New Look 6016 tights and top

I feel the deadline looming when I will need to pack away my sewing machine for the trip ahead. Has anyone else travelled with a sewing machine? I’m actually a little worried about keeping it safe. But I have found myself two big foam boxes (used by cafes/restaurants to pack veges) which I think I will join together by taping around the machine’s hard cover, and I am hoping that this will be enough protection. I might box it up in cardboard too.

But in the meantime, I am working my way through what I would like to call my ‘rainy day’ stash. These are the lengths of pastel viscose and knits that I have purchased with my daughters in mind; snaffled up from the remnant table at Tessuti Fabrics knowing that they would best suit simple swing dresses, tops or tights (for little girls), all the while knowing that I would never get around to sewing them. Selfless sewing if you will.

I made a few modifications to New Look 6016 when making Miss Four’s outfit. The pink, long sleeve top is a size 4.

  • I widened the sleeves (made them straight, not tapered)
  • added cuffs
  • added 2cm to the hem (she is very tall)

The latte ponte pants are also a size 4, but I added a bum ruffle (bum flare sounds a bit rude!). I’m not completely happy with the bum ruffle. I’d make it much smaller and higher next time, or add one in the front too. But I AM pleased to say that this feature had the desired effect in terms of wearability to Miss Four. She LOVED the bum detail. In fact, her song throughout the photo shoot went a lot like this. “I look so cool. I look so cool. I look so cool”.  Accompanied of course with the requisite bum wriggling. I am optimistic that these will be the first pants she is happy to wear this winter.

Little Miss Two’s top is a size 2, with the same modifications on the sleeve as the other top. I didn’t change the length (she is tiny!) but added a bottom ruffle just because I could. You might recognise the ruffle fabric from here. Drop waaaaaiiiiiist!

Leftovers for Miss Two in New Look 6016

If it seems like I only own two patterns at the moment, well that is probably not far from the truth. Even my mannequin, Alice, is wrapped in plastic and ready to take her (rather undignified) place amongst the boxes we have chosen to store while we are away.

Of course, I actually have two large boxes crammed to the brim with sewing patterns, but half of them have already made it to Kansas and the other half are boxed up for storage. Choosing which ones to take and which ones to leave behind was quite a big task. I dread the thought of carting around unused baggage for the next few years, nearly as much as I dread missing that painstakingly custom modified pattern that I unfortunately decided not to take with me.

I currently only have a small selection on hand (that will also come to Kansas with me later). New Look 6016 is one of them. I have lost track of how many times I have used this pattern. Most recently, I am finding it exceedingly useful in making simple knit tops, dresses and tights for ALL of my daughters even though it only goes up to a size 4. But I do find the sizing to be extremely large, something I am still muddling my way through in terms of fit. The problem with children, well my girls at least, is that apart from the standard chest and height measurements, any other fitting efforts are near impossible. It is like pinning a dress to a live eel! So I pretty much rely on my best guesses as to whether I should lengthen, shorten or slim down any parts of the pattern.

I think this dress worked out reasonably well. The wool will keep her warn and it looks like it will allow a little room for movement and growth. It is basically a modified version of the long sleeve top in the pattern. I used up all the scraps from my recent makes (here and here), as well as my last little bit of Lodden Blue Liberty. For the neckline, I found a band of black bamboo ribbing in my stash (If I ever have any little sraps of ribbing/stretch knit, I always cut a few neckband/cuff width strips and store it away like this for convenience. One of these bands came in useful for this dress because I simply didn’t have enough fabric for a matching neckband.) 

I started out with a size 2 and made the following modifications:

  • created a mid panel, purely because I didn’t have enough fabric to cut the entire bodice as one. The top panel is a heavier wool ponte and the mid panel is a lighter weight wool jersey. I used the lengthen/shorten line as a seamline
  • lengthened the arms by 2cm and added the curved panels at the end of the sleeves
  • lengthened the entire top to the Size 4 guide
  • Added the Liberty of London ruffle to the bottom hem

And here is a still shot of the dress from the back. The front had too many dribble patches on it from our brief photo shoot!

I think it will look better with tights but I couldn’t subject Miss Two to long pants in our summer heat. I’m actually surprised I got any decent photos today. Most of them were like this, but blurry. She’s only little but she sure can move.

Little pink drop waist in New Look 6016

After months of requests for a pink winter dress, I finally relinquished. I feel I should apologise for yet another drop waist, but at the moment, with all the crazy packing and organising going on for our move, I feel like I need to stick to simple and necessary sewing. Of course drop waist dresses are necessary! How could anyone possibly question this fact?!


I dragged out New Look 6016 again to make this dress. It was made with a beautiful pastel viscose which came from Tessuti Fabrics. The skirt was made with a little leftover Lisa Ho cotton/silk from The Fabric Store. This Lisa Ho fabric is amazing, so light and silky, and perhaps a little bit too special for a four year old. In my pre-blogging days, I made a pair of Suzy pants with it, and more recently a pair of boxers for hubby.

As usual, I made several modifications to this pattern. I started with a size four.

  • lengthened the top by 4cm
  • widened the sleeves by about 2cm each side to eliminate the taper, and added cuffs (I didn’t shorten them at all)
  • added a gathered skirt (I always aim for 2 x the width of the hem I’m attaching it to, but as I generally use scraps for these skirts, I use what I have)

This is actually one of my favourite knock ups. The drapey viscose worked out so much better than I anticipated and I much prefer the top with cuffs. I can see myself making a few more of these little dresses in the winter months, mainly for my girl who flatly refuses to wear anything but dresses. As you can see, it is the perfect dress for twirling and practicing magic with your spoon-wand.


My winter Malvarosa

And so my drop waist obsession continues. As happy as I am with my self-drafted drop waists, I feel it just wouldn’t be fair of me to pass through this phase without exploring some of the other like-minded patterns out there. I would like to introduce you to my Malvarosa, by Pauline Alice. It was made using grey merino wool ponte from Tessuti Fabrics.


The design is very clever and yet so simple to construct. I love the seamlines of the drop shoulder and the pockets are genius. I chose to sew the dress in a knit so I topstitched most of the seamlines to help the sleeve cap sit flatter. At first, I didn’t really like the shape of this dress (mainly the boxy shoulders and wide boat neck), but 24hrs later, I think I am falling in love, especially with the cropped sleeves rolled or scrunched. I chose not to sew the pockets into this dress, purely because I wasn’t sure how stable they would be with the knit fabric.

I did find the sizing to be extremely large. I know the dress is supposed to be loose fitting, but you may find you could go down a size. The great thing about this pattern is that it also includes the finished size of the dress which I would definitely recommend paying close attention to. I knew I would need to size down because of my fabric choice. I sized all the way down to a 36 (33″ bust) when in most patterns, I would choose a 34″ bust measurement in a knit or loose style. I could have gone smaller.

Did I make any other modifications to my Malvarosa? Not really. In adjusting for my rather long length, I added 2cm to both the arms and bottom hem. I also interfaced the neck facing pieces before stitching them down with the twin needle. After I trimmed of the (significant) excess, the result is a very stable bound neck which looks lovely and neat.

My finished dress is very comfortable and beautifully warm. I quite like it paired with my new leather arm warmers and maybe even a scarf (although I didn’t get them out for the photoshoot). And my feet, you ask? Yes, still without decent shoes.

More Simplicity 8668 for a little winter coat

I purchased some very pink pinewale cotton corduroy from Spotlight about three years ago. Heaven knows why I bought so much of it, but I have been trying to whittle away at my supply ever since. Thankfully, it is actually a great wearing fabric and from experience, it washes well and fades little. I thought it would do nicely for a little winter coat, as long as I was able to underline/interline (what’s the right word for this, anyone?) in a better insulating material.

I used Simplicity 8668 for the coat. More recently, I’d used this pattern to make Miss Four a little ponte dress. I lined the jacket in a pretty cotton chambray that I was lucky enough to pick up as a $10 roll from Tessuti Fabrics.



This was an absolute steal. I think I have about 10m of this gorgeous chambray and it is just so versatile for a little girl’s wardrobe. I know it isn’t the best fabric for lining a jacket (particularly patch pockets!), but it was the prettiest match I had on hand.
I also underlined the jacket with bamboo wadding. Bamboo is fabulous as a fabric! And bamboo wadding works wonderfully inside jackets. It insulates well, is antibacterial, wicks away moisture, is quite light and compact, washes beautifully and holds its shape (no need for quilting it in the jacket). I purchased it from the Bamboo Fabric Store some time back. I’ve also sewn with bamboo jersey, terry towelling, and ribbed knits before and they are all just beautiful.

But back to the underlining. I wasn’t quite sure whether I should have basted the wadding to the lining or to the outer fabric. In the end, I chose the lining because I though it would make the front facing area too bulky when it overlapped. I would love some advice on this! But first, some more shots of the super cool one.

The buttons I used were from All Buttons. I’d originally purchased them for a Chanel-style jacket I was making for myself last year. I think they add a little class to the candy pink cord (you may have noticed I am doing my best to counter-pink the pinkness of the cord). I also cheated when setting in the sleeves, simply gathering them rather than easing them in. It’s a hastily made jacket, but then I didn’t want to spend a lot of time or money on something that gets worn as hard as it will on Miss Two.

The jacket is a size 4 so it swims on little Miss Two. But as long as I can see her head and hands, I am ok with this. It means she will be warm! Especially when she teams it with her new wool ponte pants (made using New Look 6016 ). I think these pants are super cool. They are unfortunately a little low in the rise for nappy wearers but I think we can get by with this for a few months until she is properly ready for her big girl undies.

And now for the winning pose…

Drop waist version three

I know I said that I was finished with this style of dress, but here is yet another one. I could make excuses, but quite frankly, I just love this style right now. It has shamelessly become my summer uniform. Anyone who sees me on a regular basis will know that I am simply alternating between my two current drop waist dresses (here and here) each day, so I feel it is only fair to them that I add another to the mix.

Now the main reason for the lack of variety in my wardrobe is that I have already sent most of my clothes to Kansas ahead of me. I wasn’t planning on making any more summer frocks before I go, but this was an act of sheer necessity.

I used a lovely remnant of black linen from Tessuti Fabrics. The construction was simple, a basic bodice with two long French darts and a simple ruffle skirt, exactly the same as my last two efforts. So now, I have tested this dress in a cotton knit, a heavier weight woven, and now linen. I love them all! And I’d say to all my friends, let me go with this drop waist obsession this season, but if I still have this style of dress on rotation in six years time, please someone, sit me down for a serious chat…


For the love of clothes

Not everything I make turns out great. This top was my latest disappointment. However, not all is lost. I usually try to find a way to repurpose my disasters or if they are made in the right type of comfy fabric, relegate them to the pyjama drawer. Needless to say, night time in the Iles household can often be a very colourful and eclectic affair.

I actually had Miss Five in mind when making this Little Truck Stop Top. It was never destined for greatness but I had hoped it would turn out a little better. The top was a mash up of scraps…a little bit of Daddy’s last business shirt, a scrap of Marc Jacobs, and a square of cotton from a baby dress I made last season. The little Truck Stop Top only starts at a size 7, so I brought in the sides, lifted the neckline and sheared a few inches off the hem to create a much smaller size that would fit my eldest daughter. It worked out well enough, although I am not sold on the colours and patterns. The fit needs a little tweaking too.

Miss Five, with her more minimalist taste turned this top down flat. I can understand why. Miss Four gave the top a shot, pairing it with her older sister’s baggy black leggings and a little something for her hair.

But the very next day, little Miss Two emerged from the bedroom after her bath wearing the top. It had clearly been passed down to the lowest common denominator (not in my opinion of course, but I know how negotiations work with those older and highly persuasive sisters).

Does anyone else notice the crazy happenings in my street?! And the dribble patch…

Some little winter warmers

Yes, despite the soaring temperatures here, I am neck high in wool. Well not quite, but I have raided my stash of all my remaining wool remnants and have been stitching up a storm of winter warmers (before my sewing machine is off for a service and then packed away).

It all started with New Look 6016. This is a fabulous little pattern. I first stitched up the little pinafore about three years ago. It was one of the first dresses I’d ever sewn. More recently I’ve made the leggings and the top. They make great wardrobe staples. Although I do find the sleeve and leg length a little short for my girls, and the sizing (width) is quite large.

Miss Four needed warm tops more than anyone else in the house. And yet all I had was a little bit of black merino ponte and a slightly larger remnant of a beautiful grey wool/spandex blend. Both fabrics are beautiful (picked up from Tessuti Fabrics nearly a year ago), but I knew the colours would not make the grade. Miss Four is by far my most difficult customer. I know that when I sew for her, I have to add details that I wouldn’t otherwise do.

Now, the grey fabric is actually very lovely on it’s own and I would have preferred the top to remain very simple. But in order to keep this little princess happy, I rummaged through my stash until I found a tiny piece of glittery French lace. Quite unbelievably, this little length was in the free bin at Tessutis a very long time ago. I think it may have been a flawed piece but I can’t find the flaw, other than the fact that it sheds glitter every where it goes. In fact, this was the main reason I wanted it out of my stash.

I’m afraid that I wasn’t very imaginative with it’s use. All I did was to overlay the top sleeve portion in this top. The other change I made to this pattern was in lengthening the arms by 1.5 inches. It should come as no surprise that the sight of that glittery lace suddenly made the top very appealing to Miss Four. And I am pleased to announce that there will be one less battle in getting her to wear a (relatively) simple long sleeve wool top when we move to Kansas.

The second top dress I made was originally for her too, but lucky Miss Five happened upon it first. I used the same fabric and the same top pattern, also in the largest size. But by this stage, I was running a little short of my glorious grey so I had to be creative. Instead of lengthening the sleeves on this one, I cut two wee cuffs and stitched them on instead (the sleeves would have looked longer on the intended recipient).

Now as it happened, on my sewing table was a lovely black jersey dress that I was in the process of turning into a top. I decided to use the bottom band of this dress (with intact hem…so easy!) to gather and add as a very slightly ruffled skirt. I would have preferred a slightly fuller skirt but the fabric just wasn’t that long. But I quite like how this little winter dress turned out, and so does Miss Five! Although to be perfectly honest, I am starting to think that my girls simply just like new clothes.


Moving to KANSAS! And in need of a little advice…

I was going to wait a little longer to make this major announcement (until we had visas at least!), but I’ve come up against a few stumbling points that I feel my fellow bloggers would be best to answer.

1. About my beloved Pfaff!

On the relocation package we have been given, shipping over our possessions is not an option. But I am planning on checking my sewing machine in as luggage. Does anyone have any advice on this?
But more importantly, does anyone know if it will actually work in the States? We run on 240V in Australia, and I believe it is 210V over there. Will this be a problem?
I’m planning to get it serviced before we go, so I thought I’d ask the experts there too.
2. Knitting!
It’s quite possible that I won’t be able to sew for a month with all the ditching, moving and finding a house business that will be going on. HELP!!!!! I have decided I will keep my crafty fingers busy by learning the art of knitting. Now I can cast on and knit the basic stitch (ie make a scarf!) but that is where it all ends for me. I would love some advice on sock making, knitting books, and patterns. However, most pressing for me is to know what type of needles I should buy and what type/and how much yarn I should take. I figure that by the time I have the chance to read about what I will need, I will be on my way and stuck without the correct tools.
A big thank you in advance for all the advice and thoughts that come my way! 

Little lady in red: Simplicity 8668

I did not have high hopes for this dress, but it managed to surprise me. This was a stash busting exercise. I’m trying to reduce my stash so I don’t have to leave any behind. Now I am more than happy to leave clothes behind (even unworn clothes – they are all handmade in my house these days) but I simply cannot bear to part with my fabric. Some would say that this makes no sense at all.

So after looking through my patterns, I found this beautiful little vintage design, Simplicity 8668.

The fabric I used was a ponte knit from Tessuti Fabrics. Both colours were picked up as remnants last season when I was slightly obsessed with ponti knits. The pattern size meant that this dress was destined for Miss Four, but she was quite adamant from the outset that she liked neither the red, nor the beige, and simply wouldn’t consider it if I didn’t add some pink (I tried to win her over with these pretty little vintage buttons).

I didn’t make many changes to the pattern. Instead of inserting an invisible zip in the back, I used loop closures and a long slit. I also shaved a little off the sleeve caps to reduce the ease. I probably should have lengthened the dress too, but I didn’t.

My one disappointment is in not lengthening it. Miss Five fell in love with the dress at first sight and it fit her well enough, except for the fact that I could see her little bottom. Miss Four reluctantly partook in the photos. It’s probably the last time she will wear it. I, however, think the dress is lovely. It reminds me a little of Agent 99’s fashion in Get Smart (the original of course!) and how comfy is a ponte knit for little girls to play in?!

And now for the serious model poses…her idea, not mine!