My handmade wardrobe – Linen shirt and cropped trousers

I finally got round to making up some fabric I’ve had for a long time. Its a gorgeous natural linen fabric with self colour embroidery all over it. I bought it from Montreux fabrics when they came to Sew Sociable. At the time their fabrics were not available to buy other than at events (like the sewing shows at the NEC). Recently they have launched an online shop and now also have a shop adjoining their factory that is open a couple of days a week. Well worth a visit if you are Leicester based.

When I bought it I had in mind a simple understated loose shirt. Something that would be easy to wear and would let the fabric speak for its self. I didn’t have a pattern at the time of buying, so the fabric got added to the stash and slightly forgotten about!

Until… I designed this shirt dress for Sew magazine …

As always when I work for magazines I make the first toile (mock up) for a new pattern in my size to access if the style looks well proportioned and the fit works. Once the shape looks good I grade the pattern to the requested sample size for the magazine. I end up with a whole load of patterns in my size!

When I made this shirt dress pattern it jogged my memory about this lovely fabric hidden away in a box waiting to be made up.

For the magazine project I used a gorgeous Cloud 9 soft double gauze cotton fabric and added a narrow tie belt. As it is quite a loose cut garment I felt confident it would still work in the heavier weight linen. I omitted the tie belt and shortened the length a little bit so it was more a shirt than a dress.

Keeping to the natural earthy nature of the garment I used lovely natural mother of pearl buttons to finish it.

I’m fairly happy with the result. It has been a bit too warm since completing it to wear it, but cool weather in this country is never far away so I’m sure it will have an outing soon.

I also made these trousers, again I was looking for a simple wearable easy fit solution. The pattern is Vogue 8499 and the fabric is Robert Kaufman Essex yarn dyed linen/cotton blend  I really liked some of the style details on this pattern like the deep front pockets and knee darts. They also have another feature that I am quite keen on, a flat faced front and elasticated back. Meaning no zips to put in and no unflattering gathers at the front. This also makes them a pretty quick project to make.

I decided to just go ahead and make them without making a toile, I felt because they were elasticated waist and such a relaxed fit I could make any changes on the go! However I wasn’t quite prepared for just how vast the trouser legs were. The image on the envelope doesn’t look quite as big as they seemed to be when I tried them on. Maybe it’s the fabric or maybe I just wasn’t ready for trousers quite this wide – I reduced the leg width by 10cm! Even though this is huge I did manage to do it with out upsetting the rest of the fit. Most of it was taken from the outside leg seam, which surprisingly still left a good length of dart remaining.

The pattern shows top-stitching on the knee darts as well as most of the seams. I used the standard sewing thread that I constructed them in as a top stitch thread. I now think I should have used a heavier top stitch thread to make these details stand out a little bit more.

Overall I am happy with the outcome of these two pieces. The test is always how many times they come out of the wardrobe to be worn!

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Julia Claridge

I was about 6 or 7 years old when I had my first go on a sewing machine, it was an old hand crank machine that my mum used with her patients, she was an occupational therapist. I still vividly remember watching with amazement as the tiny perfectly formed stitches were created as I turned the handle. I Grew up in the 70’s and 80’s when buying clothes was less affordable and dressmaking was an answer to updating your wardrobe more regularly. My own mother was a talented dressmaker who made most of my clothes and my sisters clothes as well as a many for herself. I soon got involved with making my clothes, I loved the whole experience of picking out fabrics, trims and a pattern to create a new outfit, then going home to make a new garment or outfit. When it came to leaving school I visited a careers advisor who asked what I wanted to do next. My answer was ..Sew! Read more...

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