but also show them on real bodies.  I must admit to being a little apprehensive, it’s one thing taking a few photos in the back garden to put on a blog but being in a national magazine (the UK’s No 1 sewing mag) took it to another level.  But my family encouraged me to do it, saying I’d never done anything like it before and may never get the chance to do it again!

So one bright morning in February I ventured across the Derbyshire Peaks to their studio in Stockport.  Amy was first up modelling her Vogue eve appeal dress which looked stunning.  Meanwhile, Nina did my hair and makeup. I’d worn black tights and taken my blue wedding shoes to wear but Denise the shoot director persuaded me that blue tights and blue suede heels would look better in the pictures (I was worried I’d look like a Smurf but looking at the photos she was so right, I could really do with her restyling me every morning before I leave the house!) Then it was my turn in front of Renata’s camera.

Who knew modelling could be so difficult? I quickly exhausted my blog photo poses (hands by side, hand on hip, I couldn’t do the usual hands in pockets as I didn’t have any!) I was at a bit of a loss what to do so went to my default setting of giggling and messing around.  The problem was I screwed my eyes up when I laughed so I had to try and master smiling with my eyes open.  I was a bit worried they wouldn’t get a single shot of me with a straight face but after taking umpty nine photos (along with some of me and Amy giggling) they were satisfied with what they had.  (Renata also took a couple of head shots which now grace all my online profiles, I only wish I could use it for my driving license!)    

Anyway, here’s the review and loads of photos.  (I’ll post the full text of the review afterwards in case the snapshot is unreadable) 



I’d just like to say a big thanks to Amy, Nina, Denise and Renata for making me feel so comfortable and making it a day I’ll never forget!    

Here’s the review:

I think it’s sometimes easy to be put off a pattern due to the way it’s been styled on the front of the envelope.  Bearing this in mind I wouldn’t have initially been drawn to this pattern but going by the line drawing I could see that it had potential.

The fabric I used was a midnight blue animal print Crepe de Chine from the Fabric Godmother. Very lightweight and floaty with a lovely drape to it.  After a test sew I decided to use a size 70 needle and a slightly shorter stitch length to minimise the risk of puckering, which is one of the pitfalls of sewing with fine fabrics.

Although my measurements (42-34-42) put me at size 20 I know from experience that Butterick patterns come up large on me so decided to size down to an 18.

I made a quick muslin before cutting into the good stuff and although the fit was fine around the yoke and bust there was a lot of ease in the dress and it came up very large.  There’s no shaping to the dress so it’s straight up and down.  The pleats at the back also produced a lot of volume which is a place where it isn’t necessarily needed.  I decided to tweak it a little and add a bit of shaping. I graded right down to a 12 at the waist and then graded out to a 26 towards the hem to give it a bit of flare around the bottom.

As the fabric was very lightweight I used Vilene superfine interfacing on both the yoke and yoke facing which gave it an extra bit of stability.  I used French seams throughout and it came together very quickly.  The most time-consuming part was sewing the yoke.

The grading between sizes seems to have worked quite well and I am much happier with how the dress falls now.  It has also pulled in the back a little across the waist but there is still a lot of volume above.  I think pinching out a couple of the pleats at the back might help reduce this.

Advantages: quick and easy to make, no fastenings so easy to throw on.

Disadvantages: a lot of extra ease and unnecessary volume at the back (but these can be fixed with a bit of tweaking).

It’s quite a difficult dress to fit as you go along, it’s impossible to try it on until the yoke is attached (by which time the dress is essentially finished)  One option would be to only sew the top few inches of the side and back seams and then add the yoke.  This gives the opportunity to tweak the fit of the dress before finishing the seams.

It’s an ideal dress for summer, the loose fit is perfect for hot days when you don’t want to be restricted by anything fitted.  There’s also the option to shorten the dress into a top, which is what I plan to do with the muslin I made.  I think fabric choice is key to making this pattern work, it really needs to be fairly lightweight with plenty of drape, anything with a bit of body could have the potential to look bulky. I would add in seam pockets next time, one of the best things about sewing your own clothes is the opportunity to add pockets to everything!

My Named Talvikki Sweater

Sewing dresses is all well and good but I’m in desperate need of some basics.  It’s been a while since I made any tops, and the T-shirts and sweatshirts in my wardrobe are looking a little well worn.  Bearing this in mind, and needing something warm and cosy to layer up, I embarked on making a Named Talvikki Sweater.  It was seeing Shauni’s at the last SewBrum meet up that led me to add it to my ‘to sew’ list. Here’s the blurb:

·       Oversized and cuddly sweater

·       Turtleneck with darts on the neckline

·       Dropped shoulder and extra long sleeves

·       Deep vents at the sides, and an uneven hemline

·       Pick a medium-weight to heavy stretch fabric with at least 30 % stretch. For example sweatshirt jersey, cable knit, knit fleece or a boiled wool.

My fabric is a heather Ponte from the Fabworks Mill shop which I bought at the Sew Down Dewsbury meet up.  As with other Named patterns there’s a good size range, from a UK 4 (30-23-33) up to a 22 (46-39-48) I cut a size 16/18 but shortened the body and sleeves by two inches.   

It was impossible to use chalk or frixion to mark the darts so I used tailors tacks instead.  It’s critical to sew the darts perfectly to form the structure of the turtleneck.  I sewed the shoulder seams and attached the sleeves with my overlocker, then finished the sleeve and side seams by overlocking down each side before using my normal machine to stitch them together.  I reduced the length of the back hem by an inch just to get it in proportion to my height, and used a slightly long straight stitch to finish the hem and sleeves.  The neckline is finished with a facing which is easily kept in place by tacking it to each dart and shoulder seam.

Looking at the pictures I really should have given it a press beforehand but I was a bit eager to wear it (the hem ripples have straightened with a good press since).  I was a little worried that it was too ‘oversized’ but after putting it on realised that the ‘cuddly’ description was very true and the fabric lends itself perfectly to the pattern.  There’s a lot of volume in the sleeves which I was initially not sure about, but after wearing it a couple of times it doesn’t seem to be an issue.    


 I intended to only buy knit fabric at the Dewsbury meet up.  I did very well but a couple of woven pieces sneaked in, a navy version of the floral I used to make my Bruyere and I couldn’t resist the bees. 

I’m going to try and focus on practical sewing for the time being, Spring is here and I really need some more T-shirts. I’m thinking of trying something different from my TNT Plantain, Hemlock and Kirsten (all free to download, all excellent patterns) I’ve just got one more dress to finish off before I can get started! 

My Named Tuuli dress

My first project of the new year was the Named Tuuli V-neck jersey dress.  I love knit dresses, I can simultaneously look fairly pulled together whilst feeling happily comfortable (like wearing secret pyjamas) I’ve made a few knit dresses over the past few years but the V-neck and pleated skirt offered something new and appealing.  As with a number of Named patterns it includes a second pattern which with the Tuuli is a bodysuit.

The fabric is Liberty Dufour Viscose jersey I bought from ebay.  I’ve done a bit of sleuthing into this and found that it’s probably over stock from a ‘special edition liberty’ ready to wear dress.  From experience, Liberty jersey is worth paying that bit extra.  It washes and wears incredibly well and is a delight to work with.  The Dufour is a viscose knit which has a fair bit of weight to it and lots of drape.  I’ve also used the Clarendon, a cotton knit which has a bit more body about it.   

The fabric requirements for the dress give 260cm but with a bit of careful cutting (and shortening the sleeves by 5 inches and the hem by 3 inches) I managed to fit it all on.  One thing to note is that due to the skirt width it really needs a wide fabric, at least 130 cm.

I received a copy of the paper pattern for Christmas.  The bodice and sleeves were easy to trace, the skirt piece however looked a bit daunting.  The pattern piece is overlapped but also off set so you need to trace the first half, rejig your paper and join on the second half.  There’s a lot of markings for the pleats, which are different for each size so it looks a bit like a particularly involved Burda magazine pattern.  Instead of marking all the pleat lines on the fabric I took a gamble and did small snips and bigger snips.  I just had to remember that the small snip needed to be folded to meet a big snip (not sure if that makes sense) One really important thing to remember is that each front and back skirt piece needs cutting separately and not on two layers, if It is cut with folded fabric the pleats won’t work properly (they need to go in the same direction all the way around)

I cut a size 46 which was nearest to my measurements.  There’s quite a good size range going from a 32 (30-24-33) to a 50 (46-40-49).  There’s a bit of negative ease in the pattern, around four inches over the bust and a couple of inches at the waist.

There’s a good reason for the skirt pattern piece needing to be overlapped, it is HUGE, there’s 2.5 metres of fabric in the skirt which all needs to be pleated.

The front of the bodice is cut in two pieces which are joined at the centre front below the neckline.  The neckline is finished with a facing which extends down to the waist.  The facing is then secured by topstitching which adds quite a neat design detail, this would be much more noticeable if sewn in a plain fabric, as mine is so busy you can’t really see it.  The instructions call for using knit interfacing on the facing.  As I didn’t have any and my local haberdashery didn’t know where I could get some I experimented with what I had.  I found that when cut on the bias Vilene Superlight interfacing had a bit of stretch so I went with that.  As it is there’s not really that much stress around the neckline to worry too much about this.  The opening is big enough to get your head through without stretching it out and as the facing is stitched down there isn’t going to be much stretching there. 

I was a little apprehensive about all the pleating but after taking my time, and using lots of pins, it all lined up perfectly without the need to do any fudging.  I basted the pleats in place but also kept them pinned below to make it easier to work with.  I added in seam pockets to the skirt, which wasn’t in the instructions but I have a mission to put pockets in everything.  This time however I don’t think it worked out.  The pockets are hidden in the pleats but the bulk of them affects the fall of the pleats.  They also don’t fall on the sides, one is a few inches towards the front and the other a few inches towards the back so they are quite difficult to find when you are wearing it!   

There was a lot of weight in the skirt and I doubted the bodices ability to hold it up so I stabalised the waist with some clear elastic.  I stretched out a length three quarters the size of my waist. This made a world of difference as it sits well without any pulling.   Attaching the bodice was straightforward, I finished the waist seam with my overlocker but because of the pleats it was a little bulky (there’s four layers of fabric in there) I don’t think there’s a way to overcome this though.  Finally, I finished the hem and sleeves with a twin needle. 

I am incredibly pleased with the finished dress.  The fabric works perfectly, the weight really makes the pleats hang lovely (although in the pictures I’d been wearing it all day so there is a bit of crumpling going on)  I enjoyed making it, the pattern is incredibly well drafted and everything fits together perfectly.  I’ve come to realise this is a very important criteria when choosing patterns, sewing time is so precious that I really don’t need the hassle and headache of fudging a pattern which doesn’t quite meet up as it should. 

The only change I will make next time is cutting a larger size for my bust, I think four inches of negative ease is too much for me and it does seem to pull a little from the armscye.  Other than that, I wouldn’t change a thing, it’s great to have another TNT knit dress pattern to add to my collection.  I really need to make more knits as on reflection they are the things that get the most wear.  I have consequently banned myself from buying any more woven fabric, I can only really justify jersey as there is surprisingly little in my stash.  (I’ve just given myself an excuse to go fabric shopping!)    


My Grainline Farrow Dress

Well it’s been a while.  I had such great plans for all the things I wanted to make over the winter months but somewhere along the way I lost a substantial part of my SewJo.  The main problem’s been the lack of light.  By the time I’ve managed to sit down to sew it’s been dark outside and although strategically placed lamps are helpful they’re no substitute for natural daylight.  I’ve still been pottering away on a few easy projects but again the lack of light seems to have thwarted getting out and taking blog photos.  Hopefully the worst is over, the nights are getting lighter and its March on Wednesday.  The promise of Spring seems to have woken my hibernating SewJo and I’m looking forward to warmer days and some serious time with my machine.

Anyway this is one of the projects I completed over the winter.  Here’s the blurb:


The Farrow features an elegant A-line shape with flattering diagonal seaming concealing inseam pockets, and a jewel neckline. Imagine wearing View A during the balmy days of summer. View B features bracelet sleeves and is the perfect option for cooler temperatures in the spring and autumn. Layer it with tights and a Driftless Cardigan for the snowy days of winter. Dress it up with heels and dress it down with boots.’

I bought the pattern as soon as it was released (around November?)  It seemed like a good loose fitting dress to layer up over a long sleeved tee and under a cardigan, it also had really big pockets.  I was a little unsure about the hi lo hem but decided to just go with it.

The suggested fabrics are:

Light to medium weight fabrics ranging from linen, linen blends, cotton, lightweight wool and wool blends, silk charmeuse, and silk twill

I used a medium weight grey/blue Chambray from my stash.  It had a little more body than most of the suggested fabrics but I was going for the utilitarian look.

OK, so here’s the problem, I made it so long ago that I can’t remember much about it.  The sizing goes from 0 (32-25-35) to an 18 (44-37-47) I cut a 14 which is my usual Grainline size (one size smaller than my measurements suggest) and I shortened it by 3 inches. I don’t remember any problems along the way, it was quick and straightforward to sew.

The neckline and armholes are finished with facings.  Although they are tacked to the shoulder and side seams they do have a tendency to flap out.  It might be an idea to draft an all in one facing or even better line the whole dress.

As the back hem of the dress is visible due to it being lower than the front I bound the hem with satin bias binding so it looks neat and tidy if ever it gets flashed.

Well that’s about it, here’s some pictures:








 The dress turned out just as I’d imagined.  The fit is fine (the only crucial part is the shoulders and bust) but I could maybe do with just a tad more room across the bust.  Looking at the recommended fabrics I think it would work better with a lighter fabric and a bit more drape.  One of the sample garments was made up in a Liberty tana lawn and as I have ‘the odd bit’ of it in my stash I might try that next.  I’ll also try the sleeved version which will get rid of the flappy armhole facings and maybe straighten out the hem, I’m really not convinced about this hi-lo thing.

I’m still trying to sew spontaneously rather than working to a strict list.  I’m currently working on an aubergine Deer and Doe Auberpine (made purely so I can say Aubergine Auberpine) I also made a muslin of the Named Talvikki sweater which turned out well so there’s two of those on the way and while I’m being practical I really need a couple more Plantains.  So, that’s my plans for the short term, you’ll be surprised to hear not a single one of them is blue! (well, one might be bluey purple)

Anyone else out there started sewing for Spring?