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As a hijab wearing dressmaker, I look out for patterns that are easy to adapt to my requirements. It’s actually quite easy to alter the length of most patterns (sleeves and hemlines) so if I really like a pattern I will still buy it and see if I can make some changes, but this extra step can be daunting if you’re a complete beginner. You can also layer clothes of course and this can work really well for dresses and tops with short sleeves etc. I like having some clothes I can wear at home (when not in hijab) without paying a high street price for something I won’t wear all the time.
I’ve put together a selection of patterns which can be adapted for a versatile modest wardrobe. You can click on the link in the title for a downloadable PDF pattern, paper patterns are also available for some of these patterns.
This is a beautiful dress pattern with long sleeves and simple lines. It would be easy to adapt into a long dress but also looks great with slim leg trousers. I am planning to make one in a Liberty lawn.
I’m really looking forward to making this versatile pattern as it can be made as a dress or a top and there are some great pattern hacks. The swingy shape means it is loose fitting on the body but still fits neatly around the shoulders and arms.
This is a beautifully draping coat which would be a good cover up in Spring/Summer. The fabric could be a challenge to work with but the end result is stunning.
I have already made one of these and am planning at least one more. It can be made in a heavy or fine gauge knit to suit the season, and is a great layering piece.
I really liked the shape of this dress before but the long sleeve bonus pattern piece makes it even more versatile. It is a good shape to wear with trousers as it is not fussy and there is no shaping at the waist (which can look odd with trousers).
The Nancy Dress is a simple loose fit Jersey dress with panels, which would make a useful tunic dress over jeans or trousers.
I’ve made this dress once already and I’m sure a few more dresses and tops will be made with this pattern. It’s great for statement colours and prints which don’t need a lot of fussy design details. It’s a good beginner pattern and a quick to sew staple for more experienced sewists.
I love this pattern as its elegant and has a beautiful shape. It does have a split at the back but this could be altered or I would maybe just wear leggings underneath. It also comes with a free long sleeve pattern addition that can be downloaded separately.
This is a good basic skirt pattern which is simple to sew up. I have plans to make at least two maxi length versions before Me Made May.
Having just taken part in the Moneta Party, I had to include this pattern as its very versatile and a great pattern for jersey.
A few of these should find their way into my wardrobe before Me Made May, which I’m planning to join in with. Do you have any sewing patterns you’d recommend for a modest wardrobe?
I’m playing catch up with a few makes so you’ll all have to bear with me while I race through them so I can get to the new stuff! I have been posting some of them on Instagram so they might be familiar to anyone who follows me there.
This skirt was made using a tutorial for a Flat Fronted Skirt found here on the Scattered Thoughts of a Crafty Mom blog. I love this Dashwood cuckoo clocks print and it has been very versatile due to all the colours in the print.
My daughter has worn it lots with coloured tights and bright cardigans.
Didn’t realise the above shot was so moody but I still love her little poses!
This is the Oliver and S Culottes pattern (from the Lunch Box Tee + Culottes set). I bought the Cotton and Steel apples print with a skirt in mind but thought this pattern would also work well.
I cut a size 4 and the waist was a little big for her, but I cinched it with a row of hemming inside the waist seam. The box pleats are very cute and gives a very nice tailored look.
She chose to wear this with red sparkly tights, an orangey-red cardigan and a cute Uniqlo x Liberty top. Bright and a bit over the top!
This mirror from Bangladesh is her current obsession. She has her fads (like her mother!)
These moments are rare but precious. The little one takes every opportunity to attack his sister, and he finds plenty of them! But he gets away with it thanks to his mischievous smile.
He’s wearing the Oliver + S School bus Tee in a C. Pauli organic interlock from The Village Haberdashery. I wasn’t too hopeful as my printer scaled the pattern smaller and although I cut a 2T it was tiny and I realised too late. I used a 1/4″ seam and it fits, because he is small for his age. It won’t last too long though.
So that’s a whistlestop tour of a few things I’ve made. I have also made a few clothes for myself which I will blog soon.
These flannel pyjamas were all but made a year ago, with just buttonholes and the pyjama hems needed. I didn’t feel like getting my sewing machine out for a few months after we moved house, and hadn’t worked out how to do the buttonholes on my new Bernina machine. The buttonholes are actually far easier to do than on my Pfaff Select so once I sat down to finish it was very straightforward and quick.
The fabric is Anna Maria Horner Pretty Potent flannel. We already have some pyjama bottoms in circulation in a different print from this collection, and after a year or so they were in need of replacing. The fabric washes really well and doesn’t bobble too much. I tried to get the placement of the pocket to match the pattern underneath, as well as matching both sides and am pleased with the result.
The pattern is from Sew Adorable which is a beautiful book with traceable full sized patterns for lots of useful and stylish children’s clothes including some dress-up and toys. I like the classic style of the patterns. The sizing only goes up to three so N won’t be getting anything else from this book but there are a few patterns I like for boys in there.
The pyjama top was the most challenging part but the steps were fairly straightforward and well illustrated. Sadly she won’t fit into it after this winter but I might seek out another pyjama pattern for older children or even adults one day to make a family collection!
There are a few glimpses of our new house in the background – its not yet finished after over six months but feels like home now after several months of chaos!
I just subscribed to Seamwork which is a brilliant sewing magazine. The best thing about it that you get two downloadable pattern credits a month, and all the patterns are designed to be quick to make. I have seen lots of these beautiful tops on Instagram and had looked at the link before but didn’t want to pay for the individual pattern. I used one of my credits to get this pattern and the second for the Moji trousers pattern. This is a link to subscribe to Seamwork which will give you the first month for half price, which makes it an even more amazing bargain!
The fabric is organic cotton voile from the Palos Verdes collection, Cloud 9 fabrics. It is much lighter than most of the clothes I wear but is nice as a layer under a cardigan or for wearing at home instead of a t-shirt.
I am not a huge fan of bias tape especially as I had to make it myself, but it didn’t actually take a terribly long time. I misunderstood the instructions and had to unpick the seam and the bias tape seams on one side which slowed me right down. I plan to make a couple more of these as I have a lot of one and two yard pieces of fabric in my stash. It is possible to make the top out of one yard of fabric by seaming at the shoulders.
This is a straightforward pattern and I’m sure my second attempt will be quicker. I’m looking forward to trying more Seamwork patterns soon.
I’ve been sewing on and off for about 10 years now and although I still consider myself an adventurous beginner I have found it to be a fulfilling and enjoyable creative process which has brought me a lot of pleasure. I have sewn my own clothes on occasion and many times for my children and feel I’m ready to take the next step and make more clothes for myself.
I’d like to share that process here as well as make it easier for other Muslim women to make their own clothes. I enjoyed watching Rumana‘s stellar performance on Great British Sewing Bee – with some relief, as a friend applied on my behalf a few years ago and I didn’t make it past the interview stage! I don’t think I could have managed a lot of those challenges, especially in front of a camera. I also realised that there was a lot of interest in sewing and dressmaking, but that many people feel like it’s something that they won’t be able to do themselves.With the explosion of hijab blogging and modest fashion for Muslim women, I’ve often been interested but also feel that it taps into the disposable and commercial nature of fashion blogging – looking for the next thing to keep pulling in readers and continuing to perpetuate the myth of looking perfect and having endless clothes and accessories to wear, which most people can’t aspire to. In addition it occasionally doesn’t fit into the ethos of hijab and being less materialistic, but seems another way to display one’s sense of style. This is not by any means a criticism of all Muslim fashion bloggers, who I am often slightly intimidated by!
For myself, sewing is a creative pastime but is also very practical. I personally believe sewing is an essential life skill, in the sense of being able to hem a skirt or sew on buttons. In addition, there are a lot of other benefits, especially for Muslim women who feel they may have less choice on the high street (although many companies are remedying that – Inayah is my favourite). Here are some thoughts I had on the benefits:
- Choice – I hear a lot of people complaining about the length of sleeves, lack of suitable ankle length skirts or dresses. For example, often the fabric and colour will be perfect but the neckline may be too low, or the dress may have short sleeves or a slit. By choosing to make your own clothes, the ball is in your court.
- Quality – By and large the quality of high street clothing is now quite poor compared to what it used to be. A lot of clothes in affordable shops are made of cheap synthetics which lose their shape, bobble or fade quickly. Your £15 could go on a beautiful organic cotton jersey rather than on a polyester blend t shirt.
- Ethical concerns – We should all be concerned about where our clothes come from. A friend of mine recently visited a clothing factory in Bangladesh run by a well respected organisation yet there were very young looking children laboriously embroidering clothes in silence. By making our own clothes, the labour involved is not a source of guilt, but a source of satisfaction.
- Cost – the cost of high street clothes is going up all the time, while the quality is decreasing. Sewing can be expensive or can save money depending on the fabric you buy, but there are many bargains to be had. I do believe that well made clothes are more equivalent to quality designer wear than the high street, without the price tag.
- It’s easy! – OK, haute couture is not easy to achieve but the majority of clothes most people will wear are simple to make. T-shirts, blouses, dresses and skirts are all achievable by beginners with the right pattern. There are also many free sewalongs which walk you through from beginning to end, making it even easier. You can also easily achieve much nicer finishes, such as French seams.
- Tailored to you – for me, being shorter than your average European, shopping is often frustrating as sleeves and hems are too long, the waist is in the wrong place or pockets are too low for comfort. You can make clothes to fit you, rather than a standard size.
- Slow fashion – by making your own clothes, you appreciate the effort and work that went into them and treat them with more respect. While it’s not practical to assume you will make all your own clothes, throwaway fashion becomes less acceptable.
Convinced? I will be posting some patterns that are hijab friendly or easily adapted to be shortly. In the mean time, please use the hashtag #hijabisewist on Instagram or Twitter so we can find your posts!
I often read blog posts after coming through google search and then find the blog dwindles to ‘sorry I haven’t posted in so long’ until eventually the blog owner just gives up and never comes back. In the past year, I have to admit to finding it impossible to get up the energy to photograph, edit, upload and then blog! Since my last blog post I have had a baby boy and returned to work again, so life is very hectic with three children. But I have decided to make a comeback as I enjoy chronicling my work and learning from what I have done.
This Mini Dwell was made 75 weeks ago (Instagram tells me) but I have only just got round to quilting and binding it. I made bias binding but wonder whether I would have been better off making straight grain binding. I would have liked the binding to be neater but am just glad to have finished it and have it ready to hang up! I quilted around each house then did 3 straight lines at the edges.
I used a lot of bright coloured scraps, including Anna Maria Horner (of course), Joel Dewberry and Amy Butler. The Kokka Red Riding Hood print makes a nice centerpiece for the doors.
First time making pinwheels
An unsuspecting Red Riding Hood
This fabric basket is a more recent project although it was also cut out around the same time! It was made using a tutorial from The Village Haberdashery. There were a lot of steps involved but it was easy to follow and is a useful storage solution. It would be nice filled with baby gifts for a new parent, and could then be used to hold nappies and other essentials. The drawstring bag is made from this tutorial from In Color Order.
I also spent some time this weekend making bibs. Each one needed 28 2.5″ squares to be sewn together for the top before cutting out the bib shape. It’s sometimes hard to find interesting boy prints in the shops so the Ed Emberley prints really stood out for me.
I kept this one for my youngest son
Bib projects are great as they are fast and useful, and use up nice scraps! I definitely plan to make more, maybe to add to a gift for new babies.
I have been thinking about making a wool coat for my daughter and saw some beautiful ones at the Hand made Fair last weekend. I don’t think I could ever justify spending nearly £200 on a child’s coat no matter how beautiful so have been looking at patterns and fabrics online. I also went to Simply Fabrics a few years ago and remembered they had a selection of coat material so thought it would be worth going on a little outing.
The shop (or rather two shops on the same road) has been mentioned on a few blogs, including on Tilly and the Buttons, so is not such a well kept secret any more but is a great place to pick up something unusual at a good price.
There are some beautiful wools and unusual technical fabrics, including Japanese wools and coated silks. I spied some lovely delicate Roland Mouret silks and a shelf of Liberty silks, lawns and wool blend fabrics. They also had dupion silk, linens, jersey and faux fur fabrics. In the end I came away with a piece of faux fur to make my daughter a gilet for the winter and some Liberty Lifestyle Garnett fabric in a colourway which I’m fairly sure is sold out elsewhere. The prices are amazing also – all the Liberty fabric is £12/m, and most of the other fabrics are much cheaper.
I also wandered into the Brixton market which was a real surprise – quirky shops and wonderful places to eat. We stopped at French and Grace where we enjoyed a delicious mezze plate before heading back home
As for children’s coat patterns, here are a few that are in the running:
I made this last year for my daughter so of course I could reuse the pattern. I do love this coat and it was adorable, so will definitely consider it if I don’t find anything I love more.
Sydney by C’est Dimanche
This version is stunning but I’m not sure my French is up to the challenge! The Volga pattern is also lovely. I like that you can add on variations to the patterns to change the look, but they start from age 4 so think I’ll have to save these until she is older.
Stylish Double breasted coat by Dear My Kids
Another double breasted coat – can you see a theme? I do like classic shapes on young children!
The Bubblegum Coat by See Kate Sew
I love this pink version, it has a more modern look, maybe a bit more sixties because of the big buttons.
Another classic coat, this time by French company Citronille – again a little deterred by it being in French but could give it a go with the help of Google Translate!
School Days Jacket by Oliver + S
This is a different style with a practical hood and nice finishing details, but also looks a little more challenging.
Of course, I haven’t had a chance to look at the Simplicity etc pattern books and I’m sure they will also have some great patterns. For now I will start thinking about fabrics and colours and hope to get going before the cold sets in.