Named Clothing Pulmu High-waisted Pencil Skirt

I already made (and love) the Talvikki Sweater, so here's my second make from the new Named Clothing collection: the Pulmu High-waisted Pencil Skirt. I was drawn to the made up version on the Named website in pale blue, but what really hooked me was seeing the line drawing of the skirt. It has really interesting and quite unusual shaping, so I snapped it up, with the intention of making a good 'all-round' skirt for work and play.

My finished Pulmu
I chose a fairly heavy blue crepe/viscose that I picked up in the grab bins at Abakhan. It's especially soft and lovely up close, and blue is also my favourite colour if  I ever choose to steer away from black. To be honest, I was planning to dodge lining it if possible, but the pattern really is made to be properly lined and finished, so I unearthed this 'splatter' effect fabric from my stash (bought ages ago from the Hebden Bridge WI Rag Market). I was a little reluctant to use it as a lining as it's almost too nice, but I couldn't see me making anything else with it, so I decided that my Pulmu would have just a flash of fancy on the inside.

Pulmu fabrics and plans
I had expected it to be a bit more difficult due to it's '3 scissor' rating, but I found the make surprisingly easy for the most part. There's lots of dart sewing (some of them slightly angled), and the fun task of inserting the beautiful curved side panels (I really like sewing curves). The instructions also suggest applying interfacing to the zip, hem and vent openings before you start sewing. I've never done this before, but it makes for a real crisp and sturdy finish, and in some parts, an easier sew - particularly when it came to inserting the zip.

Accidental nail polish matching...
The only bit that had me totally baffled me was the last page of instructions, when it comes to joining the bottom of the skirt to the lining. I always understand things better from the accompanying illustrations - anyone else find that? - and when it gets to stitching linings and turning things out etc, I think it becomes pretty hard to convey in a picture. I probably confused myself more than the instructions, and after a few sessions of unpicking, I finally managed to close the vents and the skirt hem in the way that I was meant to - I think! It was really difficult to sew the vents right up to the side seams, so I ended up finishing the top of each one with a few hand stitches, just to make sure that I got it as neat as possible.

Trying to show a flash of lining from the vents
Overall I'd say that the shape is really flattering, but mine's turned out perhaps a little too 'comfortable' in fit compared to what you'd usually expect for a pencil skirt. I made up a straight size 12 (Eur 40) which is about 1cm too big on the waist and has quite a bit of give in the hips. Although I''m quite pleased with this version, I would probably shave a little off from the seams if I was to make it again - though the curved side panel eliminates the usually-easy-to-adjust side seam option, so I'd have to think about the best approach.

Side view
Capturing the nice shaping at the back
It was a little more labour-intensive than my usual skirt sewing, but I'm glad I put the effort in, particularly with the lining and the vents - a real learning experience! I really like the side panels and the little flash of lining you see when the skirt moves, and I love using hardware in a project, so the D-ring belt is just great. I thought the belt loops were a bit cumbersome at first, but once the skirt came together and the belt was threaded through, they look perfect. The one thing that I'm really disappointed with is that the fabric doesn't show off the shaping in the way it deserves, and it creases quite badly when sitting too. 

Thanks Chris (seen in shadow form) for taking pictures
So I'm not 100% happy with it, but the Pulmu was definitely a lovely pattern to sew and I'd recommend it to anyone who wants a smart skirt with a few quirks and a lovely finish. It also means I've ticked one garment off of my priority sewing list (hooray)! I'd like to try making it again in future and getting it absolutely spot on, but I'm just not sure what fabric would best highlight the darts and side panels - suggestions welcome!

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Priority sewing for the season

The weather is on the turn, and I have a personal to-make list of season-appropriate clothes that is getting longer by the day/hour/minute. It doesn't help that I love cold weather clothes the most, so I decided to write a 5 project list to manage, prioritise and pressure me into making!

5 projects for winter!
1. Pulmu Skirt
Ahhhh gosh I just love the new Named collection so much, and I've just finished up my yet-to-be-blogged/photographed Pulmu High-Waisted Pencil Skirt in a heavy crepe. It's fully lined too, so I'd say it perfectly fits my seasonal requirements.

Pulmu fabrics!
2. Waver Jacket
I've had the PDF pattern since Spring, but didn't fit it into my sewing schedule before the seasons changed - I'm determined to not let the same happen again! I'm using the same lovely outer and lining fabrics that I used for my Retro Rucksack (here's hoping I can pull off matchy-matchy) and I've invested in snaps and the proper tool to insert them. This is a first for me as I've never sewn a jacket or coat before, so I've got everything crossed for it working out.

My very first jacket
3. Yona Wrap Coat (tbc)
As I mentioned in my last post, my tatty store-bought coat went in the recycling to give me the push I needed to make a replacement. I'm not sure if it's reasonably ambitious or just downright mad of me to think I'll fit both the Waver and Yona in, but I'm gonna give it a go. I brought this fab, soft, aubergine-coloured wool-mix back from the visit to Barry's at Sew Brum so it really deserves the chance to be used. (Also I'll be pretty cold if it doesn't make it to the machine)!

The picture doesn't do the deep-purple colour justice!
Think I'm set on the Yona unless anyone can sway me!
4. Inari Tee Dress
I feel like almost the only sewer who hasn't made the Inari yet! But I have a plan, and it involves jumping right in there with a hack, to (hopefully) make it similar to a dress I came across on Instagram, but in black suedette....

Instagram inspiration
In a separate make, I'm also hoping to throw some gathers into the mix to make something along the lines of this overpriced Topshop Boutique top (though in slightly less drab colours).

Shockingly expensive high street top!
5. Talvikki Sweater number 2
I love my Talvikki Sweater so much that I'm already onto a second. It's a quick sew, so should be ideal to squeeze in between some of the bigger/more challenging makes on my list. This super cool leopard print fabric stood out a mile in Barry's and was just destined to be a Talvikki. It was £11p/m so a bit pricier than I'd normally go, but if you consider the cost of a nice high street jumper then I'm onto an absolute winner.

Quite possibly my all-time fave fabric
...And now that I've got to the end of writing this, I realise that I'm planning an almost exclusively Named Clothing winter wardrobe. But the instructions, designs and fit of Named patterns are just the best, so hey, why shouldn't they be my go to pattern company? (Is this just me, or does anyone else feel the same way about Named, or maybe another pattern company?)

Extreme knitting!
In other making news, I learnt to arm knit the other day using 'EXTREME' yarn at a Stitch Up Workshop ran by Claire from Wool Couture. It was so much fun and SO fast to make up this scarf which I imagine will be worn with all the above proposed winter makes. I'd totally recommend trying it for a quick win/in-between big makes sort of project :)

Happy seasonal sewing!

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Named Clothing Talvikki Sweater

It's not really a secret that I LOVE Named Clothing, but the new Evolution Theory collection set my heart a flutter even more than usual. I wasn't sure which pattern to buy first (because I wanted them all) but I plumped for the Talvikki Sweater first (after seeing an amazing one by my friend Erin - which she whipped up in record time). So here it is:

Finished Talvikki Sweater!
I bought this incredible navy blue stretch bubble fabric from Abakhan after the Big Simplicity Blog Meet in May. I'd never really seen anything like it, and totally loved the feel and design of it, so despite not having a use in mind, I just had to buy it. Each bubble has a thin layer of wadding in it - so great for being winter warm, whilst still being quite lightweight. I always thought I might try out a Linden or an Astoria with it, but when I saw the Talvikki, I just knew it had to be!

The Talvikki pattern
Close up of the 'bubble' fabric, and blue crepe underneath for a future project!
The fabric was really lovely to cut and sew, and worked even better than I could've hoped for with the pattern. I downloaded the PDF version, which makes use of the layered feature again, so you only have to print off the layer with your chosen size on it. The shaping on the neck was really interesting to construct with angled darts, and it creates such a cool silhouette.

Drawing the angled darts with my favourite tool - the chalk wheel!
Things I didn't do (that I probably should have):
  • Stabilise the shoulder seams with elastic - I know this might be bad for my garment in the long run, but you know when you've never done something before so you put it off? Yeah that...
  • Use interfacing on the neck facing - the pattern suggests using knit interfacing. I'm sure it's available to buy in any shop, but it's never been something I've considered/had to buy before so I panicked a little and skipped it. Although I think the neckline would benefit from a tiny bit more structure, the fabric I used is just about weight-y enough to hold it's own.
First picture of the finished sweater
In all, I don't think I can fault the pattern. The instructions are as clear as always with Named, and super easy to follow. As well as the neckline, I love the split side seams and short-front/longer-back style. The sleeves are quite long, but this suits me as I like to be able to turn them up a couple of times. It's a nice and relaxed, yet still quite stylish, jumper - the sort you might come across in Toast or Cos, but it feels so good to be able to make one for a snip of those prices.

From the back - where the jumper is longer in length

I wore it to the wonderful Sew Brum, and it received many compliments and a good few squishes and prods from those who were interested in the fabric. I had a great day meeting and catching up with sewing friends new and old, and came home with a top winter fabric haul, and a new-to-me Named pattern courtesy of Jess in the pattern swap (we managed to pick each others patterns without even realising, so Jess took home my V1395).

A snippet of a fab day at Sew Brum
I'm already planning a second Talvikki Sweater using my spoils from Sew Brum - the beautiful mustard leopard print wool mix I grabbed in Barry's (top right!). As well as that, I took the plunge and bought some wool to make a coat with (I threw my old raggedy high street coat in the recycling to force me to sew one). It's a deep purple/aubergine colour which doesn't really come across in the picture, and it's so soft and stroke-able. I'm thinking the Named Yona Wrap coat unless I spot another pattern first - recommendations welcome!

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Giving the Cold Shoulder: How to

Make your own cold shoulder inserts
My last post was all about a 'cold shoulder' hack of the By Hand London Flora dress, and as I mentioned there, I thought it might be useful to write up a more detailed post of how I did it. The best thing about the cold shoulder inserts is that they're not a Flora-exclusive hack - they can be paired with pretty much any sleeveless bodice, or could even be used to update an old top or dress to make it bang on trend.

How to give the cold shoulder!
The look is still going strong in the shops/on Instagram/pretty much everywhere, but here's a bit more inspiration should you need it:

Images from Pinterest, including garments from Finery, Topshop and Whistles
Make your own
  • Measure around your arm - preferably wearing your bodice or a muslin of your bodice if you have one. You want to measure edge of your dress on the front, to the edge of the arm hole on the back.
  • My cold shoulder inserts are close fitting, so I cut the basic arm band out at 10.5" long x 4" deep (this includes a seam allowance).
  • You need to cut out a second, longer piece that will be gathered into the arm band. Mine is 16" long x 4" deep (including seam allowance) but this length can be adjusted depending on how much gathering you want. 
  • Gather the longer piece using your preferred gathering technique - I like to sew 3 rows of long stitches within a 1.5cm seam allowance (no back stitching at the beginning or end) and pull the end threads to gather.
  • *Note* For my own project, I folded the longer piece in half depth-ways before gathering. This creates slightly more structured gathers/ruffles and avoids any hemming, but can be a bit bulky depending on your fabric. For the purpose of this tutorial, I haven't folded the gathered piece and it has a bit more 'flow' and drape. If you choose not to fold them, you will need to decide how deep you want your inserts to fall, and hem the bottom of them before adding them to your garment. 
  • Gather the piece until it is the same length as the arm band insert.
  • Even up the gathers, and pin the gathered section to your arm band, right sides together.
Gather and pin
  • Machine stitch in place, trim or grade your seam allowances to reduce bulk, open the seam out and press lightly.
Machine stitch in place
  • On the other side of the arm band, fold and press 1.5cm towards the wrong side.
Folding a seam allowance under
  • Fold the arm band in half, so that the folded edge you've just created meets the seam where your gathered piece has been stitched in place.
  • With all seam allowances folded up towards the arm band, press and pin (all the raw edges will now be concealed).
Finishing your inserts
  • Hand stitch in place. I love to slip stitch, but Sew Essential have created a bunch of really helpful video tutorials on all the different ways of hand finishing - find your favourite here.
  • Hem the bottom of your insert if required.
Now make another!
Once you have both your inserts, you just have to join them to your dress or top of choice. 

Working out your positioning with a muslin
If your garment is lined like the Flora bodice, then you can sandwich the insert between the bodice outer and lining (it's helpful to baste them in place and check the positioning first!). With the Flora, you do this in the same manner as inserting the straps (see below). *Note*  I lowered the Flora neckline by 1" so the inserts could be lined up with it, so you might want to consider whether your bodice needs any adjusting!

Joining inserts as you would join straps
If your garment is unlined, or you're using your inserts to update an already-finished garment, I'd recommend finishing the ends of your inserts. This could be with an overlocker or zig zag stitch, or if your fabric isn't too bulky, you may be able to hem the ends. Finish the arm hole of your garment if you haven't already done so. Baste the inserts in place and check the positioning. Then stitch them in place by either neatly machining, or hand stitching if you don't  want too much visible stitching on the outside of your garment.

And hopefully you'll end up with a beautiful finished cold shoulder dress or top!
If you try it out I'd love to see the results! You can find me/get in touch using the links below, or email me at magnificent.thread[at]

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