Curated By You: Jeandre Cordier Makes A Sleeve Wrap Dress In Medium Weight Linen
Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do.
I’m currently a video editor, living and working in Cape Town. During my studies at film school, I was initially drawn to costume, but I decided not to pursue it as a career path and preferred to make garments as a hobby. I fell in love with historical costuming, as well as learning historical techniques of sewing. This has also sparked an obsession with collecting vintage and antique sewing machines to construct my garments, and I sew almost exclusively on my 1930’s treadle and 1950’s electric Singer machines!
As a garment maker, protecting the environment and being ethical about sourcing fabrics and producing garments are important to me. I strive to have and make a sustainable minimalist wardrobe as best I can.
Why do you sew?
Some of the major reasons;
Clothes in typical retail outlets are not usually to my taste (with very few exceptions), and I don’t actually enjoy shopping for clothes. Sewing my own garments allows me to make what works for me and the styles I enjoy. Sewing also helps me overcome my impatience, slows me down and truly makes me focus on one task. It’s very rewarding to spend that time, and have something that I love to wear in the end.
What do you like to listen to when you’re working (and why)?
I actually quite enjoy listening to my sewing machine (vintage/antique machines have the most calming sound). However, when I am in the mood to listen to something, I often turn to true crime podcasts or some music to fill the silence.
As a child, what was your first encounter and memory of beauty?
I have always found beauty in nature, I remember as a child spending hours in the garden, lying on the grass admiring the large tree canopies above.
Where is home and how does it affect what you do?
My home is currently Cape Town, South Africa. As a third world country, it has its limits. Some things are hard to come by, wool being one of them, and a good variety of linen fabric being another. Other things like corset busks for example, just are simply not available here. It does teach me to work with limitations, which is not always a bad thing. It is sad however that Cape Town used to have one of South Africa’s largest textile manufacturing districts in the country, which, due to globalisation and cheap importation of fabrics, has been decimated over the past 20 years.
Name a book that you’ve recently read which inspired you and why?
I’m ashamed to say I don’t read a lot. However, when I do read, I enjoy books on traditional nutrition and health. This often inspires me to experiment with the foods I’m eating to optimise my nutrition and lifestyle.
What was the first thing you ever remember making on your own? Tell us about this memory.
That’s difficult to pinpoint, though I admit that my first attempts at sewing garments were rubbish (I only started sewing in my 2nd year of university, and knew nothing of sewing or sewing machines). I look back on these now and it humbles me how far I have come since then.
Who are your muses and inspiration?
My sisters have always been my inspiration for many things. They are pragmatic and love to make and tinker with things, and it rubbed off on me (since I am the baby in the family I always learned from them).
“The Closet Historian” is currently my muse for pattern making. Her videos have taught me so much about pattern making.
Do you have a community of crafters/ makers around you or do you find you are on your own?
Not that I am aware of. I have had no luck in finding any communities in my area, but I don’t mind too much.
How important is it to make something with your hands?
Very! In a world where so many things have become digital, refining a craft with my hands is essential. It is far more fulfilling to create something tangible and useful for me.
What does success mean to you?
Success is a reward of hard work and one pinpoint on a journey of growth. It is a combination of executing my craft to a high standard and finding enjoyment in the end result
What have you chosen to make out of FS linen and why?
I will admit- this was not an easy choice! I was looking for the perfect sewing pattern for FS DUSTY LOTUS Linen I ordered, but couldn’t find anything that stuck. So after a sleepless night, I finally decided to draft my own pattern. It is an all-in-one sleeve wrap dress , and I am so happy with the result!
The dress is lovely, and suits you extremely well.
I am inspired to make a similar one!
I too would be interested if you choose to publish a pattern, or if not, would love to know approximately how many yards you used, and to see a line drawing, or a view of the back of the dress to better understand how you cut it.
Hello Mariah! Thank you so much!
I used 3 yards of fabric for this dress.
I use a book called Patternmaking for Fashion Design by Helen Joseph Armstrong to make my basic pattern block in a size 18. Since I have quite a large bust I also had to do a bust adjustment on the block pattern to get it to fit nicely.
After making the block pattern fit your body perfectly (it takes several mockups, but once you get it right you can use that pattern over and over) it then becomes quite easy to change it to whatever style you like! I love learning pattern drafting from a youtube channel called The Closet Historian, she is a great resource!
If you have any more questions you’re welcome to ask! I might digitise the pattern and make it available some time in the future, but hopefully this info is enough to get you started.
If you’d like a drawing or any further pictures you’re welcome to send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
I’d love to second that wonderful book by Helen Joseph Armstrong! This was the recommended textbook when I studied patternmaking and is an indispensable resource when learning to draft your own patterns 🙂 I’m still constantly referring back to it to adjust and draft my own patterns.
Jeandre, your dress fits so well. Impressed that you made your pattern yourself. I am working on those skills. I love that color of green. What a great summer dress and it looks so pretty on you. Whoever took the pictures of you with your dress did a great job too! Thank you for sharing your passion for sewing!
Hi Lesia, thank you so much! My partner has an eye for photographs! I would not have been able to capture it without him 🙂
Patternmaking is such a rewarding skill to learn so that’s very exciting that you’re working on those skills. Even learning how to alter patterns to your body is a big step and will make a big difference in the fit of the garments you’re making.
Good luck with your journey!
I agree – that is a lovely pattern and color on you. Your self-drafted pattern is different than most, and your skill in having it fit perfectly is noticeable! Hope you do share.
Love your pattern what talent. Good luck on your creative Journey.
From one freckled redhead to another:
Jeandre, you look beautiful in your creation! Happy sewing.
Lovely! Perhaps that’s a pattern you’d share? It’s perfect.
I like the belt you made. I was looking for a belt to make to go with the orange linen dress I just made and needed to see how long it should be and yours is just right for what i was looking for!
Thank you so much.
I actually just cut a strip of about 2 inches along the width of the fabric because I wasn’t sure how long to make it; it worked out perfectly.
I love what you made. It looks beautiful on you.