The Nora pattern is an oversized, boxy fit, t-shirt and jumper pattern with 3 sleeve options, 2 hem variations and 2 types of neckline.
I made both a jumper and tee from this patten in one weekend.
The tee is in a printed rayon jersey: Macan High Twist Rayon Jersey and for the jumper I chose a super soft, poly jumper knit: Abstract Jumper Knit in Pink & Black
For the sweater I shortened my sleeves 10cm. The style is designed for the sleeve hem to sit at your knuckles. But for me this would have made it impractical for wearing to work. So I opted for the hem to sit at my wrist.
Because I ended up cutting off quite a lot of fabric, I would recommend doing this alteration on the pattern before you decide how much fabric you’ll need.
For both designs I opted to make the front and back the same length (as opposed to the stepped hem), and also, not to have the slit up the sides:
To do this; I traced off the stepped-hem option. Then I lengthened the front pattern piece to match the back pattern piece at the side seam. That way, I avoided the cropped look, since I usually like to wear my tops (yes, even my sweaters) tucked in.
My measurements for most of Tilly’s patterns sit at their size 3.
However, this design is VERY oversized. Once I compared my measurements to the finished garment measurements, I decided to trace off the size 2. This turned out to be the perfect size for me.
The tee version especially, would make a great gift! It’s oversized nature makes it easy to make something that will fit anyone. And who doesn’t love a comfy tee shirt!? It’s quick and satisfying to sew, and, with the huge variety of fabrics available for this pattern you could make it to suit any taste.
One hack I’d like to try, is to extend the hem, to make a really cute t-shirt dress, or nightie.
- Matching thread.
- Optional ribbing for the neckband (t-shirt version).
- Clear Elastic
- Stretch (ballpoint) needle
To get a light, drapey look, like a t-shirt or turtleneck use a light-to-midweight jersey of any fibre, cotton for a traditional look, rayon for lovely softness and drape, or a printed poly jersey for something really wild and fun.
For a sweater look, choose a thicker knit like a jumper knit, interlock, ponte, ribbed knits, or stretch velvet. These could also be any fibre composition.
You can’t really choose wrong as long as your knit has at least 10% stretch.
Here are some specific recommendations for fabrics:
- Sunset Stripe Yarn Dyed Ponte
- Chequered Metallic Stretch Suiting
- Lipstick Cotton Knit
- Blue Marle Knit
- Brighton Rayon Jersey in Merlot
- Black & Coral Yarn Dyed Rayon Jersey
Skill Level recommendation:
The Nora is an ideal pattern for someone wanting to start sewing with knits for the first time.
Tilly & the Buttons are renowned for their clear and easy-to-follow instructions (the’ve even won awards for it). You’ll learn important techniques that you’ll be able to apply in future knit projects.
Intermediate and experienced knit sewers will find this pattern fun and have a top ready to wear in a short time!
Difficulty level is also affected by the fabric you choose. So if you’re looking for something easy to work with, try a midweight cotton knit or ponte that won’t move around much while you sew.
You can get your Nora Pattern here.
Happy Sewing! xx
So you’re thinking about taking your first dip in the OCEAN that is Vlisco…
It can be a little tricky working out where to start with your first Vlisco project but making that first step isn’t too hard with a few tips up your sleeve!
Vlisco’s designs are always printed on a high quality, cotton base.
The cotton is woven so tightly, that you can barely see the weave and it’s completely opaque. The quality of the cotton and the inks in them, are as good as it gets. In your hand the cotton smooth to the touch, crisp and full of body.
It’s lovely to wear in all seasons, as cotton is great for regulating body temperature.
This jumpsuit for example works well on a summer day and transforms to a warm winter outfit when I wear a long sleeved tee underneath:
Vlisco is easy to sew! It’s the same as working with regular cotton. It irons wonderfully and the layers of fabric sit comfortably together and go through the machine smoothly.
When stitching Vlisco, I like to use a sharp (new), midweight needle (80/12). The fabric is so dense that I’ve had the machine skip stitches when using an old needle.
(For heavily embellished designs (the glittery ink) I exclusively use a leather needle. The embellishment creates a film over the fabric that the needle will need to puncture as well as the actual fabric. If there’s only a little embellishment you don’t need to worry about this, but some designs can be completely covered!)
Honestly, cutting a Vlisco can be a journey. But it’s so worth it!
Elaborate patterns are the heart of Vlisco, so of course you’re going to want to make the best of it!
I usually set aside an evening especially for cutting. Having just one job to do helps keep my mind clear. I’m not rushing to get to the next bit, and I find it easier to enjoy the process.
I cut all my fabric on the floor, so I always have plenty of space to layout my pattern pieces and really see how everything will come together.
When I need to get placement EXACTLY right, I trace my pattern onto tracing facing (as opposed to paper). It’s see-through, so when I lay my pieces down I can see exactly what parts fo the design will be included in that piece. I find this especially helpful when matching a design across seamlines (like centre back).
Using the selvage
Every Vlisco is finished with a printed salvage that identifies the fabric.
When I can, I like to cut the hem of a pattern right on the salvage and then decide later if I’ll leave the hem down or if I’ll roll it up and just have that feature on the inside. It’s kind of like the badge on the front of luxury car…
Every piece of Vlisco is printed on the reverse side! Your garment will look as vibrant and colourful inside as it does outside.
Some designs even have a different style or pattern on the reverse, so you can use that to create contrast in your project or even to make different-but-matching separates!
This gorgeous set was made by our customer Wendy, out of one piece fabric printed on both sides!
Interfacing & Binding:
When interfacing Vlisco, I only use a lightweight interfacing. Because of the fabric’s incredible density it barely needs interfacing. It is good to do it however, as cotton will soften over time and the interfacing will keep all your hard work looking sharp.
For binding I make my own out of Vlisco scraps. However if I feel like the edge is extra curvy or if I need to reduce bulk, I’ll use cotton voile or lawn. When doing very curved seams I find these the easiest to bind with because they mold to the shape of the edge so easily.
Choosing a pattern to use with your Vlisco:
When choosing a pattern keep in mind that Vlisco looks great on large, uninterrupted pattern pieces. So, think simple. Elaborate designs can also be incredible, but the easy route is to choose a simple silhouette with only a few seams, especially for your first project.
If I were going to give you a perfect first project it would be a boxy tee.
There are sooo many versions of this pattern that you probably already have one in your stash!
A boxy tee is the perfect first Vlisco project because you don’t need much fabric (only a 2 yard piece). It’s also super easy, so you can focus on getting to know the fabric and getting the pattern placement just right.
The final garment is also going to be really easy to wear.
And that last point is a big one. YOU CAN WEAR VLISCO EVERYDAY!
Pop that tee on with your favorite jeans and boom, you’re wearing Vlisco!
Once you’ve had that first taste of Vlisco colour in your wardrobe you might find yourself craving a little more, and a little more… Until you’re wearing it head to toe.
Some other types of patterns you might try are:
- Tunic or shift dress.
- Straight trousers with in-seam pockets.
- A-line, pencil or maxi skirts
- Robe style jackets
And if you’re looking for something more elaborate:
- Men’s shirts
- Simple rompers & Jumpsuits
- Utilitarian/oversized jackets
- 50’s style dresses with big skirts
- Floor length gowns and maxi dresses
Although, I’m not attempting to be the style police!
Choose a pattern you love & sew what makes you happy!
I hope that this article will help you make your first step into the world of Vlisco. For me, sewing with these fabrics has been really rewarding.
One garment I’ve made has been particularly special, in April I made my sisters wedding dress with Vlisco.
Though the (big) wedding was postponed (due to Covid-19), Georgia and Jesse tied the knot in a private ceremony. When choosing what fabric to use for her dress we easily decided on this traditional Hibiscus Print.
For advice and questions about this article or working with Vlisco contact us! At firstname.lastname@example.org
- Some reasons why boiled wool is adored by sewists:
- It’s easy to sew
- It does not fray, so you don’t need to finish cut edges.
- It’s soft and drapey which means it looks great in a large variety of styles.
- It has a luxurious and gorgeous texture.
- It’s so comfy!
The Flynn Jacket is an oversized, faced jacket with fascinating style lines and generous in seam pockets. I’ve used two colours of boiled wool (black and chartreuse) to highlight the style lines. I’ve also used (black) acetate lining for the facings and pocket bags.
I could have done the facings in boiled wool as well, but I found the boiled wool way too thick to do a double layer. It would have made the jacket clumpy and hard to sew.
***A quick note: Any fabric with wool as the main fibre needs to be heat-shrunk before you cut it. I shrank my boiled wool in the drier:
I just popped the wool in with a damp tea-towel on a half hour cycle.
SO EASY! (If you don’t have a drier, the steam from your iron will do the job just as well).
Boiled wool is naturally drapey so, to give the Flynn Jacket structure around the neck and front pieces – where it might warp out of shape – I’ve used two interfacings:
A lightweight on the boiled wool to stop it from warping, and a heavyweight on the acetate lining to give it body and to help shape the style lines.
I didn’t interface any of the (black) bodice pieces as these are supported and shaped by my shoulders and back.
It’s a little complex to explain so, here’s a cutting diagram and you can see all the pieces I had to cut (and out of what material) to get this look:
- I attached the lightweight interfacing to the boiled wool (chartreuse) pieces,
- and attached the heavyweight interfacing to the Acetate lining pieces.
When it came to sewing, I found some of the seam edges had warped a little. This is because boiled wool naturally has quite a bit of stretch to it.
To fix this I pinned each seam on each end and then (pinned) worked my way into the middle, easing the seams into each other.
For sewing: I used a 90/14 stretch needle. I chose this needle because it is thick (since we’re working with a thick fabric) and because stretch needles have a ball point end. Meaning that the needle slides between the fibres as opposed to puncturing through them.
(This needle also worked really well for the acetate even though it is thinner).
In the Fold’s instructions for putting this jacket together are great!
They’re detailed, well illustrated and there are lots of extra tips to help you get the best out of your pattern.
The final step is to finish the facing (close everything up).
I used an invisible hand stitch, this was the easiest way for me. And I could do it while watching Netflix. 😀
This tutorial will show you the slip stitch I used.
Skill level recommendation:
I can recommend the Flynn highly as a jacket pattern for someone who has never made a jacket before. As I mentioned the instructions are gold, and the techniques are very accessible.
The most complex part of the pattern is the pockets.
Supplies to make my version:
- Fabric (I used 100% Boiled Wool Black & 100% Boiled Wool Chartreuse & black acetate lining).
- Lightweight & heavyweight interfacing
- Matching thread
Fabric recommendations for a jacket similar to mine:
- Tiffany Wool/Cotton Knit in Light Blue
- Maroon Boiled Wool Blend
- Black & White Pixel Bouclé
- Coco Check Coating
- Noir Jacquard
Fabric recommendations for a lightweight robe-style jacket (like on the cover of the pattern): denim, cotton canvas, duck, drill, heavyweight linen.
- Toda Hand Printed Batik Cotton
- Natural-look Heavy Linen/Cotton Blend
- Thoresby Cotton Drill in Moss Green
- Mink Jacquard Suiting
- Bird and Butterfly Cobalt Jacquard
I really hope you’ll give the Flynn Jacket a go.
This pattern is pretty remarkable, it looks great on every body-type and there are really endless possibilities in terms of looks you can achieve (denim=casual cool, wool suiting=tailored chic, tencel=drapey elegance etc, etc, etc).
Sewing it was fun from start to finish (not something I can say about all that many patterns).
I really feel like I didn’t have to work very hard to get an amazing result.
You can get your Flynn Pattern here.
Le 5002 is an enjoyable and satisfying make with great potential to be both very stylish & very comfy.
Le 5002 is simple style but the flat, robe-like neck finish, really elevates the design above a basic tunic.
As fabric I chose this checked broadcloth. It’s really light with heaps of structure. This emphasised the collar and sleeves, but still gathered down easily into the waist tie.
The Checked Broadcloth is a cotton/poly blend, which meant that when I stuffed it in my suitcase for Bali last year, it came out looking fresh.
But! If your keen to wear a natural fibre, a mid to heavyweight cotton or linen would hang similarly.
Other Fabric Recommendations:
Linens, Chambray, Light Denim, Cotton types, Twill, Tencel, Viscose & rayon types. In a chiffon or crepe de chine it could become a very luxurious kaftan.
And some specific recommendations
- Vlisco Super Wax VLS8RE0.019
- Cosmo Linen in Jean
- Black & White Floral Challis
- Double Windsor Tencel Twill in Amber
- The only bit that is a bit tricky is getting everything to line up and sit flat on the inside of the dress where the two front neckline pieces meet. But with a bit of ironing and fiddling everything comes up nice.
- The neckline is very low and can fall open, so I used 2 press studs to hold the neckline closed over my bust. And, as you can see it worked perfectly with the cut, everything in the tunic still falls just right.
- I cut the hem right on the selvage so I have a cute edge there instead of a plain turned hem. With a simple garment like this one, details like that will go far.
- Don’t be afraid to pick a fabric with volume (like I have), this pattern has simple, clean lines that benefit from a dramatic silhouette.
- The neckline is VERY deep and fell open on me. I fixed it with two strategically placed press studs.
Skill Level Recommendation: I recommend this pattern Confident Beginners. Like I said, getting everything to line up just right (especially at the base of the neckband) can be a bit tricky.
But! Get a little help from your sewing friends and this pattern is achievable for anyone.
- fabric (Black & White Yarn Dyed Check Broadcloth)
- I also used 2 press studs, as I mentioned above, to make the neckline a little more modest.
This pattern is a relatively quick & easy sew, with a really rewarding result.
I also love that in different fabrics it has the potential to go from floaty kaftan to structured winter tunic. Nice.
You can get your dp’s Le 5002 pattern here. Be quick though! We only have a limited supply.
I want to start with Vlisco’s own words:
“Inspired by Africa, made with a technique derived from Indonesian Batik, designed in the Netherlands, Vlisco’s heritage and design is a multicultural melting pot of beauty and industrial craftsmanship.”
Vlisco was born in the 1840’s when Pieter Fentener van Vlissingen took over his fathers cotton printing mill in Helmond, The Netherlands.
The techniques that would be used to create Vlisco designs were inspired by Indonesian Batiks from this time. They were made entirely by hand, and it could take up to a year to make one sarong.
Vlisco’s fabrics were originally received well in Indonesia but after some economic turbulence, the company had to look for other avenues. In the 1880’s Vlisco sent its first shipment to West Africa. Little did they know the the colourful future they had set in motion.
Since then, West Africa has become not only Vlisco’s largest market, but it’s muse, inspiration and driving force.
The designs and colours are all influenced by West Africa’s vibrant and varied cultures. Many of the designs are held in high esteem and have been given stories and meanings by the people who wear them.
Some symbols are universal however, chickens for example represent family with the hen most often portrayed as the most prominent member surrounded by her chicks. Flowers are often a symbol of womanhood.
Some designs are more literal, with the faces of Nelson Mandela, Queen Elizabeth II and Winston Churchill all having been honoured by a Vlisco design.
Vlisco fabrics are adorned with the stories of millions of people. From the designers & factory workers, merchants to the shopkeepers, seamstresses and finally the wearers, there is more than 170 years of history woven into every piece.
We’ll finish with Vlisco’s own words as well:
“Vlisco designs aim to be as versatile, colourful and expressive as the women who wear them.
Our fabrics depict spirited shapes in highly saturated colours and are characterised by their storytelling qualities. From geometric to floral, to iconic items and illusionary visuals; all sorts can be seen on Vlisco fabrics.”
For more information about the history of Vlisco head to www.vlisco.com. or read part 1.
Made by Steph
The myth, the legend, The Wilder Gown! Super easy and satisfying to sew, this Friday Pattern Co. pattern lives up to the hype!
I’ve made the gown version with short sleeves.
I’ve also shortened the hem of the second ruffle and added elastic in the collar (instead of a tie) and in the sleeves for a cute puff!
The Wilder is designed to have a super relaxed fit, but I had a little fabric left over that I turned into a simple (press stud fastened) belt.
Now I can wear it as intended or as a more conventional sundress.
I love a dress that can do both.
- There is a LOT of gathering, so if you’ve got a gathering foot, definitely snap that baby on. Otherwise for tips on gathering without a special foot, I’ve found this really detailed tutorial for gathering by Made Everyday.
- If you’re not sure about what fabric to use, go for something plain and really drapey (if your confident to sew with drapey fabrics, otherwise a light cotton or linen will work well too).
- One thing that I’ve seen look incredible, is the Wilder in a sheer fabric with a simple slip underneath (just like the model on the front of the pattern). A style definitely worth considering.
Skill Level Recommendation:
The Wilder Gown is for everyone who knows their way around a sewing machine.
The difficulty in this pattern will come from what fabric you choose to work with. The softer and more flowy the fabric is the harder it will be to sew.
Eg. Cotton Lawn or Voile = Easy
Poly Chiffon or Tencel = Mid
Silk and Silk Chiffon = Hard
Recommended Fabrics: Rayon Challis, Lightweight Linen, Twill types, Voile, Lawn, Chambrays & Chiffon.
- Windsor Tencel Twill in Lychee (and every colour in our Windsor Tencel range).
- Dechang Spotted Chiffon
- Burgundy Poppies Printed Rayon Challis
- Bergarmo Black Striped Linen/Cotton Blend
- Navy Chiffon
I’m also tempted to try this one in a rayon jersey. The relaxed fit will look great with the heavy drape that you get from a jersey. You’ll just need a bit of cotton tape to stabilise the raglan & shoulder seams.
- Fabric; we used this printed rayon challis
- A large safety pin for threading the elastic
- And to make my version: I also used: 10mm elastic for the collar and sleeves.
- Leftover fabric for the belt
- Press studs as a closure for the belt.
Rounding up; it’s obvious why The Wilder is so popular.
Friday Pattern Co.’s attention to detail really shows. From the pattern drafting and instructions to the gorgeous glossy envelope it comes in.
This pattern is a classic.
You can get your own Wilder Gown pattern here.
Every person who walks through the doors of our Melbourne store for the first time, inevitably wanders over to our wall of Vlisco. They look up, eyes wide, sometimes with recognition, but more often with confused awe.
They know what they see is unique, they know it’s special, but they can’t articulate why.
This is when I race over, stand next to them and say:
“HI! Do you know about Vlisco!?”
Often they’re so transfixed, they don’t even look at me, but they almost always say: “No, but tell me.”
This is the story I tell them:
Incredible Quality for over 170 Years
All Vlisco prints are made using their coveted Wax Block Printing and Dyeing process.
The quality and prestige are guaranteed through techniques that have been handed down for over 170 years. Basically “This is the Gucci of African Wax Prints.”
The printing process:
1. Wax rollers coat both sides of the cloth with wax that contains the design.
2. The cloth is then dipped into an ink bath where ink can penetrate the cotton wherever there is no wax.
Usually the ink is a deep indigo (Vlisco’s most used dye), but on some designs they also use a deep crimson dye for other colours or the outlines.
3. Flat colours are blocked on. Often you’ll see colours combinations you’ve never imagined, looking amazing as they twist through their indigo outlines.
4. Some layers of wax will be purposely broken and then dip dyed. This is the way Vlisco’s signature bubbling is created. Most notably, you can find bubbling on their Bubble Wax and Super Wax designs.
5. Extra special designs are embellished with a luxurious layer of sparkly ink to highlight parts (or sometimes almost all!) of the fabric.
(One last, important piece of information about the production: is that most of it is TOP SECRET! There are many, many more processes needed to create a design than I have described here. In fact! It can take up to 3 weeks to complete just one design!)
This dyeing process is subject to tiny and beautiful inconsistencies in the print. Including veining and ink bleeding. This is the best sign of a true Vlisco piece, and adds to the special-ness of the fabric, as no two yards are exactly alike.
Remember: Your piece of Vlisco is one of a kind.
The colours used by Vlisco are created Vlisco.
Vlisco’s colourist’s use traditional techniques to create unique, vivid colours, rarely found elsewhere. Before it is allowed to be used in production, a colour undergoes vigorous testing to ensure its consistency and that it is water, heat, light and UV resistant and so, will not fade.
If you’re a quilter, this is pretty exciting. See that pink that looks practically the same is two different designs? It is the same, and your quilts colouring is going to look perfectly consistent!
You’ve had the full treatment!
But if you’re up for it, these is more information: in part 2