Tencel has been becoming more and more popular both within the mainstream fashion industry and with sustainable fashion enthusiasts alike. It is favoured for its softness, breathability, flattering drape and resistance to wrinkling. However, it has also been dubbed one of the most sustainable fabrics …
I’ve been struggling to find time to sew recently, with a job and a toddler rushing around me constantly. Exhausted is just half of it! But I jumped at the chance when Jasmin was looking for pattern testers for her latest sewing pattern, The Daphne …
The Helene Selvedge Jeans pattern has been a long awaited one. Over lockdown I watched Anna Allen’s Instagram posts closely as she shared pair after pair of amazing jeans, she was making herself. I knew she was planning to release them, but as usual wanted the pattern to be perfect. I have sort of made jeans before using the Anna Allen Philippa pattern and adding my own jeans style pockets – You can see my version here.
The Helene Selvedge Jeans have 3 different leg views, slim, straight and wide leg as well as a shorts version. So much research into traditional denim and jeans making has been done by Anna, and I can see this reflected in the pattern. With topstitching, jeans hardware and styling.
I have again taken part in the testing process. If you’ve read my blog before you will have seen I’m no stranger to testing patterns. You can read some of my other testing blogs:
Testing patterns is my favourite; I think it really improves my sewing and pattern reading no end. I can be a bit of a sloppy sewer and I know it. As I skim over instructions and just guess the steps. This often works but sometimes leads to disaster. When you pattern test, you need to carefully read all the instructions and follow the pattern to the letter. This helps when looking for typos, instructions that don’t make sense or fit issues.
It also means you get to see the patten first which always makes me feel like I’m in a special club.
Helene Jeans Process
I decided to go for the shorts version for a couple of reasons. With a new baby I didn’t have a lot of time or space to work and thought shorts would work well. Also, with my ever-changing post baby body, I thought fitting the shorts would be a great first step. Finally, it’s very hot in the UK at the moment and everyone knows I love wearing shorts.
I love shopping in real bricks and mortar fabric shops, I really enjoy that part of the process. It helps me to be able to touch all the fabrics. Less denim is stocked in my local shops so I visited Ditto in Brighton and picked up this lovely black denim. They didn’t know the weight but it feels quite heavy to me. Anna suggests 10-15oz for this pattern and I like heavier denim. I have also found some lovely Mind the Maker denims online at Minerva.
Anna spent a long time developing this pattern to get it perfect, it really shows. The instructions are clear and easy to follow. Perfect if you are new to sewing jeans.
I cut out all the pieces and managed to save quite a lot of fabric, so hopefully I can make something else with the denim scraps.
Firstly I constructed the fly front, so I took my time getting it perfect. I could adjust the topstitching as I went. I used a grey/black top stitching thread, so it was less obvious than the traditional golden yellow. That way any mistakes wouldn’t show up. But actually, it went through the machine beautifully so no unpicking was necessary. I decided to add a zip fly, Anna included instructions and patterns for both zip or button. A lovely added extra with the Helene Selvedge Jeans Pattern.
The front pockets and pocket bags are added in next; the pocket bag is one piece folded in half with an added pocket bearer of denim sewn top. This bit can be a bit of a fiddle, making sure you’ve sewn it to the correct side and folded it correctly. I suggest pinning all the pieces, then pinning to the jeans front before sewing. To avoid unpicking, like I had to!
I constructed the back of the jeans next, I added the patch pockets, as well as the yoke and top stitching. A tip I found helpful throughout the construction of the Helene Jeans. Read ahead in the pattern so you can try and group the topstitching and general stitching together as much as possible. This saves time, as you don’t have to keep swapping between topstitching thread and regular thread. Obviously, some lucky people have two separate machines, but most don’t ha.
Once the front and back are fully constructed I sewed the side seams next which and then made my fitting adjustments. I ended up taking mine in a bit at the waist. The waistband is also longer than needed to account for fitting, which is a nice touch.
The final touches are adding the belt loops and jeans hardware. The belt loops were the trickiest part for my machine. I folded them up and topstitched, they ended up being about 6 layers of denim thick. My machine couldn’t handle this well and I ended up breaking at least 5 needles. Another tip here is to bash the denim with a mallet or hammer, or anything you have to hand, this loosens the threads and makes it easier to sew.
After this I put on the shorts and didn’t take them off for about a week. I loved the unfinished edges and have kept them like this rather than hemming. Helene Jeans shorts of the summer.
Helene Selvedge Jeans Adjustments
I toiled the Helene Shorts first to get the fit right, starting with a size 10, as that is the correct fit for my hips and bum, and then took it in at the waist to a size 6. I toiled, I using a medium weight calico, although it is recommended to use fabric of a similar weight.
When I made the final pair once I tried them on at a size 10, they fitted really well, so I decided to not taken them in to a size 6 at the waist. The thicker denim was already tighter. But with wearing they have stretched out again, so now they are quite loose at the waist – luckily, I’m wearing a belt.
Would I make them again?
Anna spent a long time developing this pattern to get it perfect, it really shows. The instructions are clear and easy to follow. Perfect if you are new to sewing jeans. The main reason I sewed the Helene Shorts was as a wearable toile for the Helene Selvedge Jeans. I have checked and adjusted the fit and ordered so denim ready to make my first pair of jeans.
The pattern is available now, you can purchase it on Anna Allen’s Website
I’d love to hear if any of you make the Helene Jeans or Shorts – send me links in the comments
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To get myself back into sewing again I needed a quick project, I chose the Twig and Tale Sunny Hat. It’s been a while since I’ve sewn anything, with a new baby I’ve been quite busy. She has just started napping for longer periods of …
Versatile maternity clothing, I’m really running low on this. I’m currently shuffling through two to three dresses on rotation. Quite a few of them aren’t weather appropriate but they fit and that’s a win for me. But I definitely needed another maternity dress. Choosing a …
Makerist Make It Yours Challenge
As you all know I love making my own patterns and adapting others. My fashion degree taught me pattern cutting and I love refreshing my skills. I still turn back to my pattern cutting reference books for help with various projects. So, when Makerist asked me to choose a pattern and take part in their pattern hack challenge I was beyond excited. Over at Makerist Instagram they are running a #makeityourschallenge. You can hack any pattern you like between the 12th July and 8th Aug and win prizes.
Choosing A Pattern
I chose the Bodie dress by Aware Collection. As soon as I saw it, I knew how I wanted to hack it. Being 8 months pregnant at the moment I didn’t want to take anything too complicated, not sure my brain could handle it. Also, I wanted the dress to be both maternity friendly and good to wear afterwards.
Adapting the Bodie Dress
I decided I wanted to change the front from lace up to button up as it will be good for breastfeeding afterwards. Also increase the length of the dress and add more volume to the skirt. The bodice length was perfect as an empire waist works well with the bump but also suits my shape.
I started by cutting out the Bodie dress in size M and laying the front bodice onto my pattern cutting paper. Then traced round it as it would lay, edge to edge creating the V neckline of the lace up front. I drew in a new centre front and closed the V neck by just connecting the two pattern pieces at the neck without pivoting. I then added on a button stand that overlapped either side of the centre front.
For the fabric I decided to toile in this cotton voile with gold spot inlays. I thought if it went well, it could become a wearable toile. I have loads of it and I think my dad gave it to me from a film set he worked on once. As the fabric was quite see through, I decided to double up the fabric and bag out the bodice. I did this and used the burrito method to turn out the straps for a nicer finish. Then tried on the bodice to test the fit. I realised that it was a bit small across the bust so decided to add a few cm by adding a button stand.
I’ve recently moved house and I’m still in the unpacking stage, half living out of boxes. It was at this point I realised I had no idea where my white overlocker threads were. Therefore rather than sew in navy thread I decided not to bother with over locking this time.
The fabric I had chosen was quite narrow therefore I used two widths sewn together to make a tube before gathering the skirt. Due to the sheerness of the fabric I also decided to do a double layer for the skirt. The inside layer is slightly shorter to allow it to be extra flowy.
Finishing Touches to my Bodie dress
The final touches to my hacked Bodie dress were the mother of pearl buttons and buttonholes. After trying it on I think I might have made an accidental wedding/christening dress…but it really is beautiful!
I decided to take it out for a spin and an impromptu 7am beach photo shoot. Which was windy and fun, what do you think of my hack?
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The Anthea Blouse is here!! Again I have taken part of the pattern testing process for Anna Allen Clothing’s newest garment – the Anthea Blouse. A versatile pattern that comes with 2 different versions, dress and blouse and 2 sleeve lengths. If you’ve read my …
Choosing a Fabric
As soon as I saw this amazing Mind the Maker dot fabric at Minerva I fell in love. Even better it is sustainable organic Ecovero viscose, so much better for the environment than regular viscose. Ecovero is similar Tencel fabric is made on a closed loop during the production process. What does that mean? The amount of waste and chemicals released into the environment during production is minimal and harmless. Also, its fibres are produced using pulp, which is derived from the renewable resource wood as raw material.
After looking at all the colourways of the Mind the Maker fabric I just couldn’t choose. Which is why I decided to use two to make a really fun multi spot dress. This dress came at a really exciting time for me, I’m pregnant! Which poses its own sewing challenges!
I’ve decided that my new makes will be good for pregnancy so I can grow with the garment. But also it can be wearable after I’ve given birth – The perfect garment for this is the trusty tent dress! I’ve made a number of tent dresses in the past. You can see my previous makes The Wilder Gown and The Demeter dress.
I havent done any maternity sewing before but I drafted this pattern myself. The plan for this year was to sort out some proper pattern blocks for myself, so I could easily draft patterns. But with my ever-changing pregnancy body this isn’t something I can do right now. So, I just drafted this using my current measurements and also measuring some of my dresses to find the right amount of ease. I drafted two different sleeves and asked my Instagram followers to help me choose. One was small and neat and the other more flowy, I knew the flowy one would look great in the Viscose fabric because of its lovely drape.
I wanted a simple square neck shape and so drafted that. During the fitting I realised that as it gaped a bit it needed tweaking. I added a small tuck to the centre front on my toile, but liked it so much I kept it as a design feature in my final design.
For the bodice I fully lined it in the contrast spot fabric. The skirt tiers were just simple gathered panels. When making tiers like this, I like to use the complete width of the fabric for the first one – so I can get the most from the fabric. For the second tier I added another half a length to add fullness.
For the gathering I like to set my stitch to the biggest stitch length so it is easier to pull. I then stitch two lines of stitches one at 0.5cm and another at 1.5cm. When pulled this creates a neater gather and means. You can sew your 1cm seam allowance in between your gather stiches and it creates a neat even gather.
After both the tiers are attached, I finished off my hemming the skirt and sleeves and now I have my perfect maternity tent dress.
Would I make this again?
For my first try at maternity sewing I am very pleased with the results. I’d make this pattern again, but maybe take a bit of bulk out of the back of the dress. It’s extremely oversized – but I guess I’ll need it with my growing body. I’ve been styling my tent dresses with a simple jumper over the top, and tied in a knot above my bump. It means I can wear a more summery style all year round and makes the dress much more versatile.
If you enjoyed this blog post be sure to subscribe up on the right, you’ll then get not so regular updates from me. It really helps me create great content; I can’t do it without your support.
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I got this great pattern in the big Makerist 2-dollar sale. I’ve had my eye on a few patterns, I like to put a load in my wish list whilst deciding. The Leda Skirt has been in there for some time – it was included …
I’ve been putting it off making underwear for the longest time. To me it always seemed a bit fiddly and complicated. But I wear underwear everyday, as I’m sure most people do, its such a necessity. So I decided it was important to learn and the Fitiyoo Manhattan knickers looked like the perfect starting point.
SELECTING A PATTERN
Now Makerist has a large selection of underwear patterns, from briefs to bras. One of the main pattern brands that stood out to me was Fitiyoo, I loved the style of all of their patterns and they had a good selection of styles. I decided to start with a pair of knickers as some of the lingerie techniques can be transferred to other pieces. Eventually I’d like to make a bra too. If you choose pattern from the same company you can be surer of how their sizing works, and what fits you best. I chose the Manhattan knickers as I’ve always wanted high waisted knickers. These also have interesting side panels, and I’m imagining all the fun combos I can make
Manhattan knickers PROCESS
As I’ve never made knickers before I decided I would start with a toile, but a more wearable one. I searched through my jersey stash for some complimentary pieces and found this red and blue and white stripe. I love finding projects to help use up my scraps, you can see the previous projects they have been used on here:
Making a size M as I wanted them to be comfy and not too tight. I started by choosing my panels and then cutting out all the pieces. I then attached the two gusset panels to the front centre panel, trapping it in-between. This means you don’t get uncomfortable overlocking down there. I then attached the two side panels, then attached the singular back panel and the sides. I then gave everything a good press. So far these knickers I decides to create jersey bands at the waist and legs, rather than use elastic. I found a tutorial by @betterhalfhandmade that she shared on Instagram.
I used the elastic measurements and cut jersey bands before folding and overlocking them on. Being careful to trap the gusset panels on the legs. I was really pleased with my wearable toile but the final version needed some adjusting. My final pair were made with this beautiful ribbed organic cotton jersey and leopard jersey both from Good Fabric Store.
My first version of the Fitiyoo Manhattan knickers were pretty much perfect, and just needed slight adjustments. The first version was a little loose on the waist. So I adjusted this by tapering in the front panel and side seams. This meant the next pair were a perfect fit.
WOULD I MAKE THE MANHATTAN KNICKERS AGAIN?
As usual if you want to buy anything from the Makerist website you can use my code ruby-rose-15 for 15% off
If you enjoyed this blog post be sure to subscribe up on the right, you’ll then get not so regular updates from me. It really helps me create great content; I can’t do it without your support
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This year Christmas and New Year were so up in the air. I wanted to make myself a fun party dress to wear, even though there were no parties to go to! I decided that as Makerist has such a great selection of dress patterns …
Merry Christmas everyone, you’re in your quiet boxing day slump…recovering from the big day. Time to treat yourself! Makerist is having a big 2 dollar sale, where so many of their patterns are just 2 dollars! The sale runs from Dec 26-30th. It’s a brilliant …
As my second Makerist project I decided to make myself the Lenaline – Alex Sweat but as an autumn jumper. So this was quite an exciting make for me and something that I might not have even attempted last year. This year I have been trying to go out of my comfort zone and try things I haven’t made before. It might be a style I have never attempted, or fabric I haven’t sewn with. This is where this pattern comes in.
Selecting a Pattern
One thing I always need in my wardrobe, is knitwear – but the problem is I cant knit! So I decided to try a bit of experimentation and see if I could create a knitted jumper but with cut and sew seams. In Oct I wrote a blog post on Makerist about the patterns I would choose for my Autumn capsule wardrobe. So, I decided I would sew some of them and make my dream wardrobe come to life. One of the patterns I chose is the Lenaline Alex Sweat. It’s a classic sweater pattern with a round neck and a dropped shoulder seam that looked quite a simple. This seemed like the perfect pattern to experiment with.
Alex Sweat Process
After a bit of research, I found some perfect wool cashmere mix fabric on Etsy. I selected a wool knit, rather than a woven wool as it has all the properties of a knitted jumper. I always worry about buying fabric online as you can’t touch it before you buy, but the photos and the colour looked perfect.
When the fabric arrived, I was thrilled with the quality and softness of it, just want I was after. As I’ve never sewn with knit wool like this before I decided to do a few sewing tests first. I experimented with my overlocker – slightly loosening and tightening the tension until it was perfect. Because of the loose weave of the knit it did stretch while stitching so I decided to start with a small loose zigzag stitch. This stopped the fabric from stretching as I sewed, and will also strengthen the seams.
After printing the pattern, I measured the pattern pieces against a jumper I already had and liked the fit of. I wanted it to be loose, slouchy and relaxed but not too oversized. After comparing to my jumper, I decided to go for the smallest size – Do note that the Alex Sweat pattern does not include seam allowance. I decided based on the stretch of the knit wool fabric that I would cut out without seam allowance. But I just added a couple of inches to the sleeves and jumper hem.
I also didn’t add it to the neckband and them realised before I sewed it that I wanted the neckband to be a bit wider so had to re cut it.
After all my stitch experimenting, the jumper went together quickly and was way easier to sew than expected! After I had made the bulk of the jumper and just had the finishing to do I originally turned up the sleeves for a more simple look. I soon changed my mind and added wider cuffs.
No major adjustments with this one, as I was sewing with an unknown fabric. But I did lengthen the sleeves and made jumper, this was mainly as I had extra fabric and wanted a slouchy look.
Tips for Sewing with knit woollen fabric
*Cut and sew quickly, it may start to unravel if you’ve moving it around too much.
*Stay stitch if needed, this will stabilise and stop it stretching too much.
*Experiment, do a few different tests and work out the best stitches for your fabric, I did a small zig zag with an overlocked edge close by.
*Press gently, you don’t want to squash it with too much pressure, but lots of steam works wonders.
*Be prepared for stretching, as with most knitwear it may stretch as you wear it – so size down if you need to.
Would I make the Alex Sweat again?
As I’ve now realised I can make my own jumper, without having to learn to knit I am hooked! The Lenaaline Alex Sweat pattern also comes with a dress version, which would be lovely in a wool knit for winter! Or maybe making the pattern as it was designed in a lovely sweatshirt fabric.
Interested in making the Alex Sweat or any other patterns on Makerist? Use my code for 15% off ruby-rose-15
Check out my other Makerist blog, sewing the ‘ready to sew’ Jeanne t shirt.
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You might have seen via my Instagram that I recently became an ambassador for Makerist. This is a very exciting opportunity for me as I am being paid to do something I love – sew. As I am being paid these posts are treated as …
One thing I’ve always wanted to find out more about is sustainable eyewear. So one of the first things people notice about me is my glasses – they are right there on my face. I’ve always worn glasses, it’s one of my main features and …
Denim is an essential part of most people’s wardrobe. Ask anybody you know, and they will certainly tell you that they own at least a few denim pieces. Whether you stick with a few pairs of jeans or go all out, proper Canadian tuxedo style. It can be a struggle to find exactly what you’re looking for with a lower environmental impact.
However, if you are looking to make your wardrobe more sustainable. Jeans and other denim garments are something you will certainly be looking to buy from a sustainable brand. Why? It takes nearly 1540 gallons of water to produce an average pair of jeans. Pesticides which cotton is treated with pollute the water cycle and present a health hazard to workers. Also the dyes and chemicals used to treat the fabric are about as sustainable as the pesticides.
Thankfully, some brands do better – by choosing organic cotton, making use of recycled fabrics, limiting the use of chemicals during manufacturing and many other methods. I’ve gathered a few of my personal favourites available in Europe. Which you will surely love as much as I do.
You’ll rarely see as much detail and transparency on the sustainability of a brand as you’ll see on the Nudie Jeans website. From the materials they use, through their impact on several environmental factors. To individual reports on their sustainable performance in the past year. You could spend hours reading up all about their journey towards becoming one of the most sustainable denim brands in the world!
So, let me summarise it all for you. The majority (94%) of materials used to craft their jeans are made from organic, recycled or Fair-Trade cotton. They go against the fast fashion trend and create jeans meant to last a lifetime. And offer free lifetime repairs on all pairs. What if your old pair doesn’t fit anymore? They’ll give you 20% off your next pair if you send it back to them. Because of this trade in scheme, they then offer the pre-loved pairs at a lower price in a separate section of their website. My favourites are these skinny black jeans, which I’ve just worn to death!
MUD Jeans started with a simple mission – to take something we all wear regularly and make it sustainable. Having worked within the fashion industry for 30 years, the founder Bert van Son founded the sustainable denim company in an effort to make fashion less demanding of the environment and the people involved in the production process.
MUD Jeans will help you reduce your impact on the environment by a lot! Every pair of their jeans takes 127 gallons of water to produce – compared to the industry average of 1,540 gallons! The whole company is completely carbon neutral, offsetting the average 15.7lbs of CO2 emissions per pair (which is 69% less than the industry standard). Their fabrics are made from 40% of recycled denim which has been saved from the landfill. Giving it a new life. Any chemicals still used in their production process are non-toxic and Nordic Swan Ecolabel certified. Mud Jeans even sell off their second hand jeans which is where I got this brilliant pale denim pair. They looked as good as new!
There is a reason why People Tree is one of the best-known sustainable fashion brands in the world. They offer a variety of high-quality garments which will last you a long time. Among other clothing, you’ll find plenty of denim in their range – starting with the classic pair of jeans but adding some unique items into their collections, such as denim coats and dresses. All of their sustainable denim is made from certified organic cotton.
People Tree only uses natural materials (or fabrics such as lyocell, following closed-loop processes) and their cotton is always GOTS certified organic. They also implement a variety of techniques for water conservation, such as rainwater collection or water recycling. People Tree only collaborate with farmers and factories with the same set of principles as their company. They have become pioneers of high-standard working conditions in developing countries. Giving people living there a job that’s actually going to benefit them. I have these stunning wide leg jeans is classic blue denim.
ELV denim is a zero waste sustainable denim company saving jeans from going to the landfill. They source old denim from vintage warehouses around the UK and transform them into new pieces for your wardrobe. All the water needed is that which is used to wash the old denim – which adds up to just 1.5 gallons (compared to the 1,540 gallons needed to make a new pair). The pieces are then quality-checked and transformed into new jeans in their atelier in London.
Because they use pre-loved fabrics, ELV Denim has developed a signature style, with many of their jeans being made from darker and lighter panels. However, you’ll also find solid-colour pieces in their collection. Aside from the classic pair of jeans, you can also find jackets and shorts on their website.
Of course another super sustainable way to get great denim is to buy secondhand. Charity and thrift shops have some amazing vintage pieces often have better craftsmanship in comparison to newer fast fashion brands. Also with eBay and Depop, it’s even easier to buy online – my top tip is go by your body measurements rather than the stated size. I got these amazing vintage Levis, from a charity shop.
Have you heard of these amazing slow fashion companies before? Have you tried their sustainable denim? If you have, leave a comment below, to share your experience with me and others!
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As soon as I came across Good Fabric on Instagram, I knew we were a match made in heaven. An online fabric shop that only stock sustainable fabrics and patterns from small pattern designers – absolutely perfect. Good fabric has a growing selection of Tencel’s, …